tom

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any Tom, Dick, or Harry

Any common, undistinguished person; anyone at all, indiscriminately. You don't want any Tom, Dick, or Harry coming to your performance, but then you don't want to limit the amount of business you might bring in, either. Kate's being very selective as to who gets invited to the wedding, as she doesn't want just any Tom, Dick, or Harry turning up.
See also: any, harry

Tom, Dick, or Harry

A common, undistinguished person; any manner of person, indiscriminately. (Usually in the form "(just) any Tom, Dick, or Harry.") You don't want just any Tom, Dick, or Harry coming to your performance, but then you don't want to limit the amount of business you might bring in, either. Kate's being very selective as to who gets invited to the wedding, as she doesn't want Tom, Dick, or Harry turning up.
See also: harry

peeping Tom

A man who secretly observes women undressing or engaging in sexual intercourse. Unless you want to be a target for peeping Toms, you better get curtains for your bedroom windows soon.
See also: peep, tom

(every) Tom, Dick, and Harry

 and any Tom, Dick, and Harry
Fig. everyone, without discrimination; ordinary people. (Not necessarily males.) The golf club is very exclusive. They don't let any Tom, Dick, or Harry join. Mary's sending out very few invitations. She doesn't want every Tom, Dick, and Harry turning up.
See also: and, harry

every Tom, Dick, and Harry

anyone Draw the curtains or we'll have every Tom, Dick, and Harry peeking in the window.
Usage notes: usually said about any person you do not know or think is unimportant, and sometimes used in the form any Tom, Dick, or Harry: I want a qualified plumber to do the job, not just any Tom, Dick, or Harry.
See also: and, every, harry

a peeping Tom

a man who secretly watches women while they are taking their clothes off or having sex I always close the curtains in case there are any peeping Toms across the road.
See also: peep, tom

Tom, Dick and/or Harry

anyone, especially people that you do not know or do not think are important Draw the curtains or we'll have every Tom, Dick and Harry peering through the window. I want a qualified plumber to do the job, not just any Tom, Dick or Harry.
See also: and, dick, harry

an Uncle Tom

a black person who is too eager to please white people
Usage notes: This phrase is from the book Uncle Tom's Cabin by H.B. Stowe, in which the main person in the story is a black slave. (= someone who is legally owned by another person)
She was seen by other blacks in the neighborhood as an Uncle Tom for not complaining about police harassment.
See also: tom, uncle

every Tom, Dick, and Harry

Also, every mother's son; every man Jack. Everyone, all ordinary individuals, as in This model should appeal to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. The use of masculine names in this way dates from Shakespeare's time (he used Tom, Dick, and Francis in 1 Henry IV), but the current one dates from the early 1800s. The two variants are largely British usage but occasionally are used in America. The first is recorded as early as 1583, whereas the second dates from the first half of the 1800s.
See also: and, every, harry

peeping Tom

A person who secretly watches others, especially for sexual gratification; a voyeur. For example, The police caught a peeping Tom right outside their house. This expression, first recorded in 1796, alludes to the legend of the tailor Tom, the only person to watch the naked Lady Godiva as she rode by and who was struck blind for this sin.
See also: peep, tom

Tom Swifty

A punning word game. Tom Swift was the hero of a series of boys' adventure books first published in 1910. Author Victor Apppleton rarely used the word “said” without adding adverbs, a style that someone turned into a word game in which punsters add adverbs that suit what Tom is saying. Classic examples of Tom Swiftys (or Swifties) are “Sesame,” said Tom openly; “I only use one herb when I cook,” said Tom sagely; and “I swallowed some of the glass from that broken window,” Tom said painfully.
See also: tom