A-Z Database

A-Z Database

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Whistle-top tour

This expression usually refers to a journey or tour that is quick and punctuated by frequent short stops, most commonly in election campaigns or celeb...

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see Blow the whistle

White as a ghost

First known citation for this is American from 1824. See also Pale as a ghost.

White as a sheet

Although sheets these days come in many colours, there was a time when they were predominately white, and this common expression dates from the late 1...

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White as snow

This expression is so old and so often cited that it is difficult to nail down an exact origin. Suffice to say that the Bible, Chaucer, and Shakespear...

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White elephant

White or albino elephants were, and still are, venerated in many Asian countries, especially Siam (now Thailand). The rulers of Siam had a habit of gi...

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White lie

This use of the word white in this expression is a prime example of how the colour white always used to be synonymous with good things and the colour...

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White telephone

see Big white telephone

Whited sepulchre

A whited sepulchre is a metaphor for a hypocrite or for someone who appears virtuous but is in fact morally corrupt. The source is The New Testament,...

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Whiter than white

This is not an advertising slogan for a washing powder. It is a seemingly nonsensical hyperbole for someone who is morally pure and beyond reproach an...

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The figurative meaning of a cover-up or concealing something dates from the late 18th century. In sports informal, to whitewash means to defeat the op...

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Who loves ya, baby!

This was the catchphrase of Kojak, the tough New York police lieutenant played by Telly Savalas in the 1970s TV crime series of the same name. For a w...

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Who pays the piper, calls the tune

see Call the tune

Whole ball of wax

The only thing we know for sure about this expression is that it is originally American, that it first appears in American newspapers in the 1880s, an...

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Whole bang shoot

‘The whole shoot’ is British military slang for the whole lot or everything and dates from the late 19th century. In this regard, very similar to US m...

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