A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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A native drum, dates from the late 17th century, and derives from the Hindi word for such a drum, tam tam, which the OED says is probably imitative of...

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Tom, Dick and Harry

As in ‘every Tom, Dick and Harry was there’, which, despite the names, means that an unspecified number of unknown people were there. Putting together...

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The etymology is from Tom, a common name for a boy, and from the mid-16th century was first used to describe a typically boisterous, rude or forward b...

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Tomfoolery meaning silly or foolish behaviour dates from the early 19th century. Tom Fool as an expression for a fool has been known since the 14th ce...

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British informal for the average British Army soldier; dates from the late 19th century and derives from Thomas Atkins, the example name used in army...

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Shortening of Thompson sub-machine gun, dates from the early 1920s. The weapon was patented in 1920 by General John Thompson its American inventor.


Utter rubbish, nonsense or foolishness is a later development from tomfoolery and dates from the late 19th century.

Tomorrow is another day

Famously the last lines of Margaret Mitchell’s novel Gone with the Wind (1936) and spoken by Vivien Leigh in the 1939 movie. As a popular maxim, it ha...

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British slang for one hundred dates from c.1946 and was first used in the context of money where a ton was one hundred pounds sterling and then applie...

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Ton of bricks

To come down on someone like a ton of bricks or if something hits you like a ton of bricks, are metaphors implying great seriousness or great force. T...

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see Ton

Tongue in cheek

Something that is said or written tongue in cheek means the intent is humorous or ironic and not to be taken literally. Putting one’s tongue in one’s...

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To give something a tonk is to strike something vigorously. The OED says the word is imitative or echoic in origin and gives a citation from 1910.

Too big for one’s boots/breeches/britches

Means having an over-inflated opinion of oneself. The American version is for breeches or britches and dates from the early 19th century, whereas boot...

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Too close to call

see Close call

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