A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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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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Make one’s hair stand on end

This very old metaphor describes extreme fear or frustration. There are two sources. One is the Bible Job 4:15 “Then a spirit passed before my face; t...

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Make one’s skin crawl

see Make one’s flesh/skin creep

Make tracks

To get going, usually in a hurry, originally American from c. 1830, and passed into Standard English from about 1860.

Make waves

An American idiom meaning to cause trouble or rock the boat, dates from the early 1960s.

Make/made with one’s own fair hands

see Fair hands


A temporary expedient or an inferior substitute dates in this sense from the early 19th century, but the etymology is not from shift as in to move but...

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Malapropism is the misuse of words of similar sound or construction and mistakenly thought to be named after Mrs Malaprop in Sheridan’s 1775 play The...

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This expression for foolish or empty talk originated in American English and according to Merriam-Webster dates from 1929. Its origin is unknown, alth...

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Man after his/my own heart

This expression describes a soul mate or kindred spirit and the source is the Bible, Samuel I, 13:14, “The Lord had sought him a man after his own hea...

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Man bites dog (is news)

This was coined by John Bogart (1845-1921) while he was city editor of The Sun newspaper, New York. The full quotation as it appears in The Story of T...

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Man for all seasons

This was Robert Whittington’s famous description of Sir Thomas More written c. 1520. A Man for All Seasons was fittingly the title of the play by Robe...

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Man Friday

Describes a loyal and devoted servant or odd-job man and dates in this sense from the early 19th century. The origin of course is the man that Robinso...

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Man of few words

Could it be that Shakespeare, hardly a man of few words, coined this expression? He certainly used it in the plural form in Henry V, Act III, Scene II...

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Man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do

Often wrongly attributed to John Wayne in the movie Stagecoach (1939), or Hondo (1953) or to Alan Ladd in the movie Shane (1953). Neither actor these...

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