A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Piece/slice of the pie

A share of the proceeds or profit, American expression dates from the late 19th century. Its more modern counterpart, piece of the action, dates from...

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Pig in a poke

A pig in a poke denotes something that is worthless. Poke is an Old English word from the 13th century for a bag or sack. The injunction is do not buy...

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Pig in clover

see Happy as a pig in clover

Pig in shit

see Happy as a pig in shit

Pig iron

Pig iron, is wrought iron with a high carbon content that comes straight from the furnace in irregular shapes. These shapes are called pigs because th...

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Pig out

To pig out is to indulge oneself and eat lustily, like a pig. It is a fairly modern expression that dates from the 1970s.

Pig’s ear

Rhyming slang for beer, pig’s ear/beer, dates from the late 19th century.


Originally, British slang for the police from the early 19th century but revived more latterly in America from the 1960s. ‘Bacon’ is a more modern Ame...

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Pigeon hole

Referring to a small, storage compartment in a desk or cabinet, it dates from the late 18th century from the obvious allusion to the holes made for pi...

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Piggy bank

A piggy bank is a pig-shaped, metal, ceramic, or plastic container with a slit in the back, in which coins can be saved. Piggy banks were first attest...

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Piggyback is a corruption of the earlier expression ‘pick-a-back’, which means to carry someone or something on one’s back. Therefore, it really has n...

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Pillar to post

see From pillar to post


British informal expression for a stupid person, dates from the 16th century derives from ‘pillicock’ an archaic word for penis.

Pinch/grain of salt

Taking what people say with a pinch or grain of salt implies that they exaggerating or lying and the allusion is that a pinch or grain of salt will ma...

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Sometimes spelt pinky is originally Scottish dialect for the little finger, dating from the late 18th/early 19th century. It comes from the Old Dutch...

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