A-Z Database

A-Z Database

All A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Fifth column

A fifth column is a subversive, clandestine group working from within an organisation or country with the objective of bringing about its downfall. Th...

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see Not give a fig

Fig leaf

For hundreds of years it has sometimes been customary to cover the genitalia in paintings and statues with fig leaves. One could argue that the fig le...

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Fight one’s/your corner

To defend one’s position or interests, derives from boxing in the 18th century and became figurative of any situation by the early 20th century.

Fight shy of

To avoid meeting or confronting someone or something dates from the late 18th/early 19th century and derives from earlier literal use of not wanting t...

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Fight tooth and nail/claw

Use all one’s resources and energy to achieve something dates from the early 1500s with the obvious allusion to fighting like a wild animal.


‘To filch’ is British slang for ‘to steal’ and dates from the mid-1500s. It is recorded in Thomas Harman’s glossary of thieves’, vagabonds’ and rogues...

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Today, its meaning is largely restricted to America where it is a verb or noun describing the practice of obstructing legislation or someone who does...

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Fill one’s boots

This expression means to help oneself to as much as one likes and these days appears to be an expression favoured by sports commentators. Footballers...

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Fill the bill

see Fit the bill

Filled/full to the gunwales/gunnels

The gunwales or ‘gun walls’ were originally where the guns of a ship were placed and the word date in this sense from the 1400s. The correct spelling...

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see Give something a fillip

Film trailer

see Trailer (movie)

Filthy lucre

see Filthy rich

Filthy rich

This expression for describing wealthy people developed out of the expression filthy lucre. Lucre is a medieval word for money and was used by both Ch...

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