A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Up close and personal

This expression describes an in-your-face encounter and, depending on the context, it can be either intimate or threatening. It’s originally Ame...

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Up in arms

Since the late 16th century, this expression has acquired its figurative meaning of being excessively agitated or incensed about something. Its origin...

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Up in the gods

The highest seats in a theatre have been known as the gods or gallery gods since the latter half of the 18th century. The OED maintains that the origi...

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Up one’s sleeve

The notion of keeping something up one’s sleeve as a fallback safeguard or a surprise alternative dates back to the 1500s at least, and all such expre...

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Up shit creek

see Up the creek


Up the ante

Increase the intensity or competitiveness of any situation, an Americanism from c.1830 that originally derives from the game of poker where the ante,...

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Up the creek

There is no doubt that up shit creek, and its more euphemistic version, up the creek, are of American origin from the 19th century. In North America,...

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Up the pole

This a curious idiom because it has so many different meanings varying from in the wrong, intoxicated, crazy, or even pregnant. They all date from the...

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Up the spout

A spout is a drain, also a pawnbroker’s lift or hoist by which pawned goods were taken into storage. Up the spout, means variously ruined, pawned, bey...

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Up the wall

Originally, American slang from c.1950 that means frantic, angry or bored as in to drive someone up the wall. It is also linked to ‘climb the wall’ wh...

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Up to scratch/up to the mark

These expressions have come to mean up to the required standard and date in their current figurative sense from the early 19th century. They derive fr...

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Up to snuff

Up to snuff means the same thing as being up to scratch, which means that someone or something is sharp, clever or up to the required standard. The ex...

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Up yours

British vulgar expression of defiance or contempt; sometimes accompanied by a rude gesture, dates from the 1950s.


Up/down the garden path

see Lead someone up/down the garden path


Up/down the swannee

see Down/up the swannee


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