loophole

Loophole has several definitions: —an arrow slit in a castle wall, a narrow vertical window to shoot from —a technicality that allows escape from a contract or commitment —a method of escape, especially an ambiguity or exception in a rule —an ambiguity or inadequacy in a system, which can be used to circumvent it In the 1300s, an English castle…

better than a slap in the face with a cold fish

This phrase has a lot of variations, for example: “better than a slap in the belly with a cold fish,” “better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick,” and “better than a smack in the eye with a wet kipper.” There are many more. Phrases such as these are used to mean that although the situation is…

bury the hatchet

To bury the hatchet means to make peace with an adversary. This American phrase is an allusion to the figurative or literal practice of putting away the tomahawk at the cessation of hostilities among or by Native Americans in the Eastern United States, specifically concerning the formation of the Iroquois Confederacy and in Iroquois custom in general. Hatchets were buried…

blacklist

A blacklist is a list of individuals or organizations that some entity finds undesirable, for whatever reason. It might be due to a legitimate concern: a blacklist of known criminals, for example, or of countries with an unacceptable level of government corruption. But blacklists are just as often used for discrimination on social or ideological grounds. An infamous example is…

fly off the handle

To lose one’s temper suddenly and unexpectedly, or, if you want all the synonyms I could find: flip one’s lid, throw a fit, have a fit, hit the roof, combust, blow up, blow one’s stack, blow a fuse, go ballistic, lose self-control, become enraged. The phrase is American and first found in print in Thomas C. Haliburton’s The Attaché; or,…

blow your mind

If something blows your mind, you are very excited or surprised by it. This can include, of course, the use of hallucinatory drugs. If you tend to take things literally, ‘blew my mind’ could mean your head exploding, and ‘blew me away’ might evoke a gust of wind. ‘Boggle the mind’ is similar, but it seems to me to be…

wildcatter

A wildcatter is a prospector who sinks exploratory oil wells in areas not known to have oil fields. The term can also be applied to a risky investor. The word was coined in America and dates from the early oil industry in western Pennsylvania. Oil wells in unproven territory were called ‘wild-cat wells’ by 1871, and those who drilled them…