A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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To talk or write aimlessly or ignorantly dates from the late 17th/early 18th century and is purely of echoic or imitative origin. Waffle, as in a kind...

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Wait on someone hand and foot

Probably from time immemorial, the aristocracy of all cultures and civilisations have had servants who waited on them ‘hand and foot’. Hand and foot m...

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Wait until the cows come home

see Until the cows come home

Waited on hand and foot

see Wait on someone hand and foot


Wake meaning to stay awake all night as a vigil for a corpse dates from the late 1300s/early 1400s. It was customary in those days to perform this vig...

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Wake up and smell the coffee

Wake up and smell the coffee is an injunction to face up to reality or face the facts, an Americanism first cited in the Chicago Daily Tribune 18 Janu...

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Wake up and smell the roses

see Wake up and smell the coffee


It must be galling for the Welsh that the name of their country should derive from the Anglo-Saxon word wealas, which means foreigners. Wales was the...

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Walk the talk

The original American expression is ‘walk the walk and talk the talk’ or sometimes the other way round, meaning that talk is useless without appropria...

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Walk/stroll in the park

Something that is very easy to accomplish as indeed a walk or a stroll in the park is. This American expression is first attested from the late 1930s...

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Walking on eggs or eggshells

see Treading/walking on eggs or eggshells

Walking on thin ice

see Skating/treading/walking on thin ice


A walkover is an easy or unopposed victory and dates in this figurative sense from c. 1830. Before this, during the 18th century, the original, litera...

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In the colloquial sense, a wallflower is a shy woman who sits by the wall or the fringes of a dance or party for want of a partner. According to the O...

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British slang for beer dates from the early 20th century (the OED gives 1936), rarely heard these days but was popular just before and after WWI; insp...

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