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
Lick/licking

In the sense of to beat or thrash, administer a licking, is British slang that dates from the early 1500s. Lick as in a lick of paint means a spot or...

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Lickety-split

An American colloquialism meaning at great speed or pace dates from the early 19th century. The origin is unknown. Attempts to link it with going at a...

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Lie back, close/shut your eyes and think of England

Jocular advice given to women during the course of unwanted or dutiful sex. The expression is thought to have originated in the late 19th century, per...

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Lieutenant

The word lieutenant has two meanings, the first denotes a junior commissioned officer in the army or navy, which dates from the 16th century, the seco...

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Life and soul of the party

The centre of attraction and attention at a social gathering, the person who contributes most to the jollity of the occasion. Life of the party is fir...

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Life is just a bowl of cherries

This metaphor derives from the title of a song written by Ray Henderson and Lew Brown and performed by Ethel Merman in the musical Scandals in 1931. A...

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Life is like a box of chocolates

The famous catchphrase drawn from the movie Forrest Gump (1994). The lead character, a half-wit who turns up at critical moments in 20th century histo...

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Life of Reilly/Riley

Living the life of Reilly, means living an easy, affluent life. The evidence points to an expression of Irish-American origin dating from the late 19t...

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Life on the ocean wave

A Life on the Ocean Wave written in 1847 by Epes Sargent (1813-1880) was the title of a popular 19th century American song that also became popular in...

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Life’s little ironies

Usually appears in the form of one of life’s little ironies and is now a cliché that refers to the minor problems or tribulations in life. It is also...

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Life’s rich pageant/tapestry

Usually in the form of ‘all part of life’s rich pageant’ and often used ironically to indicate that something is actually mundane or dull. Sometimes,...

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Light out of here

see Light/lit out


Light the blue touch-paper

see Blue touch-paper


Light/lit out

To light out meaning to leave or depart in a hurry, more common in the past tense e.g. “He lit out of here as fast as his legs could carry him” is US...

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Lights

Lights meaning the lungs or offal of animals dates from the 1200s. See also According to one’s lights


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