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

Racial slur for an Arab, Muslim, or Asian person who wears a cloth headdress, turban, etc. Thought to be American, and not cited before the mid-1970s.

Rags to riches

Rags to riches has been a popular genre of storytelling, where people of poor and humble beginnings become wealthy and successful, for centuries. The...

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Rain on someone’s parade

A chiefly American idiom meaning to spoil someone’s plans or celebrations, to shatter illusions or expectations, is first attested from c. 1900 - from...

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Raining cats and dogs

Raining cats and dogs means very heavy rain but why cats and dogs? We know that its first appearance, in a slightly modified form, is in 1653 in Richa...

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Rainy day

see Saving for a rainy day

Raise Cain

To Raise Cain means to cause trouble and uproar, an American expression that dates from the early 19th century. ‘Raise’ Cain here is used in the sense...

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Raise one’s hackles

see Makes one’s hackles rise

Raise the ante

see Up the ante

Raise the bar

A metaphor for setting higher goals or standards from the allusion to raising the bar in high-jump or pole-vault competitions, dates from the late 20t...

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Raise the roof

To make a loud, excessive noise and in some contexts can mean to get very angry, dates from the early 20th century. See also Hit the roof and Through...

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A disreputable person dates from the mid-17th century and is an abbreviation of the now archaic ‘rake-hell’, someone who literally rakes up hell, whic...

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Rake someone over the coals

see Haul/drag/rake someone over the coals


Loosely held together, unstable, rickety, dates from the late 18th/early19th century, from ransackle (1670s), an obsolete form of ransack.


South Africa’s unit of currency introduced in 1961 derives from the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Witwatersrand is Afrikaans (the South African versi...

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Lecherous or sexually aroused, the word has been around since the mid-17th century. Its origin remains obscure but there are two suggested origins. Th...

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