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
Fire in one’s belly

A phrase that describes unquenchable ambition or desire to succeed dates from the 19th century, perhaps from the uncomfortable feeling of extreme hung...

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Fire on all cylinders

see Firing on all cylinders

Fire someone

As in to dismiss or discharge from employment, was originally American slang from the late 19th century but is now part of Standard English. It derive...

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Originally, a piece of wood kindled with fire at one-end and carried as a torch dates from the late 14th /early 15th century. Within a short while the...

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Fired up

An American expression meaning angry or highly charged dates from the early 19th century.

Fired, as in dismissed or discharged from employment

see Fire someone.

Firing on all cylinders

The first figurative use of this idiom, meaning to work or perform at maximum efficiency is recorded in America from 1912. It obviously derives from t...

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First base

see Touch base

First dibs

To have dibs or first dibs is to have the right to choose or share something and is first recorded in this sense in America during the 1930s. Earlier,...

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Fish nor fowl

see Neither fish nor fowl

Fish out of water

Out of place, in an uncomfortable environment, no doubt a very ancient metaphor of which the first known use is Chaucer Canterbury Tales c. 1385.

Fishing expedition

To embark on a fishing expedition means to trawl for information and dates in this figurative sense from the 1930s.


A loud, coarse woman, and dates in this sense from the mid-1600s. Originally, however, a fishwife was simply a woman who sold fish, and this literal m...

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Questionable, dubious or shady dates from the 19th century, presumably from the smell.

Fist pump

Celebratory gesture made with a clenched fist, the phrase and probably the gesture dates from the 1960s in America but seems to have spread throughout...

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