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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7
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2answers
96 views

Where does “flying in the face” come from?

To "fly in the face of" something means to be opposite it, with a particular connotation that is hard to describe. Where does the expression come from?
-1
votes
3answers
172 views

What does “tearing your résumé apart” mean? [on hold]

I gave my résumé to a person and she replied back as follows: When you look at the below list of issues, you’ll probably think I'm tearing your résumé apart. I guess I am, in a way. But, I ...
7
votes
2answers
499 views

Why is it “have someone wrapped around your LITTLE finger”?

I just had occasion to write she's got him wrapped around her finger (under complete control). I'd never really thought about this one before, but my guess would have been the idiom had some ...
2
votes
1answer
77 views

What is the origin of “go suck an egg”?

"Go suck an egg" is a saying typically used similarly to "take a hike" or "piss off": Hey, you going to help me with this or what? Go suck an egg. An few Ngram searches shows that "suck an ...
0
votes
3answers
73 views

Does this expression makes sense? [closed]

W : I'm impressed at how expertly you played that piano sonata. M : Sorry. I'm still just an apprentice. When the man says "sorry", what does this exactly mean in this circumstances? Is it ...
3
votes
1answer
60 views

What is the origin of 'pale, male and stale'?

The major Cabinet reshuffle of Prime Minister David Cameron this week has been seen by much of the press as an opportunity taken to dispose of ministers who are white, male, middle-aged, middle-class, ...
0
votes
1answer
71 views

Meaning of “get off the hammock” [closed]

Is the phrase get off the hammock idiomatic, and what does it mean if it is?
5
votes
4answers
62 views

idiom for “if you are not improving, you are deteriorating”

Is there an idiom or expression for "if you are not improving, that means you are deteriorating" Thank you
-1
votes
0answers
26 views

What is the meaning of the usage “will not rate” or “does not rate”? [closed]

This appears to be a common idiom in US military lingo or jargon: "You do not rate such-and-such benefit," or even just, "I will not rate," or "He will not rate." In the first example, it appears to ...
-1
votes
0answers
51 views

What's the meaning of the word “kidney” in this context? [closed]

In this article, there is the sentence: Every extension proposal should be required to be accompanied by a kidney. What's the meaning of the word kidney in this context?
2
votes
1answer
66 views

What is this usage of harrumph?

So this question was just asked and it made me realize I didn't understand what was going on this particular movie scene (Mel Brooks' 1974 Blazing Saddles). Transcript: Governor William J. Le ...
2
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3answers
47 views

Origin of the phrase 'space case'

Just wondering what the origin of this phrase is. When was it first used and by whom?
2
votes
3answers
56 views

Word for “quietly accumulating shares of stock by traders when the stock is at a lower price”?

I'm looking for a word or expression that means "the act of quietly accumulating shares of stock by traders when the stock is at a lower price"?
-4
votes
0answers
38 views

1 person, 2 persons but 3 people [duplicate]

As far I remember my English lesson I learned these pluralizations at the university. 1: person 2: persons 3 or more: people But English idioms and grammar change over a decade. Are these still ...
0
votes
0answers
7 views

Is it better to say “Don't forget” or “Remember” in written encouragement? [migrated]

This is more of a subtlety and might go beyond general English Language & Usage and is more about the cognitive process surrounding the use of language. It seems like I heard once that, while it ...
2
votes
3answers
71 views

Alternatives of 'a snowball's chance in hell'

I am looking for a different, common English idiom that expresses the same thing as a snowball's chance in hell. My teacher says I use this expression too much, and that it is not appropriate for ...
2
votes
2answers
59 views

“He disagreed with something that ate him.” (spoilers)

In The Living Daylights (a James Bond film), there is a man named Felix Leiter who is [partially] eaten by a shark. The villain writes a paper that says: 'He disagreed with something that ate him.' Is ...
3
votes
3answers
126 views

When and where did saying “nice” become so popular?

When one person tells another something good or shows off something they like the other person will often say "nice". For example, "Check out my new car it has so many bells and whistles" -Person ...
1
vote
2answers
67 views

What does “those are the breaks” mean?

I remarked to a friend, "It's too bad I have to wake up early," and he responded "those are the breaks." What does this mean? Isn't it a bad thing to wake up late, which would be the opposite of a ...
1
vote
3answers
82 views

What is the origin of the phrase “knock-down, drag-out”?

I can find this phrase in a few dictionaries: knock-down, drag-out — marked by extreme violence or bitterness and by the showing of no mercy knock–down, drag–out political debates But I ...
3
votes
2answers
52 views

Idiom like “His star is shining”

There's an idiom that's on the tip of my tongue, but I don't remember what it is. I remember it as "His star is shining" but I'm not sure that's it, I may be confusing it with something else. it's ...
-1
votes
0answers
21 views

How to say that I hit a car (by accident) [migrated]

How does one say that one was in an accident with one’ car? I am not sure if any of the following phrases are correct. Please tell me if the spoken forms below are correct, or if there are any ...
0
votes
2answers
45 views

we are in receipt of something

what does it mean "to be in receipt of something"? I have checked the meaning but have not figured it out fully, since I am a translator I need a literal translation for me to build out a meaningful, ...
1
vote
1answer
50 views

Origin of “walking on eggshells”?

Where does the phrase "walking on eggshells" originally come from?
0
votes
2answers
73 views

“one of a kind” idiom

This is an official practice question for the SAT Reasoning Test: Along the curve of islands known as the Florida Keys lies a reef of living coral, the only one of a kind in the continental United ...
1
vote
1answer
157 views

Using “So” Followed by a Noun Phrase to Express Boredom, Disgust, Tediousness, Dullness, Banality

In the BBC TV series Sherlock’s episode two from series three, “The Empty Hearse", John Watson waxes maudlin over being left out of the loop for two years regarding Sherlock’s faked death. Sherlock ...
2
votes
4answers
92 views

is “merablum” or “merablem” a word?

is there a word "merablum"? maybe "merablem"? It means scrap or remnant of food left on a plate. I always thought it was a word but I googled it and - nothing. Is Google unaware of it or is it a made ...
1
vote
2answers
67 views

The right word for saying goodbye to someone on the street corner, and then both of you walking in the same direction? [closed]

This happens occasionally to me in New York. I will part ways with someone after chatting, and then it will turn out we're both walking in the same direction. What word captures this phenomenon?
8
votes
8answers
2k views

Word/phrase/idiom to describe avoiding answering a question by stating the question doesn't need to be asked

I run into this situation often in the office. I have a specific question to ask somebody and have chosen the person to ask it, but that person doesn't know the answer. Instead of answering the ...
0
votes
1answer
49 views

crawl in a hole and pull it in after me

This phrase occurs surprisingly frequently. I assume, based on contexts, that it means roughly 'I am so embarrassed'. What I wonder is what it is that 'it' refers to. What is to be pulled in? Any ...
3
votes
2answers
102 views

Is “Go against type” a stand-alone popular idiom?

Today’s New York Times carries an article with the headline, “James Gorman of Morgan Stanley, Going Against Type,” followed by the lead copy: Forgoing Wall Street flash, Morgan Stanley’s chief ...
0
votes
1answer
36 views

Shifting the discussion to personae [duplicate]

I wonder if there is any phrase or idiom to express a situation, where one of the discussion participants, lacking arguments to upkeep a constructive discussion, steers the direction to personae: ...
25
votes
9answers
6k views

Atheist/agnostic form of expressing condolences

I have lived in the U.S. 20 years now but I am yet to find an elegant and eloquent wording to express condolences to somebody upon the death of a close one that does not involve religiosity and prayer ...
3
votes
2answers
72 views

Is there a term for if someone uses their own words on idioms consciously?

For example, instead of "barking up the wrong tree", someone uses "pulling out the wrong plant". Consciously or not, is there a term for saying idioms in your own words?
3
votes
1answer
76 views

Meaning of palm [closed]

What is the meaning of Palm and grease in this sentence. He then listed out the palms we had to grease in order to open a place to teach kids in our country. I read this sentence from the book ...
3
votes
2answers
148 views

What does the term “night moves” mean?

There are a number of songs, films, and other cultural artefacts that use or reference this term, but I can't figure out if it has some kind of idiomatic meaning. Any ideas?
0
votes
1answer
133 views

What does the American idiomatic expression “2 x 4” exactly mean? [duplicate]

What does the American idiomatic expression "2 x 4" exactly mean? I've read a very interesting book by Father Donald H. Calloway, No turning back (an autobiography and a conversion story), and ...
1
vote
1answer
53 views

“as they come”, a state of a particular thing [closed]

Like in its usage in the example below what does "as they come" mean? "Kryn was once physically and mentally as sharp as they come."
6
votes
3answers
78 views

skin in the game, idiomatically?

What does "skin" or "skin in the game" mean in the following sentence? "make sure that everyone has skin in the game".
1
vote
1answer
55 views

What does “pay the graces” mean? [closed]

Have the Three Graces actually been paid? Is that the origin? I found it in the lyrics for a song, where it doesn't seem to make sense at all: I had an impulse to clear it all away oh I used the ...
2
votes
3answers
86 views

“to have merchant's ears”

Is the expression "to have merchant's ears" an idiom or a recognized adage, meaning "pretending not to understand"? Please explain with examples or provide a better idiomatic phrase.
5
votes
3answers
71 views

What do we 'turn round and say'?

Often you will hear people say something like 'He turned round and called me a liar', or 'what if she turns round and refuses to pay'. This 'turn round' (I am informed it is much less used in ...
3
votes
5answers
406 views

English idiom related to time

I wonder what is the English idiom with the following meaning. "There are two opinions and only time could decide what is true". It should be something like "survive time's exam" or something like ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

What does “Nothing doing as he took it right to him” mean?

I regularly read chess articles on chessbase.com and quite often I find myself struggling with the English they are using. Sometimes it just doesn't feel correct. OK, I am not a native English speaker ...
0
votes
2answers
41 views

The meaning of “minking it”

There's a line in the musical Guys and Dolls: When you see a Joe saving half of his dough, You can bet he'll be minking it for some doll. My initial instinct is that this is a ...
3
votes
2answers
131 views

What is the prototype of “Place blame where it is deserved / Blame where it’s due / Blame only where blame is due”?

New Yorker (June 13) carries an article written by John Cassidy under the title, “The Iraq mess: Place blame where it is deserved.” I thought the phrase, “Place blame where it is deserved” is a ...
2
votes
2answers
55 views

“On/over the phone” [closed]

Which version is correct? As discussed with you over the phone. As discussed with you on the phone.
2
votes
2answers
61 views

(almost solved) “all I had to see me through”: Explain & how to look up?

Edit: Supplemented "through" in the title. I tried an intermediate summary after the original questions. It seems that "all I had to see me" simply means "all I had", or "all that was available for ...
4
votes
2answers
577 views

Meaning of 'a third leg'

When Dr. Barclay was called, I was surprised. I had expected an elderly man, but he was only in the late thirties and good-looking. Knowing Elinor, I wondered. Except for Fred, who had no looks ...
8
votes
2answers
241 views

why do some people call green peppers mangoes?

I have heard people from Lima, Ohio refer to green peppers as mangoes. How did that come about?