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
No room to swing a cat

see Swing a cat

No skin off my nose/back/elbow etc

It means that something makes no difference or does not matter and dates from the early 20th century. It is of American origin, allegedly from the spo...

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No smoke without fire

An old English proverb that uses the analogy of smoke and fire to mean that there is always an underlying cause for any event or situation. It dates f...

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No Spring chicken

see Spring chicken

No stone unturned

See Leave no stone unturned


Slang for one’s head since the late 17th/early 18th century. By the mid-1700s, it was also slang for a person of wealth or importance. The etymology i...

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Nod is as good as a wink

Indicates there is no need to say anymore because no further elaboration or explanation is required. The expression dates from the 1600s but the origi...

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Nod/nod off

Besides its obvious original meaning of an affirmative head movement, it also means to sleep as in to nod off. This latter usage dates from the late 1...

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Nodding acquaintance

Slight, incomplete, superficial knowledge of someone dates from the early 19th century when first applied to persons who were greeted with no more tha...

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The original meaning is a small mug, cup or drinking vessel, dates from c.1630 and is of unknown origin. Towards the end of the same century, it came...

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Mild racist South African slang for an African person because dark skin does not reflect light, dates from the late 1980s.


Mild racist British slang for an Afro-Caribbean person because of their supposed aversion to aquatic pastimes, dates from the 1990s.


see U and non-U

Nook and cranny

It is curious how English throws up little idiosyncrasies where obsolete words only exist in certain idioms; nook and cranny is a prime example. Nook...

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British slang for sexual intercourse dates from the late 19th century and probably connected to quiet, shady nooks or corners where such activity migh...

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