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

Means flashy or affectedly refined, so is generally not a compliment. First citation in writing is from none other than Noel Coward, “The cast is very...

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Piss-poor is slang for shoddy, inferior, not up to standard, and despite the folk etymology circulated online, it is relatively modern deriving from W...

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A drinking spree dates from the 1920s.


In Britain, pissed means drunk and, according to the OED, dates from 1937, but some sources say earlier in the 20th century. In America, pissed means...

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Pissed as a (brewer’s) fart

According to the OED, this rather crude simile for being drunk dates from the 1990s. According to Cassells Dictionary of Slang it dates from the 1960s...

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Pissed as a newt

This common expression for being drunk, according the OED, dates from 1957 but the ‘newt’ part remains an unsolved etymological conundrum. Theories ab...

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Pissed as a rat

see Rat-arsed

Pissed off

British slang for annoyed or fed up, dates from c.1946.

Pissing down (with rain)

British slang for raining hard dates from c. 1950.


Both these expressions are examples of echoic, imitative words that often enter the language, in this instance from the early 1500s, and represent the...

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Pitch a tent

This is the Middle English (1400s) use of the word pitch meaning to erect or set up.

Plain as a pikestaff

‘Plain as a pikestaff’ means obvious or very clear and dates from the mid-1500s, before this, the expression was actually ‘plain as a pack staff’, whi...

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Plain as day

Plain here means obvious or easy to see or understand and is the most modern of the many ‘as plain as’ similes and dates from the mid to late 19th cen...

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Plain as the midday sun

Yet another ‘as plain as’ simile, meaning obvious or very clear and dates from the mid-19th century. It has largely been replaced by the shorter plain...

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Plain as the nose on one’s face

Something that is obvious or very clear, attributed to Francois Rabelais in 1552 by Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, but Rabelais was being translated...

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