A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Scattergun approach/strategy

see Shotgun approach/strategy


Scatty is British informal for silly and disorganised and dates from the early 20th century. It is an abbreviation of scatterbrain or scatter-brained,...

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This is 19th century American slang for an imbecile or a clumsy, awkward person. Its origin is Yiddish shlemiel meaning bungler.


Meaning a long and tedious task or journey is early 20th century slang from America. James Joyce makes use of the word in his 1922 novel Ulysses. As w...

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American slang for penis dates from the mid-20th century, from the Yiddish shlang meaning snake.


American word for excessive, banal sentimentality dates from c. 1935 and derives from the Yiddish shmalts, which means melted fat. (The modern German...

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see Schmuck


Talk intimately or ingratiatingly, or one who does so, an American expression from the late 19th century, from the Yiddish schmues to chatter idly.


Contemptible person, American slang dates from the late 19th century. This word is so vulgar as to be almost taboo in most Jewish homes. For this reas...

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Sometimes also in the form of schnozzle this is mid-20th century American slang for nose. It was made famous by Jimmy Durante, the American singer and...

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see Schnozz

Scholar and a gentleman

Not many people realise they are quoting the Scottish poet Robert Burns when they use this expression, but the original phrase was the other way round...

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To be in schtuk is to be in trouble or difficulties, especially financially and dates from the late 19th century. It derives from the Yiddish Schtuk i...

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Variously spelt shtum, shtoom or stumm means to keep quiet and say nothing. It looks like another of those words from Yiddish but a more likely origin...

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Scorched earth

Military strategy term means to burn and lay waste everything that could be of use to an enemy. The practice is of course extremely ancient and goes b...

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