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
Hell or high water

see Come hell or high water

Hell to pay

see Devil to pay


Fiercely determined, an Americanism that dates from the early 19th century. Its literal meaning is of course hell-bound and is used as a hyperbole for...

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Hell’s bells

This expression has been in use since the early 19th century and variously means at great speed as in to go like hell’s bells or sometimes used as a m...

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Hello originally was not a form of greeting but more an expression of surprise and dates in this sense from about 1840 and grew out of earlier cries l...

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Disordered haste, a confused state of affairs dates from the late 16th century and is a rhyming jingle like harum-scarum, hurly-burly, etc. The OED sa...

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Hem and haw

see Um and ah

Hen pecked

Domineered by a nagging wife, dates from the late 17th century, although the grooming of the farmyard cock by attentive hens, whence the expression de...

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Hens’ teeth

The complete expression is as rare or as scarce as hens’ teeth for the simple reason that hens do not have teeth. It is a jocular Americanism that dat...

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see Hip

Herding cats

Like herding cats is a simile that means trying to control an uncontrollable situation based on the fact that cats are independent creatures and resis...

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Here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten me into, Stanley

Supposedly Oliver Hardy’s catchphrase in the Laurel and Hardy movies of the 1930s but in reality it is a slight misquotation. He actually said, “Here’...

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Here’s looking at you kid

This famous catchphrase spoken by Humphrey Bogart to Ingrid Bergman in the movie Casablanca (1942) was not in the original screenplay, it was simply a...

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Here’s mud in your eye

see Mud in your eye

Het up

To be het up is to be sorely vexed or excited about something and American sources date the expression from the early 20th century. The OED on the oth...

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