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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68
votes
28answers
11k 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 ...
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 ...
28
votes
15answers
2k views

Secular alternative to “preaching to the choir”?

Is there a secular alternative to the phrase "preaching to the choir"?
26
votes
12answers
8k 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 ...
25
votes
10answers
6k views

An idiom for a stupid action which is beneficial in the end, or for the person who performed said action

My friend works for an investment firm, and his colleague mistakenly double-submitted a long bid for stock on a very risky day. The entire firm was on edge the whole day, watching the stock price. In ...
25
votes
7answers
5k 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.
22
votes
6answers
4k views

An English idiom for “solve a problem that has been solved”?

In Polish, and I believe in a number of other European languages, there is an idiomatic expression which translates to "to force a door which is already open". It is used to describe a situation when ...
22
votes
14answers
4k 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 ...
21
votes
12answers
6k views

Is there a slang word or idiom for someone who borrows money from friends or relatives and never (or rarely) pays them back? [duplicate]

My question doesn't refer to bank loans or credit card accounts. Nor does it refer to getting things out of other people's generosity. It is specifically about money; a slang word or idiom for a ...
19
votes
33answers
5k views

What's the English equivalent of “Drilling one's head”?

In Arabic (Specifically, north-western Levantine), there's a saying that goes like He drilled my head about/with that lunch meeting (بخشلي راسي باجتماع الغدا) Which means something along the ...
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 ...
16
votes
2answers
847 views

Term for Only “Unbelieved Warner”

I'm looking for a word, phrase, or idiom to describe a person or fictional device. In stories, especially horror and fantasy, there can be a character who is dismissed when they try to tell others ...
15
votes
5answers
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 ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

An idiom for “beginning in the wrong end”

Say that in order to determine what B is, you analyze A. But then someone analyzes B in order to determine what A is. In my language, we would say that this procedure "begins in the wrong end". What ...
13
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", ...
12
votes
5answers
5k 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 ...
10
votes
20answers
2k views

Is there a phrase or idiom for “being defeated by future problems”?

One needs to anticipate and plan for problems before starting a large project. What is it called when one becomes so caught up with planning for possible problems that one never sets out? ...
10
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 ...
10
votes
11answers
5k views

Is there an expression that means something bad as a precursor to something good?

If someone is the bearer of bad news you might say, Don't shoot the messenger. If you have something that seems unfortunate at first but ends out wonderful you might say it's a blessing in disguise. ...
10
votes
4answers
688 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 ...
9
votes
9answers
1k views

American Equivalent of “Bog Standard”

I'm searching for an American English phrase that is the most readily equivalent to the British expression bog standard (which means, as I understand, plain, ordinary or unremarkable). I'm tempted to ...
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 ...
7
votes
4answers
839 views

Is there an opposite of tightfisted that also contains reference to a hand?

Is there an opposite of tightfisted that also contains reference to a hand? The opposite of 'tightfisted' is always 'generous'. I want a word, idiom, or phrase that means generous but with reference ...
7
votes
5answers
736 views

Idiom: to hesitate when something is nearly finished

I have an idiom on the tip of my tongue, or at least I think I do — the meaning I want is roughly “to hesitate or falter on a task, when it’s almost completed”. The phrase that first came to my mind ...
7
votes
6answers
361 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: ...
6
votes
11answers
3k 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 ...
6
votes
7answers
699 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
6answers
661 views

idiom request for “classic is good”

I am looking for an idiom for telling "Classic is good.". The term "Classic is good" by itself tells what I want actually, but I want a more intense saying instead.
6
votes
3answers
327 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 in this group opinions and ideas of a specific member of the group is always accepted by other members and they obey ...
5
votes
5answers
741 views

avoiding an oncoming vehicle — what is the specific term for this in English?

Is there a specific term to refer to what you need to do in the following situation? You are driving on a road and an oncoming vehicle is moving towards you in the same lane you are using. If ...
5
votes
4answers
11k 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 ...
5
votes
6answers
377 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
154 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
1answer
124 views

Equivalent of local idiom “The potter drinks from a broken jar”

There's an idiom in a native language which literally means "The potter drinks from a broken jar". i.e. a potter will not spend a lot of time making a beautiful jar for himself to drink from, he uses ...
5
votes
10answers
862 views

A phrase for “to get heavily involved in something”

I'm looking for a phrase or an idiom meaning "to get heavily involved in something" or "to become passionate about something" where "something" could be a hobby, lifestyle, a music genre etc. One ...
5
votes
4answers
361 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 ...
4
votes
12answers
7k views

Is there an idiom for people who boast too much?

I am looking for idioms or informal/slang/colloquial expression for some people that make you think that they are able of building a skyscraper, constructing a spaceship, playing the piano better than ...
4
votes
6answers
774 views

What is the idiom for “as anyone can see” or “clearly”?

I keep wanting to say "the handwriting on the wall," but that's not correct. The place I'm trying to use it is, "Alice likes Bob, Carol likes Bob, Alice thinks Bob likes her, but Bob dates Carol, and ...
4
votes
3answers
281 views

Is there a word or phrase for someone whose ominous remarks come true?

Someone who makes such comments as: "Look at his car tyres! He is inviting an accident." (and he does suffer an accident minutes later.) "I never have shrimps with pepper. You're likely to ...
4
votes
1answer
757 views

proper way to write the slang term for “gravitational force”

I came across something very similar to this in a thriller novel: At this stage, the rocket is experiencing its maximum acceleration, say about ten gees. Here, the author has spelled out the ...
4
votes
3answers
401 views

What is the military term for calling attention to yourself, in a negative way?

There is a military term or idiom, which I cannot recall exactly, that essentially means calling negative attention to yourself. For example, you are doing something you know you shouldn't be doing. ...
4
votes
5answers
649 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
914 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
919 views

Term to describe “revenge through sexual intercourse”?

What term can be used to describe someone who, to take revenge on or extract payback for (perceived) past wrongs done them by their (unfaithful) romantic partner, goes off and has casual sex with ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Origin of “eat my hat”

I recently came across this expression: eat my hat I googled and found some results. I agree that eating a hat is not easy. But why hat? They could have chosen shoes, gloves, shirt, to name a ...
4
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
8answers
327 views

Adjective to best describe sense of helplessness

I am writing a small piece on the current financial and economic crisis, and I am looking for adjectives or short expressions that describe the sense of helplessness that seems to hang over many ...
3
votes
10answers
913 views

Looking for an idiom to describe “a misunderstanding”

Can you suggest an idiom or common expression that can be used to describe a misunderstanding? The typical case is when Mr. A is talking about something and Mr. B understand something else. Mr. A ...
3
votes
2answers
206 views

Figurative alternative to “have the conch” (the right to speak)

Conch noun Remote Control. From the shell in Lord of the Flies, the person holding it having the authority to speak at council meetings. I may be pushing the envelope in my own usage (I'm ...
3
votes
6answers
599 views

What is an adjective for “requires a lot of work”? [closed]

For example, Starting a new business requires a lot of work. What would be an adjective in: Starting a new business is _.