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The common expression "familiar with the matter" is generally used to refer to people who have information that is not yet available to the public and is to be confirmed.

Google Books

For instance:

An agreement will soon be reached by the two big companies according to people familiar with the matter.

Is there another "idiomatic" expression that can be used instead of "familiar with the matter".

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Why didn't experts fit? "..according to experts.." – NVZ Mar 17 at 8:16
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@NVZ - I don't think that "experts" carries the same connotation. – Saturana Mar 17 at 8:18
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People who were conversant with the matter. – Arif Burhan Mar 18 at 2:02
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All these options seem worse than "familiar with the matter". What's wrong with that? – curiousdannii Mar 19 at 6:14
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@curiousdanni - I was just looking for equivalent idiomatic expressions, is there something wrong with that? Can you suggest one? – Saturana Mar 19 at 11:32

11 Answers 11

I like in the know (The Free dictionary):

having more information about something than most other people: People in the know go there for the best skiing in the east. (Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms)

Privy to special or secret information, as in Not too many people are in the know about this project. (The American Heritage® Dictionary)

So your example would become:

An agreement will soon be reached by the two big companies according to people in the know.

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Good one, thanks! – Saturana Mar 17 at 8:25
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This sounds like a significantly less formal option, more likely to be paired with 'A deal will soon be struck' than with 'An agreement will soon be reached'. – Egox Mar 17 at 11:36
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In fact, "People in the know are moving to Sunoco." At least, that's what I heard on TV back in the 60's. :) – BobRodes Mar 18 at 7:55
    
"People in the know go there for the best skiing in the east." As a ski patroller in the East, I feel confident in saying that this is an oxymoron. – QPaysTaxes Mar 18 at 13:32

I have come across the phrase "according to inside sources" often in newspapers and articles.

Usage:

According to inside sources, an agreement will be reached between the two companies soon

Google Ngram result for "according to inside sources"

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Just "insiders" works just as well as "inside sources". – Tonny Mar 17 at 12:32

I'd suggest, in the loop

Part of a group that is kept up-to-date with information about something: knew about the merger because she's in the loop.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

An agreement will soon be reached by the two big companies according to people in the loop/ in the loop sources.

Ngram

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The more hyphens an adjective has, the uglier it is, imho. – Anton Sherwood Mar 17 at 21:12

Even without “the matter” (which would probably reduce the hits for “according to people familiar with”) this Ngram puts “according to informed sources” ahead of the phrase that you are trying to replace.

informed
1 a: having information "informed sources" informed observers

(from 'Merriam-Webster')

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A common word used correctly. Good show. +1 – user116032 Mar 17 at 19:47

You may use the expression well-informed:

  • possessing reliable information on a particular subject.

(Collins)

An agreement will soon be reached by the two big companies according to well-informed people.

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Sometimes I like to use the cognoscenti. Because it's ridiculously, even comically pretentious.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/cognoscenti says:

Definition of cognoscente

plural co·gno·scen·ti (-tē)

  • a person who has expert knowledge in a subject: connoisseur

Examples of cognoscente in a sentence:

  • a cognoscente of medieval painting

  • cognoscenti in the art world knew that most of the works being auctioned off were second-rate stuff"

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It's not really that pretentious if you spend any time in a working-class Italian neighborhood. – Monty Harder Mar 17 at 18:28
    
@MontyHarder True - and I imagine the same is true with all pretentious loanwords, if you hang out where they were loaned from. (Not sure why linguists call them "loan" words, rather than "stolen without asking" words, mind.) – Dewi Morgan Mar 17 at 18:36
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Well, you can't really steal a word from another language, but I am fond of the old joke that says English doesn't so much "borrow" words as "follows other languages down alleys to mug them" or something like that – Monty Harder Mar 17 at 18:52

Well-acquainted. "Yes, I'm well-acquainted with the matter."

Usually "I'm acquainted with" means you're somewhat, but not very, familiar with somebody. Sometimes it's used figuratively, to mean you're familiar with something or some matter (not just a person).

"Well-acquainted" or "very well-acquainted" are often used as understatements, as if to say "You know, I am just a little bit familiar with it. Actually I'm very familiar with it."

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A common idiom is to say that someone is au fait with the matter.

Clearly a phrase borrowed from French but, like many French phrases, in widespread use in English.

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An answer not yet given is conversant (Dictionary.com):

familiar by use or study (usually followed by with).

For better or worse, this seems to be falling out of favor, largely due to the use of phrases such as those given elsewhere in the answers to this question.

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Derrel, for a better answer, include the links to external sites you quote (I've done that for you), and your suggested rephrasing of the OP's example sentence (see other answers). – Jacinto Mar 17 at 16:30
    
Thanks! I followed the example in the other answer, so clearly I was misled (;-)). – Derrell Durrett Mar 17 at 18:39

"familiar with" is already nicely idiomatic. It is "matter" that is awkward and vague and I would be discinclined to use. I would prefer to substitute a word that is more idiomatic and ideally topically more appropriate:

issue(s), debate, question, proposal, controversy.

A single word might be "insiders". Other expressions include "have X's ear", "with their ear to the ground", "who follow", "who have explored", "who have researched",

Then there are words that place the informer in relation to the issue or event: proponents, opponents, witnesses, researchers, (union/company/government) officials, a () spokesperson.

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In the case of classified government projects the appropriate phrasing would be:

"..., according to those read-into the project.

Read-into:

The process of being read into a compartmented program generally entails being approved for access to particularly sensitive and restricted information about a classified program, receiving a briefing about the program, and formally acknowledging the briefing, usually by signing a non-disclosure agreement describing restrictions on the handling and use of information concerning the program

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