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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18
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
544 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 ...
4
votes
1answer
106 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 ...
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 ...
0
votes
3answers
63 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"?
2
votes
2answers
84 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 ...
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
12answers
3k 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
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
43 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
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
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 ...
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 ...
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
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 ...
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
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 ...
7
votes
2answers
5k 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
423 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
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
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
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
504 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
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.
-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 ...
0
votes
1answer
129 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
95 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
1k views

What's the US slang term for “following someone in a car”?

I heard this somewhere on YouTube and I wish I could recall where exactly. The person was recording himself from a dash-cam while driving, and when he noticed that a cop was following him, he said ...
3
votes
6answers
687 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
258 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 ...
16
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
2
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
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."
4
votes
2answers
206 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 ...
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 ______ ...