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
Red light district

American expression dates from the late 19th century for an area of a town or city that houses brothels. Such places were generally characterised by r...

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Red line

US President Obama’s famous ‘red line’ speech relating to use of chemical weapons in Syria by the Assad regime in 2012, sparked off a debate among ety...

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Red mist

A red mist is a violent outburst of bad temper that temporarily impairs one’s vision and judgment. According to the OED, the phrase dates from the mid...

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Red rag to a bull

This expression meaning to provoke or enrage someone dates from the early 19th century. In the 16th century, red rag was slang for the tongue and if a...

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Red tape

Red tape means unnecessary or excessive bureaucracy and dates in this figurative sense from the early 19th century. It derives from the 17th century p...

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Red-letter day

A red-letter day is a special day to mark a holiday or a celebration and the expression has been used in this way since the 18th century. The origin d...

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Redbrick

Term used to describe universities other than Oxford and Cambridge and hence somewhat inferior, although this negative connotation has since largely d...

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Rent boy

Young male prostitute; British slang from the early 1980s.


Respecter of persons

see No respecter of persons


Rest on one’s laurels

To rest on one’s laurels is to take time out to relax after one’s achievements and successes and dates in this sense from the early 18th century. The...

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Revenge is a dish best eaten cold

This rather sinister saying advising that vengeance is more enjoyable when it is cold and calculating was coined by the French writer Pierre Choderlos...

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Rhubarb

In Britain, this is an everyday exclamation for rubbish or nonsense, usually in response to something that has been said and dates from the early 20th...

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Rhyme or reason

see No rhyme or reason


Rhyming slang

The OED defines rhyming slang as follows: “a variety of (orig. Cockney) slang in which a word is replaced by a phrase which rhymes with it.” The phras...

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Rich

When the word rich is used metaphorically, as in the statement, ‘that’s a bit rich’ it is expressing amusement or preposterousness and is first record...

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