alphabetical index

A – B – C – D – E – FGHIJK – L – M – N – O – P – Q – R – S – T – U – V – W – X – Y – Z – miscellany


A
A1
a baker’s dozen
a bee in one’s bonnet, to have
a cat may look at a king
a chip on one’s shoulder
a fly in the ointment
a little bird told me
a millstone round someone’s neck
a nod is as good as a wink
a Roland for an Oliver
a sandwich short of a picnic
a snake in the grass
a wet blanket
above board
according to Cocker
according to Gunter
according to Hoyle
ache
admirable Crichton
ado
adultescent
agony aunt – agony column
Ajax
albatross around one’s neck, an
Albion
all Lombard Street to a China orange
all my eye and Betty Martin
all Sir Garnet
to amputate one’s mahogany
an albatross around one’s neck
an axe to grind
an Englishman’s home is his castle
angels, on the side of the
Annie’s room, up in
annulaire – ring finger
another pair of shoes
the answer to a maidens’ prayer
ape (to lead apes in hell)
to appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober
the apple of one’s eye
apple-pie order
arm, to chance one’s
(as) cold as charity
(as) fit as a fiddle
(as) fresh as a daisy
(as) happy as a clam
(as) happy as a sandboy
(as) mad as a hatter
(as) mad as a March hare
(as) poor as a church mouse
(as) thick as thieves
(as) warm as toast
at one fell swoop
at sixes and sevens
auld lang syne
Aunt Sally
axe to grind, an


B
back to the drawing board
bad hair day
bag of mystery
baker’s dozen
banger
barmy
bat (to have bats in one’s belfry)
beanfeastbeano
beaver (eager beaver)
to be barking up the wrong tree
to be born on the wrong side of the blanket
to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth
to be on the blanket
to be part and parcel of
to be saved by the bell – être sauvé par le gong
bedlam
bee in one’s bonnet, to have a
the bee’s knees
to beggar belief
belief, to beggar
best bib and tucker
Betty Martin, all my eye and
between the devil and the deep blue sea
betwixt and between
beyond the pale
bib and tucker, one’s best
Big Ben
bird (a little bird told me)
bird (to get the bird)
to bite the bullet
black sheep
blanket
blanket finish
blarney
blind eye, to turn a
blotto
blue (out of the blue)
blue moon
blues
board, above
Boche
bone (to make no bones about something)
bonfire
boo to a goose, wouldn’t say
born on the wrong side of the blanket
born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth
Box and Cox
Boxing Day
boycott
to break one’s duck
to break the ice
Brexit
Bristol (shipshape and Bristol fashion)
brunch
budget
Buggin’s turn
bully
to burn the midnight oil
bus, to miss the
to button-hold – to buttonhole
to buy a pig in a poke
by a long chalk
by hook or by crook
by the skin of one’s teeth


C
cake (you can’t have your cake and eat it)
cannon (loose cannon)
cap-a-pie
caper, to cut a
carrot and stick
to carry coals to Newcastle
castle, an Englishman’s home is his
castles in Spain/in the air
cat (a cat may look at a king)
cat (to let the cat out of the bag)
cat (like a cat on hot bricks)
cat (like a cat on a hot tin roof)
cat (to look like something the cat has brought in)
cat (no room to swing a cat)
cat (not a cat in hell’s chance)
cat (to see which way the cat jumps)
the Cat-and-Mouse Act
cat-o’-nine-tails
cats and dogs, to rain – part 1
cats and dogs, to rain – part 2
the cat’s whiskers
caviar to the general
chalk, by a long
to chance one’s arm
to change horses in midstream/while crossing a stream
charity, (as) cold as
charley horse
chav
cheese – fromage
cherchez la femme
Cheshire cat, to grin like a
chestnut (old chestnut – marronnier)
China orange (all Lombard Street to a China orange)
chip on one’s shoulder, a
Christmas Truce of 1914
church mouse, (as) poor as a
ciao
cicerone
clam, (as) happy as a
Clapham (the man on the Clapham omnibus)
the Clapham Sect
clew
cloak
clock
cloud (every cloud has a silver lining)
clue
coals to Newcastle, to carry
cobbler (let the cobbler stick to his last)
to cock a snook
cock-and-bull story
cocked hat, to knock into a
Cocker, according to
cockle (to warm the cockles of one’s heart)
coil, this mortal
(as) cold as charity
cold call
cold comfort
the cold shoulder
to come the old soldier over someone
contredanse
conundrum
corduroy
counter, to nail to the
Crichton, admirable
criss-cross
cross my heart (and hope to die)
cruse (widow’s cruse)
cup (the cup that cheers)
curate’s egg
curfew
to cut a caper
cut and dried
to cut both ways
to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face
Cymru


D
daisy, (as) fresh as a
daisies, to push up
damn, not to give a tinker’s
dandelion
dandy
dead man’s shoes, to wait for
deadline
devil (between the devil and the deep blue sea)
devil (the devil to pay)
Dicky’s meadow, in
Disgusted
to doff
dog’s letter, the
dole, on the
to don
donkey
donkey’s years
don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
don’t spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar
doolally
down the river, to sell
dozen, a baker’s
dozen, thirteen to the
drawing board, back to the
dressed to the nines
duck, to break one’s
duration, for the


E
eager beaver
earthling
to eat humble pie
eavesdrop
eggs, to teach one’s grandmother to suck
enemy (How goes the enemy?)
an Englishman’s home is his castle
enemy within, the
esprit d’escalier
every cloud has a silver lining
everything but the kitchen sink
excuse my French
eye (all my eye and Betty Martin)
eyes, to pull the wool over someone’s


F
face, to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s
fag end
famous for fifteen minutes
Fanny Adams – Harriet Lane
far from the madding crowd
fawn
fed up
fedora
fell swoop, at one
femme, cherchez la
fetus
fiddle, (as) fit as a
field bishop
fifteen minutes, famous for
fifth column
to fight like Kilkenny cats
fire (to set the Thames on fire)
first catch your hare
(as) fit as a fiddle
flea market
flexible friend (i.e. credit card)
flirt
to fly a kite
a fly in the ointment
fly-by-night
foie gras
for the duration
the forbidden fruit
forelock, to take time by the
forlorn hope
forty winks
the fourth estate
foaled of an acorn, a horse that was
Franglais
French, excuse my
French kiss
French leave
(as) fresh as a daisy
frog (to have a frog in one’s throat)
Froggy
to frog-march
from pillar to post
from the horse’s mouth, straight
fromage – cheese
full monty


G
galaxy
gallery, to play to the
garters, to have someone’s guts for
gas and gaiters
gauntlet, to run the
gazette
geek
Georgium Sidus
to get the bird
gianduja
gift horse (don’t look a gift horse in the mouth)
gigolo
not to give a tinker’s damn
to go haywire
to go postal
gongoozler
goose, wouldn’t say boo to a
gooseberry, to play
Gorgeous Wrecks
gossip
Grauniad
Greek (it’s (all) Greek to me)
grimalkin
to grin like a Cheshire cat
grog
Gunter, according to
guts (to have someone’s guts for garters)
guy


H
hail-fellow-well-met
hair (keep your hair on)
hair of the dog
hairy eyeball
halcyon
ham-fisted – ham-handed
Hamlet without the Prince
hand (the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand’s doing)
hand of glory
(as) happy as a clam
(as) happy as a sandboy
hare (first catch your hare)
Harriet Lane – Fanny Adams
hash (to make a hash of something)
hash (to settle someone’s hash)
hat trick
hatter, (as) mad as a
to have a bee in one’s bonnet
to have a frog in one’s throat
to have bats in one’s belfry
to have someone’s guts for garters
haywire, to go
heart (to warm the cockles of one’s heart)
heart of hearts
heart of oak
hell (to lead apes in hell)
hell (not a cat in hell’s chance)
hell hath no fury like a woman scorned
helpmate
Hobson’s choice
Hogs Norton
home (an Englishman’s home is his castle)
hooligan
a horse that was foaled of an acorn
horse (to change/swap horses in midstream/while crossing a stream)
horse (don’t look a gift horse in the mouth)
horse (straight from the horse’s mouth)
hot (like a cat on hot bricks)
hot (like a cat on a hot tin roof)
hot dog
hot mess
How goes the enemy?
Hoyle, according to
human bean
humble pie, to eat
hung parliament


I
imbecile
immolate
in a nutshell
in Annie’s room, up
in Dicky’s meadow
in the swim
incunabula
Indian summer
itching palm
itchy feet
it’s (all) Greek to me
ivory tower


J
jingo
Joe Bloggs
jolly hockey stick(s)
Joneses, to keep up with the
jot – tittle


K
to keep up with the Joneses
keep your hair on
keep your shirt on
kettle of fish, a pretty
to kick the bucket
kidnap
kidney, of that
kidult
Kilkenny cats
Kilroy (early instances)
Kilroy (origin?)
Kindertransport
King (to take the (King’s/Queen’s) shilling)
King Charles’s head
kingdom come
kitchen sink, everything but the
kite, to fly a
knight in shining armour
to knock into a cocked hat
to know one’s onions


L
land of Nod
to lark about
last, to stick to one’s
to lead apes in hell
leave, French
to leave in the lurch
to leave no stone unturned
the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing
leg, to pull someone’s
to let the cat out of the bag
let the cobbler stick to his last
lettuce
to lick into shape
like a cat on hot bricks
like a cat on a hot tin roof
like one o’clock
like watching paint dry
Linus blanket
liver, to wash the milk off one’s
Liverpudlian
lobster
loco-foco
locust
all Lombard Street to a China orange
to look like something the cat has brought in
loose cannon
to lose one’s marbles
love (no love lost)
lupus
lurch, to leave in the


M
Maconochie
(as) mad as a hatter
(as) mad as a March hare
madding crowd, far from the
madeleine
magpiety
mahogany, to amputate one’s
maiden’s prayer, the answer to
to make a hash of something
to make (both) ends meet
to make no bones about something
Mamamouchi
MAMIL
the man on the Clapham omnibus
marbles, to lose one’s
March hare, (as) mad as a
mardy
marines, tell that to the
marronnier – old chestnut
marrowsky
maudlin
Maundy
Mayday
mayonnaise
meat (one man’s meat is another man’s poison)
merrythought – wishbone
mess of pottage
mice and men, of
midinette
midnight oil, to burn the
milk (to wash the milk off one’s liver)
milliner
a millstone round someone’s neck
milquetoast
Miss – Ms
to miss the bus
Moab
money for old rope
moon, once in a blue
moon, over the
moonraker
moonshine
moron
mortal coil, this
Morton’s fork
Mother Carey’s chicken
Mothering Sunday
Mr – Mrs
Mrs Grundy
Ms (combination of Mrs and Miss)
Mummerset
muttons, to return to one’s
myrmidon
mystery bag


N
nail, on the
to nail (to the counter)
neither fish nor fowl
nightcap
nines, dressed to the
nod (a nod is as good as a wink)
no love lost
no man’s land
no room to swing a cat
nose (to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face)
nose, to pay through the
nosey parker
not a cat in hell’s chance
nul points
nutshell, in a


O
of mice and men
of that kidney
oil on troubled waters, to pour
ointment, a fly in the
old chestnut – marronnier
old school tie
old soldier (to come the old soldier over someone)
Oliver (a Roland for an Oliver)
omelette
OMG
omnibus (the man on the Clapham omnibus)
omnishambles
on the blanket
on the dole
on the nail
on the side of the angels
on the spur of the moment
once in a blue moon
one fell swoop, at
one for the road – stirrup cup
one man’s meat is another man’s poison
one’s best bib and tucker
one swallow does not make a summer
onion (to know one’s onions)
orange (all Lombard Street to a China orange)
ordeal
out of the blue
over the moon
over the top
owlhoot
oxygen
oxymoron
oyster, the world is one’s


P
padoodle
to paint the town red
pale, beyond the
pandemonium
panjandrum
paparazzi
paraphernalia
part and parcel
pastiche – pastis
Paul Pry
to pay through the nose
peaceable kingdom
pedigree
peeping Tom
penny (the penny dropped)
petrichor
Philip (to appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober)
philtrum
picnic
picnic (a sandwich short of a picnic)
pig (to buy a pig in a poke)
pig (to sweat like a pig)
pigs might fly
pigeon à la crapaudine – toad-in-the-hole
pillar to post, from
pineapple, the rough end of the
pink
pin-up girl
pip (to squeeze until the pips squeak)
pipe dream
piping hot
place in the sun
to play gooseberry
to play possum
to play to the gallery
pogue
point-blank
poison (one man’s meat is another man’s poison)
Pollyanna
Pooh-Bah
(as) poor as a church mouse
port – starboard
posh
postal, to go
POTUS
poulet
pour encourager les autres
to pour oil on troubled waters
pregnant
the proof of the pudding is in the eating
P’s and Q’s
public enemy number one
pudding (the proof of the pudding is in the eating)
to pull one’s socks up
to pull someone’s leg
to pull the wool over someone’s eyes
pup, to sell a
to push up daisies
put a sock in it
to put on one’s thinking cap


Q
Queen (to take the (King’s/Queen’s) shilling)
(in) quick sticks
quiz


R
to rain cats and dogs – part 1
to rain cats and dogs – part 2
ranz-des-vaches
rat, to smell a
to read the riot act
the real Simon Pure
red, to paint the town
red herring
red top
reseda
to return to one’s muttons
rhesus
Richard Snary
rift in the lute
the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand’s doing
ring finger – annulaire
riot act, to read the
river, to sell down the
river, to send up the
robot
Roland (a Roland for an Oliver)
roost, to rule the
rôti sans pareil – turducken
Rotten row
the rough end of the pineapple
—— rule(s) OK
to rule the roost
to run the gauntlet


S
to sack
sæva indignatio
Sally, Aunt
sandboy, (as) happy as a
sandwich
sandwich (a sandwich short of a picnic)
sanglier
to save the day
saved by the bell – sauvé par le gong
say boo to a goose, wouldn’t
Scouse
sea (between the devil and the deep blue sea)
season
to see a man about a dog
to see which way the cat jumps
to sell a pup
to sell down the river
to send to Coventry
to send up the river
serendipity
to set the Thames on fire
to settle someone’s hash
shambles
Shank’s pony
sheep, black
shell out
shilling (to take the (King’s/Queen’s) shilling)
ship (don’t spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar)
shipshape and Bristol fashion
shirt (keep your shirt on)
shiver my timbers
Shock-headed Peter
shoe (another pair of shoes)
shoe (to wait for a dead man’s shoes)
shoplifting
short of a —— (mentally deficient, slightly crazy)
short shrift
shoulder, a chip on one’s
shoulder, the cold
show a leg
silk (you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear)
silver lining, every cloud has a
silver spoon (to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth)
simon-pure
Simon says
sirloin
sixes and sevens, at
sixty-four (thousand) dollar question
a skeleton at the feast
skin (by the skin of one’s teeth)
skinflint
slapstick
Slav – slave
to sleep like a top
the Slough of Despond
small beer
small potatoes
to smell a rat
smoke and mirrors
a snake in the grass
Snary, Richard
sneeze
soccer
sock (to pull one’s socks up)
sock (put a sock in it)
soldier (to come the old soldier over someone)
something nasty in the woodshed
sow (you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear)
spare the rod and spoil the child
spick and span
spoil (don’t spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar)
spoon (to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth)
spoonerism
sport
spud
spur of the moment, on the
to squeeze until the pips squeak
stalking horse
starboard – port
to steal someone’s thunder
to stick to one’s last
stirrup cup – one for the road
stone (to leave no stone unturned)
straight and narrow, the
straight from the horse’s mouth
strawberry preacher
sun, place in the
one swallow does not make a summer
to swap horses in midstream/while crossing a stream
to sweat like a pig
swim, in the
swoop, at one fell


T
tabloid (1)
tabloid (2)
tace is Latin for candle
to take the (King’s/Queen’s) shilling
to take time by the forelock
tar (don’t spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar)
tart
to teach one’s grandmother to suck eggs
Teddy boy
teetotal
teetotum
tell that to the marines
tennis
Thames (to set the Thames on fire)
the answer to a maiden’s prayer
the bee’s knees
the cat’s whiskers
the Clapham Sect
the cold shoulder
the cup that cheers
the devil to pay
the dog’s letter
the enemy within
the full monty
the land of Nod
the man on the Clapham omnibus
the penny dropped
the proof of the pudding is in the eating
the real Simon Pure
the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand’s doing
the rough end of the pineapple
the skin of one’s teeth
the Slough of Despond
the straight and narrow
the toast of the town
the world is one’s oyster
(as) thick as thieves
thinking cap
thirteen to the dozen
this mortal coil
thunder, to steal someone’s
time (to take time by the forelock)
tinker (not to give a tinker’s damn)
tit for tat
tittle – jot
to a T – to a tee
toad-in-the-hole – pigeon à la crapaudine
toast (the toast of the town)
toast, (as) warm as
to toe the line
to toilet-paper
Tom Tiddler’s ground
(with) tongue in cheek
toot sweet
tooth fairy
top, to sleep like a
to toss in a blanket
to the nines, dressed
tour d’ivoire – ivory tower
town red, to paint the
to T.P.
trick or treat
trumpery
tulip
turban
turducken – rôti sans pareil
to turn a blind eye
(Yorkshire) tyke


U
to unfriend
up in Annie’s room
up the river


V
valentine
Vicar of Bray
virtus dormitiva


W
to wait for a dead man’s shoes
Wales
to walk a crackto walk one’s chalks
(as) warm as toast
to warm the cockles of one’s heart
warts and all
to wash the milk off one’s liver
watching paint dry, like
wet blanket
to wet one’s whistle
white poppy
who’s ‘she’—the cat’s mother?
widow’s cruse
window
wink (a nod is as good as a wink)
wishbone – merrythought
(with) tongue in cheek
Witham
woodshed, something nasty in the
wool (to pull the wool over someone’s eyes)
the world is one’s oyster
wouldn’t say boo to a goose
wrong tree, to be barking up the


X
Xmas


Y
Yorkshire tyke
you can’t have your cake and eat it
you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear


miscellany
a 19th-century document on English phrases
‘Douce France’ (song by Charles Trenet)
Eating in the Romance languages
French pig idioms
Galloglossia
The language of domination
On biblical translations: “what is lacking” vs. “the number of fools”
Our lunatic contributor
‘Wuthering Heights’