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
Pay through the nose

To pay through the nose means to pay too much or pay an exorbitant amount and dates from the late 17th century. Despite many theories, the origin rema...

Read More


Since the mid-18th century, and originating in the US, peach has been a synonym for a delectable young woman. Later, from the late 19th century, it ca...

Read More

Peanut gallery

American informal for the cheapest seats dates from the late 19th century during the vaudeville era, when the cheapest snacks one could buy at vaudevi...

Read More


A trivial amount of money is American from the 1930s. The peanut or ground nut is native to South America but soon made its way to North America where...

Read More


In the sense of something going awry or out of control, is a relatively modern expression dating from the mid-20th century. It obviously has something...

Read More

Pearl Harbor

Jocular British slang for cold weather dates from the 1990s and derives from the witticism of there being a nip in the air.


Australian/New Zealand slang for something of excellence e.g. a great delivery of the ball in cricket, as in ‘that ball was an absolute pearler’ dates...

Read More

Pearls before swine

Usually in the form of 'cast or casting pearls before swine'. Pearls before swine is a metaphor for items of value or quality offered to those who are...

Read More

Pearly whites

British informal expression for teeth dates from the late 19th century.


American slang for penis, perhaps from allusion to a cock or rooster that pecks, dates from c.1902. See also Keep one’s pecker up.


Originally, this word meaning urination or to urinate was literally the p-word in that it was just written or said as the letter ‘p’ when to say or wr...

Read More

Peeping Tom

An inquisitive, prying person dates from the late 18th century and derives from the legend of Lady Godiva, a noble woman who rode naked through the st...

Read More

Peg it, peg out/pegged

To peg it or peg out are British colloquialisms from the mid-19th century meaning to die, together with ‘pegged’ which means dead. The origin is from...

Read More

Pen and ink

Rhyming slang for stink, pen and ink/stink, dates from the mid-19th century and is still in use.

Pen is mightier than the sword

Verbatim, the quotation is attributed to Edward Bulwer Lytton (1803-1873). The following lines appear in his play Richelieu (1839) Act II, Scene II,...

Read More

back to top