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
Gracious!/Gracious me!/Goodness gracious me!

Mild expletives of surprise, wonderment, or incredulity that date from the early 19th century.

Grand slam

Originally from the game of Whist or Bridge where to win all 13 tricks on offer is called a grand slam. This usage is first attested from the early 19...

Read More

Granny knot

A badly tied knot that is liable to jam, a naval expression that dates from the 1860s. Perjorative in the sense that it could have been tied by one's...

Read More


To hear something on the grapevine is an American metaphor for informal, word-of-mouth communication that dates from the mid-19th century with the all...

Read More

Grasp at straws

see Clutch/grasp at straws

Grasp the nettle

Tackle a difficult problem boldly and directly dates from the late 1500s and derives from the centuries-old knowledge that the common stinging nettle,...

Read More


British slang from c. 1920 for a police informer. It can also be used a verb as in to grass on someone. It is believed to be an abbreviation of grassh...

Read More

Grass roots

An American metaphor for a very basic, down to earth level or approach; dates from the early 20th century and was originally used to describe basic, o...

Read More

Grass widow

Describes a woman whose husband is away temporarily dates from the early 19th century and is thought to have originated in British India when wives we...

Read More

Graveyard shift

A late night or through-the-night period of work, an Americanism that dates from the late 19th century, from the allusion to night and darkness being...

Read More

Gravy boat

see Gravy train

Gravy train

This was originally an American expression dating from the early 20th century, which means an easy ride from which to make easy money. Gravy was an ea...

Read More

Grease Monkey

Originally US informal for someone who repairs machines, especially car engines, dates from the 1920s.

Grease one’s palm

Grease in the sense of bribe dates from the 1520s and the expression grease someone’s palm i.e. put bribe money in their hands dates from the 1580s.

Greased lightning

The natural phenomenon of lightning has been associated with speed since at least The Middle Ages. Lightning fast or quick as lightning is first attes...

Read More

back to top