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

In expressions like pretty awful or pretty difficult, pretty means fairly or moderately and dates in this sense from the mid-1500s. Pretty as in a pre...

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Pretty penny

A pretty penny is an understatement for a considerable amount of money and is first recorded, according to the OED, from the early 1700s. See also Tid...

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Pretty please

An imploring request requiring yes as an answer, dates from the early 20th century c. 1913, according to the OED. ‘Pretty please with sugar on top’ th...

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Prick used to be Standard English for penis, from the allusion that it is something that can ‘prick’ or pierce. The OED records its first usage from t...

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Prick teaser

A girl or woman who permits and assumes some intimacies but not coitus, dates from the late 19th century. See also Cock teaser.

Pride goes before a fall

This has been a popular proverb since the early 16th century. It is sometimes in the form of pride will have a fall or sometimes shortened to pride be...

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Prince of darkness

A name for Satan, the devil, coined by Shakespeare in King Lear Act III, Scene IV when Edgar says, “The prince of darkness is a gentleman.”

Printer’s devil

In the printing business, this has been a name for an errand boy or apprentice since the mid to late 17th century. There is nothing sinister or malici...

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Sometimes abbreviated as Pte, signifies the lowest rank in the army. The word came into use during the 16th century when people were commonly classifi...

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Private eye

Private eye is a phonetic rendering of ‘private investigator’ where the first letter of the word investigator is replaced by the word ‘eye’ because of...

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Privates/Private parts

These are colloquial expressions for genitalia and first attested from the late 18th century.

Procrastination is the thief of time

This popular saying was coined by the English poet Edward Young (1681-1765). It appears in his poem Night Thoughts, which was published in 1742. Night...

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Proof of the pudding is in the eating

This expression meaning that the value of anything is best appreciated by experiencing it dates from the late 17th century. It is not known who coined...

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Propeller head

Someone who is obsessively interested in technical or scientific matters dates from the early 1980s and is of American origin. The expression was insp...

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Propose a toast

see Drink/propose a toast

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