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
Hocus-pocus

This conjurors’ incantation from the early 17th century can now mean meaningless talk, nonsense or anything designed to deceive or mislead. Hocus Pocu...

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Hodge-podge

A mish-mash, a medley or jumble dates from the 1600s and is a variant of the earlier hotchpotch, which means the same thing.


Hogmanay

Scottish and Northern English dialect word for the last day of the year or New Year’s Eve dates from the 1600s. It is not a Gaelic word and the OED su...

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Hogwash

In a pig-farming context, hogwash means waste, garbage, leftovers, the watery swill or slop with which pigs are fed. This meaning dates from the mid-1...

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Hoick

To pull or jerk something suddenly is a colloquialism that dates from the late 19th/early 20th century. The OED offers that it may derive from hike or...

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Hoist with one’s own petard

This expression means to fall foul of one’s own bad intentions towards others. It was coined by Shakespeare in Hamlet, Act III, Scene IV, “For ‘tis th...

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Hoity-toity

Hoity-toity is a rhyming jingle that derives from the now obsolete verb hoit meaning to indulge in riotous or noisy mirth. The OED attests this usage...

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Hokey pokey

A variation of hocus pocus dating from the early 19th century.


Hokum

This is early 20th century American slang from the theatre for exaggerated, melodramatic acting, which has now taken on the meaning of rubbish or nons...

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Hold a candle to

This expression is usually expressed in the negative as cannot hold a candle to someone or something. In The Middle Ages, servants or apprentices woul...

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Hold sway

Have sovereignty, power or control over something or someone. Sway is a late Middle English word that means the power of rule or command and the OED s...

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Hold the fort

This means to take charge and manage until relief or more help arrives. Its origin is from the American Civil War (1861-1865) when General Sherman sen...

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Hold the phone

Injunction to another person to stop what they are doing and await further instructions or developments, derives from the early days of the telephone,...

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Hold thumbs

see Fingers crossed


Hold water

If an opinion or theory holds water it means that it is valid or passes scrutiny. This expression dates from c.1600 from the obvious allusion to a sou...

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