A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Moot point

A moot point means a topic or subject that is open to debate and thus undecided. This usage dates from the late 17th century and frequently appears in...

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Mopping up

Military slang for clearing out pockets of enemy resistance, usually after the main attack has gone through, dates from the First World War.

More afraid of fear than anything else

see Fear itself

More fun than a barrel of monkeys

This expression using a number of different collective nouns for monkeys e.g. cage, box, wagonload, barrel-load, etc has been around since the mid-19t...

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More haste, less speed

Over-hasty action can often result in slow progress, a very ancient proverb known to both the Greeks and Romans and probably to earlier civilisations....

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More than one string to one’s bow

To have more than one option or talent appears in John Heywood Proverbs (1546) when it was already old proverb with the obvious allusion to archery.

More the merrier

The more people who attend a social gathering the happier it will be, an old proverb that first appears in John Heywood Proverbs (1546).


Of food and drink so good that one wants more, dates somewhat surprisingly from the late 1600s.


Mosey is an American colloquialism that means to amble or move at a leisurely pace. The origin is obscure but when it first appeared during the early...

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This euphemistic version of motherfucker is now heard all over the English-speaking world after making its appearance in America during the 1930s. Fra...

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Mother earth

The ground or terra firma dates from the late 1500s and is much older than motherland meaning one’s home country, which came into use during the late...

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Mother of pearl

Pearls are found in pearl oysters but the shiny, iridescent lining of the pearl oyster shells also yields mother of pearl, so called because the pearl...

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Mother tongue

One’s native language, the expression dates from the 1400s.

Mother’s ruin

Mother’s ruin as a nickname for gin dates from the late 19th century although the ruinous social repercussions of cheap gin, particularly on women, wa...

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Originally, black American slang for a despicable person dates from the early 20th century, but the shocking literal meaning has softened down the yea...

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