tom


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an Uncle Tom

A derisive term for a black person who is submissive or servile to white people. The phrase refers to the titular faithful black servant in Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. He was once a passionate activist, but he's become an Uncle Tom.
See also: tom, uncle

any Tom, Dick, and Harry

Any kind of common, undistinguished person; anyone at all, indiscriminately. You don't want just any Tom, Dick, and Harry coming to your performance, but then you don't want to limit the amount of business you might bring in, either. Kate's made it clear that she doesn't want to invite any Tom, Dick, and Harry to her wedding.
See also: and, any, harry

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

every Tom, Dick, and Harry

Every kind of common, undistinguished person; anyone at all, indiscriminately. You don't want every Tom, Dick, and 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 every Tom, Dick, and Harry turning up.
See also: and, every, harry

peeping Tom

A person (typically referring to a man) who secretly watches people undressing or engaging in sex without their consent. Unless you want to be a target for peeping Toms, you better get curtains for your bedroom windows soon.
See also: peep, tom

Tom and Jerry

A spiced drink that contains liquor (usually rum) and is served hot. It is named for characters in the 19th-century novel Life in London (not the cartoon characters). I'm ordering a Tom and Jerry—what do you want to drink?
See also: and, Jerry, tom

Tom Swifty

A type of wordplay in which reported speech is followed by a description that creates a pun of some sort between the two. Presently she said, "I got you this gift." "We must hurry," said Tom swiftly.
See also: tom

Tom Tiddler's ground

1. A children's game in which a player (dubbed "Tom Tiddler") must catch other players who try to invade or cross into their area to "steal" their imaginary gold. I remember being kids and playing games like Tom Tiddler's ground or hopscotch. Nowadays, kids just sit around on their phones watching videos online.
2. By extension, an area or situation in which one may make significant profits but is or might be at risk or in danger. The region has become something of a Tom Tiddler's ground for the three major countries surrounding it, each one claiming of its resources as their own. The deregulation created a Tom Tiddler's ground for corporations who exploited every avenue possible to maximize profits, though such an unstable market eventually lead to one of the largest economic crashes in history.
See also: ground, tom

Tom, Dick, and Harry

Common, undistinguished people; any manner of person, indiscriminately. (Usually in the form "every Tom, Dick, and Harry.") You don't want Tom, Dick, and 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, and Harry to end up coming.
See also: and, 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

tomcat

1. noun A promiscuous, sexually active man. He had a reputation during college as something of a tomcat, always on the prowl for someone to sleep with. I'm not some tomcat, Jane. I'm looking for real and lasting love.
2. verb Of a man, to be active with or pursue many different sexual partners. I did enough tomcatting when I was younger. I'm ready to settle down and start a family now. He's ruined plenty of potential relationships with the way he tomcats around.

Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all

And a large number of other people; et al. Used to indicate that a list of people is frustratingly long. An allusion to a folk song called "Widecombe Fair," the chorus of which lists a large number of people ending with "Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all." Sometimes spelled "Cobley." Primarily heard in UK. Everyone from the Prime Minister, to the Governor of the Bank of England, to the Mayor of London, to the Director of the IMF, to Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all convinced us that we needed these austerity measures to survive the recession. And yet, here we are nearly a decade later, and information comes to surface that this was all an elaborate con job.
See also: all, and, tom, uncle

Uncle Tom Cobley and all

And a large number of other people; et al. Used to indicate that a list of people is frustratingly long. An allusion to a folk song called "Widecombe Fair," the chorus of which lists a large number of people ending with "Old Uncle Tom Cobley and all." Sometimes spelled "Cobleigh." Primarily heard in UK. Everyone from the Prime Minister, to the Governor of the Bank of England, to the Mayor of London, to the Director of the IMF, to Uncle Tom Cobley and all convinced us that we needed these austerity measures to survive the recession. And yet, here we are nearly a decade later, and information comes to surface that this was all an elaborate con job.
See also: all, and, tom, uncle

(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

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

every Tom, Dick, and Harry

or

every Tom, Dick, or Harry

People say every Tom, Dick, and Harry or every Tom, Dick, or Harry to talk about many different people, especially people they do not think are special or important. These days, the hotel is letting in every Tom, Dick and Harry. Note: This expression is very variable, for example, any can be used instead of every, and Harriet and other names are sometimes used instead of Harry. You cannot sell a gun to any Tom Dick or Harry, can you? Any Tom, Dick or Harriet can put on a jacket and say, `I'll be a producer.' Note: All of these names used to be very common, and so they began to be used to refer to ordinary people in general.
See also: and, every, harry

Tom, Dick, and Harry

used to refer to ordinary people in general.
This expression is first recorded in an 18th-century song: ‘Farewell, Tom, Dick, and Harry. Farewell, Moll, Nell, and Sue’. It is generally used in mildly derogatory contexts (he didn't want every Tom, Dick, and Harry knowing their business ) to suggest a large number of ordinary or undistinguished people.
See also: and, harry

Tom Tiddler's ground

a place where money or profit is readily made.
Tom Tiddler's ground was the name of a children's game in which one of the players, named Tom Tiddler, marked out their territory by drawing a line on the ground. The other players ran over this line calling out ‘We're on Tom Tiddler's ground, picking up gold and silver’. They were then chased by Tom Tiddler and the first (or, sometimes, the last) to be caught took his or her place.
See also: ground, tom

Uncle Tom Cobley (or Cobleigh) and all

used to denote a long list of people. British informal
Uncle Tom Cobley is the last of a long list of men enumerated in the ballad ‘Widdicombe Fair’, which dates from around 1800 .
1966 Guardian It seems clear that a compromise, half-way solution had equally been ruled out by Government, Opposition, economists, press, TV, Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all.
See also: all, and, tom, uncle

a ˌPeeping ˈTom

(disapproving) a person who likes to watch people secretly, especially when they are taking off their clothesIn 1040 in the English town of Coventry, Lady Godiva rode through the streets completely naked in an attempt to make her husband change his mind about forcing people to pay high taxes. In the story, only one man, Tom, watched her and he suddenly became blind.
See also: Peep, tom

every/any ˌTom, ˌDick and/or ˈHarry

(usually disapproving) any ordinary person; people of no special value to you: We don’t want just any Tom, Dick or Harry marrying our daughter.
See also: and, any, dick, every, harry

tomcat

1. n. a sexually active male; a stud. Old Fred’s getting to be quite a tomcat.
2. in. [for a man] to prowl around searching for sex. Harry was out tomcatting again last night.

every Tom, Dick, and Harry

Everyone, including those of low social status; the common herd. Although this term dates, in slightly different form, from Shakespeare’s time (he used Tom, Dick, and Francis in Henry IV, Part 1, 2.4), the names that survived into clichédom come from the early nineteenth century, when they were quite popular. One of the earliest references in print is from the Farmer’s Almanack of 1815, although there it may have literally meant three specific individuals (“He hired Tom, Dick, and Harry, and at it they all went”). John Adams used it (1818) in its present meaning: “Tom, Dick, and Harry were not to censure them”—in other words, not just anybody had the right to censure them.
See also: and, every, harry

peeping Tom

A person who secretly watches others, especially for sexual gratification. This term, first recorded in 1796, alludes to the legend of tailor Tom, the only one to watch the naked Lady Godiva as she rode by and who was struck blind for doing so. Many localities have “peeping Tom laws,” ordinances usually based on principles of invading privacy. The traditional peeping Tom involves a man peering through a window into a private dwelling, but today’s advanced technology may involve a spy camera, telescope, or hidden recording equipment observing someone remotely. The Athens Banner-Herald reported police were looking for a peeping Tom who spied on a fifteen-year-old girl, standing on a five-gallon bucket to peep through a crack in the girl’s mini-blinds (July 26, 2010). The British Sunday Mirror reported a case of a landlord spying on girl tenants in their bathroom via sophisticated recording equipment that taped all their actions (August 16, 1998).
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
References in classic literature ?
'"I am sure nobody who knows him, knows anything bad of him," said the widow, bridling up at the mysterious air with which Tom had spoken.
'The widow began to think it was high time to cry, so she took out her handkerchief, and inquired whether Tom wished to insult her, whether he thought it like a gentleman to take away the character of another gentleman behind his back, why, if he had got anything to say, he didn't say it to the man, like a man, instead of terrifying a poor weak woman in that way; and so forth.
Tom had put the line back in his pocket, and was looking at the hooks one by one, before he spoke again.
I wish they wouldn't fight at your school, Tom. Didn't it hurt you?"
Tom blew his smoke aside, after he had been smoking a little while, and took an observation of his friend.
Harthouse,' said Tom, 'and therefore, you needn't be surprised that Loo married old Bounderby.
Will would n't come up, he was so snowy, and Fanny was glad, because with her he was bashful, awkward, and silent, so Tom went down and entertained him with Maud's report.
When Maud came down and trotted contentedly away, holding Will's hand, Tom watched them out of sight, and then strolled about the house whistling and thinking, till he went to sleep in his father's arm-chair, for want of something better to do.
Tom at first only looked on at this pastime, but it had peculiar attractions for him, and he could not long keep out of it.
The little governess who had lately been installed in the house found her work grow wondrously easy, for Tom slaved at his lessons, in order to make sure of his note to the schoolmaster.
Tom always made Chambers go in swimming with him, and stay by him as a protection.
Tom did his humble comrade these various ill turns partly out of native viciousness, and partly because he hated him for his superiorities of physique and pluck, and for his manifold cleverness.
Besides Tom and his father, the Swift household was made up of Eradicate Sampson, a colored man-of-all-work, who, with his mule Boomerang, did what he could to keep the grounds around the house in order.
From one activity to another had Tom Swift gone, now constructing some important invention for himself, as among others, when he made the photo-telephone, or developed a great searchlight which he presented to the Government for use in detecting smugglers on the border.
Then they sat together, with a slate before them, and Tom gave Becky the pencil and held her hand in his, guiding it, and so created another surprising house.