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
Penny dreadful

Originally, a cheap, trashy novel of the Victorian era that literally cost a penny, the British equivalent of the American ‘dime novel’. The expressio...

Read More


Penny drops

The penny drops means sudden understanding or realisation of something or other. The expression usually implies a period of non-comprehension before t...

Read More


Penny for your thoughts

This exhortation to reveal what one is thinking is first recorded in John Heywood Proverbs (1546) therefore it should be much older than this. Penny i...

Read More


Penny wise, pound foolish

This aphorism means that concern over small things can lead to missing greater opportunities or pre-occupation with trivial amounts of money can resul...

Read More


People who live in glasshouses should not throw stones

This old English proverb first appears in George Herbert’s Jacula Prudentum (1640) in the form of “Whose house is of glass, must not throw stones at a...

Read More


Peppercorn rent

A peppercorn rent is a nominal or trivial amount of rent that is paid in order to legalise a rental contract. The phrase dates from the late 16th/earl...

Read More


Perfidious Albion

A phrase that describes Britain or England as treacherous or untrustworthy, especially in international affairs. It is often wrongly attributed to Nap...

Read More


Perisher/perishing

British slang, usually derogatory, applied to a rogue or rascal dates from the late 19th century. The adjective perishing dates from around the same t...

Read More


Peter Pan

Describes a man who stays boyish and youthful, sometimes immature, dates from c. 1914 and derives from the J.M.Barrie play Peter Pan (1904) where the...

Read More


Peter/peter out

Peter, meaning to stop or leave off, is cited by the OED as slang or colloquial dating from 1812. It then goes on to give ‘peter out’, meaning to dimi...

Read More


Phew!

An almost universal exclamation that can virtually mean anything depending on the context in which it is used, first attested from the early 17th cent...

Read More


Phillips screw/screwdriver

Proper name for the crosshead screw and its corresponding screwdriver, named after their US inventor Henry F. Phillips (1890-1958).


Phizog/Phizzog

see Physog


Phone home

The full quotation is “E.T. Phone home” which became the popular catchphrase from the 1982 movie E.T. The Extra Terrestrial directed by Steven Spielbe...

Read More


Phooey

US slang expression of disgust or contempt dates from the 1920s and derives from the German pfui that means the same thing.


back to top