A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Straight from the horse’s mouth

From the highest authority or from the best source, this was originally an American expression first cited from the early 20th century. In horseracing...

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Straight from the shoulder

Straight from the shoulder means direct, forceful, honest talk or opinion and dates in this sense from the late 19th century. The origin is pugilism w...

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Straight out

To come straight out with something is to tell it like it is with no restraints and is an American expression that dates from 1840.


According to the OED, strait-laced is descriptive of persons “excessively rigid or scrupulous in matters of conduct; over-precise; prudish” and dates...

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Straw that broke the camel’s back

see Last/final straw

Straws, clutching/grasping at

see Clutch/grasp at straws


In its modern sense, this technical term from hydrodynamics makes its appearance in the late 19th century where it was first used to describe how flui...

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Streets ahead

Streets ahead means far superior and is first attested in this sense as a colloquial expression dating from 1856. To win by a street, meaning a comfor...

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Strength to strength

Go from strength to strength is to grow stronger and stronger. The origin is the Bible Psalms 84:7 “They grow from strength to strength.”

Stretch of the imagination

see By no/not by any stretch of the imagination


British mild oath used to express surprise or dismay, similar to gosh, blimey, etc dates from the late 19th century and is a contraction of the older...

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Strike while the iron’s hot

Be decisive and seize opportunities as they arise derives from the blacksmith’s forge. If the blacksmith fails to shape the metal while it is soft and...

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Stroll in the park

see Walk/stroll in the park


British informal for aggressive or argumentative, dates from the 1940s and derives from a corruption of obstreperous.

Stuck record

Someone sounds like a stuck record when he or she keeps repeating the same thing over and over again. The expression dates from c.1940 and derives fro...

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