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
Walls have ears

This is an admonishment to be careful because conversations can sometimes be overheard. The expression dates in this form from the early 1600s but the...

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Wally

British slang for a fool or simpleton but with connotations of disparagement because a ‘wally’ is usually quite obnoxious. It dates from the 1970s and...

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Wank

British vulgar slang for masturbate as performed by males, dates in the spoken language from the late 19th century. Despite the word’s popularity and...

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Wanker

This is one of Britain’s finest slang words. It literally means one who masturbates, but now means so much more. It can means twit, wally, berk, prat,...

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Warm as toast

Well known and often used simile for feeling warm and cosy, dates in this form from the early 19th century, but ‘hot as toast’ is first recorded from...

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Warm the cockles of the heart

This is one of the most expressive idioms in the language meaning to suffuse with a warm glow of pleasure. The expression has been around since the mi...

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Warts and all

Warts and all, as in the statement, “You have to accept me, warts and all,” means that the speaker is making an appeal for acceptance, inclusive of hi...

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Wash one’s hands of the whole affair/matter

To disown or disassociate oneself from a particular state of affairs; the source is the New Testament, Matthew 27:24 when Pontius Pilate literally was...

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Wash-out

A disappointing failure this figurative usage dates from the late 19th/early 20th century.


Washed out

Lacking in colour, animation or vigour this figurative usage dates from the mid-19th century.


Washed up

Washed up meaning finished, defeated, or a failure, is American and first attested from the 1920s. See also Take a bath and cleaned out. There may be...

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Waste not, want not

This saying means if you do not waste anything, you will not want for anything and is first attested in this form from the late 18th century. It is, h...

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Wasted

Wasted is American slang for intoxicated, drugged, exhausted or even murdered, depending on the context, and dates from the 1950s. Synonyms like trash...

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Watch someone’s back

To watch or cover someone’s back is to guard and look after their well-being, both literally and figuratively and has evolved into ‘having someone’s b...

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Watched kettle never boils

In its original format of ‘a watched pot never boils’, which is still the preferred American version, it is attributed to Benjamin Franklin who record...

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