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
Ring the changes

This expression now means to employ alternative methods and originates from the ancient custom of bell ringing when different peals of the bells indic...

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Ring-fence

A ring-fence is an enclosure that completely surrounds an estate, a farm or a piece of ground. It is also used as a verb and first dates in this liter...

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Ring/ring piece

Ring and ring piece are British low colloquialisms for the anus and date from the late 19th century.


Ringer

see Dead ringer


Ringleader

Derogatory term for a troublemaker or instigator of some reprehensible act or deed and dates from the early 16th century. Ring has been a collective n...

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Rings a bell

The expression is of course figurative in the sense that when something rings a bell it awakens a memory. Most etymological sources maintain this expr...

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Rip-off

A rip-off is a swindle or an over-charge and is an Americanism from c.1967 but ‘to rip’ meaning to steal or rob was earlier American slang from the la...

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Ripe old age

A well-worn expression where old age is described as ripe i.e. having reached full maturity, is one of the oldest clichés in the English language dati...

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Ripper/ripping

Ripper is a modern Australian colloquialism (c. 1970s) for something excellent or exceptional. Derives from the earlier English slang expression, ripp...

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River of time

The metaphor of time as a river was coined by Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) Meditations IV, “Time is a sort of river of passing events.”


Road to hell is paved with good intentions

The concept behind this proverb meaning that good intentions on their own are not enough to avoid trouble or even damnation, is very old, but is thoug...

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Rob Peter to pay Paul

Means take from one and give to another but its origin remains a mystery. The story that funds were taken from the parish of St Peter, Westminster Abb...

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Rock and roll (Rock ‘n’ roll)

This was originally an African-American expression often used in music lyrics, especially blues, from about 1934 onwards. In this context, it meant se...

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Rock bottom

This is an American colloquial expression from the mid-19th century, used figuratively to mean the lowest possible depth that a state of affairs can s...

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Rock the boat

To do or say something that causes a problem or stirs up trouble dates from the early 20th century and derives from the obvious allusion to upsetting...

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