The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms

By Christine Ammer

The cat won't ever get your tongue after you have the yankee historical past® Dictionary of Idioms. This publication defines approximately 10,000 idioms — expressions which includes or extra phrases whose mixed that means isn't like the literal which means of the person phrases. each one access has either a definition and a sentence displaying the idiom utilized in context. such a lot entries provide an evidence of the idiom’s beginning and point out while the expression first seemed in English.

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Extinguish all lighting fixtures. for instance, the entire city was once asleep, as blacked out as London in the course of the warfare. within the early 1900s this expression alluded to the lighting fixtures in a theater, yet from approximately 1940 on it intended darkening a whole urban to conceal it from enemy bombers. three. Lose attention, faint; additionally, adventure a brief lack of reminiscence. for instance, I couldn’t have in mind a unmarried observe of the track; I blacked out thoroughly, or The accused guy claims he blacked out after his first drink. This utilization is believed to have originated with pilots, who occasionally fainted in brief whilst pulling out of an influence dive. It quickly used to be transferred to different losses of attention or reminiscence. [c. 1940] black sheep The least respected member of a gaggle; a shame. for instance, Uncle Fritz used to be the black sheep of the relations; we constantly proposal he emigrated to Argentina to prevent penitentiary. This metaphor relies at the concept that black sheep have been much less precious than white ones since it used to be tougher to dye their wool diversified colours. additionally, within the 1500s, their colour was once thought of the devil’s mark. through the 1700s the time period used to be ordinary because it is this day, for the ordinary member of a gaggle. blame → See LAY (THE BLAME) ON; guilty. clean → as well as the idiom starting with clean, additionally see DRAW A clean; FILL IN (THE BLANKS). clean payment Unrestricted authority, a unfastened hand, as in I’ll help lots of the chairman’s schedule, yet I’m no longer able to supply him a clean payment for the company’s destiny. actually this time period indicates a financial institution cost that's signed through the drawer yet doesn't point out the amount of cash, that's stuffed in through the individual to whom it really is given. [Late 1800s] blanket → See protection BLANKET; rainy BLANKET. blast → as well as the idiom starting with BLAST, additionally see complete BLAST. blast off 1. additionally, blast away. Take off or be introduced, particularly into area, as in They’re scheduled to blast off on Tuesday. This utilization originated with the advance of robust rockets, spacecraft, and astronauts, to all of which it used to be utilized. [c. 1950] 2. leave, filter out, as during this party’s over; let’s blast off now. [Slang; early Nineteen Fifties] three. develop into excited or excessive, particularly from utilizing medicines, as in they offer events the place humans blast off. [Slang; c. 1960] blaze → as well as the idiom starting with BLAZE, additionally see scorching AS BLAZES; LIKE GREASED LIGHTNING (BLAZES). blaze a path discover a new direction or process; commence a brand new venture. for instance, His study blazed a path for brand spanking new sorts of gene remedy. This expression used to be first used actually within the 1700s for the perform of marking a woodland path by means of making blazes, that's, marking timber with notches or chips within the bark. [Late 1800s] bleed → as well as the idiom starting with BLEED, additionally see MY middle BLEEDS FOR YOU. bleeding middle a really soft-hearted, compassionate individual, usually to a fault. utilization of the adjective “bleeding” for “full of pity” dates from the past due 1500s. The pairing with “heart,” as in a real bleeding middle, she takes in each stray animal, is far more recent.

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