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
Wipe/wiping the slate clean

see Clean slate


Wire

see Down to the wire


Wires crossed

see Get one’s wires crossed


Wise guy

American informal for a smart-ass or smart aleck, where the word wise is used ironically or sarcastically, dates from the late 19th century. It is als...

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Wise-ass

American slang for someone who is insolent, impertinent or out of line, dates from the 1970s.


Wish is father to the thought

The wish is father to the thought means that a thought or belief is sometimes prompted a desire for it to be so, and was coined by Shakespeare in Henr...

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Wish the ground would open and swallow me up

This hyperbole is frequently heard when people wish to escape from an embarrassing situation by disappearing suddenly. It dates from at least the 1500...

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Witch hunt

Witch hunts in the literal sense went on from the Early Middle Ages to the 1700s. Today of course, the expression is only used metaphorically as a per...

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With a pinch of salt

see Pinch of salt


With bells/knobs on

‘With bells on’ is a British colloquialism that dates from the late 19th century and means ‘and all the rest’ or ‘with all the extras’. The variant ‘w...

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With flying colours

see Come home with flying colours


Within a hair’s breadth

see By/to/within a hair’s breadth


Within a whisker of

see By/to/within a hair’s breadth


Without a leg to stand on

see Not a leg to stand on


Without moving a muscle

see Move a muscle


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