I created the phrases.org.uk website in 1997.
I've always loved puns and wordplay, as well as computer programming. My first computer program was written in the 1950s, around the same time I was enjoying classic English comedy shows like Beyond Our Ken and The Goon Show.
These interests came together when I was studying for my postgraduate degree in machine intelligence and working on the Writer's Workbench computational linguistics project at Sheffield Hallam University in 1985.
I combined my love of wordplay and programming to create the Phrase Thesaurus, a writers' tool that generates lists of phrases related to any search word entered by the user, often in quirky or amusing ways. This tool formed the basis of the first version of the website, www.phrasefinder.co.uk (which is now archived). Other features, such as the origins of phrases, were added later.
For the past 26 years I have been researching the origins of English phrases and publishing them on this site. I only use information collected from original source documents, like early printed books and newspapers, and trusted sources like the OED.
The website includes:
- A large list of phrases with their origins explained.
- A large list of colloquial idioms, with their meaning and example usage.
- The Phrase Thesaurus.
I also administer a Facebook group about phrases, sayings and proverbs.
Gary Martin, October 2023.