The Phrase Finder

2,500 English idioms, phrases and proverbs that we use every day, with their meanings and origins explained.

Meanings and Origins

The meanings and origins of thousands of English idioms, expressions and sayings


A list of hundreds of the proverbs that give meaning to our language like no other form of expression.

American Expressions

Divided by a common language? Not when you understand the phrases that were born in the USA.

Phrases coined by Shakespeare

The Bard of Avon, he gave us more words and expressions than anyone else.

Nautical phrases

Ahoy there, me hearties, here’s the language that came from our nautical friends.

Phrases from the Bible

The single book that has given more sayings, idioms and proverbs to the English language than any other.

Categories of phrases

Expressions and sayings grouped under topic headings.


Tools, helpers and notes to help with writers block, or to settle an argument

Famous Last Words

When it comes to memorable quotations, many prominent people save the best until last.

See our list of Famous Last Words to find out who said what, just before they bit the dust.

Also, a special form of last words – notable suicide notes.

Tourist taking photo of a building
Windows of a building in Nuremberg, Germany

Phrase Thesaurus

The Phrase Thesaurus is a writers’ resource that stimulates ideas for headlines, copy, song lyrics, fiction writing etc.


Loads of idioms

Tourist taking photo of a building

“Heavens to Murgatraoyd”

A stylised exclamation of surprise, similar to ‘Heavens to Betsy’.
‘Heavens to Murgatroyd’ is American in origin and dates from the mid 20th century.

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