alphabetical index

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


A
a/an (indefinite article)
A1
a bad quarter of an hour
a baker’s dozen
a bee in one’s bonnet, to have
a bull in a china shop
a cat may look at a king
a Chinaman’s chance
a chip on one’s shoulder
a far cry
a fly in the ointment
a legend in one’s (own) lifetime
a legend in one’s (own) lunchtime
a little bird told me
a millstone round someone’s neck
a nod is as good as a wink
a racing dog’s bollocks
a Roland for an Oliver
a sandwich short of a picnic
a snake in the grass
a snowball’s chance (in hell)
a stiff upper lip
a wet blanket
abdabs, or habdabs, to give somebody the (screaming)
above board
above/below the salt
according to Cocker
according to Gunter
according to Hoyle
ache
to act one’s age, and not one’s shoe size
actress (as the actress said to the bishop – as the bishop said to the actress)
adder (deaf as an adder)
admirable Crichton
ado
adultescent
Aga saga
age (to act one’s age, and not one’s shoe size)
age before beauty
agony aunt – agony column
ailurophile
aisle (to have people rolling in the aisles)
Ajax
alar(u)ms and excursions
Alas! my poor brother
albatross around one’s neck, an
Albion
alive and kicking
alive and well (and living in ——)
all behind, like a cow’s tail
all chiefs and no Indians
all-dancing, all-singing
all dressed up with nowhere to go
All-Hallown Summer
all Lombard Street to a China orange
all mouth and (no) trousers
all my eye and Betty Martin
all over the shop
(all) round the houses
all-singing, all-dancing
all Sir Garnet
alone
(as) American as apple pie
to amputate one’s mahogany
an/a (indefinite article)
an albatross around one’s neck
an axe to grind
an Englishman’s home is his castle
an old Spanish custom
(and) the best of British luck
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)
apostrofly
to appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober
the apple of one’s eye
apple-pie (adjective: typically American in character)
apple-pie order
apple polisher/apple polishing
are you decent? (sufficiently clothed to see visitors)
arm, to chance one’s
armed to the teeth
(as) American as apple pie
(as) bold as brass
(as) cold as charity
(as) daft as a brush
(as) dead as the (or a) dodo
(as) fit as a fiddle
(as) fresh as a daisy
(as) happy as a clam
(as) happy as a sandboy
(as) happy as Larry
(as) hot, or (as) strong, as mustard
(as) keen as mustard
(as) mad as a hatter
(as) mad as a March hare
(as) poor as a church mouse
as quick as greased lightning
(as) sick as a parrot
as the actress said to the bishop
as the bishop said to the actress
as the crow flies
(as) thick as thieves
(as) warm as toast
Atlantic
atone
at one fell swoop
at sixes and sevens
Attila ((somewhere) to the right of Attila, or of Genghis Khan)
auld lang syne
Aunt Sally
au reservoir
avoirdupois
Avon’s Swan
away with the fairies
the awkward age – l’âge ingrat
axe to grind, an


B
back to the drawing board
backroom boys
backseat driver
backward in coming forward
bad hair day
a bad quarter of an hour
bag of mystery
bag lady
baker’s dozen
bald-headed (in a rush without care or caution)
baloney
Bamboo Curtain
banana republic
Bananaland (Queensland) – Bananalander (Queenslander)
bandwagon
banger
bank (to laugh/cry all the way to the bank)
bankster
barmy
barrel (over a barrel)
basket case
bat (to have bats in one’s belfry)
to be a far cry from
to be all mouth and (no) trousers
to be (all to) the mustard
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 decent (sufficiently clothed to see visitors)
to be left holding, or carrying, the baby
to be mustard
to be on hand like a sore thumb
to be on the blanket
to be part and parcel of
to be saved by the bell – être sauvé par le gong
to be (all to) the mustard
to be unable to run a whelk stall
beanfeastbeano
to beard the lion in his den
to beat the bejesus out of someone
beaver (eager beaver)
bedlam
bedside manner
bee (social gathering for a specific purpose)
bee in one’s bonnet, to have a
been there, done that (and got the T-shirt)
beer and skittles
beer o’clock
the bee’s knees
to beggar belief
begging bowl (appeal for financial help)
behind, like a cow’s tail
bejesus
belief, to beggar
to belittle
to bell the cat
below/above the salt
belt and braces – belt and suspenders
Benjamin’s mess – Benjamin’s portion
best bib and tucker
(and) the best of British luck
the best thing since sliced bread
better dead than red – better red than dead
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
big girl’s blouse
bijou
bikini
bird (a little bird told me)
bird (to get the bird)
biscuit (to take the biscuit)
bishop (as the bishop said to the actress – as the actress said to the bishop)
bitch goddess, the
to bite the bullet
black sheep
blackboard jungle
blanket
blanket finish
blarney
blind date
blind eye, to turn a
blonde moment
blood, sweat, and tears
Bloody Mary (cocktail)
Bloody Mary (unnamed precursors of the cocktail)
blotto
blue (out of the blue)
blue-arsed fly, like a
blue Monday
blue moon
blues
blue sky and hot air
blurb
board, above
bob’s your uncle
bobby
Boche
bodkin (a person wedged between others)
to bogart
to boggle (the mind boggles)
(as) bold as brass
bollocks (the dog’s bollocks – the bollocks)
boloney
Bombay duck
bone (to make no bones about something)
bonfire
bonkers
boo to a goose, wouldn’t say
boob tuber
born on the wrong side of the blanket
born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth
to bow (down) in the house of Rimmon
bowler (hat): (return to) civilian life
Box and Cox
Boxing Day
boy meets girl
boys in the backroom
boycott
brass (to bring [someone or something] (right) down to the brass)
brass (to come (right) down to the brass)
brass monkey (extremely cold weather)
brass tacks (to come, or to get, down to brass tacks [early instances])
brass tacks (to come, or to get, down to brass tacks [hypothesis as to the origin])
bread (to have one’s bread buttered for life)
bread (to know on which side one’s bread is buttered)
bread (to want one’s bread buttered on both sides)
bread-and-butter letter
bread and circuses
breadline
to break one’s duck
to break the ice
brewery (couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery)
Brexit
brick (to drop a brick)
bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
to bring [someone or something] (right) down to the brass
to bring home the bacon
to bring [someone or something] (right) down to the brass
Bristol (shipshape and Bristol fashion)
Brownie (Girl Scout or Girl Guide)
brownie point
brunch
budget
Buggin’s turn
bull (like a bull in a china shop)
bulldozer
bully
bums on seats
bunny boiler
to burn the midnight oil
burnsides
buroo, on the
burton (to go for a burton)
bus, to miss the
the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker
buttered (to have one’s bread buttered for life)
buttered (to know on which side one’s bread is buttered)
buttered (to want one’s bread buttered on both sides)
butterfly kiss
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
cackleberry
cake (to take the cake)
cake (you can’t have your cake and eat it)
to call a spade a spade
canary in the coal mine
cannon (loose cannon)
cap-a-pie
caper, to cut a
cappuccino
captcha
Capuchin
carrot and stick
to carry coals to Newcastle
(to be left) to carry the baby
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
cheese-eating surrender monkeys
cherchez la femme
Cheshire cat, to grin like a
chestnut (old chestnut – marronnier)
chief (too many chiefs and not enough Indians)
China orange (all Lombard Street to a China orange)
a Chinaman’s chance
chip on one’s shoulder, a
to chop and change
Christmas Truce of 1914
church mouse, (as) poor as a
ciao
cicerone
clam, (as) happy as a
clanger (to drop a clanger)
Clapham (the man on the Clapham omnibus)
the Clapham Sect
clapper (like the clappers)
claptrap
clew
cloak
cloak-and-dagger
clock
cloud (every cloud has a silver lining)
cloud-cuckoo-land
clue
coals to Newcastle, to carry
cobbler (let the cobbler stick to his last)
cock-a-hoop
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)
cockney
codswallop
coil, this mortal
(as) cold as charity
cold call
cold comfort
cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey
the cold shoulder
Collins (letter of thanks for hospitality)
to come, or to get, down to brass tacks [early instances]
to come, or to get, down to brass tacks [hypothesis as to the origin]
to come (right) down to the brass
to come out of the woodwork
to come (right) down to the brass
to come the old soldier over someone
contredanse
conundrum
cookie (that’s how, or the way, the cookie crumbles)
cookie ((that’s when) the cookie crumbled)
cool Britannia
cootie
corduroy
couch potato
couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery
to count sheep – compter les moutons
counter, to nail to the
coward
cowardy, cowardy custard
to crawl out of the woodwork
crébilloner – lèche-vitrine(s) – window shopping
cretin
Crichton, admirable
criss-cross
cross my heart (and hope to die)
crow’s nest
crumbs from a rich man’s table
crumpet (sexual meanings)
cruse (widow’s cruse)
to cry/laugh all the way to the bank
cuff (off the cuff)
culture vulture
cup (the cup that cheers)
curate’s egg
curfew
curiosity killed the cat
cut (to have one’s work cut out)
to cut a caper
cut and dried
to cut both ways
to cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face
to cut the mustard
to cut to the chase
Cymru


D
dada
(as) daft as a brush
daisy, (as) fresh as a
daisies, to push up
damn, not to give a tinker’s
damp squib – pétard mouillé
dandelion
dandy
daylight (to [verb] the living daylights out of somebody)
(as) dead as the (or a) dodo
dead man’s shoes, to wait for
dead-cat bounce
deadline
deaf as an adder
decent (sufficiently clothed to see visitors)
to deliver (a baby)
demob happy
devil (between the devil and the deep blue sea)
devil (the devil to pay)
Dicky’s meadow, in
dirty work at the crossroads
Disgusted
to dodge the column
to doff
dog (like a dog with two tails)
the dog’s bollocks – the bollocks
dog’s breakfast
dog’s dinner
dog’s letter, the
doggo (to lie doggo)
doggy bag
dole, on the
to don
donkey
donkey (to talk the hind leg off a donkey)
donkey’s years
don’t give up the day job
don’t look a gift horse in the mouth
don’t spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar
doolally
doryphore
double Dutch
double whammy
down the pan, to go
down the river, to sell
dozen, a baker’s
dozen, thirteen to the
drawing board, back to the
dreaming spires
dressed to the nines
dressed (up) like a dog’s dinner
to drop a brick
to drop a clanger
to drop the pilot
dry behind the ears
duck, to break one’s
dunce
Dunkirk spirit
duration, for the
Dutch auction
Dutch courage
Dutch treat
Dutch uncle


E
eager beaver
ear to the ground, to have or to keep an earthling
easel
easy-peasy (lemon squeezy)
to eat crow
to eat humble pie
eavesdrop
eggcorn
egg on one’s face
eggs, to teach one’s grandmother to suck
EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards)
elephant (to see the elephant)
elope
Elvis has left the building
enemy (How goes the enemy?)
an Englishman’s home is his castle
enemy within, the
esprit d’escalier
été de la Saint-Martin – St Martin’s summer
été sauvage – Indian summer
every cloud has a silver lining
everything but the kitchen sink
everything in the garden is lovely
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
fairy (away with the fairies)
to fall off (the back of) a lorry
famous for fifteen minutes
fancy-free (footloose and fancy-free)
Fanny Adams – Harriet Lane
a far cry
far from the madding crowd
fast lane (glamorous or highly pressured lifestyle)
fat cat
fawn
fed up
fedora
to feel (like) a million dollars
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
finest hour
fire (to set the Thames on fire)
first catch your hare
first past the post
(as) fit as a fiddle
flash in the pan
flavour of the month/of the week
flea market
flexible friend (i.e. credit card)
flirt
to flutter the dovecotes
to fly a kite
a fly in the ointment
fly-by-night
foie gras
folklore
footloose and fancy-free
footsie (to play footsie with somebody)
(strictly) for the birds
for the duration
the forbidden fruit
forelock, to take time by the
forlorn hope
forty winks
Fourex, not to give a
the fourth estate
Four-X, not to give a
foaled of an acorn, a horse that was
Franglais
free lunch, there is no such thing as a
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
funny-ha-ha – funny-peculiar


G
galaxy
gallery, to play to the
garters, to have someone’s guts for
gas and gaiters
gauntlet, to run the
Gavin and Stacey
gazette
geek
Genghis Khan ((somewhere) to the right of Genghis Khan, or of Attila)
Georgium Sidus
gerrymander
to get, or to come, down to brass tacks [early instances]
to get, or to come, down to brass tacks [hypothesis as to the origin]
to get one’s knickers in a twist
to get one’s wires crossed
to get, or to have, someone over a barrel
to get the bird
gianduja
gift horse (don’t look a gift horse in the mouth)
gigolo
girl Friday
not to give a Fourex
to give a sop to Cerberus
not to give a tinker’s damn
not to give a XXXX
to give it some welly
to give somebody the (screaming) abdabs, or habdabs
to give up the ghost
glamour
the gnomes of Zurich
to go (all) round the houses
to go bald-headed (to rush without care or caution)
to go commando
to go down the pan
to go Dutch
to go for a burton
to go haywire
to go postal
to go round Robin Hood’s barn
to go to hell, or to heaven, in a handbasket
to go to Peg Trantum’s
to go to pot
gone coon – gone goose
gongoozler
good wine needs no bush
goose, wouldn’t say boo to a
gooseberry, to play
Gorgeous Wrecks
gossip
Gotham
to grasp the nettle
Grauniad
gravy train
greased lightning (as quick as —, like —)
the great unwashed
Greek (it’s (all) Greek to me)
green man
greengrocer’s apostrophe
grimalkin
grimoire
to grin like a Cheshire cat
grog
Grub Street
gung ho
Gunter, according to
guts (to have someone’s guts for garters)
guy
Gwags (golfers’ wives and girlfriends)


H
habdabs, or abdabs, to give somebody the (screaming)
had one but the wheel(s) came off
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 hand that rocks the cradle rules the world)
hand (the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand’s doing)
hand of glory
hands down
handbag (verb)
handicap
(as) happy as a clam
(as) happy as a sandboy
(as) happy as Larry
happy-clappy
hare (first catch your hare)
Harriet Lane – Fanny Adams
—— has left the building
hash (to make a hash of something)
hash (to settle someone’s hash)
hat trick
hatchet job – hatchet man
hatter, (as) mad as a
to have a bee in one’s bonnet
to have a frog in one’s throat
to have, or to keep, an ear to the ground
to have bats in one’s belfry
to have done something more than oneself, or someone else, has had hot dinners
to have egg on one’s face
to have one’s bread buttered for life
to have one’s work cut out
to have people rolling in the aisles
to have, or to get, someone over a barrel
to have someone’s guts for garters
to have straws in one’s hair
haywire, to go
heads will roll
heart (to warm the cockles of one’s heart)
heart of hearts
heart of oak
heaven (to go to heaven in a handbasket)
hell (to go to hell in a handbasket)
hell (to lead apes in hell)
hell (not a cat in hell’s chance)
hell hath no fury like a woman scorned
helpmate
here’s looking at you
High Dutch (‘gibberish’)
hobby
Hobson’s choice
Hogs Norton
(to be left) to hold the baby
home (an Englishman’s home is his castle)
honky-tonk
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)
(as) hot, or (as) strong as mustard
hot (like a cat on hot bricks)
hot (like a cat on a hot tin roof)
hot dinners (to have done something more than oneself, or someone else, has had hot dinners)
hot dog
hot mess
hot under the collar
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 petto
in the aisles, to have people rolling
in the swim
in this day and age
incunabula
Indian (too many chiefs and not enough Indians)
Indian summer – été sauvage
Indian summer (18th-century instances)
Indian summer (European precursors)
Indian summer (Matthew R. Halley’s theory)
irregardless
it takes two to tango
itching palm
itchy feet
it’s (all) Greek to me
ivory tower


J
j’accuse
jewel
jingo
Joe Bloggs
John Lennon (pair of glasses)
jolly hockey stick(s)
Joneses, to keep up with the
jot – tittle
to jump on the bandwagon
(just) what the doctor ordered


K
(as) keen as mustard
to keep, or to have, an ear to the ground to keep under wraps
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
king’s cushion
kingdom come
kitchen sink, everything but the
kite, to fly a
knickers (to get one’s knickers in a twist)
knight in shining armour
not to know —— from Shinola
to knock into a cocked hat
to know how many beans make five
to know —— like the back of one’s hand
to know on which side one’s bread is buttered
to know one’s onions
to know where the bodies are buried


L
latchkey child
land of Nod
to laugh/cry all the way to the bank
to lark about
last, to stick to one’s
last-ditch
law of the Medes and Persians
to lead apes in hell
leave, French
to leave in the lurch
to leave no stone unturned
lèche-vitrine(s) – crébilloner – window shopping
the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand’s doing
leg, to pull someone’s
Lennon (pair of glasses)
to let the cat out of the bag
let the cobbler stick to his last
to let the dog see the rabbit
lettuce
Libra
to lick into shape
to lie doggo
life in the fast lane
like a blue-arsed fly
like a bull in a china shop
like a cat on hot bricks
like a cat on a hot tin roof
like a dog with two tails
like a dog’s dinner
like a million dollars
like a racing dog’s bollocks
like (greased) lightning
like one o’clock
like shooting fish in a barrel
like stealing/taking candy from a baby
like the clappers
like thirty cents
like turkeys voting for Christmas
like watching paint dry
Linus blanket
lion (person of note or celebrity)
the lion’s share
lip service
liver, to wash the milk off one’s
Liverpudlian
living daylights (to [verb] the living daylights out of somebody)
loaf, to use one’s
lobster
lock, stock and barrel
loco-foco
locust
all Lombard Street to a China orange
long time no see
look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves
to look (like) a million dollars
to look like something the cat has brought in
loose cannon
loot
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
Mae West (life jacket)
maelstrom
magazine
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
malapropism
Mamamouchi
MAMIL
man Friday
the man on the Clapham omnibus
marbles, to lose one’s
March hare, (as) mad as a
Mardi gras
mardy
marines, tell that to the
marmalade
marronnier – old chestnut
marrowsky
Matthew effect – Matthew principle
maudlin
Maundy
un mauvais quart d’heure
Mayday
mayonnaise
meat (one man’s meat is another man’s poison)
Mediterranean
memory lane
merrythought – wishbone
mess of pottage
mice and men, of
mickey (to take the mickey)
midinette
midnight oil, to burn the
milk (to wash the milk off one’s liver)
the milk in the coconut
milliner
a millstone round someone’s neck
milquetoast
mind (the mind boggles)
Miss – Ms
to miss the bus
Moab
money for old rope
monkey business
monkey wrench (to throw a monkey wrench into)
moon, once in a blue
moon, over the
moonlight flit
moonraker
moonshine
moron
mortal coil, this
Morton’s fork
Mother Carey’s chicken
Mothering Sunday
mouse
Mr – Mrs
Mrs Grundy
Ms (combination of Mrs and Miss)
Mummerset
muscle
mussel
muttons, to return to one’s
myrmidon
mystery bag


N
nail, on the
to nail (to the counter)
neither fish nor fowl
Nice one, Cyril!
nightcap
Nimby (acronym from ‘not in my back yard’)
nines, dressed to the
nod (a nod is as good as a wink)
Noël
no love lost
no man’s land
nonce (as in ‘for the nonce’ and ‘nonce word’)
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
not a Chinaman’s chance
not to give a tinker’s damn
not to give a XXXX
not to know —— from Shinola
not worth writing home about
nothing to write home about
nothing (you ain’t seen/heard nothing yet)
nul points
nutshell, in a


O
of mice and men
of that kidney
off the cuff
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)
old Spanish custom
Oliver (a Roland for an Oliver)
omelette
OMG
omnibus (the man on the Clapham omnibus)
omnishambles
on the blanket
on the buroo
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 over the eight
one’s best bib and tucker
one’s finest hour
one swallow does not make a summer
onion (to know one’s onions)
only
orange (all Lombard Street to a China orange)
ordeal
out of one’s skull
out of the blue
over a barrel
over the moon
over the top
owlhoot
oxygen
oxymoron
oyster, the world is one’s


P
padoodle
Page Three (tabloid)
to paint the town red
pale, beyond the
pan (to go down the pan)
pandemonium
panjandrum
paparazzi
to paper over the cracks
paraphernalia
part and parcel
pastiche – pastis
Paul Pry
to pay through the nose
peaceable kingdom
pedigree
peeler (police officer)
peeping Tom
Peg Tantrum
pennies from heaven
penny (look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves)
penny (the penny dropped)
pétard mouillé – damp squib
petrichor
Philip (to appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober)
philtrum
picnic
picnic (a sandwich short of a picnic)
pie (baked dish)
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
piss-up (couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery)
place in the sun
plain Jane
to play footsie with somebody
to play gooseberry
to play possum
to play to the gallery
to plough a lonely furrow, one’s own furrow
ploughman’s lunch
pogue
point-blank
poison (one man’s meat is another man’s poison)
Pollyanna
ponder
Pooh-Bah
(as) poor as a church mouse
port – starboard
posh
postal, to go
pot, to go to
POTUS
poulet
pound (unit of weight – monetary unit)
pour encourager les autres
to pour oil on troubled waters
pregnant
preposterous
Procrustean bed/Procrustean remedy
the proof of the pudding is in the eating
P’s and Q’s
pub crawl
public enemy number one
pudding (the proof of the pudding is in the eating)
to pull one’s socks up
to pull one’s weight
to pull someone’s leg
to pull the wool over someone’s eyes
Punch – Punchinello
Punic faith
pup, to sell a
pupil
to push the boat out
to push up daisies
put a sock in it
to put on one’s thinking cap


Q
Quasimodo
Queen (to take the (King’s/Queen’s) shilling)
queen’s cushion
Queer Street
(in) quick sticks
quiz
Quorn
quot homines tot sententiæ
quoz (obsolete synonym of ‘quiz’)


R
racing dog (like a racing dog’s bollocks)
to rain cats and dogs – part 1
to rain cats and dogs – part 2
to raise Cain
ranz-des-vaches
rat, to smell a
rater (French verb – cf. flash in the pan)
to read the riot act
the real Simon Pure
red, to paint the town
red herring
red in tooth and claw
reds under the bed
red tape
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
Rimmon (to bow (down) in the house of Rimmon)
ring finger – annulaire
riot act, to read the
rival
river, to sell down the
river, to send up the
rob – robe
Robin Hood’s barn
robot
rock bottom
rocket science
Roland (a Roland for an Oliver)
roost, to rule the
rôti sans pareil – turducken
Rotten row
the rough end of the pineapple
round Robin Hood’s barn
(all) round the houses, to go
R.S.V.P.
—— rule(s) OK
to rule the roost
to run the gauntlet


S
to sack
sad sack
sæva indignatio
salad days
Sally, Aunt
sally fairy ann
same old, same old
sandboy, (as) happy as a
sandwich
sandwich (a sandwich short of a picnic)
san fairy ann
sanglier
to save the day
saved by the bell – sauvé par le gong
say boo to a goose, wouldn’t
to scare the bejesus out of someone
the Scottish play (‘Macbeth’)
Scouse
screenager
scruple
sea (between the devil and the deep blue sea)
sea change
season
to see a man about a dog
to see the elephant
to see, or to show, the lions
to see which way the cat jumps
see you later, alligator
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
sheet (three, or two, sheets in the wind)
shell out
shilling (to take the (King’s/Queen’s) shilling)
Shinola (not to know —— from Shinola)
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)
shoe size (to act one’s age, and not one’s shoe size)
shoplifting
shopping-bag lady
to shop till one drops
short of a —— (mentally deficient, slightly crazy)
short shrift
shotgun marriage
shotgun wedding
shoulder, a chip on one’s
shoulder, the cold
show a leg
shower (party held to present gits to a person)
Shrovetide
(as) sick as a parrot
sideboards – sideburns
silhouette
silk (you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear)
silly season
silver lining, every cloud has a
silver spoon (to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth)
simon-pure
Simon says
sirloin
to sit above/below the salt
sitting by Nellie
six feet under
six of one and half a dozen of the other
sixes and sevens, at
64,000 question
sixty-four (thousand) dollar question
a skeleton at the feast
skin (by the skin of one’s teeth)
skinflint
skull (out of one’s skull)
sky (the sky’s the limit)
slapstick
Slav – slave
to sleep like a top
sleep tight
sliced bread (the best thing since sliced bread)
slipshod
the Slough of Despond
small beer
small potatoes
to smell a rat
smoke and mirrors
a snake in the grass
Snary, Richard
sneeze
a snowball’s chance (in hell)
soap opera
soccer
sock (to pull one’s socks up)
sock (put a sock in it)
soldier (to come the old soldier over someone)
something is rotten in the state of Denmark
something nasty in the woodshed
(somewhere) to the right of Genghis Khan, or of Attila
sop (a concession given to placate)
sot-l’y-laisse
sow (you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear)
Spanish (an old Spanish custom)
spanner (to throw a spanner in(to) the works)
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
squirrel
St Luke’s summer
St Martin’s summer
stalking horse
to stand out, or to stick out, like a sore thumb
standing by Fred – standing by Syd
starboard – port
to steal someone’s thunder
steeplechase
Stepford
to stick out, or to stand out, like a sore thumb
to stick to one’s last
a stiff upper lip
stirrup cup – one for the road
stone (to leave no stone unturned)
straight and narrow, the
straight from the horse’s mouth
straw (to have straws in one’s hair)
strawberry preacher
Streisand effect
(strictly) for the birds
sugar daddy
sun, place in the
one swallow does not make a summer
the Swan of Avon
the Swan with Two Necks
to swap horses in midstream/while crossing a stream
to sweat like a pig
swim, in the
swoop, at one fell
Sydney or the bush


T
tabloid (1)
tabloid (2)
tace is Latin for candle
the tail wags the dog
take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves
to take the biscuit
to take the cake
to take the Fifth (Amendment)
to take the (King’s/Queen’s) shilling
to take the mickey
to take time by the forelock
to talk the hind leg off a donkey
tall poppy – tall-poppy syndrome
tango (it takes two to tango)
tantrum
tar (don’t spoil the ship for a ha’p’orth of tar)
tart
Tartan army
Tartan gang
to teach one’s grandmother to suck eggs
tea-drinking surrender monkeys
Teddy boy
teetotal
teetotum
tell that to the marines
tennis
terrorist
Thames (to set the Thames on fire)
that’s how, or the way, the cookie crumbles
(that’s when) the cookie crumbled
the answer to a maiden’s prayer
the awkward age – l’âge ingrat
the bee’s knees
(and) the best of British luck
the best thing since sliced bread
the bitch goddess
the (dog’s) bollocks
the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker
the cat’s whiskers
the Clapham Sect
the cold shoulder
(that’s when) the cookie crumbled
the cup that cheers
the devil to pay
the dog’s bollocks
the dog’s letter
the end of civilization as we know it
the enemy within
the full monty
the gnomes of Zurich
the great unwashed
the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world
the land of Nod
the law of the Medes and Persians
the lion’s share
the living daylights (to [verb] the living daylights out of somebody)
the man on the Clapham omnibus
the milk in the coconut
the mind boggles
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 Scottish play (‘Macbeth’)
the silly season
the skin of one’s teeth
the sky’s the limit
the Slough of Despond
the straight and narrow
the Swan of Avon
the Swan with Two Necks
the tail wags the dog
the toast of the town
the world is one’s oyster
there is no such thing as a free lunch
there’s one, or a sucker, born every minute
(as) thick as thieves
things that go bump in the night
thinking cap
thirteen to the dozen
this mortal coil
three sheets in the wind
to throw a monkey wrench into
to throw a spanner in(to) the works
to throw one’s hat in(to) the ring
to throw the baby out with the bathwater
thunder, to steal someone’s
time (to take time by the forelock)
tinker (not to give a tinker’s damn)
tired and emotional (euphemism for ‘drunk’)
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
toes up
to toilet-paper
Tom Tiddler’s ground
(with) tongue in cheek
too many chiefs and not enough Indians
toot sweet
tooth fairy
top, to sleep like a
top banana
to toss in a blanket
to the nines, dressed
(somewhere) to the right of Genghis Khan, or of Attila
tour d’ivoire – ivory tower
town red, to paint the
to T.P.
—— to write home about
trick or treat
trumpery
tulip
turban
turducken – rôti sans pareil
to turn a blind eye
to turn up one’s toes
Twelfth cake – Twelfth Day – Twelfth Night
two sheets in the wind
tycoon
(Yorkshire) tyke


U
ultracrepidarian
un mauvais quart d’heure
Uncle Tom Cobley and all
under wraps
to unfriend
up in Annie’s room
up the pole (pregnant)
up the river
up the stick (pregnant)
urbi et orbi
to use one’s loaf


V
valentine
vamoose
Vicar of Bray
violon d’Ingres
virtus dormitiva
visiting fireman
voler (French verb: ‘to fly’ – ‘to steal’)
to vote with one’s feet


W
Wags (wives and girlfriends)
to wait for a dead man’s shoes
to wake up and smell the coffee
Wales
to walk a crackto walk one’s chalks
to want one’s bread buttered on both sides
(as) warm as toast
to warm the cockles of one’s heart
warts and all
to wash the milk off one’s liver
Wasp (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant)
watching Joe
watching paint dry, like
watershed (British television)
weasel word
wellie, or welly, to give it some
Welsh rabbit
werewolf
wet behind the ears
wet blanket
to wet one’s whistle
wham, bam, thank you ma’am
whammy
(just) what the doctor ordered
whataboutery
whataboutism
whelk (to be unable to run a whelk stall)
when the going gets tough, the tough get(s) going
white elephant
white poppy
who’s ‘she’—the cat’s mother?
widow’s cruse
wigs on the green
wild-goose chase
window
window shopping – lèche-vitrine(s) – crébilloner
wink (a nod is as good as a wink)
wire (to get one’s wires crossed)
wishbone – merrythought
with egg on one’s face
(with) tongue in cheek
Witham
wolf whistle
wooden spoon
woodshed, something nasty in the
woodwork (to crawl, or to come, out of the woodwork)
wool (to pull the wool over someone’s eyes)
work (to have one’s work cut out)
the world is one’s oyster
worth writing home about
wouldn’t say boo to a goose
—— to write home about
wrong tree, to be barking up the
to Wyatt


X
Xmas
XXXX, not to give a


Y
yahoo
Yorkshire tyke
you ain’t seen/heard nothing yet
you and whose, or what, army?
you can’t have your cake and eat it
you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear


Z
Zeppelins in a cloud


miscellany
a 19th-century document on English phrases
advertising catchphrases (19th century)
‘animal-friendly’ phrases suggested by PETA
British catchphrases from comedy and advertising
British, U.S. and French soldiers’ slang during WWI
‘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”
On errors in the Oxford English Dictionary
Our lunatic contributor
‘Wuthering Heights’