This tag is for questions seeking an idiom that fits a meaning. If you're also seeking a phrase, see the "phrase-requests" tag too.

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2
votes
6answers
84 views

Is there an English idiom that means “you can always find a law to convict anyone”?

There's an infamous phrase in Russian (attributed to Stalin's Chief Prosecutor Vyshinsky): "Был бы человек, а статья найдется" Translated literally, this means "if there was a man, an ...
3
votes
1answer
96 views

Word for the situation of being unable to pass opposing pedestrian, as you both start to step same direction

Is there a word or expression in English, which describes the situation, when you can't pass a stranger, who is walking towards you on the street, because you both start to step the same direction? ...
24
votes
16answers
5k views

Is there an idiom for “I'm not an expert when it comes to kinds of feces”

There is an idiom in my language, which literally sounds like "I'm not an expert when it comes to kinds of feces". Which means that one considers all the instances of some group as equally bad, not to ...
0
votes
3answers
62 views

How do you express high proficiency in a succinct way?

I heard the following phrase in movies: -- Do you know how to use A? -- I am a f****g surgeon with A I like it a lot, but I can imagine a lot of people will not understand the meaning. I ...
1
vote
1answer
63 views

A Word for Sharing an Unpleasant Experience [closed]

Is there a word for that moment when you experience something unpleasant and feel obliged to share the experience with others? For example, you taste something horrible and try to encourage others ...
3
votes
4answers
107 views

What can we call “ an employee who is under-productive but the quality of his work is enviable”

A pleasant expression for an employee who has remained under-productive despite several feedback. (QUANTITATIVELY WORST) There are workers who are unable to churn up BIG numbers but the ...
1
vote
3answers
62 views

What's an English idiom for “you can't observe without disturbing” that won't run afoul of scientists? [duplicate]

We typically use either Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle or Schrödinger's Cat when we want to talk about a situation where you can't observe a state without altering it. A good example of this ...
0
votes
2answers
36 views

“Guesswork”, “guesstimation” synonyms [closed]

I'm looking for idioms and synonyms for "guesswork". Especially i'm looking for idioms and synonyms for given word connected to unscientific ways of predicting future. Both - pejorative and positive - ...
2
votes
4answers
99 views

What is it called when someone does an action they don't fully understand? [closed]

For example, someone speaking and writing the English language, but not actually knowing how to use it properly.
0
votes
3answers
42 views

Idiom request for something has a powerful feature that would make it superior to others

Let's say there are several cities that have their own attractions but this particular X city has a great amusement park that would make it superior to the others. How would you paraphrase this in ...
2
votes
4answers
77 views

An idiom for “don't buy the first thing you see”

I'm looking for a colloquialism for: shop around a bit before you make your decision
16
votes
14answers
2k views

Idiom for someone “not from this world”?

Are there idioms (or single words) in English for people who behave like they have come from another world where everything is perfect and know nothing about the reality? They usually come up with ...
2
votes
6answers
76 views

Politician says he will vote in favor of legislation that he hasn't read and will change once elected

Can anyone come up with a few good synonyms/idioms/expressions for a person or politician that will say whatever he/she believes will get him/her the most votes? For example: He/she will vote in ...
-1
votes
3answers
115 views

What's the phrase or idiom for acting like a baby when subjected to criticism?

I was wondering whether English has a phrase or an idiom for someone acting like a baby when subjected to criticism, as well as honest and negative assessment of their actions or personality. By ...
0
votes
1answer
26 views

“To leave its throne to something else”?

I want to define a situation where a certain type of food is the best in my opinion and express this in an idiomatic way. Would the the following example be completely understood by the native ...
12
votes
8answers
707 views

A wife who knows and accepts her husband's infidelity

What do you call a wife or woman who knows their spouse or partner is unfaithful but pretends either to (1) not care or (2) to not know? In this scenario it's important that the cheating spouse or ...
13
votes
6answers
1k views

Alternatives to “break a butterfly on a wheel” [duplicate]

The phrase "to break a butterfly on a wheel" is very evocative, but I can't bring myself to use it: I find the "wheel" too disturbing. So: what are some good alternatives? (For those who are ...
0
votes
2answers
63 views

Synonyms for “freak show” or idioms for a “working awkwardness”

What are other expressions that describe some prepared, working awkwardness, that's is worth to show because it does work and/or is interesting, and even maybe solves some problems? Example of such ...
5
votes
1answer
69 views

“farne di tutti i colori” in English

Does anyone know the English translation for "farne di tutti i colori"? It's an Italian expression meaning "do all sorts of things" The literal translation would be: to do something in every colour. ...
19
votes
9answers
2k views

A modern equivalent for “at the coalface”

I let you believe that I am one of the nation's top geneticists, when actually I am a moderately successful scientist who is now coasting on past research, doing the odd bit of examining or ...
5
votes
2answers
123 views

English play on: (Chinese) “enemies and lovers are pre-destined to meet”

Wondering what phrases English has similar to this Chinese idiom. ABC Dictionary (GoogleBooks): 183. (lit) [If we/they/you were] not rivals/enemies, there would be no encounter. (fig) ...
2
votes
1answer
79 views

Idiom or word for someone who opens their mouth and closes their ears in discussions? [closed]

Some individuals are not interested in listening to your opinion, and it seems like your idea either has no value to them, or they already know what you are about to say, and they talk over you or ...
1
vote
2answers
40 views

Confusions about the definitions of “draw on”

The idiom draw on as I know has many definitions. Two of which are to approach and to pass gradually This can be very confusing because the same phrase has two opposite meanings. Here's an example ...
1
vote
3answers
91 views

Idiom for: managing to solve a big problem only to be frustrated by a smaller problem

What would be an idiom for solving a massive problem and then only getting hindered by a small problem? So after solving a hard problem, getting stopped by the easy problem. It would not be: out of ...
-2
votes
1answer
61 views

Is there an idiom or slang word for “the last round of beer”?

I'm looking for a word or phrase that would fit here, where a few guys are drinking at a pub. A. "I must be going now." B. "Hey, wait, let's have ..............." which would mean a final drink ...
5
votes
2answers
94 views

An expression for not giving up when you know you should

Is there an idiom or expression that describes a situation where one knows they need to stop doing something that's not working, but they don't want to because of all the effort they've already put ...
0
votes
1answer
128 views

Is there an idiom about “dying monkey”?

is there an idiom sounding like "monkey dies" or "monkeys died"? What does it mean? I've been wondering since I heard Robert Plant's song "Monkey": Tonight you will be mine | Tonight the monkey'll ...
3
votes
6answers
684 views

What is the English idiom for eventually getting it right after many mindless attempts

I made up an idiom that I think describes what I want to say quite nicely: "If one shoots enough arrows at the target, one is sure to hit the bull's eye." An actual English idiom I know of that ...
106
votes
18answers
13k views

Is there any English/American equivalent for the Hungarian phrase “beating the nettle with someone else's penis”?

I am trying to translate this comically vulgar Hungarian phrase, often (but not exclusively) used in a political context. It means to make someone else carry out one's rash or risky ideas, usually ...
1
vote
4answers
255 views

Idiom or proverb for a thing you are trying hard to find

For example, this idiom is a thing that I'm trying hard to find. It satisfies itself in this situation. The only result I get when I google is "needle in a haystack", but I don't need it because that ...
87
votes
15answers
16k views

Is there an English idiom for trying to do two things at the same time and failing at both of them due to splitting your effort?

I'm basically searching for the opposite of putting all your eggs in one basket, where the risk is total failure because you did not hedge your efforts. I'm searching for a phrase that encompasses ...
2
votes
1answer
92 views

Is there a word or phrase for “running away from home to avoid an arranged marriage”

In the olden times, a woman would need parental consent to get married, or worse, her groom would be chosen by her father. As a consequence of such element of culture, she would sometimes run away ...
15
votes
17answers
3k views

Idiom that means trying to save something that is beyond saving

It's on the tip of my tongue. Example: "Replacing the hard drive of this computer would be [idiom]. It's going to fail completely soon enough."
0
votes
3answers
56 views

Word Request: A word that would describe how seconds (or other unit) relate to minutes (or other unit)

For example, if I had the sentence: A minutes ______ are seconds. What word would work here? It would also fit in the sentences below. A byte's _____ are bits. A byte is split up by eight ______ ...
7
votes
7answers
429 views

Word or idiom to describe someone who always tries to inflate his skills/properties/experiences when talking with others? [duplicate]

Is there a word or idiom to describe someone who is always trying to create a good impression when talking about himself? Someone who is always trying to show that he is better than others even if he ...
4
votes
2answers
205 views

the good guys and the bad guys

So I'm watching a sci-fi flick with my kids and a new character appears on-screen. My son says, "Dad, is she a good guy or a bad guy?" I could have replied, "Well, people are more complicated than ...
1
vote
0answers
136 views

Looking for an Equivalent to the AWL for Academic Idioms

Coxhead developed and evaluated something called the "Academic Word List" for English Language Learners. This is a list of (supposedly) the most common "academic" terms to be used by students from ...
1
vote
1answer
129 views

Synonymous idiom for: You can't run before you can walk

I'm looking for an alternative way of saying "You can't run before you can walk." This is equivalent to saying "you can't take on higher level things before you have mastered the basics". I am ...
4
votes
4answers
629 views

Is there a term for someone performing worse at something because they are being watched?

Is there a term for a person performing worse at something because they are being watched? For example, a person makes more mistakes typing when someone is watching over their shoulder? Attempts to ...
1
vote
5answers
157 views

Is there an idiom or word to describe the action of individuals who verbally tease another person?

I have seen some young kids like to tease somebody and laugh at the person and think this is a lots of fun for them, I would like to know if there is any word or idiom that explains their action.
1
vote
4answers
86 views

Phrase or idiom for an intentionally unfulfillable request

In some situations, someone may make a request or ask a favor while fully knowing that the other party is highly unlikely to agree. This is often done to shift the blame or to justify oneself. For ...
2
votes
6answers
336 views

Something as an “antechamber” for something else

In Italian there is the expression "something as an antechamber for something else", meaning something can precede and somehow cause something else. For example: Data show prisons are far from ...
1
vote
2answers
47 views

is there any idiom to refer to information that comes from the 1st line of battle?

Would "news from the trenches" be acceptable and understood? I am not sure if it is proper English or a direct translation from the Spanish idiom "desde las trincheras".
2
votes
3answers
114 views

What is a possible equivalent for *not worth the paper it's written on*

What is a possible modern equivalent, in our internet, and supposedly paperless age, of the expression not worth the paper it's written on.
13
votes
8answers
2k views

What do you call a frustrating and inexplicable ending?

I used to be a fan of the TV show Dexter, I say “used to be”, because until the last season it was a thoroughly enjoyable (and) guilty pleasure of mine. However, season 8 ruined it for me. The twists ...
2
votes
3answers
94 views

An idiom for “seen clearly” or “plainly”

I'm looking for a way to convey how multiple things are very well seen from a certain vantage point. In my native language there is a very appealing expression for that, that can be translated as ...
0
votes
3answers
98 views

Idiom meaning 'a shambles' sounds like /pass potch/?

I'm looking for an idiom that means 'a shambles' or 'a whole mess of various things', and any other reverse definitions of 'a whole mess of various things'. Perhaps "a mare's nest", which I've ...
2
votes
2answers
83 views

“Like X but a little less Y and a little more Z”

Like X but a (little/lot) less Y and a (little/lot) more Z. Is there a name for this type of comparison? It's not really an analogy (or is it?) It's not a simile or a dissimile. Examples of ...
2
votes
3answers
91 views

Can I say “something in your vibe” as an alternative idiom to “to vibe with something.”

I am searching for a slogan for my website named "Vibeware", and as you might have guessed, it is about software (the name itself being a result of playing around with the first letters in my name ...
3
votes
3answers
218 views

Opposite of buyer's remorse

Buyer's remorse is when you have a sense of regret after purchasing something. You may have been coerced into first purchasing the item out of fear or guilt. What would the opposite of this be? ...