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
Razzle-dazzle

An echoic, rhyming compound based on the word dazzle. Razzle-dazzle is originally an American expression and dates from c.1890 but it had soon crossed...

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Re-boot

To boot or re-boot a computer means to start or re-start it and dates from around 1975. Boot is in fact short for bootstrap, which is a fixed sequence...

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Read between the lines

Means to discern a meaning that is not obvious or explicit, dates from the early 19th century and derives from a simple form of cryptography where the...

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Read the riot act

These days, to read somebody the riot act is to scold or warn them to modify their behaviour and this figurative usage and meaning dates from the earl...

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Ready money/Readies

Ready money means cash money and dates from the early 18th century. It was coined by William Somerville in 1727 in his poem Ready Money “Tis ready mon...

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Real McCoy

The genuine article derives in America from Kid ‘The Real’ McCoy (real name Norman Selby) welterweight champion from 1898-1900. At first, his fighting...

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Reap what you sow

This metaphor meaning that one has to face the consequences of one’s actions is a recurring theme in the Bible. Perhaps the best example is Job 4:8, “...

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Recharge one’s batteries

When used figuratively, it means to re-gain one’s strength and energy, from the obvious, literal allusion of recharging a battery as the source of ele...

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Recipe

This common everyday word is in fact the imperative of the Latin verb recipere meaning ‘to take’. The imperative form of recipere is recipe meaning ‘t...

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Red

As in radical, revolutionary, socialist or communist dates from the mid-19th century and is the colour most associated with such political movements,...

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Red carpet treatment

References to red as the colour of sovereignty and nobility and red floor coverings being put out for royalty, date back to Ancient Greek times. It is...

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Red cent

The complete expression is ‘not worth a red cent’, which means that something is virtually worthless. The expression is American and is first cited fr...

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Red flag

To put up a red flag is a metaphor for giving or sending a warning signal and has been used in this figurative way since the early 1700s. Since the 14...

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Red handed

To be caught red handed means to be caught in the act, especially of a crime, and dates in this sense from the late 18th/early19th century. To be ‘cau...

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Red herring

A red herring is a ploy to deceive or throw someone off the scent and therein is the derivation, from the training of hunting dogs. In the 17th centur...

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