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
Tawdry

This adjective meaning cheap, low quality clothing, especially women’s, has been in use since 1676. Its origin is from Saint Audrey (drop the first fo...

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Taxi

Today, Britons and Europeans take taxis whereas Americans take cabs, but it was not always so. During the 19th century, Britons, Europeans and America...

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Teach old dog new tricks

Usually expressed in the negative form of do not try to teach an old dog new tricks meaning that older people are less open to innovation and novelty....

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Teach your grandmother to suck eggs

Usually expressed in the negative form of don’t teach or try to teach your grandmother to suck eggs meaning do not offer advice to people who have mor...

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Tear one’s hair out

This metaphor describes desperation or frustration so extreme that one could literally pull one’s hair out. First recorded as far back as Anglo-Saxon...

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Tear someone off a strip

To rebuke sharply dates from the early 20th century and is thought to be armed services slang deriving perhaps from the demotion of rank by tearing of...

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Teddy bear

This now world famous toy was named after Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt (1858-1919) who was the 26th US President (1901-1909) and the youngest ever at ag...

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Teeth on edge

Anything that tastes sour or sharp can set one’s teeth on edge by literally causing an unpleasant tingling sensation on the teeth. Edge is used here i...

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Teetotal

Originally, this was a colloquial Americanism in the early 19th century using the reduplicative use of the letter t, as in t-total, or perhaps T-total...

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Tell it to the marines

Tell it to the marines is a scornful, incredulous response to the teller of a story, indicating that the story is far-fetched or untrue. It was first...

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Tell tales out of school

A very old proverb meaning to betray confidences first appears in John Heywood Proverbs (1546) indicating that it is very much older.


Tell the truth and shame the devil

This was a well-known saying long before Shakespeare used it in Henry IV Part I Act III, Scene I, “While you live, tell the truth and shame the devil!...

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Telling

As in, a telling remark or a telling blow means effective, forcible or striking and this usage dates from the mid-19th century. It is all that remains...

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Tempest in a teapot

see Storm in a teacup


Tennis

The name of the game derives from the Old French tenes, which in its modern French form would be tenez the imperative form of the French verb tenir. I...

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