Idioms are a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.

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idiom for unintended consequences

I am looking for a phrase/idiom that expresses the risk of unforeseen consequences of an action. Fake context: someone develops a treatment for cancer that is later found to cause Alzheimer's. So far, ...
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5answers
321 views

“like a duck takes to water” vs “like a fish takes to water”

I am aware of the idiom like a fish out of water. What intrigued me is an article using like a fish takes to water. Teo Zhen Ren, the swimming sensation from Singapore, took to swimming like a ...
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3answers
987 views

Is “pass peach seeds” an idiom or just a figurative expression?

I was drawn to the phrase “pass peach seeds” in Thomas Harris’s novel “The Silence of the Lambs,” which I started to read last month and from whose text I have posted several questions, including one ...
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41 views

Cut the cheese, what does this idiom means? [on hold]

I always thought that the expression "cut the cheese" meant something akin to "let's get down to business" or like... But after some googling I could only find meanings related to farting. What is ...
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1answer
28 views

another way to say “happy to hear that […]”? [on hold]

For example, you are happy to hear that someone has gone through the same thing as you. Is there another way to say this?
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45 views

How did the meaning of “come off” as “succeed” or “take place” originate?

Example sentences: A television series that never came off (from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary) He tried his Chaplin impression, but it didn't really come off. (from Wiktionary) The match ...
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5answers
47 views

A sports team that has a consistent record of beating another one

I am looking for a word or a concise expression for a sports team A that over a period of time has a consistent record of beating a rival sports team B. It is not necessary that A are better than B. ...
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3answers
77 views

What is the origin and sense of the phrase “put up or shut up”?

In researching the recent EL&U question Origins and Interpretations of "Put your money where your mouth is", I repeatedly came across the seemingly related but older phrase “put up or ...
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2answers
65 views

What is the provenance of “ring the cherries”?

I was drawn to the phrase, “ring the cherries” in the following passage in Thomas Harris’ “The Silence of Lambs” in a part officer, Jerry Burroughs telling the profile of a suspect killer to FBI ...
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6answers
3k 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 ...
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0answers
31 views

Should “you'd better” be changed while using reported speech? [on hold]

As far as I know "you'd better" means "you had better..." and it is widely used to express suggestion. On the other hand, I have overheard this is just "another idiom" out there. Whatever the case may ...
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5answers
2k views

Preparing for metric dominance: alternatives to idioms using imperial units

Related to this question, are there any metric alternatives to these idioms: He inches closer to her. a. meters? - too far b. centimeters? - too weird c. scoots? - don't use units By ...
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Difference between anything but and anything other than? [duplicate]

If I say "anything but ordinary", it means it is not ordinary, it is unique and different. What if "anything other than ordinary"? Does it mean the same as "anything but ordinary" or does it simplify ...
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3answers
78 views

Where and when did the phrase “turkey of the year” originate? [closed]

Was it meant to be an objurgation, an insult, a jocose remark, or something else? And does it have the same meaning today as it had then?" Definitions of “turkey” (when used to refer to a person) ...
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2answers
69 views

Origin of phrase “pulling for you”

When somebody is going through a difficult life situation, people will commonly say, "We're pulling for you." Where did this term come from? It sounds rather strange!
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48 views

Is there a word for the act of butchering a language for the sake of a joke?

My friend and I (may or may not be the same one from my other question) were chatting the other day and we came to a discussion about the idiom tit-for-tat. tit-for-tat (informal) a tit-for-tat ...
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2answers
45 views

Is there a word that strictly means “mutual understanding?”

In an essay I've written, I come to realize something. Someone else understands that I've just realized this something. The engendered sense of achievement and understanding . . . In this ...
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4answers
76 views

Is there an antonym for the idiom “…remains to be seen” [closed]

I was using "...the truth remains to be seen" in a sentence when I realized I meant the opposite of this. I'm looking a phrase antithetical to this idiom, that follows the same (empirical) line of ...
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3answers
804 views

Idioms, how do they work?

So, my friend and I were chatting the other day. I, being a new father, sent him a picture of my clothesline completely full of my daughter's diapers. Then this dialogue happened: My friend: Woah, ...
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2answers
1k views

What does “I got a bee up my ass about you two” mean?

The context is: Just so you know, I got a bee up my ass about you two.
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1answer
74 views

saying thanks to someone answering your email ASAP who is important for you [closed]

Which of these sentences sounds more american? and which sounds more polite against who is important for you like a professor or boss? first: Thanks for your prompt response second: Thanks ...
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2answers
50 views

“Can't help but” vs “can't help” [duplicate]

What's the difference between "can't help but" and "can't help" Consider two examples: I can't help thinking about you. I can't help but think about you. Do the two sentences mean same, or is ...
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1answer
62 views

“Rule the Roast” and “Rule the Roost”

John Ayto, Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms (2009) has this entry for "rule the roost": rule the roost be in complete control The original expression was rule the roast, which was common ...
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34 views

American products, first, last, and foremost

I have a survey and I need to translate it into another language. There is a question in the survey - "American products, first, last, and foremost.". Users have to answer using scale from 1 to 7, ...
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2answers
54 views

Idiom help: If beauty is her Yin, then intelligence is her Yang

I've always assumed that the phrase If X is her Yin, then Y is her Yang meant two positive traits, X and Y, that were not extensions of each other, but rather opposites that complemented each other. ...
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2answers
74 views

“I'm no more hungry” or “I'm no longer hungry” or “I'm hungry no more.” [closed]

I'm no more hungry I don't think I've heard the first one very often, but wasn't sure about the last two. I'm no longer hungry and I'm hungry no more Which of these three sentences ...
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81 views

Why “on the books”, not “in the books”

On the books means "part of the law". These changes would add little to the civil rights laws now on the books. I know the meaning of this idiom, and idioms are used as they are, but idioms ...
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1answer
259 views

Is the usage “God only knows” correct?

I was watching a movie last night and a character, when asked a question, replies, "God only knows". Is that the correct usage? It sounds to me as if God just knows stuff and can't do anything about ...
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3answers
144 views

different versions of “take into account”

The Free Dictionary collates a number of definitions for "take into account." take someone or something into account and take into account someone or something to remember to consider someone ...
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1answer
88 views

Dull as ditchwater (not dishwater) … specific questions thereon

(1) who specifically, or at least when specifically, did originate the phrase? {Example answer - "that was one of Shakespeare's!"} (2) why? (3) when first did someone screw up and use ...
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2answers
68 views

Is “far from the end” correct?

Is it right to say far from the end in the following example? Researches on the exploitation of the DAS method are far from the end.
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1answer
58 views

Idiom/expression for “responsible for what happened.”

Example: I doubt the kids are responsible for what happened. What idiom/expression can I use to replace the responsible for what happened part? Something that isn't as straight forward as the ...
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2answers
78 views

What is the meaning of the phrase “picking up friction”?

Earlier today, I used the phrase "picking up friction" thinking it was a common saying. Later intrigued by the possible history of the phrase, a Google search turned up pretty much no results for the ...
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phrases: “marry a guy and he'll provide”

Trying to find a similar phrase to this Chinese phrase: 嫁汉嫁汉,穿衣吃饭 which basically means if a woman marries a guy, then the guy will provide food and clothing. I can't think of anything off the top ...
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36 views

Is “or so they say” idiomatic?

Icame across a long sentence followed by elipses and the phrase "or so they say", is it idiomatic?
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1answer
71 views

Does the “elbow-handshake” have any relation to the phrase “rubbing elbows”?

This is probably answerable with a general reference (or a pair of such references), but I have not been able to find one. Etymology Online does not cover the origin of "rubbing-elbows" as meaning ...
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2answers
96 views

'computer programming is quite literally black and white'

I was thinking about this in the context of creating task requirements, having having to explicitly define how a program is to function. One might say: Law is often described as black and ...
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1answer
71 views

Meaning of “to be on the top side of the grass”

What is the meaning of this sentence: To be healthy as long as you're on the top side of the grass I specifically mean the phrase on the top side of the grass.
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3answers
62 views

Are there any better (perhaps business-oriented) alternatives to “pitting against” for this situation?

Recently a colleague demonstrated a shared Microsoft OneNote notebook in which he and other members of his team posted their weekly accomplishments in sort of bulleted lists. The idea was that they ...
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“To bury someone twice”

Does anyone know what the expression to bury someone twice means and where it comes from?
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1answer
44 views

Use of “Drop me a line” [duplicate]

One person with whom I've emailed before said to "drop me [them] a line". I always thought the intention of this phrase is to call the person, specifically by phone (via telephone line). It seems this ...
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2answers
65 views

Is “Starts out/off well” an idiomatic expression?

In the context of a greeting card, would it be idiomatic to say, "Hope [noun] starts out/off well," or is this awkward?
3
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1answer
71 views

What is the Proverb or Quotation?

Is there a proverb or quote in English that has similarity with this one: "If the big two ox fight then the rubble gets the brunt." This is a Maldivian idiom that explains how juniors get ...
2
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1answer
57 views

Couldn't be parked: Ngaio Marsh

In one of her novels, Dame Ngaio Marsh has Roderick Alleyn propose marriage to Agatha Troy, who responds she "couldn't be parked." In context this appears to be equivalent to "couldn't be more ...
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80 views

Alternative to idiom “Barking up the wrong tree”? [closed]

I want to use the idiom: Barking up the wrong tree. But in the situation it seems a little rude. What are the idioms/phrases similar in meaning to this idiom?
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0answers
48 views

What does it mean to drag something in “by the stamp?” [closed]

In a 1944 radio skit, Fibber McGee says another character dragged something in "by the stamp." Is the stamp a reference to rationing stamps used during WWII?
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2answers
117 views

Can the word “proxy” be used as a preposition?

At the end of a sentence, I want to insert the following (parentheses included): (proxy my parents, of course). E.g., I sent my brother to his room (proxy my parents, of course). But this ...
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115 views

“unconservative” or “inconservative”? [closed]

Which one is correct: "unconservative" or "inconservative"?! If both are incorrect, what word should we use instead?
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0answers
79 views

Which are the Best sites to Learn Spoken English"? [closed]

What are some sites which have great material to learn idioms , phrases and new words. I want to improve my spoken English skills!
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3answers
144 views

What does a patient and doctor “got off” to a rough start mean?

To a non-native English learner like me, understanding of, and familiarizing with the wide scope of usages of idioms associated with basic verbs such as “do, get, go, let, make, and have” are always a ...