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

British colloquial noun for something uncommonly large or a monstrous lie, dates from the late 18th century.


British colloquial adjective describing something abnormally large dates from the early 1600s. There are many such words all deriving from striking or...

Read More


see Get on someone’s wick


In the ironic sense of something wonderful, the origin is American and first cited in This Side of Paradise (1920) by F. Scott Fitzgerald. During the...

Read More

Wide berth

see Give a wide berth

Wide boy

Conjures up images of London working class youth, living on the borders of criminality and, indeed, this meaning is first attested for this phrase fro...

Read More

Wide of the mark

Irrelevant or off the subject dates from the 15th century and makes use of one of the many meanings of mark, in this particular instance, a target or...

Read More

Wide or wild blue yonder

In both formats, these American expressions refer to the open sea or sky, in the sense of far and indeterminate distances. They derive from the openin...

Read More

Widow’s peak

A widow’s peak is the distinct, V-shaped hairline at the top centre of the forehead. These days it is a unisex term but this was not always the case....

Read More

Widow’s weeds

Weeds in this sense is simply a very old word for clothing and derives from the Old English wæd, meaning garment or clothing, and which dates back to...

Read More

Wild oats

see Sow wild oats

Wild-goose chase

A wild-goose chase is a figurative expression for an unproductive, pointless or hopeless quest. Its origin dates back to the late 1500s when it descri...

Read More


see Like wildfire

Will o’ the wisp

Will o’ the wisp is the folkloric name given to the natural phenomenon of marsh gas that sometimes ignites on contact with oxygen. It was known to the...

Read More


Originally, children's slang for penis, first recorded in Britain 1905.

back to top