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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1
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1answer
105 views

I'm looking for an idiomatic expression meaning 'that old problem'

It's on the tip of my tongue but I can't think of the expression referring to a repeated problem that gets verbalised; something like 'that old nugget'??!
23
votes
7answers
4k views

An idiom meaning “sticking fingers in your ears does not change the fact”

I am looking for an idiom which means sticking fingers in your ears does not change the fact; the fact remains so, even if you don't listen to the one who is mentioning it.
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Is there an English idiom for Bengali idiom “সবজান্তা গামছাওয়ালা”(wise towelsman)?

In the Bengali language there is an idiom, "sobjanta gamchawala" (wise towelsman), meaning a man whose occupation is merely to sell towels, but claims to know everything and gives valuable advice on ...
0
votes
2answers
132 views

Idiom or phrase meaning “satisfactory in all abilities”?

Is there a possible idiom or phrase in the following context that means satisfactory in all abilities? For example, lets say someone knows three languages: English, Spanish, and Korean; however, ...
5
votes
3answers
207 views

An idiom/phrase for someone whose opinions must be accepted by other people

(As a follow-up to the question,) Suppose there is a group of people, and suppose it this group opinions and ideas of a specific member of the group is always accepted by other members and they obey ...
2
votes
1answer
236 views

Idiom for “doing something pleasant and useful at the same time” with positive connotation

Is there a phraseme or idiom for "doing something useful (necessary) and pleasant at the same time" with positive connotation? For example - using a bike to get to work and back home is useful ...
-1
votes
1answer
266 views

What does “burrow (one’s) nose deep” mean? Is it an idiom?

November.30 NPR Books introduces Emily Dickingson’s poems on leftover envelopes under the title, “Emily Dickinson's Envelope Writings” “Readers always seem to want to get closer to Emily ...
1
vote
7answers
965 views

What is the opposite of “preaching to the choir”?

I have found "Whistling into the wind" online but I do not think it fits because it seems to mean that your words are not heard, whereas the opposite should mean that you're being informed by someone ...
0
votes
2answers
171 views

What's an expression that means bringing something to where it can be seen or used?

I'm specifically thinking of in a public service context. Say there is a resource that exists but no one knows about it or makes use of it, so instead of waiting for the people to come to the ...
4
votes
2answers
894 views

English idiom for the Italian “Buon lavoro”

In Italian we can say "Buon lavoro" to someone who is working and it basically means that we wish him/her the best while working (It can be literally translated with "Good work" but it sounds just ...
22
votes
14answers
3k views

Idioms that mean making decision between two good options

I am looking for expressions that mean "to decide between two good options." For example, you have to choose between getting a car that you like or a super car that's very expensive but you are not ...
0
votes
2answers
313 views

How can I say “Staff Only” with a formal warning sentence?

I need to write a door writing that states formally, "students are not welcomed in this kitchen, please use the café..." I've drafted some examples but I was wondering if there is a formal sentence ...
1
vote
2answers
146 views

Is “knocking on” an idea an idiom for dismissing the idea? [closed]

For years, I thought I'd heard others say, "I don't mean to knock on your idea, but..."—and it was definitely on, not down, although I've heard knock down as well—but now that I'm looking ...
5
votes
5answers
144 views

a phrase for “to lure and chop a turtle's head”

There must be a similar phrase in English, meaning to lure the target from protection (like turtle's shell) or hiding, in order to capture or kill it. My English dictionary gives "draw a snake out of ...
5
votes
4answers
278 views

What's a good idiom to describe someone who is included in a group only because they have something the group needs

I want a one or two word title for a character who is included in a group only because he is their "ticket" to get where they want to go. "Ticket" is what I'm thinking now but would love another ...
1
vote
1answer
142 views

Word/phrase for when an incorrect approach leads to an unexpectedly great result

Related question on Chinese.SE There is a phrase ("歪打正着" in Chinese and "怪我の功名" in Japanese) which roughly means "do the wrong thing but achieve the right result anyway". Is there a similar ...
1
vote
3answers
147 views

If I measure myself am I only measuring my size?

In Italy when people say they measure themselves, they are not only measuring their height, or their waistlines. Instead they are measuring how well they do something in a challenging or difficult ...
4
votes
6answers
328 views

English idiom for 'Fry the fish using fish's own oil'

Please help me to find out the appropriate English idiom for Fry the fish using fish's own oil. This is a Bengali proverb/idiom whose word meaning 'When you are frying some sea fish, initially cook ...
28
votes
15answers
2k views

Secular alternative to “preaching to the choir”?

Is there a secular alternative to the phrase "preaching to the choir"?
1
vote
6answers
273 views

What's the phrase to imply random jobs?

What's a phrase that can convey the idea of "a variety of different jobs with no central theme"? "Various odds and ends" was the one that occurred to me, but it didn't feel exactly right and ...
7
votes
6answers
335 views

“Soldier sleeps - the service continues” (Russian idiom/saying)

What are English equivalents for following Russian idiom: "soldier sleeps - the service continues"? In Russian it means that "you have a rest, but your work is still being done". UPD from comments: ...
3
votes
3answers
154 views

When backward compatibility is bad

Sometimes, making a poor design choice in the past prohibits the programmers from providing neat solutions in the future. You want to abandon the wrong route and start from scratch. Which word or ...
0
votes
2answers
301 views

Close to the Chest or Vest. What does it mean? [closed]

Hi fellow language enthusiasts, so what does "Close to the Vest" or "Chest" mean may I ask? Or more appropriately "Chest" or "Vest" because I also learn that Chest appeared First. But what does the ...
9
votes
11answers
1k views

Idiom for someone who forgets their roots

I am having difficulty finding English idiom(s) for these situations: A person who was previously poor then becomes arrogant because she/he is rich now. A person who has been helped (because she/he ...
1
vote
6answers
2k views

A word that defines shy, but in a positive context

I'm looking for a word that describes shy and reserved, but not to portray weakness or one that has a negative connotation. Being shy and reserved as an executive doesn't fit well for career ...
0
votes
1answer
112 views

looking for an appropriate idiom

I'm looking for an idiom which describes a situation when someone is not able to focus on his work. I want to use in this line: TV, laptop etc came to my life. The consequence was that I could not ...
3
votes
2answers
724 views

Idiom Meaning “Ready to Correct One's Mistake”

I'm looking for a concise way to describe this situation: Person A compliments B's team at a competition. But B does not respond to this compliment gracefully, even though it means a lot to him. B ...
34
votes
17answers
3k views

What is the player called who has a turn?

What is the player called who has a turn? I am guessing something like turning player. But I would like some confirmation or maybe is there an idiom for it? Explanation: In a round based game what ...
1
vote
4answers
781 views

Idioms for “looking for something” and “trying to find something in a room full of mess”

I am trying to find idioms that could express "looking for something" and "trying to find something in a room full of mess". One that I could find was "hunt high and low," but for some reason I don't ...
3
votes
2answers
236 views

Is there a way to describe a problem that you don't currently know the answer to?

This is easiest described via example. I develop websites for a living and often I'll have a client point out a feature on their website. I can break these situations into two groups: 1) Point out ...
-1
votes
2answers
104 views

How do you say “I made books fall off the shelf” [closed]

One way is to say "I spilled the books off the shelf". I am looking for a more suitable usage of words.
1
vote
2answers
371 views

What does “Lose the whiny entitled air” mean after the sentence “Say, ‘could you warm the soup up,’ Not, ‘How dare you serve me cold soup!’”?

There was the following sentence in New York Times’ (May 3rd) article titled, “Complaining is hard to avoid, but try to do it with a purpose,” ...
2
votes
3answers
127 views

“Flipping a table over”

In Israel, there is an idiom that is literally "flipping a table over" (להפוך שולחן, Lahafokh Shoolkhan) and means an overly assertive, sometimes vulgar act out of desperation that is intended to ...
5
votes
4answers
9k views

English equivalent of the Hindi phrase “छुपा रुस्तम” (chupa rustam)

I'm looking for English word[s] that come close to छुपा रुस्तम (chupa rustam), literally "hidden warrior". It's attributed to a person who is very clever but does not appear so. If I remember ...
0
votes
2answers
169 views

Is the phrase “breed of men” weird or just different?

Forgive me for asking two questions in a single post, but I think it would make more sense to post them together. So please indulge me. Sentence: He is not unique. We should be able to discover such ...
1
vote
2answers
302 views

Usage of 'on the brink of'

(Talking about a chimp): "In human age, he would have been on the brink of puberty." I was told that this sentence is odd because 'be on the brink of' is usually used for something negative: ...
2
votes
0answers
972 views

Contradictory Idioms [closed]

I stumbled across some contradictory idioms, and it made me wonder how many idioms can be contradicted with other idioms! Some that I've collected so far: The pen is mightier than the sword ...
1
vote
5answers
520 views

Is there a familiar phrase for spending too much time on something?

We all know that "a stitch in time saves nine" and "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", but sometimes the opposite is true. A stitch before its time is a waste of time and thread. If ...
2
votes
5answers
795 views

A phrase that means “to finally select (or decide) something”

I am looking for a phrase or an idiom that means that i have selected the one object from a group or settled on some solution out of many others. Let me provide some examples: I went to the travel ...
1
vote
4answers
192 views

“Promised to be exciting, but ended being boring” [duplicate]

Although it promised to be exciting, it ended being boring/dull/useless. Any idiom for the above phrase?
9
votes
4answers
666 views

People who sell their virginity for money

I'm Vietnamese and I'm writing an essay about prostitution. I want to ask the word to express properly the people who sell their virginity for money. In Vietnamese, we use a phrase literally means ...
2
votes
2answers
124 views

Denying own statement

Is there a word of phrase for someone who denies their own statement? It’s like when somebody snitches and then denies having done so.
6
votes
7answers
642 views

Idiom/word/saying request: Accepting a situation out of desperation

How can I say for example: Individual retailers run out of business when a big fish came to town. So they had accepted that they cannot compete and closed their stores. In the novel To Kill A ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Idiom request: Putting too much effort, but the return is so low that it was not worth the effort

I am looking for an idiom. You put too much effort, but there is so little gain that it would not be worth the effort. Update: More specifically, some guy wants to save money and gas, thus he skips ...
8
votes
10answers
4k views

“You get what you deserve nothing more nothing less”

In this world we reside, what we acquire depends on what we can acquire. In other words, if we have the money to, we can buy a house; if we have the necessary educational qualifications to, we can get ...
12
votes
5answers
4k views

What are the polite and neutral versions of “cut the bull*’?

I was wondering what are the polite and neutral versions of cut the bullshit? Suppose one calls his mobile customer service for signal problem, but the representative endlessly tries to promote ...
12
votes
7answers
1k views

Gender-neutral equivalent for “Take it like a man”

I'd like to find some gender-neutral equivalents of the phrase Take it like a man I'm not looking only for existing phrases -- any interesting ideas for expressing the sentiment "be tough", ...
17
votes
10answers
2k views

What is a synonym for “superstition” but without the negative connotation?

In my native language (Latvian) there is a word that denotes a superstition, but in a more positive way, somehow. It’s hard to explain, so let me give some examples: If you swing on the swings a ...