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
Hope springs eternal

The full quotation is “Hope springs eternal in the human breast” coined by Alexander Pope in An Essay on Man (1733-1734) and soon became proverbial.

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Hopping mad

Jumping up and down with rage dates from the early 1800s.


Children’s street game, various forms of which date back to Roman times. The word hopscotch dates from the 18th century but in earlier centuries it wa...

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see Make a (complete) Horlicks of something

Horn in

To horn in on somebody or something is to interrupt or intrude rudely and aggressively. It is American cowboy slang from the late 19th century (c.1880...

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Hornets’ nest

see Stir up a hornets’ nest

Horns of a dilemma

In popular usage, to be caught on the horns of a dilemma is to be in a position of doubt or perplexity. More correctly, it means a choice between alte...

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Sexually aroused dates from the mid-19th century but horn has been slang for the penis or an erection thereof since the mid-18th century. Despite its...

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Hors d’oeuvre (plural hors d’oeuvres)

This is a French culinary term that literally means ‘outside or apart from the main work’. In other words, a food dish that is apart from the main cou...

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Horse has bolted

see Shut the stable door after the horse has bolted

Horse sense

Sound, practical common sense, dates from the early 19th century from the American West. Horses are not particularly intelligent animals but they were...

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An American idiom for hard, shrewd bargaining dates from c. 1820 and derives from horse traders who were noted for their negotiation skills.

Horse’s arse/ass/backside

A stupid person or sometimes rubbish, nonsense or something of little worth, American slang dates from the early 19th century. The British version is...

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Horse’s mouth

see Straight from the horse’s mouth


Rough, boisterous behaviour; this usage dates from the early 1500s. To horse around derives from horseplay but is of American origin from the early 20...

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