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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Is “be my guests” correctly used in the following case?

Speaker A: We want to ask you some questions. If you don't mind, of course. Speaker B: [He opens the door of his house] Sure, be my guests. Is the idiom being used correctly? If not, what ...
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as best I can vs as well as I can [duplicate]

I have to say I have an issue with the phrase "as best I can". After all, "best" is the superlative form of "well" and does not belong in the comparative construction "as... as" - not to mention that ...
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1answer
90 views

Why do programmers say: “Did you meet the Spartans?”

English is not my maternal language and on development/IT forums, I've found the expressions "Did you meet the spartans?" or "I've met the spartans?". To set the context, they are speaking about a new ...
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2answers
897 views

Why does “footing the bill” mean “to pay”?

I hear people using the term footing the bill used to describe paying for something. Why is the verb foot used to describe the meaning of paying?
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Are the cats and dogs of the idiom “it's raining cats and dogs” plural in usage?

I recently heard someone say the following: It's cats and dogs out there! As in "it's raining cats and dogs out there." I then thought that person should have said Those are cats and dogs ...
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Sir, it's just pots and kettles

What does the phrase "it's just pots and kettles" mean? Source: http://scriptline.livejournal.com/19834.html . MONTGOMERY We can hold him on the gun, but there's no match with ballistics on ...
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30 views

What's the difference between “zero in” and “home in”?

According to Oxford dictionary, both seem to mean "focus on" or "aim at" zero in: Take aim with a gun or missile/Focus one’s attention. home in: Move or be aimed toward (a target or destination) with ...
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2answers
35 views

the meaning of the phrase 'a bit of a bust'

I came across this phrase 'a bit of a bust' in an article. Here is the context: Reddit was a bit of a bust for us, as rather than using my own Reddit account, I created an XDStudios account. This ...
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2answers
32 views

“Down in my boots”

May Sarton, an early 20th century poet, wrote in a letter: "Politically I am down in my boots." What could she mean? Angry? Frustrated? Disheartened?
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50 views

How much is idiom “chew the fat” acceptable and neutral?

Does the idiom have strictly negative meaning or is it neutral? Can it be used to talk not only about close people so that not to insult anybody?
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68 views

Break a leg: how common is this idiom?

How common is this idiom? Is it used in theatre only? Can it be used in other situations to wish good luck? Will most of people understand it? And is there any specific reply to this wish? Because ...
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2answers
63 views

Idiom similar to “Go it alone” [on hold]

I am looking for an idiom similar to "Go it alone" with the difference that the person going alone is expected to take other colleagues' opinions into consideration before setting out on a project but ...
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83 views

What does “make something stick” mean?

There was the following passage in New York Times (April 13) article titled, “Philosophy returns to the real world”: “It was in one of Fish’s seminars that I first read arch-postmodernist, ...
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2answers
217 views

expression of the form “I wouldn't trust them with X”

The following expressions are idiomatic: 1) "I wouldn't touch Z with a 10-foot pole", meaning the speaker wouldn't want to be involved with Z in any way. 2) "S couldn't find his way out of a paper ...
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3answers
87 views

Origin of “Stick to your knitting”

I know that "Stick to your knitting" means to stick with what you're familiar with/good at rather than giving your opinion or trying your hand at something out of your area of expertise. But I can't ...
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1answer
32 views

What do these two figures of speech mean? Embrace the grind and lower your shoulder

I came across these two figures of speech:(a) Embrace the grind and (b) Lower your shoulder in one of the Instagram posts of Dwayne Johnson(The Rock) Since I am not a native English speaker I just ...
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2answers
126 views

Do you live on a farm?

This looks like a duplicate but it's not. Here is the 2013 question: In farms or on farms? The OP only wanted to know which sentence was grammatically correct. They live the quiet life on ...
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32 views

“sparse on details” idiom

Is this an idiom? When you say a study is "sparse on details" could you not just as well say "sparse with details" or "sparse for details"—they all make just as much sense to me. I'm trying to ...
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51 views

“Time” versus “Time”: When is time plural?

I have difficulty in using time and times correctly. I understand that times may be used for some idiomatic purposes such as "at all times" or "of all times" or "some times", although sometimes it ...
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1answer
61 views

Are "out of the box“ and “(right) off the bat” interchangeable”?

I came across with two idioms associated with immediacy in different context recently: (1) Anyone who was hoping that the Watch would flop out of the box and fall short of the high standard that ...
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35 views

What does “hand up north” mean? [closed]

"Pedro Damian had been working as hand up north on a ranch" is a sentence and I need to know what this idiom means?
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2answers
64 views

What is the origin of the phrase “playing hooky”?

What does the word "hooky" mean in the phrase "play hooky" (skipping class/truancy) and where did it come from?
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Ironic remark about silly question [closed]

What idiom/expression can be used to reply to a question which seems silly? And emphasis is not on the question itself (or rather it's foolishness), but rather on the fact that interlucutor asks it. ...
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3answers
779 views

What does “flop out of the box” mean? Is it a popular turn of phrase?

Washington Post (April 9) carries a review of now topical Apple watch under the title, “Should you buy an Apple watch?” It begins with the following statement: This is a good product with a bright ...
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1answer
60 views

Broth of a boy etymology

Could anybody explain the etymology of the phrase broth of a boy? I know the meaning but cannot understand how it happens that it means what it means.
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63 views

'If they “would have” recognised this, they would have saved themselves trouble? Correct? [duplicate]

I heard an American speaking on the BBC World at One news this lunchtime, about the Greek debt. He was arguing that the character of a lot of Greece's debt is quite different to that of other debtor ...
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“fine by me” vs “fine with me”

So, fine with me is the standard way to say it. But fine by me is ok, and dictionaries confirm that. The only mention that it should not be used is here: http://english.stackexchange.com/a/37205/19577 ...
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How to refer to something “demanding” which doesn't happen all of a sudden?

Looking for a verb to express something that requires some time and effort to evolve, like collecting. I want to express that collecting requires some time and the collection doesn't just come out ...
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58 views

What does “you can go about” means? [closed]

What does this mean? ...there are a number of ways that you can go about + ing e.g. there are a number of ways that you can go about analyzing there are a number of ways that you can go about ...
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222 views

What does “drone drop” mean?

There is the following passage in Maureen Dowd’s article titled, “Good riddance, Carrie Mathison” in April 4 New York Times: “The co-creator of “Homeland” on Showtime revealed recently that when ...
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4answers
96 views

What's an alternative for “hidden gem”?

Hidden gems is an idiom which means something which is extremely outstanding and not many people may know about; for example, Blame It on Rio by Stanley Donen is a good movie, but relatively unknown ...
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42 views

“In the cards”, “on the cards” origin(s)

In another question in EL&U "Positives changes on the cards" — meaning? , it came up that at least one of us AmE speakers had always heard this idiom as "in the cards" and never as "on ...
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To go fade out?

Those sweet memories never seem to go fade out. In trying to find a short synonym for "to become to fade out," I've come up with "to go fade out." Is this idiomatic and grammatically correct? The ...
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Is it correct to say “Can I enter if don't have a ticket”? [closed]

Is it correct to say "Can I come in if don't have a ticket"? or, Which is more common in ordinary life: A. Can I enter if don't have a ticket? B. Can I enter if I don't have a ticket?
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73 views

What is the origin/history of “you do you” (or “do you”)?

A recent New York Times Magazine piece focused on the expression "you do you" (and its variant "do you"), meaning something like a strong affirmation to "be yourself." The article associates the ...
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2answers
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Words confuse- prefecture, county and shire.

How could I distinguish the usage between the prefecture and county? In my opinion, I think "shire" is smaller than a county or prefecture. Is there any problem with my concept?
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what's the word for a common saying? [closed]

A common saying like in Hindi "Juldi ka kaam shaitan ka" translation "Anything done in hurry has Satan's reflection in it. " Something like truism, but it's meaning on google doesn't say what I mean. ...
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1answer
31 views

Could anybody scan through my cover letter? [closed]

English is not my native language, so I could write some not idiomatic expressions which are hard to detect for me. I am writing to apply for the position of summer intern at the Boston Group. I have ...
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3answers
80 views

The history of the phrase, “to drop the ball.” [closed]

How (if at all) does the phrase "to drop the ball" relate to the Times Square dropping of the midnight ball on New Year's Eve? If they are unrelated, where does the phrase come from?
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3answers
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Does “on earth” replace “on the earth” in modern English?

I am a non-native English speaker. Since school, I was taught "on the earth" is equal to "in the world", and "on earth"'s meaning should be "indeed". But nowadays, I find "on earth" has replaced "on ...
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2answers
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It took everything within me?

In a documentary I'm watching, a teenager is missing and her car is found. In the car's truck a bag can be seen, and they suspect that she might be inside of the bag. Her father states: It took ...
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Uncommon Term for an Excellent Orator?

I'm looking for an uncommon term for an excellent orator that doesn’t include adjectives such as “good” or “excellent,” or the noun “orator.” I've googled this request but haven't encountered anything ...
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1answer
68 views

what does “to walk at grade” mean?

"John was walking at grade and slipped on a patch of ice. When John slipped he did not fall to grade as he caught himself with his right hand [...]" Does "at grade" mean "on an uneven/inclined ...
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2answers
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To have ALL + adjective + noun

I am wondering whether the sentence That school has all smart students is a valid alternative to All the students of that school are smart. Is it idiomatic/grammatically sound? (Let's ...
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9answers
4k views

Are there English figurative expressions equivalent to Japanese idiom 馬耳東風 meaning a person who doesn’t listen to other’s advice?

North wind tells the arrival of spring season in Japan. And incidentally, we have an idiom, “馬耳東風,” of which literal translation is ‘the east wind to the ears of horse,’ meaning a person who doesn’t ...
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“come on as” versus “come across as”

Would you say that both sentences sound correct? On the whole, I think you came ON as sincere and credible, and your soft-spoken demeanor, laced with a dash of wry humor, was quite charming. On the ...
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wait on the laurels [closed]

I heard this in a documentary that I'm translating. Can you tell me what it means? Here's the quote: But one thing I can say, at least we tried and we didn’t sit back and wait on the laurels for ...
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82 views

Term for someone very good at dodging being blamed?

How do you call someone who is very good at dodging responsibility for his mistakes?
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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 ...
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birthday cake times twelve

I heard this in a documentary about the Peoples Temple. The quote goes exactly: These people would be on time, they’d be polite and nice. They were a span of ages, a span of races. They were ...