A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Make a fist of something

This expression can take multiple forms because word fist is often qualified by an adjective. For example, one can make a good, bad, brave, poor fist...

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Make a meal of something

British informal expression that means to tackle a simple task or action with unnecessary, complicated effort and dates from the late 19th century. Fr...

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Make a pass at someone

To initiate a romantic and possibly sexual advance towards another person and dates in this context from the 1920s. It is thought to be of American or...

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Make a rod for one’s own back

Rod is an old Anglo-Saxon word for a stick or cane from at least the 11th century and this expression means that a problem of one’s own creation will...

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Make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

Usually expressed in the negative, one cannot make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, it is an old proverb, popular since the 1500s, and means that one...

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Make a song and dance

see Song and dance


Make hay while the sun shines

Take opportunities when presented, a very old proverb that alludes to the difficulty of haymaking in wet weather, first listed in John Heywood Proverb...

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Make head nor tail of something

see Cannot make head or tail of something.


Make heavy going/ heavy weather of something

see Heavy going/weather


Make minced meat of someone

Used figuratively to annihilate or destroy someone, usually in a contest of some kind, and dates in this sense from the late 17th century. It derives...

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Make mountains out of molehills

see Molehills into mountains


Make no bones about something

For centuries, bones have been a problem in food, especially fish bones. Thus, from at least the 15th century, and probably before that, bones came to...

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Make one’s blood boil

In this particular format, the phraseology has only been around since the early 19th century whereas the concept of one’s blood boiling as in getting...

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Make one’s flesh/skin creep

Describes the sensation of fear and is most often attributed to Jonathan Swift Gulliver’s Travels (1726), “Something in their countenance made my fles...

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Make one’s hackles rise

Hackles is an old English word that dates back to the 1400s for the feathers or fur on the neck of cockerels, pigeons, dogs etc, which are raised or e...

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