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after you, my dear Alphonse
A phrase typically said when two people try to do the same thing at the same time. It derives from the 1920s comic strip Happy Hooligan, which featured two very well-mannered Frenchmen, Alphonse and Gaston. No, no, you go first—after you, my dear Alphonse!
Dear John letter
A letter sent, typically from a woman to a man, to end a romantic relationship. Mike was clearly upset when he received a Dear John letter from his girlfriend, Caroline. He thought their relationship was going well and didn't expect it to end so suddenly. Mail call was usually a happy time in the military barracks, except for the unlucky soldiers who got Dear John letters from their sweethearts back home.
cost (one) dear
To bring one trouble; to result in very negative consequences. The crimes of his youth cost him dear when he started applying for jobs.
An expression of surprise or disappointment. Dear me, it seems I've forgotten the casserole I made for tonight's meeting.
euphemism One who has died. Myrna was a wonderful woman, and we are all gathered here today to remember our dearly departed.
See also: departed
hold on for dear life
To hold something very tightly, as if one's life depended on it. The hiker grabbed a root as she fell off the cliff, and had to hold on for dear life while she waited for the rescue crew. When the dentist motioned us back into the examination room, my daughter clutched her chair and held on for dear life.
near and dear to (one)
Of great importance to and held in very high esteem by one. Literature has been near and dear to me since high school. It's important to have people in your life who are near and dear to you.
dear to (one's) heart
Personally important to, or loved by, one. The little girl who came to visit the elderly woman every weekend was very dear to her heart.
hang on for dear life
To hang on to something very tightly, as if one's life depended on it. The hiker grabbed a root as she fell off the cliff, and had to hang on for dear life while she waited for the rescue crew. When the dentist motioned us back into the examination room, my daughter clutched her chair and hung on for dear life.
nearest and dearest
The people with whom one has the closest relationships; one's closest and move beloved family members and friends. People would much rather go home and spend time with their nearest and dearest, not hang around their co-workers at some dull office party.
be close to (one's) heart
To be personally important to, or loved by, one. The little girl who came to visit the elderly woman every weekend was very close to her heart.
be near to (one's) heart
To be personally important to, or loved by, someone. That old dog is very near to my heart.
hold (someone or something) dear
To consider someone or something to be very valuable or important, especially at a personal level. Even though this old pocket watch doesn't work anymore, I still hold it dear as it was the last thing my grandfather ever gave me. I consider myself a pretty gregarious person, but there are only a few people I truly hold dear.
Euph. a dead person, as referred to at a funeral. Let's take a moment to meditate on the life of the dear departed.
a Dear John letter
a letter a woman writes to her boyfriend telling him that she does not love him anymore. Bert got a Dear John letter today from Sally. He was devastated.
an expression of mild dismay or regret. Sue: Dear me, is this all there is? Mary: There's more in the kitchen. "Oh, dear me!" fretted John, "I'm late again."
hang on for dear life
Cliché to hang on tight. As the little plane bounced around over the mountains, we hung on for dear life.
thing you don't want is dear at any price
Prov. You should not buy something just because it is cheap. Jill: There's a sale on black-and-white film; we should get some. Jane: We never use black-and-white film. Jill: But it's so cheap. Jane: A thing you don't want is dear at any price.
Also, oh dear. A polite exclamation expressing surprise, distress, sympathy, etc. For example, Dear me, I forgot to mail it, or Oh dear, what a bad time you've been having. These usages may originally have invoked God, as in dear God or oh God , which also continue to be so used. [Late 1600s]
for dear life
Also, for one's life. Desperately, urgently, so as to save one's life. For example, When the boat capsized, I hung on for dear life, or With the dogs chasing them they ran for their lives, or She wanted that vase but I saw it first and hung on to it for dear life. These expressions are sometimes hyperbolic (that is, one's life may not actually be in danger). The first dates from the mid-1800s, the variant from the first half of the 1600s. Also see for the life of one.
nearest and dearest
One's closest and fondest friends, companions, or relatives, as in It's a small gathering-we're inviting only a dozen or so of our nearest and dearest. This rhyming expression has been used ironically since the late 1500s, as well as by Shakespeare in 1 Henry IV (3:2): "Why, Harry, do I tell thee of my foes, which art my nearest and dearest enemy?"
close to your heartmainly BRITISH or
dear to your heart
COMMON If a subject is close to your heart or dear to your heart, it is very important to you and you care a lot about it. Note: The heart is traditionally regarded as the centre of the emotions. For presenter Manjeet K. Sandhu the position of Asian women in society is an issue very close to her heart. It's a project that is dear to my heart. Note: In American English, you can also say that a subject is near and dear to your heart. She has impressed Senators with her knowledge of subjects near and dear to their hearts.
your nearest and dearest
Your nearest and dearest are your close friends and family. The English do not like to show their feelings, even to their nearest and dearest.
for dear (or your) lifeas if or in order to escape death.
1992 Independent I made for the life raft and hung on for dear life.
your nearest and dearestyour close friends and relatives.
(dear,) oh dearused for expressing worry, sympathy, concern, etc: Dear me! It’s started to rain and I’ve just hung out the washing!
for dear ˈlife,
for your ˈlifebecause you are in danger: Run for your life! A tiger has escaped from the circus! ♢ They were clinging for dear life to the edge of the rock.
hold somebody/something ˈdear(formal) feel that somebody/something is of great value: He laughed at the ideas they held dear.
be close/dear/near to somebody’s ˈheartbe a person or thing that somebody is very fond of, concerned about, interested in, etc: The campaign to keep our local hospital open is something that is very close to my heart.
your ˌnearest and ˈdearest(informal, often humorous) your close family and friends: It must be difficult for him here, living so far away from his nearest and dearest.
an old ˈdear(informal) an old woman: And then this old dear came in looking very ill, so I asked the doctor to see her before the other patients.
Dear John letter
n. a letter a woman writes to her boyfriend in the military service telling him that she does not love him anymore. Sally sends a Dear John letter about once a month.
for dear life
Desperately or urgently: I ran for dear life when I saw the tiger.