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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4answers
50 views

Can “your reputation precedes you” be used as a negative statement?

I have always considered "your reputation precedes you" as a gesture of complement and respect. However it occurred to me if it is possible to use it for a notorious person with a bad reputation? ...
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3answers
59 views

Origin of “to be in fat city”?

What is the origin of the phrase "to be in fat city" meaning "to do well" (financially or otherwise)? A search with an internet search engine suggests that it is of fairly recent vintage, as the two ...
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0answers
26 views

how do i respond to this email? [on hold]

How do i respond in a way that is sincere but has a snide message to make the sender feel awkward for sending it. It is implying that I made them feel awkward for making them have to write it. ...
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1answer
31 views

Is this the correct useage of… including; but not only,

Is this the correct useage of, "every possible accessory and trimming a body could desire to adorn their costumes with, including; but not only, brightly colored ribbons, buttons, needles of brass and ...
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4answers
214 views

Suitable idiom for using instead of immunize

We have water that is not drinkable, we boil it for killing the microbes, is this sentence correct “I immunize the water ” or there is an idiom for this action?
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9answers
2k views

“Teaching fish to swim”

Imagine one has to give a presentation to explain something to an audience which already knows very much about that topic. Is that correct to say in such a situation that one is teaching fish to ...
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1answer
58 views

Is there more than a 'double' whammy?

I have three (could grow to be more) bad reasons for a situation and I wondered if there is such a thing as a triple whammy that is an extension of the double whammy. From my research online, a triple ...
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2answers
55 views

To have all one's marbles, usage and origin

I have seen this idiom used within a negative context such as: Don't think he still has all is marbles, but could it be used correctly within a positive context? Plus, where does this saying come ...
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2answers
49 views

'Blowing Dixie double four time' and 'He can play the honky tonk like anything' meaning

in Dire Straits "Sultans of Swing" what is the meaning of these two lines: In the first verse: You get a shiver in the dark It's been raining in the park but meantime South of the ...
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3answers
178 views

correct idiom for if you were me

I am looking for an idiom that can be used for this like "if you were me you would have done the same thing " OR something like empathy , think from my sight, is there any idiom for such scenerio? I ...
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1answer
25 views

At the beginning of “The hands of Mr. Ottermole” by Thomas Burke, an expression 'discolored themselves', which I can't simply understand

Murder (said old Quong)—oblige me by passing my pipe—murder is one of the simplest thing in the world to do. Killing a man is a much simpler matter than killing a duck. Not always so safe, perhaps, ...
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24answers
4k views

Are there metaphoric English expressions meaning “keeping composure at a fatal moment, never panicky”?

We have a Japanese old saying, “俎板の上の鯉-manaita no ueno koi, a carp laid on a chopping block” for describing (1) a critical situation you cannot avoid, and (2) a person who is self-poised at such a ...
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1answer
31 views

Meaning of “affectionate abandon”

You should treat your book with affectionate abandon. In this sentence what does affectionate abandon mean? Is there an abandon that is affectionate?
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2answers
136 views

Meaning of “welcome distraction”

I want to know the meaning of a welcome distraction. It has no meaning when someone reads it first. I want to know the exact meaning. Is there a distraction that we can welcome?!
3
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2answers
78 views

One donkey at a time?

Has anyone heard this expression? If so, what does it mean? I use it to mean that one person should speak at a time, but there is no material whatsoever on the internet. I was trying to find its ...
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2answers
91 views
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1answer
203 views

“what's in store” vs. “what's in stall”

I think this is probably just one of those phrases people get wrong, such as "for all extensive purposes" - but I just found this on a cafe web page: This question asks the meaning of "in store" ...
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0answers
32 views

Is the use of alliteration formal or informal?

Is it informal or formal to use alliterations? I've heard couple of them lately. "right as rain" or "sure as shooting"
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1answer
32 views

“One for,” or “one to,” or perhaps something else

Say I am a die-hard communist (I am NOT!) and I want to grudgingly admit that there's this one thing capitalists are right about. I believe I could say something like "now that's one for Adam Smith" ...
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1answer
34 views

Seem out to do something - meaning

Source: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-04-04/putin-s-rejection-of-the-west-in-writing?cmpid=yhoo In fact, after Moscow's Crimean adventure, the West seems out to prove this point of ...
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1answer
44 views

against all odds

What is a simple definition or phrase to replace this idiom, "against all odds"? I could use despite all difficulties but it's too difficult for my 5-6 year old kids to understand. My sentence is as ...
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2answers
370 views

He remained cool as a cucumber

Why do we use cucumber to describe the attitude of a person who is able to control his/her temper in front of a difficult event?
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1answer
96 views

What does “wishy-washy” mean?

Question: What does it mean when something is "wishy-washy"? Is it informal? Is it American English, British English or both?
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3answers
99 views

Bike Race question - Loser gets to be the girl [closed]

I don't remember which movie it was in, but there were two men (filled with testosterone), and they had this bet that the loser would be the girl. It was never specified what ''gets to be the girl'' ...
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2answers
92 views

What does “no love lost” mean and where does it come from?

I have trouble with the idiom "no love lost". I understand that it is used when people are at odds or don't get along, but I don't understand why. Interpreted literally it sounds like there should be ...
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7answers
181 views

When you say a man is a coward, does it imply femininity by default? Is ''girlish coward'' a common expression?

I was wondering about this and would appreciate your take on the question.
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1answer
55 views

What does “something eats into somebody” mean? [closed]

What does it eats into you mean? I have read this in a play It eats you, which is normal I like to know what the meaning is and how many meaning I can consider for it.
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1answer
60 views

What is the rule in the sentence “she always had this twisted side to her”? [closed]

I can understand the meaning of the sentence "she always had this twisted side to her", but I can't really figure out why it is expressed like this. I mean, if I couldn't get the meaning, how should ...
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2answers
77 views

Have you a beef with me?

This is a curious idiomatic expression that I love. Is it more British or US in usage? But mostly, where does this "beef" come from?
2
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2answers
105 views

Job interview question [closed]

I'm a French man in my late 20s and I'm applying for a job for a prestigious American company. I've had a job interview with an American woman and she told me all was well but I'd have to be molded to ...
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2answers
54 views

get the boot courtesy - idiom, meaning

It seems that William and Susan aren’t getting along very well together, so one of them has got to go. Since William was there first, Susan will get the boot courtesy of the delete statement... ...
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1answer
66 views

Do all four-letter-words have four letters?

Two vulgar words I know have five letters but I've been told they are considered four-letter-words in spite of it. The explanation I got was that in such cases vulgarity matters more than the number ...
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2answers
45 views

Meaning of “Gambler at heart” [closed]

I want to know what does the expression gambler at heart mean and in which context we can use it?
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1answer
34 views

What does the phrase “They would clash with my drapes” mean?

I have come across this phrase in the sitcom, Hot in Cleveland wherein a gay man is asked if he had kids to which he responds with this phrase :"They would clash with my drapes." I tried looking it up ...
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3answers
69 views

Origin of plurality of “wars” in phrases like “Star Wars”

There are a number of compounds in English of the form "noun wars," e.g. "Star Wars," "mommy wars," "culture wars." Why do these show "wars" in the plural? It seems like normally "wars" would pertain ...
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2answers
105 views

What does this idiom mean and where did it come from?

What does the expression "being drug up on the carpet and then run up the mast" mean and where did it come from? It could very well be the person who said it made it up on the spot.
0
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1answer
28 views

“To take in” and “to catch” in the sense "to attend and visit (or see) [the sights of (a city, etc.)] in AmE

Do these terms share the same degree of informality in the sense "to attend and visit (or see)" as of someone taking in/catching the sights of a place, or taking in/catching a show or a movie? E.g. ...
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2answers
2k views

“Nuke the fridge”

I don't get what this phrase means. I tried googling it, but the answers weren't satisfactory. Could someone please tell me its meaning? I'm guessing it has something to do with TV shows (I first ...
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1answer
84 views

What does 'both of you' mean?

How does one reflect the difference in meaning between 'I gave one to both of you' meaning you gave one to each of them, and 'I gave one to both of you' meaning you gave one item for the two to share? ...
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1answer
45 views

What does “I can get behind that :)” mean when you suggest someone to compromise on an alternative option?

"How about we compromise and ... ? ;)" Answer: "I can get behind that :)"
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4answers
139 views

Idiom: in my neck of the woods, AmE

Idiom: in my neck of the woods, AmE The meaning of this expression is: in the region where I live. Once I tried to find out how a word meaning a part of the body can develop an expression where it ...
2
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4answers
2k views

What does “My duh on” mean?

What does "My duh on X" mean? Does it mean "I like X" or "I don't like X" or something else? What does "duh" mean in general?
3
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2answers
79 views

What is the derivation of “out like a light” meaning “to lose consciousness quickly”?

The idiomatic relationship between out like a light and falling asleep (or being rendered comatose) quickly is easily understood in the context of electric lights extinguished instantly by a switch. ...
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1answer
39 views

“Go ahead” vs. “Carry on” in AE usage

Back when I was a student, I can recall my nonnative English teachers -- after discussing a certain word, or phrase, or passage from a text with the class -- saying for me or some other guy to please ...
2
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5answers
109 views

A word that represents a group of people working to achieve a common goal or dream

I am working on a project that involves bringing people together who share common goals or dreams. Is there a word or phrase to describe groups of people who are working together to accomplish these ...
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1answer
31 views

“To set up” for “to arrange/prepare” or “to organize” in colloquial AmE

I already heard and read on various occasions Americans use the expression "to set up" to seemingly mean "to arrange" as in "I'll set up reservations for you" or "I'll be more than happy to set up a ...
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2answers
102 views

Does the idiom “in lieu of” for “instead of” sound legalese or affected in modern day AmE [closed]

I once came across the idiomatic "in lieu of" in some bilingual dictionary I can't seem to put my hands on anymore, but I remember pretty well the phrase being defined as an Americanism. And so, I ...
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2answers
82 views

“Latch onto [something/someone]” for “obtain, get (hold of) [something/someone]” in AE

I just rediscovered the colloquial expression "latch on to [something]" online and would like to know the story to its meaning of "obtain, get", which is presented by CD as AE and CE. ...
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2answers
111 views

“ It was a pleasure knowing”, “It was a pleasure to have known”, or “It was a pleasure to know”?

I am in the process of ordering a headstone for my dad and I wish to have the words It was a pleasure to have known (as opposed to the more traditional "in loving remembrance", "in memory of", ...
1
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1answer
187 views

What is the (explicit) meaning of “Till daddy takes the t-bird away”

I first heard this in an audio-book. I do understand the implicit meaning but I always wondered what this really means and the background of this phrase. I have tried searching the Internet but all I ...