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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!
See also: after, dear

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.
See also: dear, john, letter

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.
See also: cost, dear

dear me

An expression of surprise or disappointment. Dear me, it seems I've forgotten the casserole I made for tonight's meeting.
See also: dear

dear(ly) departed

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 waiting 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.
See also: dear, hold, life, on

near and dear to (one)

Of great importance to and held in very high esteem by oneself. 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.
See also: and, dear, near

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 close to her heart.
See also: dear, heart

hang on for dear life

To hang 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 waiting 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.
See also: dear, hang, life, on

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.
See also: and, dear, near

dear departed

Euph. a dead person, as referred to at a funeral. Let's take a moment to meditate on the life of the dear departed.
See also: 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.
See also: dear, john, letter

Dear me!

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."
See also: dear

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.
See also: dear, hang, life, on

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.
See also: any, dear, price, thing, want

dear me

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]
See also: dear

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.
See also: dear, life

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?"
See also: and, dear, near

close to your heart

mainly 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.
See also: close, heart

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.
See also: and, dear, near

for dear (or your) life

as if or in order to escape death.
1992 Independent I made for the life raft and hung on for dear life.
See also: dear, life

your nearest and dearest

your close friends and relatives.
See also: and, dear, near

dear me


(dear,) oh dear

used for expressing worry, sympathy, concern, etc: Dear me! It’s started to rain and I’ve just hung out the washing!
See also: dear

for dear ˈlife


for your ˈlife

because 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.
See also: dear, life

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 ˈheart

be 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.
See also: close, dear, heart, near

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.
See also: and, dear, near

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.
See also: dear, old

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.
See also: dear, john, letter

for dear life

Desperately or urgently: I ran for dear life when I saw the tiger.
See also: dear, life
References in periodicals archive ?
Dearness Allowance is granted at certain percentage of basic pension and it is revised every 6 months from 01.
Announcing the decision after a cabinet meeting, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters that the combined impact on the exchequer on account of hike in dearness allowance and relief would be of the order of Rs 4,355.
According to union sources, other demands include flexible working hours, linking of dearness allowance ( DA) with basic pay and increasing casual leaves and providing conveyance to workers during late hours.
Talking to media people at his residence here today, the PML President further said that if they just control dearness then all other matters would be controlled, in this regard we once again advise the govt to convene All Parties Conference on dearness.
The dearness and unemployment reached at peak but the rulers claim that they have backing of public.
Detailing the working of the bureau, the Minister said the main function of the organisation is to compile the consumer price index numbers for industrial, rural and agricultural labourers, which are used, amongst other things, to regulate dearness allowance of industrial workers and government employees and to fix/revise minimum wages.
Continuing, Ch Parvez Elahi said that the govt should pay all its attention to dearness of essential and other articles, electricity, gas and other public problems, electricity tariff was again being raised in February according to the agreement with the IMF whereas Shahbaz Sharif while putting up in a tent under the shadow of Minar-e-Pakistan had said that he would solve electricity problem in six months and asked whether six months have not elapsed so far adding that the govt instead of solving the problems faced by the people was trying to divert their attention to non-issues.
Gilani said the government was fighting dearness, economic challenges, terrorism and energy crisis for a better tomorrow.
CENTRAL government employees received an early Diwali bonanza on Thursday, with the Cabinet granting them a dearness allowance ( DA) hike of 10 per cent effective July 1.
Sarwar said the PML-N government would overcome challenges like the energy crisis and dearness shortly and provide relief to the masses.
Gilani was of the view that the country is combating at many fronts at a time including menace of terrorism , dearness, unemployment , energy crises , natural calamities.
According to the Act, telephone dues and house rent can be recovered from a current MP's salary and travel and dearness allowances.
Addressing Pakistan Muslim League (PML) Punjab enthusiastic consultative meeting at the Muslim League House here Thursday they said those getting published surveys about their popularity should also have survey of 100 days done, electricity and dearness missiles have hit the people very hard making their life miserable, nothing has been done regarding terrorism despite holding of the All Parties Conference(APC).
The sit-in of PTI is against corruption, law and order situation, dearness and energy crises of the country.
Counted even at 50 per cent of the last basic pay drawn along with the dearness allowance quantum, pension was considered to be a major advantage.