A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Wing and a prayer

see On a wing and a prayer

Wing it

To wing it means to play something by ear (in its figurative sense) or make it up as one goes along. The expression derives from the world of theatre...

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Wink wink, nudge nudge, say no more

A British catchphrase that has become a hallmark for sexual innuendo. It was first aired in a 1969 comedy sketch during the BBC (British Broadcasting...

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Wink/wink of sleep

Wink of sleep is usually expressed in the negative, e.g. could or did not sleep a wink, and this usage dates from the 14th century, where a wink mean...

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Wipe the floor with someone

To wipe the floor with someone is to inflict a humiliating defeat, and is originally an American expression that dates from the late 19th century. It...

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Wipe/wiping the slate clean

see Clean slate


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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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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