A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Swear blind

To swear blind is first cited from the early 20th century and means to swear that something is true, emphatically and vehemently. Blind here is used a...

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Swear like a trooper

To use bad language excessively; dates from the early 18th century. Cavalrymen, especially non-commissioned troopers, were notorious for their coarse...

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Sweat blood

To sweat or exert oneself to the extremity, dates from the late 19th century.

Sweat bullets

To sweat profusely with heavy beads of sweat, which resemble bullets; a metaphor dating from the early 20th century.


The garment dates from the late 19th century, so-called because it was worn after sweating from sports or exercise to prevent cold. See also jersey an...

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‘The Sweeney’ is British rhyming slang for the London Metropolitan Police Flying Squad, a specialised fast-reaction police unit, Sweeney Todd/Flying S...

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Sweep something under the carpet/rug

To conceal something, especially something you have done wrong dates from the mid-20th century. Carpet is more often used in Britain, while rug is mor...

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Sweep the board

To sweep the board means much the same thing as to make a clean sweep and means to win everything going. It dates from the early 19th century and deri...

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Sweeping changes

Drastic, widespread or comprehensive changes; sweeping in this sense dates from the late 18th century and derives the older literal meaning of sweep m...

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Sweet and honourable to die for one’s country

see Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

Sweet as a nut

This British expression means 'with consummate ease, skill or efficiency' and is often used to express a superlative of any kind but the origin is obs...

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Sweet FA or Sweet f-all

see Sweet Fanny Adams

Sweet Fanny Adams

Since the early 20th century, the expression, sweet Fanny Adams, from the initials FA, has become sweet FA, which is generally understood in Britain a...

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Sweet nothings

Sweet nothings are whispered endearments or words of affection shared between lovers. It sounds Shakespearean but in fact sweet nothings are of fairly...

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Sweet smell of success

Coined in 1957 by Ernest Lehman (1915-2006) a screenwriter who wrote screenplay adaptations for many Hollywood movies, including 'The Sweet Smell of S...

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