A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Into thin air

When something vanishes or disappears into thin air, it means that it merges or melts into the atmosphere. Shakespeare is credited with coining the ph...

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As in expressions like ‘not worth an iota’ or ‘not one iota of truth’ means worthless or totally untruthful. According to the OED, this usage of iota...

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Abbreviation for I owe you obviously with the U substituted for you. The abbreviation has been used since the early 17th century. Since 1795, an IOU f...

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IQ is an abbreviation for intelligence quotient, a system for measuring intelligence. It was invented in 1912 by the German psychologist Wilhelm Louis...

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Iron Curtain

Most famously, this phrase refers to the impenetrable social, cultural and political barrier that Soviet Russia set up between Eastern Europe and the...

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Iron out

To iron out differences, wrinkles etc, is to smooth out difficulties or problems and dates in this figurative sense from the mid-18th century with obv...

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Meaning an armoured warship is first attested from 1852 when warships first resorted to cladding their timbered hulls with sheets of iron. From c.1884...

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Irons in the fire

An efficient, skilled blacksmith would have the right amount of irons in the fire, irons that he could deal with comfortably. An over-ambitious smith...

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Is the Pope a Catholic?

A jocular, rhetorical question that originated in America during the 1960s but which was soon adopted around the English-speaking world. It is usually...

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It ain’t over till the fat lady sings

see It’s not over till the fat lady sings

It all comes out in the wash

see All comes out in the wash

It takes two to tango

see Two to tango

It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good

see Ill wind that blows nobody any good

It’s not over till the fat lady sings

A modern American proverb that is used to describe close-run contests and was first cited during the 1970s in a sporting context although the referenc...

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Itching palm

Derives from the superstition that when the palm of one’s hand itches, money is on the way, often illicitly. Shakespeare is sometimes credited with th...

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