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
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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Water off a duck’s back

Usually in the form of a simile, ‘like water off a duck’s back’ describes a remark or an incident that seemingly has no effect on the person so target...

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Water under the bridge/past the mill

Water under the bridge or past the mill meaning that something is irrevocable, in the past and therefore best forgotten, was an ancient saying before...

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Water, water, everywhere

Frequently misquoted as “Water, water, everywhere and not a drop to drink” when in fact it was originally written as “Water, water, everywhere, not an...

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A watershed is a significant turning point, a division, a transition or change of direction and acquired this figurative meaning from the mid-19th cen...

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Wax lyrical

To wax lyrical means to be effusive and enthusiastic about something or someone and dates from the latter half of the 19th century. The word ‘wax’ use...

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Way out

In the sense of great, excellent, admirable is American and dates from the mid-20th century and is thought to derive from the language of jazz. Not ma...

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We are not amused

This famous remark is attributed to Queen Victoria in 1900 by Caroline Holland in a book entitled Notebooks of a Spinster Lady (1919). Holland, howeve...

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Wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve

Shakespeare’s metaphor for openness and honesty, as in not being afraid to show one’s feelings at all times, comes from Othello (c.1604) Act I, Scene...

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Wear sackcloth and ashes

see Sackcloth and ashes

Weasel and stoat

Rhyming slang for coat, weasel and stoat/coat, dates from the 1940s.


see Get weaving


see World Wide Web

Wedding kit/tackle

Wedding kit is British slang for male genitalia dating from c. 1918. Wedding tackle means the same thing and dates from the 1980s. See also Tackle.


see Days of the week

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