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

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

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

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

(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

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 ?
Tom was a distinguished adept at these thefts--by proxy.
When Tom had had enough, he would slip out and tie knots in Chamber's shirt, dip the knots in the water and make them hard to undo, then dress himself and sit by and laugh while the naked shiverer tugged at the stubborn knots with his teeth.
After struggling till both were hot and flushed, each relaxed his strain with watchful caution, and Tom said:
The new boy went off brushing the dust from his clothes, sobbing, snuffling, and occasionally looking back and shaking his head and threatening what he would do to Tom the "next time he caught him out.
First off he looked surprised to see us, and not very glad, either; but as Tom went on he looked pleasanter, and when he was done he smiled, and nodded his head several times, and made signs with his hands, and says:
Just then we see some of Steve Nickerson's people coming that lived t'other side of the prairie, so Tom says:
He spoke seriously to Tom across the fence on the subject of his passion.
Now, you ain't got the devil in you to do that, Tom.
Polly obeyed, and did even better than before, saying, as she looked up, with a laugh, "I 've been through the whole book; so you won't catch me that way, Tom.
And Tom spread the book between them with a grave and business-like air, for he felt that Polly had got the better of him, and it behooved him to do his best for the honor of his sex.
And though Tom still spent many an hour with him, as he sat on a bench in the sunshine, or by the chimney corner when it was cold, he soon had to seek elsewhere for his regular companions.
The first time Tom went to their cottage with his mother, Job was not indoors; but he entered soon after, and stood with both hands in his pockets, staring at Tom.
It's a great pity,' said Louisa, after another pause, and speaking thoughtfully out of her dark corner: 'it's a great pity, Tom.
Blow me," says Tom Smart; and the mare neighed as if she were precisely of the same opinion.
No, Tom," said Maggie, imploringly, laying hold of the arm that was held stiffly in the pocket.