A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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A rascal, rogue, vagabond or scamp dates from the late 17th century and derives from the slightly earlier, rascallion, which is now largely obsolete....

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A thin slice of bacon or ham dates from the late 16th century of unknown origin and etymology.


To blow a raspberry at someone is to make a rude sound by blowing air through compressed lips thereby imitating the sound of a fart. Therein lies the...

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From the early 1600s, a rat was someone who deserted and went over to the other side. Hence, a rat was a deceiver, a traitor, and not to be trusted. T...

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Rat on someone

see Rat

Rat race

American metaphor for the relentless, wearisome drudge of an overly competitive lifestyle dates from the 1930s.

Rat up a drainpipe

In the form of ‘like a rat up drainpipe’, a simile that means with great speed, originated in Australia during the 1960s but soon became popular in Br...

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Rat-arsed is one of myriad slang terms for being drunk. This one is of recent origin, from the 1990s. Sometimes also appears as pissed as a rat.

Rat’s arse

This is a modern form of Tinker’s cuss and dates from the late 20th century. The expression, not to give a rat’s arse (ass) means that one could not c...

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Rat’s arse/ass

see Not give a rat’s arse


Mild insult, usually directed at someone who is cheeky but affable. The origin is Australian with the allusion to a rat catcher’s bag but was soon app...

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Rate of knots

Traditionally, since the mid-17 century, ships’ speeds were always calculated in knots, and originally a rate of knots was simply a term for the speed...

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Rats and mice

Frequently encountered in South African English, this expression means bits and pieces or insignificant detail as in “I have finished the bulk of the...

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Rats leaving a sinking ship

see Rat


see Razzle-dazzle

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