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
Swing a cat

Usually used in the sense of not enough room or space to swing a cat and is generally thought to be a reference to the cat o’ nine tails. Naval shipbo...

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Swing the lead

To swing the lead means to malinger or shirk work and this usage and meaning dates from the early 20th century. Some sources maintain the origin is na...

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Swings and roundabouts

This is a shortened version of the fairground proverb, “what you lose on the swings, you’ll gain on the roundabouts” which first came into use during...

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Swipe

Derives from sweep, hence to take a swipe is to deliver a sweeping blow with one’s fist or with an oar, a baseball bat or cricket bat and dates from t...

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Switch on/switched on

see Turn on


Swiz/swizz

British slang for a fraud or swindle dates from c. 1875. The origin is unknown but is thought to be an abbreviation of swizzle, a corruption of swindl...

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Swizzle stick

A swizzle stick is special cocktail stick for stirring alcoholic drinks dates from the late 19th century. It is now the only existing swizzle, a collo...

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Sword of Damocles

If someone says the sword of Damocles is hanging over them or that something or other is hanging over them like the sword of Damocles, it means that s...

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Swords into ploughshares

To beat or turn swords into ploughshares is to take up peaceful pursuits instead of war; the source is the Bible Isaiah 2:4, “They shall beat their sw...

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Swounds

see zounds


Syphilis

Most people have heard of this sexually transmitted disease but relatively few know that the word was coined in 1530 by an Italian physician and poet,...

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Syrup

Rhyming slang for wig, from syrup of fig/wig, or syrup of figs/wigs, dates from the mid-20th century and has since evolved into a ‘golden syrup’ which...

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