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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33
votes
15answers
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"?
23
votes
7answers
4k 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
14answers
2k 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 ...
19
votes
33answers
4k 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
1k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
1k 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
11answers
923 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
589 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 ...
8
votes
10answers
3k 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
6answers
291 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
4answers
792 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
2k 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
606 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
5answers
541 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
678 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
5answers
127 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
3answers
163 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 it this group opinions and ideas of a specific member of the group is always accepted by other members and they obey ...
4
votes
4answers
7k views

English equivalent of Hindi phrase - छुपा रुस्तम (chupa rustam)

I'm looking for English word[s] that come close to: छुपा रुस्तम (chupa rustam): when literally translated it's "hidden warrior". Actually, it's attributed to a person who is "very clever but not ...
4
votes
6answers
296 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
172 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
3answers
476 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
389 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
147 views

When backward compatibility is bad

Sometimes, making a poor design choice in the past prohibits the programmers from providing neat solutions in the future. You want to abandon the wrong route and start from scratch. Which word or ...
3
votes
6answers
449 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
548 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
171 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
200 views

Is there a way to describe a problem that you don't currently know the answer to?

This is easiest described via example. I develop websites for a living and often I'll have a client point out a feature on their website. I can break these situations into two groups: 1) Point out ...
2
votes
5answers
628 views

A phrase that means “to finally select (or decide) something”

I am looking for a phrase or an idiom that means that i have selected the one object from a group or settled on some solution out of many others. Let me provide some examples: I went to the travel ...
2
votes
3answers
118 views

“Flipping a table over”

In Israel, there is an idiom that is literally "flipping a table over" (להפוך שולחן, Lahafokh Shoolkhan) and means an overly assertive, sometimes vulgar act out of desperation that is intended to ...
2
votes
2answers
102 views

Idiom/Phrase/Proverb to describe a scenario where a person who saved me from a bad habit has now fallen into the the same habit

I am facing a dilemma. Someone I know once (long time back) helped me get into a good habit, and abandon the accompanying bad habit, and now they have fallen into the same trap as me. I want to let ...
2
votes
7answers
92 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

I'm looking for an idiomatic expression meaning 'that old problem'

It's on the tip of my tongue but I can't think of the expression referring to a repeated problem that gets verbalised; something like 'that old nugget'??!
2
votes
5answers
64 views

Idiom for “don't put me with somebody together in the same sentence”

I am looking for an idiom used when people say that you are as good/bad as somebody, but you don't agree with it because you think you are not on the same level as them, or that you are way better ...
2
votes
2answers
60 views

What phrase/idiom can be used to refer to procrastination?

Suppose I'm replying to someone's email and it's long overdue - completely hypothetically :) Starting with "Sorry for [ ... ] this". At first I thought I'd use "dropping the ball on" but it seems ...
2
votes
1answer
155 views

Idiom for “doing something pleasant and useful at the same time” with positive connotation

Is there a phraseme or idiom for "doing something useful (necessary) and pleasant at the same time" with positive connotation? For example - using a bike to get to work and back home is useful ...
2
votes
2answers
118 views

Denying own statement

Is there a word of phrase for someone who denies their own statement? It’s like when somebody snitches and then denies having done so.
2
votes
1answer
143 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
178 views

Is there any other idiom for “Hundred blows of goldsmith is comparable to one blow of iron-smith”?

The idiom Hundred blows of goldsmith is comparable to one blow of iron-smith comes from a hindi idiom "Sau sunar ki, ek lohar ki". Literal meaning is One powerful blow is comparable to a hundred ...
2
votes
0answers
782 views

Contradictory Idioms [closed]

I stumbled across some contradictory idioms, and it made me wonder how many idioms can be contradicted with other idioms! Some that I've collected so far: The pen is mightier than the sword ...
1
vote
10answers
904 views

Idiom for someone who is in good position/mood

What is the idiom for someone who is in a good mood or position? For example, your colleague is in a very good mood because of a recent thing that happened to him.
1
vote
6answers
1k views

A word that defines shy, but in a positive context

I'm looking for a word that describes shy and reserved, but not to portray weakness or one that has a negative connotation. Being shy and reserved as an executive doesn't fit well for career ...
1
vote
6answers
236 views

What's the phrase to imply random jobs?

What's a phrase that can convey the idea of "a variety of different jobs with no central theme"? "Various odds and ends" was the one that occurred to me, but it didn't feel exactly right and ...
1
vote
3answers
130 views

If I measure myself am I only measuring my size?

In Italy when people say they measure themselves, they are not only measuring their height, or their waistlines. Instead they are measuring how well they do something in a challenging or difficult ...
1
vote
7answers
405 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
346 views

What does “Lose the whiny entitled air” mean after the sentence “Say, ‘could you warm the soup up,’ Not, ‘How dare you serve me cold soup!’”?

There was the following sentence in New York Times’ (May 3rd) article titled, “Complaining is hard to avoid, but try to do it with a purpose,” ...
1
vote
4answers
180 views

“Promised to be exciting, but ended being boring” [duplicate]

Although it promised to be exciting, it ended being boring/dull/useless. Any idiom for the above phrase?
1
vote
1answer
128 views

Word/phrase for when an incorrect approach leads to an unexpectedly great result

Related question on Chinese.SE There is a phrase ("歪打正着" in Chinese and "怪我の功名" in Japanese) which roughly means "do the wrong thing but achieve the right result anyway". Is there a similar ...
1
vote
5answers
413 views

Is there a familiar phrase for spending too much time on something?

We all know that "a stitch in time saves nine" and "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure", but sometimes the opposite is true. A stitch before its time is a waste of time and thread. If ...
1
vote
4answers
89 views

Everybody had a different opinion. Is there an idiom for this?

I'm searching for an idiom (in a negative sense) that means that a group of people have different opinions, so it's difficult for them to solve a problem, to decide on something or agree on something. ...