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
2answers
63 views

Suitable English idiom for the Chinese idiom “Three years old fixes eighty” (三歲定八十)

The Chinese saying "Three years old fixes eighty" (三歲定八十) means roughly: From the character and personality traits revealed by a three year old, one can infer that he will have similar traits as an ...
5
votes
10answers
317 views

What's an idiom or word or name for an initial tester?

What would be an idiom or word or name for someone that is an initial tester (like a beta tester). I am writing a speech for my younger brother's engagement and want to say how I have always been the ...
1
vote
4answers
109 views

What is the best word (or term) to identify pronouncing W's for L's and R's?

Is there a specific/proper/technical term for it? And not just the R-flop, but specifically the L-flop to W. What would work here: “I'm watching Formula 1 on Sky Sports and the __________ of the ...
5
votes
5answers
119 views

Is there a specific term for when you get offended by a criticism which wasn't meant for you?

For example, person A says something not directed towards anyone in particular, but it was a criticism nonetheless, and it was intentionally meant to indirectly tell off some people. Person B takes ...
2
votes
7answers
81 views

What's the best term for a cognitive state where you can't quite build the components up to achieve the solution?

Obviously we have various terms to communicate specific shared states of mind: Déjà vu - the illusion of having previously experienced something actually being encountered for the first time... ...
1
vote
7answers
49 views

An Idiom or Colloquial Phrase for a Network of Colleagues

I am trying to recall an idiom or phrase that would describe a network of colleagues or peers, specifically a group of people who all mutually benefit from one another. Is there an idiomatic ...
34
votes
13answers
6k views

Is there a word or an idiom for people who only spend their families' money and fool around?

Is there a word or an idiom for rich people who spend only their families' money and do not bother to work, just fool around?
1
vote
1answer
52 views

Like “rearranging chairs on the Titanic”, but for more positive situations

I'm looking for a phrase or word that has a meaning similar to rearranging chairs on the Titanic, but means that it's a lot of effort for a small improvement on something that's already working well. ...
4
votes
7answers
126 views

Is there an idiom to describe someone who grew from less than average to influential?

Is there a idiom or common expression to describe someone who used to be shy, unsocial, unskilled, or even perceived to be useless, who somehow transformed himself or herself to be influential and ...
4
votes
5answers
208 views

What is the name for group of people who line up to create a corridor?

What is the proper name for group of people who line up in two lines to form some kind of a corridor for other people to pass between the two?
92
votes
15answers
17k 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 ...
8
votes
10answers
1k views

Phrase for criticism/insults concealed with humor

Passive aggressive people will sometimes veil insulting, critical, derogatory or generally aggressive comments with humor. The patina of humor makes the comment seem like a joke, not to be taken ...
5
votes
0answers
276 views

Looking for an Equivalent to the AWL for Academic Idioms [closed]

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 ...
3
votes
5answers
111 views

Is there an idiom or set phrase for “pretending not to understand an innuendo”?

You understood perfectly what the other person said but preferred to act as if you hadn't. For any reason: it may be that any reply would be embarrassing, it might start an argument, or would make you ...
1
vote
2answers
51 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 ...
7
votes
11answers
1k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
30 views

Idiom for dabbling in extremes

Is there a suitable idiomatic expression for a situation in which a person tends to dabble in extremes? For example, he might wake up at 4:00AM on some days and wake up at 11:00 AM on others and so ...
2
votes
2answers
95 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
182 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
59 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?
1
vote
2answers
37 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
83 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
16k 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
100 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
77 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
139 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
602 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
74 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
87 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
116 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
104 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
42 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
144 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
53 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
3k 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
84 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
15
votes
8answers
795 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
91 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
158 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
2k 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
28 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 ...
107
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
2k 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
5k 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 ...