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
Under the radar

To be under the radar or fly under the radar is to act surreptitiously so to avoid being noticed or detected and has been used in this metaphorical se...

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Under the thumb

To be under the thumb is a very old expression meaning to be under someone’s command or control and dates in this sense from the late 1500s. The expre...

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Under the weather

Somewhat indisposed, not feeling well, dates from the early 19th century. Although the origin is not certain, it is reasonable to conjecture that the...

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Undercooked/underdone

Undercooked or underdone is a sports commentators’ cliché from the early 21st century meaning a lack of match practice. Presumably the metaphor derive...

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Underhand

Describes dubious, surreptitious, possibly cheating tactics and derives from gambling during the 17th century, when card players had to keep their han...

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Underwhelm

This increasingly overused word is from the mid-20th century (1956 according to the OED) and has come to mean the opposite of overwhelm. Overwhelm its...

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Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown

Ever since Shakespeare coined this expression in Henry IV Part II, Act III, Scene I, in 1597/98, it has been a way of describing the constant pressure...

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Unkindest cut of all

The exact quotation from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Act III, Scene II is “This was the most unkindest cut of all” which Marc Anthony uses to describe...

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Unpack

To explain, analyse or break down into constituent parts is first attested in the language of computers and automation in the mid-1950s, but its usage...

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Unsung hero/heroes

An unsung hero is a person who makes a substantive but unrecognised contribution to an enterprise and it dates in this sense dates from the mid-19th c...

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Until blue in the face

see Blue in the face


Until the cows come home

People can talk, wait, or engage in virtually any number of pastimes until the cows come home, which means a very long but indefinite time. The expres...

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Untoward

Untoward means improper or unseemly and has enjoyed this meaning since the early 1600s. From this same time, its antonym, toward, enjoyed the opposite...

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Up a gum tree

To be up a gum tree or stuck up a gum tree means to be in trouble or in some sort of predicament and dates in this sense from the early 19th century....

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Up and coming

This American expression from the late 19th century denotes the rise of a potential talent yet to come to fruition.


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