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
Too little too late

No one knows who coined this familiar expression for failure to achieve something or other in time. It is first cited from the early 19th century and...

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Too little/too much on one’s plate

see On one’s plate


Too many balls in the air

The notion of keeping balls in the air derives from juggling. Keeping a number of balls in the air expertly is obviously skilful but trying to keep to...

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Too many chiefs, not enough Indians

This American expression dates from the late 1940s and describes a top-heavy organisation in terms of too much management and a shortage of people who...

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Too many cooks spoil the broth

When too many people are involved in a project, the results can be disastrous. This was already an old proverb by the time it was first cited in the 1...

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Too poor to have-find a pot to piss in

US slang for extremely poor or penniless, dates from the 1930s. It has nothing to do with selling urine to treat leather or manufacture explosives, wh...

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Toodle-oo/toodle-pip

British informal expressions meaning goodbye that were popular at the turn of the 19th/20th century and may have given rise to the salutary greeting p...

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Took a bath

see Take a bath


Took the wind out of my sails

see Taken aback


Toothless tiger

A toothless tiger is an empty threat or an aggressive but harmless person. The expression dates in this sense from the mid-20th century and means the...

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Top banana

Top banana means the best in the field, an expert or it can mean the highest executive or boss in the organisation. It is an Americanism that dates fr...

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Top brass

see Brass hat


Top drawer

First class, the very best, dates from the early 20th century from the custom that one’s best finery, clothes, valuables, etc are usually kept in the...

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Top notch

First-rate, outstanding, excellent, dates from the late 18th/early 19th century and derives from various games, cribbage etc, where scores were kept o...

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Topsy-turvy

Upside down, confused or all over the place dates from the early 1500s. Topsy is undoubtedly derived from top and turvy is probably, according to the...

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