Phrases, Clichés, Expressions & Sayings
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Naked truth, the
Meaning: The absolute truth.
Example: Under threat of perjury, she was advised to tell the naked truth on the stand.
Origin: This phrase comes from an old fable: "Truth and Falsehood went swimming. Falsehood stole the clothes that Truth had left on the river bank, but Truth refused to wear Falsehood's clothes and went naked."


Name will be Mudd
Meaning: Reputation will be ruined.
Example: If word gets out that you are a peeping Tom, your name will be mudd.
Origin: A reference to Dr. Mudd, the Physician that set the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth.

Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln by shooting him in the balcony of the Ford Theater. After the shooting, Booth leapt from the balcony, breaking his leg.

Dr. Mudd claimed that he had no idea Booth had just shot President Lincoln, however the government sent him away to prison anyway off the coast of Key West.


Meaning: Unimportant, small-time, trivial, petty.
Example: Jethro never takes her to fancy restaurants. He always nickels and dimes her.
Origin: The 20th century African-American saying, "nickel-and-dime" refers to two of the smallest units of United States money. Anything that’s "nickel-and-dime" is the opposite of "big bucks."


Nine days' wonder
Meaning: Something that is popular but soon becomes unfashionable or ceases to be novel.
Origin: An old proverb states "A wonder lasts nine days, and then the puppy's eyes are open", alluding to dogs which, like cats, are born blind. The public are reckoned to be blind initially, but then their eyes are opened.

Alternative: The Latin word "novena" is a term used in the Roman Catholic Church for a devotion lasting for nine consecutive days. Once completed, a new one may be instituted and the other forgotten.


Not all it's cracked up to be
Meaning: Something that once experienced will prove to be less than expected.
Example: They say being rich is not all it's cracked up to be. But then again, neither is being poor.
Origin: "Crack" can be used as a noun meaning a statement or comment. Consider the term "wise crack".

As a verb "crack", dating back to the 15th century, was to praise or boast. If you "cracked up" something you sang its praises. Therefore something that is "not all it's cracked up to be" is something that is not as good as you were told.


Not enough room to swing a cat
Meaning: Space is very tight; the room is very tiny.
Origin: The cat in this phrase is of the cat o'nine tails type. The nine-thronged whip was used as punishment at sea. Because space was at a premium below decks, there was not enough room to wield the whip. As a result, the whipping always took place on deck.

Alternative: Evidence against the above origin comes from the fact that the expression was in use in the 1500s and the cat o'nine tails was not invented until the mid 1600s. The saying may involve felines, since there used to be a "sport" of swinging cats as targets for archers. This was either by their tails, in a sack, or in a leather bottle. Shakespeare, in "Much Ado About Nothing" (I,i) uses the phrase "hang me in a bottle like a cat".


Not fit to hold a candle
Meaning: An inferior person.
Example: Jack's not fit to hold a candle to him.
Origin: This phrase is from the times when boys held candles in theatres and other places of work to illuminate either their masters, or their master's work.


Not up to scratch
Meaning: Inadequate, subpar.
Origin: In the early days of boxing, there was no bell to signal the beginning of a round. Instead, the referee whould scratch a line on the ground between fighters, and the round began when both men stepped over it. When a boxer couldn't cross the line to keep a match going, people said he was not "up to the scratch."


Not worth a whistle
Meaning: Something that has low value.
Example: Our disorganized company has issued their 56th vague Mission Statement - another effort not worth a whistle to those doing the real work.
Origin: This expression (known to Shakespeare) alludes to the act of whistling for a dog. A good dog is always worth a whistle and a poor one isn't.


Not worth the candle
Meaning: An effort not worth making.
Origin: The effort is not worth making; not worth even the cost of the candle that lights the players. French: Le jeu n'en vaut pas la chandelle.

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