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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31 views

What does “at X’s disposition” mean?

What is the meaning of the phrase “at their/his/her disposition”? For example: He left the apartment at the old’s man disposition. Please explain with a few examples.
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1answer
50 views

Cloud nine Vs. Dante's Inferno!

I looked for the expression to be on cloud nine on Etymonline; it is stated 'of uncertain origin or significance'. My question is could there be a connection between the origin of cloud nine and ...
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0answers
34 views

When did corruption, bribery, easy money start to be associated with rot, decay -hence death in English? [on hold]

E.g. the expressions the rotten boroughs or pocket boroughs used in 19th century Britain to refer to undemocratic practices in the electoral system back then. Also, I'm looking for similar ...
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0answers
27 views

Are these sentences idiomatic? Two conditionals

If you were with me were all the others against me, then I should be happy. Even if you'd been broke should something happen, I, though, should be next to you. If this be the end should the ...
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1answer
49 views

What is the meaning of “put white out on sth”?

I have read an article which includes the phrase "put white out on sth", but I am unable to guess its meaning. Despite referring to http://dictionary.cambridge.org/, I haven't been able to look up ...
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2answers
195 views

Meaning of line in “Line one's pockets”

I am not asking about the meaning of the idiom "Line one's pockets". It is clear. Line one's pockets: to make much money, especially in an illegal or questionable way. I wonder what line ...
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6answers
680 views

Is “straight from Kafka” an idiom?

I am working as a translator and in one of my projects, which was about strategic management , I came across this sentence: " In scenarios that come straight from Kafka, the simplest problems take ...
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1answer
45 views

“get one's head around” vs “get one's arms around”

I have seen both idioms used in practice. The definitions I found, http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/get+arms+around, and http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/get+head+around don't indicate much ...
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3answers
109 views

Is the usage 'the message didn't send' grammatically correct?

I have often encountered this sentence on Facebook; even a web-search of this string indicates that it is used quite commonly. However, is it correct to say so? The dictionary definitions of the word ...
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1answer
62 views

Come out of the closet

'Come out of the closet ' derives from the phrase 'a skeleton in the closet'. Why is it perfectly OK to say come out of the closet but not come out of the cupboard as a follow-on the British phrase ...
2
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2answers
84 views

Is “I'll be John Brown” a common phrase?

The phrase: I'll be John Brown! is an occasionally-used term in North Carolina. Mostly thought to replace taking the Lord's name in vain (GD). Is it used elsewhere? How long has it been ...
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3answers
103 views

Connotations of “Salt of the earth”

I called my friend "salt of the earth" recently. I meant it in the best way possible - he is representative of moral goodness. But when I looked up the definition, I became a bit uncertain of my ...
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0answers
38 views

Is this a common expression? [closed]

"That's a lot of things to take all at once. The world turned upside down on him, poor kid."
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0answers
35 views

What does the expression make it clean mean when used by a gangster reffering to a crime? [closed]

I am not sure what it means exactly. Does it mean do not leave any evidence behind?
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5answers
130 views

A proverb or idiom in English for people who pick up a new language very quickly

There's a proverb in my language which goes like --he/she spent just one night with the hen and ended up clucking the following morning. This saying can be used either positively or negatively. I'm ...
6
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3answers
153 views

A saying that means “our best friends are those we have known for a long time”

We don't yet know what our new friends are like, and our best friends are those we have known for a long time. I am looking for a phrase, traditional saying or idiom that expresses this idea.
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2answers
293 views

Why does 'swings and roundabouts' mean 'gains and losses that offset each other'?

I know "swings and roundabouts" means "gains and losses that offset each other", but I can't understand. Any story behind this?
5
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9answers
306 views

What is the idiom or expression to describe the state that a person interrupts their happy time by believing that “this will end soon “?

There are some people who don't enjoy the available good time and sometimes it even worries them. I am not sure why, but they might think that they will miss those moment and suffer for the lack of ...
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1answer
41 views

Question on indefinite article (in couple weeks or in a couple weeks)

I have a question on indefinite articles. I thought a is only used with singular nouns, by definition. Why is "in a couple weeks" the right way? Isn't a couple weeks more than one? I thought it would ...
3
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1answer
53 views

Is “scathingly small” used correctly?

I heard a quote today on the radio from Dr. Michael Fine, Rhode Island's director of the Department of Health, where he used the phrase "scathingly small" (e.g. here) when referring to Ebola's chances ...
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2answers
76 views

Is “in a huff ” a commonly used idiom?

I have heard this idiom, but I don't know how frequently it is used by people. Please, help me out, because I have no other way checking it.
2
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1answer
38 views

not on your life (why not in your life)

I'm curious to know why the idiom below made with the prep "on" and not "in"? not on your life Not on your life! (informal) : Something that you say in order to tell someone with a lot of force ...
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1answer
40 views

What is the meaning of “gassed for”? [closed]

I was reading a comment on ELU and it is... ... when you've been gassed for your oral surgery. Is it an idiomatic thing to say "gassed for or gassed up"?
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3answers
55 views

You really want to help someone, but that individual becomes suspicious of the nature of your help and questions it

I don’t know what to call the behavior of those who don’t believe that anybody acts with good intentions, so I'm looking for a suitable word, idiom or expression.
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0answers
66 views

Origin of 'the new normal' as a freestanding phrase

This morning, in a New York Times article called “Waters Warm, and Cod Catch Ebbs in Maine,” the following sentence appears: Fishermen, scientists and regulators often disagree over whether the ...
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9answers
3k views

What is it called when something you previously took to be a mistake turned out to be the correct decision?

Sometimes your “mistake” results in a big success, or you find out that it actually was the correct way of doing it. I sarcastically call this a “correct mistake”. What do you call it? I don’t know if ...
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1answer
63 views

Can “my pleasure” carry negative connotations

Is it appropriate to say 'my Pleasure'- In a job interview and e-mails closings. "I really enjoyed talking with you - my pleasure" Or would a simple 'thank you' be more appropriate. Can "my ...
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2answers
42 views

Overkill or wrong tool idiom

Is there another idiom for using too strong a tool for the job: not "bring a gun to a knife fight" or "use a sledgehammer to crack a nut"? Or turn it around - one about using a simpler, more direct ...
6
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13answers
1k views

How do you describe someone who can hear you or see you but pretends or ignores your presence while you are trying to get his or her attention ?

you are trying to get somebody's attention by waving your hand or saying hello! but he or she ignores you; I am looking for an Idiom or word to describe the situation or attitude of that person.
3
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2answers
80 views

master or master's

I know from here here that I have to say Master of .... and master's degree. But let's consider another situation: I was half the way through my master, or I was half the way through my master's. ...
2
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2answers
57 views

How do I refer to an idiom in text?

What is the best way to refer to the idiom "Keeping up with the Joneses"? I'm referencing the idiom in a paper, but not sure if I should include it in quotes or not in quotes, but italics.
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4answers
64 views

“Easy to adhere to” alternatives?

Apparently "adherable" should not be used in formal language (if the opposite is true, please correct me). Are there any more concise ways of saying "easy to adhere to", such as in this phrase: For ...
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5answers
122 views

I'm looking for a slang word or idiom for someone who insists on intruding his presence on two others who would rather be alone

This person usually pretends not to see that he is unwelcome at the moment, but it may be that he just doesn't notice it. Depending on the circumstances, one of the two persons (typically lovers) ...
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0answers
49 views

Looking for an Equivalent to the AWL for Academic Idioms

Coxhead developed and evaluated something called the "Academic Word List" for English Language Learners. This is a list of (supposedly) the most common "academic" terms to be used by students from ...
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1answer
67 views

Synonymous idiom for: You can't run before you can walk

I'm looking for an alternative way of saying "You can't run before you can walk." This is equivalent to saying "you can't take on higher level things before you have mastered the basics". I am ...
1
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1answer
43 views

correctly dotting the “i”s and crossing the “t”s in the expression “dotting the i's and crossing the t's” [duplicate]

I've found questions here at ELU related to the meaning of the expression (I'm clear on that), but this is about the best way to punctuate the expression in the title. Possibilities: a. It's ...
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1answer
50 views

Telephone as an idiom [closed]

Is "telephone" considered an idiom? If we pull apart the meanings, "tele" means "far;" or "distant" and "phone" means "sound." So, it would, on the face of it, mean "far-sound." But that is not ...
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1answer
60 views

Using Verbpathy as a Tool to Connect with English [closed]

Does anyone use the tool of "verbpathy" in their own English studies? This is a device that lets the language learner connect with the positive, negative, or neutral aspect of a word, phrase or ...
1
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2answers
72 views

“No less than” vs. “None less than”

Is the expression none less than similar to the idiom no less than? Which form is preferable to use in the following example: None less than the country's president attended today's meeting. OR ...
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1answer
50 views

“No less than” idiom root

I know that "No less than somebody/something" means that this somebody/something is important. What I don't understand is why this idiom means so!! What I literally understand is that "No less than" ...
2
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1answer
55 views

Why is there an 'A' in phrase 'Times are a changing'? [duplicate]

I am not sure if the phrase Times are a changing is used exclusively within or related to the Bob Dylan song but the A is bugging the hell out of me every time I see it. Why is there an indefinite ...
3
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2answers
114 views

Can blue also have a positive connotation?

I came across a statement that roughly translates as: I hope everything is blue with you. The original German/English statement is: Ich hoffe, alles ist "blue" bei dir This was sent to a ...
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3answers
256 views

'Oh my gosh' for atheists/agnostics/trolls

As far as I know, this expression is used by people who doesn't want to make The Gosh angry (Oh my God, Oh my Lord, Oh my Gosh). But now it becomes popular for people who doesn't really care about ...
1
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1answer
44 views

“Caldoniafied” In General Use in the 1980s?

I am curious about the word "Caldoniafied" meaning, roughly, hard headed, and presumably coming from the song entitled "Caldonia" ("Caldonia, Caldonia, what makes your big head so hard?". )Louis ...
2
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1answer
70 views

Origin of Spread Oneself Too Thin

Three questions: What is the origin of the English idiom, "spread oneself too thin?" Is this used as frequently in the U.K. as it is in the U.S.? What about Australia and New Zealand: Is it as ...
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3answers
45 views

Word or phrase designating the consensus reached at the last conversation about a topic

I vaguely remember hearing a term for this, but can't remember what it was. The word or phrase refers to the consensus reached at the end of the last conversation about a topic, just before the group ...
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2answers
66 views

How far (technically) is a “stone's throw?”

A "stone's throw" means a short distance. Questions: (1) How far--technically-- is a stone's throw in terms of its usage? (i.e., Can you use it for a few feet as well as a mile away?) (2) Is it ...
2
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6answers
328 views

Something as an “antechamber” for something else

In Italian there is the expression "something as an antechamber for something else", meaning something can precede and somehow cause something else. For example: Data show prisons are far from ...
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2answers
1k views

Knock On Wood in the UK?

In the US, it is common to use the idiomatic expression "knock on wood" to keep "a good thing going." Is it the same in the UK, or do they use a different idiomatic expression?
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2answers
62 views

“…Which I have a basic knowledge of”

Russian, which I have a basic knowledge of Is the entire phrase which I have a basic knowledge of idiomatic in English? Or is it just an Italian phrase construction I inadvertently transposed ...