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
Outside the box

see Think outside the box


To strip is now a largely archaic word dating from the 1400s meaning to move quickly. To outstrip means to outrun and leave someone behind and dates f...

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Over a barrel

To have someone over a barrel is to place him or her in an awkward or compromising situation. This figurative use dates from the late 19th century and...

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Over cadovers

This is just a way of saying that something or other is really over, finished, the end. Where it comes from, or when, remains a mystery, but there is...

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Over the coals

see Haul/drag/rake someone over the coals

Over the hill

Past one’s best and in decline, dates from the early 20th century, built on the analogy of life being like a hill or mountain. When one has reached th...

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Over the moon

Over the moon means wildly excited or elated, the source is the anonymous nursery rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle, which dates from the late 1700s, where the...

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Over the top

Over the top' means excessive, exaggerated or beyond the norms, and derives from the military practice of going over the top of the trenches in WWI. O...

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Over-egg the cake/pudding

To over-embellish, exaggerate or spoil something dates from the late 20th century and the allusion is to baking where adding too many eggs can spoil t...

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see Go overboard

Overstep the mark

To go beyond accepted norms or standards, derives from sporting contests, shooting etc where a mark defines a position from which the sporting contest...

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An obvious conflation that refers to either Oxford or Cambridge universities or both, sometimes to distinguish them from redbrick universities. First...

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Oxo cube

Rhyming slang for the tube, The London Underground, Oxo cube/tube, dates from the mid-20th century.


An oxymoron is a figure of speech by which contradictory terms are joined together yet still resulting in meaning and relevance. For example, the phra...

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see World is my oyster

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