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American Phrases and Sayings

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161 Phrases 'Coined in the USA'

Cobbe family portrait of William ShakespeareNo country has a closer association with the language of Olde Englande than the USA. From the days of the first Puritan settlers to recent cross-Atlantic tweetings, the two countries have shared in the development of English. Many words and phrases used in the USA have retained Elizabethan English meanings and pronounciations that have long disappeared in the Mother Country. Of course, there are many American phrases which are used there but haven't been adopted outside the country; for example, 'blue plate special', 'lead-pipe cinch' and 'presto chango' are widely understood in the US, but would procure puzzled looks in other English-speaking countries.

Here's our list of (some of) the many English phrases are were 'coined in the USA' and now used around the world.

A shot in the arm

A sledgehammer to crack a nut

Acid test - The

All singing, all dancing

An arm and a leg

As easy as pie

As happy as a clam

Baby boomer

Back to the drawing board

Back-seat driver - A

Bad hair day - A

Barking up the wrong tree

Bats in the belfry

Bee's knees - The

Between a rock and a hard place

Big fish in a small pond - A

Bigger bang for your buck - A

Birds and the bees - The

Blast from the past - A

Blaze a trail

Blonde bombshell - A

Born again

Break a leg

Bronx cheer

Brownie points

Bunny boiler - A

Bury the hatchet

Card-sharp - A

Catch 22

Chaise lounge

Chick flick - A

Climb on the bandwagon

Close, but no cigar

Coin a phrase

Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey

Cold turkey

Cost an arm and a leg

Customer is always right - The

Cut to the chase

Dead ringer - A

Doom and gloom

Double whammy

Down the tubes

Drop-dead gorgeous

Ethnic cleansing

Face the music

Fancy pants

Fashion victim - A

Feeding frenzy - A

Fifteen minutes of fame

Filthy rich

Five o'clock shadow

Flavor of the month - The

Fly off the handle

Foot in the door - A

Fuddy-duddy - A

Funny farm - The

Generation X

Get down to brass tacks

Get your dander up

Get your goat

Gild the lily

Go haywire

Go the whole hog

Go postal

Go to hell in a handbasket

Good riddance to bad rubbish

Goody, goody gumdrops

Gung ho

Have an axe to grind

Heads up - A

Heavy metal

Heebie-jeebies - The

High on the hog

High, wide and handsome

Hissy fit - A

Hold your horses

Hooray Henry - A

Hunky-dory

Identity theft

If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen

In an interesting condition

In like Flynn

In spades

In the bag

In the sticks

Indian summer - An

Jobs for the boys

Joined at the hip

Jump on the bandwagon

Jump the gun

Jump the shark

Jury is still out - The

Kangaroo court - A

Keep the ball rolling

Keep your chin up

Kit and caboodle - The

Knock into a cocked hat

Know your onions

Lame duck - A

Level playing field - A

Life of Riley - The

Loose cannon - A

Lose your marbles

Make a bee-line for

Middle of the road

More bangs for your buck

Mother country - The

My bad

New kid on the block - The

Nitty-gritty - The

No dice

No-brainer - A

Off the record

On cloud nine

On the wagon

On the warpath

Paddle your own canoe

Paint the town red

Pass the buck

Peg out

Peter out

Pie in the sky

Piece of cake - A

Pipe dream - A

Play by ear

Power dressing

P.D.Q. - pretty damn quick

Prime time

Pull the wool over your eyes

Quality time

Red letter day - A

Rise and shine

Road rage

Run a mile

Run of the mill

Sacred cow - A

Security blanket

Seven-year itch - The

Skid row

Smart casual

Smoke and mirrors

Sold down the river

Sound bite - A

Spill the beans

Spin doctor - A

Spring forward, fall back

Square meal - A

Stool pigeon - A

Tail wagging the dog - The

Take the cake

Talk to the hand

Talk through one's hat

Real McCoy - The

That's all she wrote

That's All Folks!

The pits

The whole nine yards

The whole shebang

There's no such thing as a free lunch

Top notch

Tuckered out

Up a gum tree

Up shit creek without a paddle

Wear the trousers

Well heeled

What you see is what you get

What's not to like?

Whoops-a-daisy

Wild and woolly

Zero tolerance