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

This expression is mostly used as an exclamation to indicate a mistake or mishap and sometimes excitement or exultation. It has been in use since the...

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Open a can of worms

To address or attempt to resolve a complicated issue that is fraught with problems and is therefore best left alone, dates from the early 1950s and is...

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Open and shut (case)

An open and shut case is one that is so simple and straightforward as to be a forgone conclusion, originally an American expression from the 1840s.

Open doors

To present opportunities for advancement as in ‘open door’ policies, policies without restrictions, dates from the mid-19th century.

Open house

Hospitality for all is first attested during the early 19th century.

Open Pandora’s box

see Pandora’s box

Open Sesame

This has come to mean an open door that unfailingly affords access or success in any endeavour and has been used in this metaphorical sense since the...

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Open the floodgates

Remove all restrictions, to unleash a large quantity of something or other in the figurative sense dates from the 15th century.

Opportunity knocks

Taking opportunities as they arise is a very ancient concept and appears in many literary works down the ages but ‘opportunities knock but once’ is fi...

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Or I’m a Dutchman

Used as an exclamation of disbelief or to emphasise the veracity or certainty of what one has said, dates in this sense from the mid-18th century. Dur...

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Other fish to fry

see Bigger/other fish to fry

Other half lives

see How the other half lives


see Over the top


An exclamation of sharp and sudden pain, first heard and used in America from the early 19th century and now used the world over by English-speaking p...

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Out (of) the park

The park alluded to here is ballpark, the American baseball stadium. This expression is of course American and dates from the 1960s. It can be and is...

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