An idiom's figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning.

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Meaning of the phrase “keep the blues at bay”? [on hold]

What is the meaning of the phrase "keep the blues at bay" ant what is the right context or situation for it? Please explain.
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43 views

Any English equivalent for Russian idiom “to write for the desk drawer”? [duplicate]

It means "to write literary works, knowing that they will not pass censorship and be published". I am looking for some English equivalents that can be used to describe not only writing but also doing ...
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1answer
60 views

“Left with an '8'” meaning of an expression found on a song (by Talk Talk)

Introduction to the actual question: since song and lyrics are valid tags on this forum, I dare to ask the meaning of an expression found in a song. As a non native English speaker, I have met a lot ...
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1answer
84 views

What is “as American as April in Arizona” meant for?

I was reading an article that was telling a story about Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov: Paris Review asked the Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov, "Do you consider yourself an American?" He said, "...
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1answer
66 views

Meaning of “out of an interest”

In the following YouTube video, (4:35) entitled: Master Craftsman, Nathie Katzoff | HUMAN, I heard I didn't get into this out of an interest in capitalism. I got into it out of an interest in ...
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1answer
29 views

How to understand “keeping in mind” in these sentences?

What does the keeping in mind in the following sentences mean? I find it hard to understand the whole sentence. A: According to the present needs, a change should be made in laws. For example, in ...
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30 views

Is it good to leave things out on the pitch?

Started re-watching The West Wing recently, and came across the phrase "leave it all out on the field": Everyone's walking around here like we're finished. We have 365 more days… For both of us, ...
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1answer
63 views

What does “ we've as much” mean?

"So what we did, we got in touch with a nature reserve out in the country, and asked them what you could see there. And that's when we realised that we've as much, if not more wildlife than they do." ...
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2answers
117 views

Sleeping with one's eyes open [closed]

I've once heard a person make a reference to another person as sleeping with their eyes open. I wonder if there is another way to take this expression other than literally. Thanks.
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60 views

'work so hard' or 'work too hard'? [closed]

" I know you're having a big test next Monday, but don't work yourself so hard" In this sentence, Can I possibly use "too hard" instead of "so hard"? Thanks in advance.
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503 views

What is the meaning of “Agrift”? [closed]

I saw this word here today. A Party Agrift by Paul Krugman What does "Agrift" here refer to? I tried on Webster. I could find the meaning for "grift", which means "to acquire money or property ...
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1answer
46 views

Is 'good' a double-entendre in some parts of the US? [closed]

In the movie The Incredibles, the characters have the following dialogue: LUCIUS (FROZONE): Honey? HONEY: What? LUCIUS (FROZONE): Where's my supersuit? HONEY: What? LUCIUS ...
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1answer
34 views

Meaning of “straw beneath my feet” in this context

I was reading 'Animal Farm' by George Orwell, in which, there was a sentence "but I know, as surely as I see this straw beneath my feet, that sooner or later justice will be done." I dont ...
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2answers
99 views

Positive connotation of “fluke”?

Many sources (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, for a start) suggest the word "fluke" has mostly positive connotations when used in the sense of "accident." That is, "a fluke" properly describes a lucky accident, not ...
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1answer
57 views

What does “Lizard in a ruin” mean in this Paragraph?

Paragraph (Taken from here): You can watch Piaf performing ‘La Foule’ on YouTube, in a recording of a concert in the Netherlands in December 1962. It is completely mesmerising. A journalist who ...
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1answer
2k views

To whose 'salt' is the idiom, “worth one's salt” referring to?

Worth one's salt- worth one's pay; something or someone that deserves respect and support. Mark: That journalist is biased. I don't like the way she interrogates our mayor. Dale: Every journalist ...
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2answers
59 views

Does the phrase “present company excepted” exclude the speaker as well as the listener?

A common idiom is, when speaking to someone, to raise a general criticism and then amend it by saying "present company excepted". This is taken to mean that the criticism is not intended to apply to ...
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1answer
183 views

“How many beans make five?” [closed]

The answer is “a bean, a bean and a half, half a bean and 2 beans” but I really did not get it. Can anyone explain the origin and meaning of this expression?
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2answers
83 views

Is it clear what the idiom “lit up like a candle” means?

Take this sentence: I gave a beggar all my change, and he lit up like a candle. It's used in Norwegian, but I wonder if it's perfectly clear what it means in English, and are there better idioms to ...
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1answer
34 views

lemmings over the cliff

Does the trap of tipping over into a pointless lemmings over the cliff scenario mean losing the control of things so that they take you everywhere they want? or doing exactly what others do (...
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2answers
166 views

What does “red chair” imply?

At a meeting in an international corporation, a Canadian speaker mentioned having a "red chair" culture and later continued to talk about their "red chair" learnings. I'm not sure what that implies. ...
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1answer
68 views

What does “they were taken for being taken in” mean?

I have difficulty interpreting this line: they were taken for being taken in It is from Some by the late Daniel Berrigan. Exerpt: Some stood and stood and stood. They were taken for fools, ...
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What does “Pudding for supper..” mean in this context?

Here's an excerpt from the novel "Moby Dick". Emphasis mine. "‘Look at that chap now,’ philosophically drawled Stubb, who, with his unlighted short pipe, mechanically retained between his teeth, ...
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1answer
63 views

Is there another idiom to replace “rolling the dice”?

Does this sentence sound unnatural? The journalist has read the book, written a review and rolled the dice. I know rolling the dice means to "take a chance". But I am not sure if giving ...
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1answer
172 views

Why does “keep tabs on” mean what it means

Keep tabs on sth/sb means "to ​watch something or someone ​carefully". Why is that? Can somebody analyze and explain this idiom, please? What does "tabs" mean here, and how does the whole phrase ...
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what does “considers most” mean here?

The United States signed but has not yet ratified the Convention; however, the United States considers most of the Vienna Convention’s rules as representing customary international law. does it mean ...
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2answers
43 views

what does “preceding warfare” means? [closed]

Peace treaties concluded after cessation of hostilities were usually considered to be valid because of preceding warfare. preceding means "come before (something) in time" warfare means "engagement ...
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1answer
51 views

does “open to charges of” equal to “doing propaganda” here? [closed]

Always open to charges of propaganda and interference in the internal affairs of other nations, public diplomacy challenged both the spirit and letter of the Havana Convention. Book | Diplomacy: ...
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What is the meaning of “the seal and crown”

What is the synonym for "the seal and crown" in the following sentence? I've searched Google, there are not much information about this expression there. There was no grimace, no graces, but a ...
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1answer
81 views

What does “then” mean in this context?

In the book Diplomacy: A Very Short Introduction by By Joseph M. Siracusa, we find the following passage: Prior to World War II, then, diplomacy was essentially a government-to-government ...
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2answers
70 views

'not to mention' and 'to say nothing of'

Can anyone please tell me whether they find the following uses of 'not to mention' and 'to say nothing of' natural? John can do products, not to mention sums. John can do sums, not to mention ...
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1answer
98 views

WHAT IS DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “STORY” AND “TALE” IN THIS CONTEXT? [duplicate]

For all their efforts, the diplomats at Versailles achieved the precise opposite of what they had set out to do, inexorably, tragically laying the groundwork for the next, more horrible world war. In ...
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Who are these people in context?

Text came from preface. I should also be remiss if I did not thank the anonymous Delegates for their thoughtful reports and constructive suggestions. Even those who did not much agree with me gave me ...
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What is meaning of “Apropos acknowledgements,” at start of a phrase? [closed]

Apropos acknowledgements, I should first of all like to express my gratitude to my friend and colleague ... This quotation came from a preface of a book. As far as I understand, from dictionaries I'...
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1answer
98 views

is “reads as” equal to “similar to” in this context?

For all their efforts, the diplomats at Versailles achieved the precise opposite of what they had set out to do, inexorably, tragically laying the groundwork for the next, more horrible world war. ...
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3answers
142 views

Idiom Question: “And no money is spent by the dead.”

I'm actually a native English speaker that can't seem to figure this one out, nor can I find it online. Unfortunately, I can't really give context: it's in pretty convoluted academic writing in a very ...
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1answer
80 views

Does “killed the dog” mean flatulence?

I have been using this idiom as a synonym for "passing gas" ever since I heard it in the cult comedy classic, Kung Pow: Enter the Fist. Here's the usage: Kung Pow: Killed the Dog I happened to say ...
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1answer
183 views

Does “make something of a meal out of [something]” mean essentially “make a meal of [something]”?

I have found in a dictionary the meanings of the idiom "make a meal (out) of something": P5. to make a (also †one's) meal of: a. To consume as a meal, to devour; (in extended use) to take ...
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1answer
30 views

How to use the expression “loser hands”? [closed]

I heard sentences which involved the expression "loser hands", e.g. "this is one of the loser hands" (with reference to some concept which someone had expressed perplexity about). Which is the ...
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4answers
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What is the origin of the idiom “To Stand Someone Up”?

I was curious as to if anyone knew of the origins of the idiom "to stand someone up" in the sense of: My date stood me up. Do you think he'll stand us up again? She stood me up last night. ...
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1answer
101 views

What does the idiom “this is in hand” mean? [closed]

I saw this as a reply to someone's enquiry of a work status. "This is in hand and will be completed prior to the move rest assured." What is the meaning of 'in hand' here?
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2answers
136 views

Meaning of “Don't kick over the beehive”

I was wondering about the meaning of kick over and the type of context where it could be used. For instance: If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive.
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2answers
294 views

what does “ making something hard on somebody” mean? [closed]

what does " making something hard on somebody" mean? for example when my friend says to me " don't make it hard on yourself", what does it mean? is it slang? if slang, is it American or British?
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1answer
93 views

Lying through his teeth vs Lying [duplicate]

I've encountered the phrases "lying through his teeth" and "lying". Both have been used in similar contexts to (at least what I understand) as similar definitions. What is the meaning of the idiom of "...
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1answer
38 views

“tracked up” verbal phrase meaning

I am getting difficulty in deducing the meaning of idiom tracked up in the given diction below, ( paragraph below is taken from the NYTimes editorials ) : ...the Boston Global to do more than ...
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1answer
147 views

the golden ticket [closed]

It is a dialog. A: We're a small sporting goods company, but we're hoping to expand our presence online. B: That's the golden ticket for sure. Do your customers currently access content about your ...
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4answers
271 views

Meaning of once and while in “once in a while”

How did "once in a while" come to mean "occasionally, from time to time"? I understand it is an idiomatic usage, but "once" means "one time" and "while" means "in the meantime" , so how can the ...
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1answer
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Use of “well” in “Britain’s Labour Party is in thrall to a man well to the left of Mr Sanders”

I have a question about a sentence from an article of The Economist Magazine: Britain’s Labour Party is in thrall to a man well to the left of Mr Sanders. Does the word "well" in this sentence ...
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2answers
840 views

Meaning of phrase “Early/late in the piece”

I've heard people say "this early in the piece" or "this late in the piece". It seems to be spoken as a kind of idiomatic expression, but I'm not sure what it really means. What is the meaning of the ...
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88 views

“The last of the late brakers”

This is a common phrase in motorsports, particularly with motorcycles. Carrying speed for as long as possible, and braking as late and hard as possible into a turn, is advantages to lower overall ...