A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Put one’s arse (ass) into gear

Somewhat belatedly, begin to move or take action, American slang from the 1950s, soon adopted in Britain thereafter.


Put one’s back into it

Put one’s back into it is to make a strenuous effort, from the allusion of using the strength of one’s back in physical labour, dates from the late 19...

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Put one’s best foot forward

Means to make the best possible start in any endeavour and the concept has appeared in many different forms. Shakespeare in King John Act IV, scene II...

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Put one’s foot in it

To make a mistake or get into trouble dates from the 1500s when the expression used to be the bishop or some other member of the clergy has ‘put their...

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Put one’s head in the lion’s mouth

Put oneself in a potentially dangerous situation or face up to something bravely, derives from circus lion-tamers’ practice of literally putting their...

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Put one’s nose out of joint

see Nose out of joint


Put one’s skates on

see Get one’s skates on


Put one’s toe in the water

see Dip one’s toe/toes in the water


Put someone on the spot

Put someone in a difficult or awkward situation is American and dates from the 1920s.


Put someone’s lights out

Since the 1600s this was Standard English for to kill or murder someone but from the early 19th century onwards it was considered low or colloquial. T...

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Put someone’s nose out of joint

see Nose out of joint


Put something on the back burner

see Keep something on the back burner


Put that in your pipe and smoke it

This quaint American expression dates from the early 19th century and is simply a more expressive way of saying ‘take that’ or ‘ponder that’ usually a...

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Put the best foot forward

To put or set the best foot forward is to embark on a project with purpose and determination. This expression has been around since the 15th century....

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Put the cart before the horse

see Cart before the horse


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