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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5
votes
7answers
391 views

Idiom/expression for changing the subject in a conversation

Is there an idiom/expression in English for changing the subject in a conversation (and if possible, in a sarcastic way)? For example, there is an expression in Turkish: gelelim fasulyenin ...
2
votes
0answers
176 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
94 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 ...
4
votes
11answers
154 views

What is the perfect word/idiom/phrase for a situation when enforcement of a system is futile?

What is the proper English word for a scenario where a valid/lawful/best thing can not be established because other things are not at their best. For example, you are unable to enforce food hygiene ...
0
votes
1answer
48 views

Do people “go half/halves” on something?

If two people want to buy a car together, would they go half on the car or halves. Example: Let's go half on this car or Let's go halves on this car?
0
votes
2answers
29 views

He's been granted a special treatment

If anyone is applying double standards, is there anidiomatic but elegant way to complain? I suppose that "He's been granted a special treatment" is basically correct, but I have a feeling it's not ...
4
votes
2answers
74 views

Term for “brain-watering”

A mouth can water, but what does a brain do? I'm looking for a term that implies intellectual thirst, as when one has worked all day at a mindless task and only wants to read a novel, or essay, or ...
71
votes
28answers
15k views

Idiom or word for a very crowded place

There is a popular idiom in Russian for describing a really crowded place: "(there's) no room for an apple to fall" ("яблоку негде упасть"). I struggle to think of anything similar in English, and ...
31
votes
13answers
9k views

Idiom for “just because you give something a different name, it doesn't change what it is”

I'm looking for a way to idiomatically express the sentiment that just because you give something a different name, or precede it with a disclaimer, it doesn't change what it is, e.g.: "I mean this ...
0
votes
5answers
86 views

What's the idiom for “It ought to be like that but it isn't” (It would be nice if it was like this, but it isn't)

In my native language there is an expression that means "Things ought to be like this, but unfortunately they aren't"... This implies that you just should accept life as it is and toughen up. ...
0
votes
3answers
59 views

what will be a good artistic world or phrase for close cooperation for mutual success

what will be a good artistic word or phrase for close cooperation for mutual success.The cooperation of two parties (one with stronger power, second with weaker power, but huge dedication) where each ...
51
votes
8answers
7k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
135 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? ...
0
votes
2answers
571 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 ...
26
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 ...
1
vote
2answers
42 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
72 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 ...
32
votes
17answers
3k views

Secular alternative to “preaching to the choir”?

Is there a secular alternative to the phrase "preaching to the choir"?
1
vote
1answer
72 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
112 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
71 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
39 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
12answers
4k 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 ...
88
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
4answers
110 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
48 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 ...
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
4answers
79 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
14
votes
8answers
761 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 ...
2
votes
6answers
81 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
129 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 ...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

Etymology of the word “broker”

I’ve had this personal hypothesis in the back of my mind for many years now about the etymology of the word “broker”. I have gathered a few pieces of the puzzle (many of them in French and a few of ...
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 ...
106
votes
17answers
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
7
votes
11answers
4k 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 ...
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. ...
0
votes
2answers
73 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 ...
7
votes
2answers
6k views

Word or phrase for literally and figuratively?

Say, for example, you and a group of people were all sailing out in the ocean and something happens...then you say, "I guess we are all in the same boat" You are literally in the same boat with ...
23
votes
15answers
6k 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 ...
2
votes
9answers
448 views

Is there a casual way to say “this can wait” on a positive note

Is there a short and casual way (one or two words or the like) to express that whereas something is truly important, the exact timing of when it gets handled or completes does not greatly affect ...
5
votes
2answers
130 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
81 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
3answers
104 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
3answers
56 views

how to say that I don't enjoy the spotlight

I am trying to convey a subtle message that I'm not particularly keen at giving a presentation while also allowing the possibility that I can give it after all if the other party so desires. As reason ...
5
votes
7answers
533 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 ...
1
vote
5answers
186 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.
-2
votes
1answer
62 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
137 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 ...