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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26
votes
19answers
4k views

Is there any curse/ swear equivalent for this Persian curse? “ May your head be covered by soil!”

There is a curse/ swear in Persian that literally means " May your head be covered by soil" and implies that " you'd better die and be buried /be underground!"( you are not important). We use it in ...
113
votes
17answers
27k 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
4answers
51 views

“Fanning (hot) air off the soul”

Fanning (hot) air off the soul is an approximate translation to the Arabic idiom الترويح عن النفس. It means to do something recreational to relax and change your mood. Are there any similar idioms ...
23
votes
15answers
10k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
76 views

A powerful idiom for “low exposure”

Imagine someone creates a piece of art, but nobody notices it. Like a great book, which nobody reads because nobody knows that it exists. What are some powerful words or metaphors for this condition? ...
0
votes
2answers
53 views

'go ride your highest horse' equivalence?

'Go ride your highest horse'. It is used to mean go do whatever you wish I will not comply or listen to what you want. It's like never will I do that, go do as you wish. The idea behind riding your ...
5
votes
1answer
115 views

Is there a word for when you run into someone and both of you try to avoid each other and fail, repeatedly? [duplicate]

It has most certainly happened to all of us at least once: Two people walking along the same narrow pathway in opposite directions walk into each other. There is room for both to pass each other, ...
3
votes
4answers
268 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
114 views

Is there an English equivalent to the Indian proverb-“If you have the ability, even grass can be your weapon”?

The original Indian saying (in Tamil) is வல்லவனுக்கு புல்லும் ஆயுதம் (Vallavanuku Pullum Aayudham) Translation : For the capable, even grass can be a weapon Meaning: If you have the ability and ...
5
votes
4answers
328 views

English equivalent for “Picking a fight with your mother because you…”

In my language, there's a funny saying which literally translates to Picking a fight with your mother at home because you lost a fight at the marketplace. It means taking out one's frustration ...
2
votes
4answers
86 views

Is there any English proverb parallel to any of these Persian proverbs?

There is a Persian proverb, which I would translate it as follow: Whenever you catch a fish is fresh. Which is often used to suggest that it is never too late to do the right thing.
9
votes
10answers
2k views

Synonymous idiom for “more x than you can shake a stick at”

It's very difficult to search the web for synonymous idioms, at least for me. I found Origin of "More X than you can shake a stick at", but I'm really trying to find a similar phrase to it. ...
27
votes
14answers
5k views

English equivalent for “Don't burn your house to smoke out a rat!” [duplicate]

In my language there's a saying which literally translates to Don't burn your house to smoke out a rat! It advises us to use solutions that are appropriate to the magnitude of the problem. ...
16
votes
5answers
2k views

English equivalent for “Worm that lives in poison.”

In my language, there's a saying which literally translates to Worm that lives in poison. It is used while judging people who keep bad company as being bad themselves. It is used to address ...
4
votes
3answers
235 views

Idiomatic equivalent to Arabic “don't enlarge your stomach”

There is a phrase we commonly say in arabic, لا تكبر بطنك which literally translates to "don't enlarge your stomach", which doesn't make much sense in English. It has a widespread usage and means not ...
1
vote
10answers
577 views

Synonym for overdoing something/taking too wide an approach

I'm looking for an idiom or a synonym for a situation when someone has taken a heavy handed measure that achieves the desired effect, but also goes above this, affecting things that aren't a problem. ...
5
votes
3answers
81 views

Is there an idiom for making the same mistake repeatedly?

A Russian acquaintance of mine asked me whether there's an English equivalent of "They keep treading on the same rake": someone walking or running across the backyard or garden steps on the bow rake's ...
42
votes
24answers
6k views

Is there a similar English phrase for this Tamil proverb - “Lavish outside home yet starving inside of it”?

In Tamil, a south Indian language, there is a saying which roughly translates into English as: Lavish outside home, starving inside of it. Background : This proverb has a mocking tone and ...
7
votes
20answers
1k views

When someone ruins all the good they have ever done!

Suppose you have a nice and kind friend who helps you whenever possible, but sometimes they say something to you so angrily and sarcastically that you forget about all their kindness and help, because ...
28
votes
16answers
3k views

Is there any equivalent to this Persian proverb? “A bad or faulty item should inevitably be kept by its owner”

We use a proverb that implies "A bad property (i.e., a thing belonging to someone) or item should inevitably be tolerated/kept by its owner" when we want to say "This bad item won't be accepted by ...
6
votes
7answers
173 views

Idiom or phrase for “nickel-and-dime”ing your time?

I'm looking for a phrase for someone who is over-grasping with regards to minutes on their work time-sheet or other time accounting. Someone who will not only charge from the moment they walk in the ...
0
votes
1answer
46 views

A word or idiom to describe an abusive parent who wants to keep their child

I just finished watching the video game Among the Sleep and at the end At the beginning of the game, the mother seems to cling onto the child possibly in memory of the little boy's father. At the ...
5
votes
4answers
187 views

“From hands, I pray, will never bereave”

When someone dear serves you a drink or a cup of tea/coffee, the recipient may offer this polite saying. It's very difficult to translate it to English. It should be something like: "From hands that I ...
17
votes
8answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
7answers
916 views

English Idiom 'cut the apple in half'

There is a French idiom, which translated word-for-word is Let's cut the apple in two It means both parties will benefit from 50% of the requested initial negotiated deal. Can this idiom be ...
1
vote
3answers
28 views

'Gargle with rose water before you dare speak of/about'

'Rinse your mouth/gargle with (rose/blossom water or Zamzam water or in case of culture differences Pierian spring water), before you dare speak of/about..'. This is an Arabic saying. This is used ...
0
votes
1answer
39 views

I want and you want, but a higher power wants

'I want and you want, but a God/higher power wants' This is an Arabic idiom used when 2 people don't get what they want and they believe a higher power got what he wants, and it is maybe for the ...
39
votes
20answers
9k views

What do you call the facial expression or the state just before bursting into tears?

What do you call this facial expression that forms just before bursting into tears? (Especially when a baby has been treated in a way he/she didn't expect and consider it unfair or feels neglected. Of ...
1
vote
6answers
111 views

English equivalent for “An ignorant child learns when it itches”

In my language, there's a saying which literally translates to "An ignorant child learns when it itches." It's a kind of warning that means If people refuse to realise the magnitude of a ...
3
votes
4answers
86 views

Chinese proverb equivalent? “Hitting a dog with baozi”

Background: "baozi" is any of several varieties of big, soft steamed buns filled with meat, veg, and seasonings: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baozi There's a phrase in Mandarin which translates to ...
0
votes
4answers
53 views

Expression or idiom: disappointment

Is there an expression that you could use when you feel really disappointed because no one appreciates your favor and kindness, and they usually upset or hurt you instead. An expression that suggests ...
2
votes
2answers
72 views

“Speak of the devil” neutral-sounding synonym for non-person scenario

Is there a neutral-sounding (i.e. doesn't mention the devil) synonym for the idiom "speak of the devil"? The idiom "are your ears burning" or a derivative of that wouldn't be great for this case ...
0
votes
3answers
52 views

An idiom for “Do I have the job?” [closed]

I want to know whether I am selected or not for the job, and I would like a suitable idiom to express this idea in a less formal way. Do I have the job? Sounds too direct, and almost rude. Is there ...
1
vote
2answers
76 views

What is a positive-language-focused term for an attempted solution that didn't work?

There is a quote: I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. I'd like to use a term that is devoid of negative connotation for those "ways that won't work". Terms like ...
14
votes
14answers
2k views

What is the expression to describe that you are surrounded and have few ways to act?

Something like "circle is narrow" (just total random)? For example I'm trapped by circumstances and don't know how to get away with that. Because every way of acting seems not to be good. Thank you ...
2
votes
2answers
49 views

Idiom for all at once or none at all

I'm looking for a creative and relatively familiar idiom to describe something that needs to be handled a specific way because an activity comes in waves. Specifically I'm looking to describe ...
5
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
10
votes
11answers
614 views

Things will change: idiom or proverb

Is there an idiom or maybe a proverb stating that things will not be the same or as you want, forever. For example when telling someone that they might be in a good state or status now, but they will ...
4
votes
17answers
2k views

Idiom for “dominate”

I'm looking for an idiom that means "dominate" and can be used in the following sentence: Our team dominated from the beginning to the end.
5
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
85 views

Punching several tons above my weight [duplicate]

Is there a more commonly used phrase or idiom other than I've punched several tons above my weight Of course, I know the original expression is "I've punched above my weight" but I need to ...
1
vote
4answers
46 views

Is 'We are for it' correct usage? [closed]

If war—or anything, for that matter—was impending, people might say "We are up for it," to hearten the spirits of everyone and to ready them for the coming conflict. 1: It looks like it is war. ...
3
votes
4answers
55 views

English idiom for 'went on to kohl it, so he/she blinded it'

'He went on to kohl it [namely, rim the eye with kohl], so he/she blinded it [the eye].' This is a rough translation of the Arabic idiom, 'ذهب ليكحلها فعماها' To rim the eye with kohl is to ...
5
votes
6answers
338 views

Is there any proverb or idiom that conveys “the world is bound to no man”?

Is there any proverb or idiom that conveys this meaning:" Don't rely on this world, since it is not loyal to man forever, today it is in your hand, tomorrow in mine" (actually it is a Persian saying ...
6
votes
6answers
229 views

when you can not reject a request easily

Suppose someone (boss, friend, cousin,.. to whom you can not say "no" easily) asks you a personal request that its fulfillment is difficult for you, but you cannot bring yourself to say no, because ...
7
votes
6answers
394 views

Is there a proverb for “if there's a simple solution for solving a problem don't choose a more complicated one”? [duplicate]

Is there an idiom/ phrase/ expression or proverb that conveys this meaning: "As long as there is a more simple solution for solving a problem don't choose a more complicated one." or: "when you can ...
5
votes
2answers
60 views

Any phrases like “What makes you tick?”

I'm looking for a phrase or an idiom to describe one's deep-seated passion for something, such as archaeology, Renaissance art, organized charity, Greenpeace, or similar to the following Whatever ...
6
votes
7answers
2k views

What is the idiom for a guy/situation who/where has his own shortcoming but still mocks others?

What is the idiom for a guy/situation who/where has his own lacking but still mocks others? Like you are poor but you laugh at a rich man who has just become bankrupt. For example, suppose like this ...
0
votes
1answer
32 views

Classic phrase regarding a growing distance from our children

At the end of Miranda July's recent WSJ article, she offers the following melancholic observation: From the moment your kids are born, you’re always losing them. I've occasionally heard ...
15
votes
12answers
3k views

Word or phrase for “it won't change anything, but we'll protest anyways”

There exists a phrase or device, somewhat akin to the parables of Paul Bunyan or John Henry, when your efforts at protest are futile against a struggle, but you are compelled to struggle against it ...