Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
Like this video? Subscribe to our free daily email and get a new idiom video every day!
(on) the right side of (some age)
Younger than a certain age. I guess you can get away with an outfit like that when you're still on the right side of 30. I never used to get sore after working out when I was on the right side of 40! You can eat all kinds of junk without gaining an ounce when you're on the right side of 20. Enjoy it while it lasts!
(on) the wrong side of (some age)
Older than a certain age. Why is she dressing like a teenager when she is clearly the wrong side of 40? I get sore after every workout now that I'm on the wrong side of 30! I knew I was on the wrong side of 20 when started gaining weight from my usual diet of junk food and lack of exercise.
40 acres and a mule
1. Something given by the government. The phrase refers to a promise made during the Civil War by Union general William T. Sherman that freed slaves would receive 40 acres of land and a mule. However, after the war that land was given back to its original owners. I'm doing just fine on my own—I don't need 40 acres and a mule from Uncle Sam. A: "If only the government would helps the poorest members of society." B: "Right? 40 acres and a mule would be welcome these days." I don't need food stamps. The government can keep its 40 acres and a mule, as far as I'm concerned.
2. A promise or assurance that proves to be false. I think he's just tempting us with that offer, and it'll turn out to be 40 acres and a mule. We're getting Christmas bonuses this year? Right, along with 40 acres and a mule. Don't believe the boss if he says you'll get your own parking spot—that's like 40 acres and a mule at this point.
a fool at 40 is a fool forever
proverb Someone who reaches middle age and continues to act foolishly is unlikely to start acting more maturely. A: "He's way too old to be spending his money so frivolously." B: "I know. A fool at 40 is a fool forever." What did Uncle Al think would happen if he tried to hide his profits to avoid the taxes? Geez, a fool at 40 is a fool forever. Are you seriously getting divorced for the third time? I guess it's true what they say—a fool at 40 is a fool forever.
be (on) the right side of (an age)
To be younger than a certain age. You can get away with dressing like a teenager when you're still on the right side of 30. I was never sore after working out when I was on the right side of 40!
be (on) the wrong side of (some age)
To be older than a certain age. Why is she dressing like a teenager when she is clearly the wrong side of 40? I'm sore after every workout these days, so I'm definitely on the wrong side of 30!
be pushing (an age)
To be approaching a particular age. I was never sore after my workouts until I was pushing 40.
catch forty winks
To sleep for a short time; to take a nap. Dad's upstairs catching forty winks before dinner.
forty minutes of hell
In collegiate basketball, the entire duration (40 minutes) of a game played in a suffocating and aggressive manner against one's opponents. The phrase was reportedly coined by Nolan Richardson while coaching the Arkansas Razorbacks in the mid-1990s. Primarily heard in US. OK, everyone, go out there and give them forty minutes of hell—don't even give them a chance to breathe!
forty ways from Sunday
Thoroughly or completely; in every possible way; from every conceivable angle. Everyone had their money on the reigning champion, but he was beaten forty ways from Sunday by the newcomer. We researched the case forty ways from Sunday, but there didn't seem to be any way that we could win with the evidence at hand.
forty ways to Sunday
Thoroughly or completely; in every possible way; from every conceivable angle. Everyone had their money on the reigning champion, but he was beaten forty ways to Sunday by the newcomer. We researched the case forty ways to Sunday, but there didn't seem to be any way that we could win with the evidence at hand.
A nap or a brief sleep. When you have a baby for the first time, you are suddenly forced to learn how to operate on only forty winks at a time. I'm going to go grab a quick forty winks before everyone starts arriving for the dinner party.
To move very quickly; to race. The phrase refers to a horse racing record of a mile completed in two minutes and 40 seconds. I need to start going two-forty through this paperwork if I want to have it done by the deadline.
See also: go
grab forty winks
To sleep for a short time; to take a nap. I grabbed forty winks before we left for dinner, so I might actually stay awake now!
have forty winks
To sleep for a short time; to take a nap. I had forty winks before we left for dinner, so I might actually stay awake now!
life begins at 40
cliché One has the skills, experience, and means by age 40 to truly enjoy life to its fullest. A: "I'm so depressed that I'm going to turn 40 next year." B: "Come on, Tom, life begins at 40. You've still got all sorts of adventures ahead of you!"
Forty acres on the northern section of a property. I think Pa's working up on the north forty—want me to take you over there?
pushing (some age)
Approaching a particular age. I never used to get sore after my workouts until I started pushing 40.
take forty winks
To sleep for a short time; to take a nap. I took forty winks before we left for dinner, so I might actually stay awake now!
the sunny side of (an age)
Just a little bit younger than a landmark age, such as 20, 30, 40, etc. The thriller centers on a young journalist on the sunny side of 30 discovering the treacherous world of politics in Washington, D.C. What would you know about a business like this? You're still on the sunny side of 20!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
catch forty winksand take forty winks; have forty winks
Fig. to take a nap; to get some sleep. I'll just catch forty winks before getting ready for the party. I think I'll go to bed and take forty winks. See you in the morning.
Fig. a nap; some sleep. I could use forty winks before I have to get to work. I need forty winks before I get started again.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
A brief nap, as in There's just time for forty winks before we have to leave. This expression supposedly was first recorded in 1828 and relies on wink in the sense of "sleep," a usage dating from the 14th century.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
forty winksOLD-FASHIONED, INFORMAL
If you have forty winks, you have a short sleep. He always has forty winks after supper.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
forty winksa short sleep or nap, especially during the day. informal
This expression dates from the early 19th century, but wink in the sense of ‘a closing of the eyes for sleep’ is found from the late 14th century.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
forty ˈwinks(informal) a short sleep, especially during the day: I managed to get forty winks after lunch.
be ˌpushing ˈ40, ˈ50, etc.(informal) be nearly 40, 50, etc. years old: My grandmother’s pushing eighty but she’s as fit as ever.
be on the ˌright/ˌwrong side of ˈ40, ˈ50, etc.(informal, often humorous) be younger/older than 40, 50, etc: ‘How old is she?’ ‘On the wrong side of forty, I’d say.’
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
n. a nap; sleep. (Usually with a quantifier. Either forty or some, a few, a bunch of, etc.) I could use forty winks before I have to get to work.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
A short nap. A wink has meant a sleep since the fourteenth century, when William Langland wrote “Thenne Wakede I of my wink” (Piers Ploughman, 1377). There is an apocryphal story about the origin of forty winks, stemming from an article in Punch (1872), the English humor magazine, about the long and tedious articles of faith required for Church of England clergy (“If a man, after reading through the thirty-nine Articles, were to take forty winks . . .”). However appealing this source, the term had appeared in print nearly a half-century earlier (in Pierce Egan’s Tom and Jerry, 1828), and its true origin has apparently been lost.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer