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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17 views

explain the idiom [duplicate]

I am the novice English learner. Please explain me the idiom "What are you up to" I've already google it. But i still want you people to explain this with examples. Thanks
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12answers
2k views

Is there any idiom which is exactly opposite of 'head start'?

I am searching for an idiom which means to have a disadvantage that makes your chances of winning bleak It should appropriately fit in this analogy: Head Start - Win ___ - Lose
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1answer
43 views

“in God's name” usage in English [on hold]

When people say "what in God's name are you doing?", I couldn't understand.
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2answers
55 views

What is the origin of the phrase “grease the skids”?

What is the origin or derivation of the phrase "greasing the skids?" The phrase connotes preparation, in such a way as to make the subsequent activities easier. Definitions are available various ...
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3answers
119 views

Is “take a leak” considered only masculine or is it okay if women use it too?

And if it can also be used by women, I still feel vulgar using it.
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12answers
2k views

Is there a suitable antonym for 'Achilles heel'?

I'm trying to juxtapose antonyms in a effort to describe something. The first draft of an excerpt reads something like this: I will tell of their triumphs and downfalls... I would like to ...
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1answer
36 views

Is this usage of “account for” correct?

Can "account for" mean "take into consideration", such as in the sentence "I forgot to account for the time it would take to drive here, so I'm late"? Oddly, I couldn't find such usage in any ...
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1answer
30 views

“Would-be” meaning “potential”: must it be hyphenated?

Suppose I write, "Giving exams in class thwarts would-be cheaters." Must "would-be" have a hyphen? Or would it be preferable to write it without a hyphen? (It seems easier to read with the hyphen.) ...
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1answer
29 views

bottom dropped out

I heard this expression and I don't know what it means. I googled it and it was mostly financial meanings. But mine is not. I'm writing the context exactly. The bottom kind of dropped out when I ...
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1answer
71 views

How to express difficulty selecting from equally appealing options [closed]

I want to express the idea that multiple options are equally appealing and therefore difficult to choose from. I thought of this sentence: They are too equally attractive to >be picked up. ...
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1answer
47 views

Get-go attitude vs. go-getter

I want to write a recommendation for a friend in LinkedIn, and I want to emphasise that he was a real hard worker. So, does "he has a get-go attitude" means that someone is a "go-getter"?
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0answers
82 views

My grandmother used an idiom “ ought have been a wheelbarrow”

My grandmother (who was of Irish descent)was born in the New England area of NSW, Australia. She used an idiom that she "ought have been a wheelbarrow". I think it meant something about a lack of ...
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2answers
45 views

Does “the truth is deceptive” make any sense or should it be “ truth can be deceiving”? [closed]

Does "the truth is deceptive" make any sense or should it be " truth can be deceiving" ?
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2answers
79 views

Is “throw guns into a hot stove” a common phrase or just one-off figurative expression?

Today, Scott Simon, the host of NPR’s Weekend Edition news program, interviews former NATO Ambassador Ivo Daalder about the cease-fire between the Ukrainian government and Russian separatists, and ...
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5answers
83 views

I need an alternative for “her whole life” [closed]

In my story a young girl only understands the life of a dancer, but once her dream comes to an end she doesn't know what to do with herself. I need a better way of saying She danced all day ...
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3answers
126 views

To have the world “at your fingertips”

I was watching a YouTube video about eating disorders when the American TV presenter ended a pep talk with the following words: If I had the chance today to spend six weeks somewhere, to better ...
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12answers
2k views

Idiom for something that is well designed but not commercially viable?

Is there a word for something that has been well-designed, looks good but can't sell. This can be an object or an idea..
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1answer
40 views

Question on “the fabric of X” in sentences

I see a lot of sentences with "the fabric of X" in them. For example, "The veteran feels trusted, respected and understood -- re-integrated into the fabric of his or her homeland." "Half a century ...
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0answers
51 views

Origin of “kill the ghost”, “killing the ghost”

A British friend of mine who used to work with us came back from London for a short visit to the town.Before going back home again he showed me photographs of the town beach and hotel saying he came ...
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2answers
66 views

What does it mean to “gum the spoon”?

I recently found out about a new term. It's "gum the spoon". What does it mean? By the various contexts I found, I conjecture that it means to add saliva onto the spoon or to hold the spoon in one's ...
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2answers
35 views

The quality of things you stick with

I was wondering if there is a word in English to describe the quality of things we stick with. For example, if a training is well designed, people will tend to keep using it. Meanwhile, if it's not, ...
3
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1answer
102 views

“Harry saw Luna, all eyes in her white face…” What does this line from the Deathly Hallows mean?

After rereading it for what seems to be the hundredth time, I realized that I never understood the meaning of this half a sentence. What's really tripping me up is the all eyes in her white face bit. ...
7
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5answers
943 views

What does “Anyone who is married” mean in “Anyone who is married should know that facts and logic are not always helpful to one’s cause”? [closed]

I’m drawn to the phrase, “anyone who is married” taken from Benn Steil's recently published book, The Battle of Bretton Woods that deals with the battle engaged by Maynard Keynes and Harry White, each ...
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2answers
84 views

Is the phrase “Next waiting!” by retail staff incorrect grammar?

In Australian retail stores the phrase "Next waiting!" has become an idiom. As I understand it, it is a contraction of "Can I serve the person next waiting?". When the idiom is used, it is snapped ...
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8answers
3k views

Are there similar expressions to the Japanese saying “I want to die on a tatami mat”?

Today most people die in a hospital bed, though many would prefer to die in their own home being watched over by their loving family. We have an old saying, “to die on a tatami mat”, meaning to die ...
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3answers
86 views

An Idiom/phrase/adjective for an imaginary place where everything is perfect [closed]

A place where unrealistic and impossible things can happen. Is there an idiom/expression/phrase that connotes to such a stretch of the imagination?
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1answer
60 views

What does “when in doubt, lay out” mean? [closed]

So, what does it mean? "When in doubt, lay out." It seems to be an advice.
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7answers
629 views

Is calling someone “old school”- offensive/derogatory? [closed]

My colleague, a relatively young school teacher, prefers not to use e-mails. He is digitally absent. During a recent teacher's meeting, while I appreciated his efforts towards content ...
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1answer
95 views

The meaning and etymology of the exclamation “Lawdy me!”

What does a speaker mean if he/she exclaims "Lawdy me!"? I noticed this exclamation when I was reading a short story "the Conscience of the Court" by Zora Neale Hurston. There was one brown-skinned ...
3
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2answers
461 views

A fatal accident vs a fateful accident [closed]

fatal/adjective/causing death. fateful/adjective/ having far-reaching and often disastrous consequences or implications. My team-leader survived a life-threatening injury, when back to work, an ...
3
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2answers
86 views

Clasping arms when cold: how does one say that?

How does one say in English when, as a reaction to cold, a person crosses their arms, grabbing their own shoulders? It is a very common gesture, not shrugging as "I don't care", but to keep the cold ...
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0answers
42 views

Origin of the expression “Answer came there none” [closed]

What is the origin of the expression "Answer came there none"? Is it a quote from somewhere? Is it known when it was first used as an alternative to "there was no answer"? Or was it once a more ...
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6answers
88 views

Feeling for rejection followed by acceptance?

Is there any good word/phrase/idiom for that feeling of scorn when you're accepted by someone/something after getting rejected the first time? I remember a phrase being quoted by Nathan Fillion in ...
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3answers
113 views

Where did the expression “it's lonely at the top” come from?

Some variations of this are it's lonely at the top but you eat better and it's lonely at the top but the view is nice a look at google ngrams seems to suggest it started to pick up in the ...
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1answer
48 views

Rub it in on me OR Rub it in me?

I want to say this person likes to be sarcastic to me. Is it, "He always rubs it in on me" OR "He always rubs it in me"?
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4answers
463 views

What does “Screw motivation” mean? [closed]

There is an essay whose title is Screw motivation, what you need is discipline. I can understand its main idea, but can not figure out the exactly meaning of Screw motivation in the title. Could you ...
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3answers
182 views

Run by stopwatch

what's the meaning of "run by a stopwatch"? I found it in this sentence : "The pressing problem for Blackmore was making a quick adjustment to the American lifestyle that felt like it was run by a ...
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7answers
116 views

What idioms can describe a tough or difficult thing (such as a test)?

An easy test (or similar undertaking) might be described as 'a piece of cake' Are there any idioms to describe a test (etc.) that is difficult?
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2answers
127 views

What is the derivation of “peanuts” meaning “of little value”?

The phrase working for peanuts is common (at least in American English) to indicate that someone is compensated very little. The word peanuts is defined by Oxford Online as (peanuts) informal A ...
3
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2answers
167 views

Idiom: to be off the wall

When I come across idioms that are not transparent I try to find out what is behind such expressions. In the case of "to be off the wall" one does not see anything that might lead to the meaning ...
4
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4answers
106 views

“You 're telling me” - What kind of expression is this?

In normal everyday language we use hundreds, if not thousands of special formulas which are ready-made or fixed expressions and that we use in a very specific situation and that don't fit in any other ...
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13answers
949 views

Historical or literary examples of misguided or botched attempts to help that end up causing harm [duplicate]

I'm looking for examples from history, folklore, literature, movies, or pop culture, of situations in which a person or group attempted to do something helpful but, due to their own poor judgment, ...
0
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2answers
59 views

Synonyms for “freak show” or idioms for a “working awkwardness”

What are other expressions that describe some prepared, working awkwardness, that's is worth to show because it does work and/or is interesting, and even maybe solves some problems? Example of such ...
10
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1answer
782 views

“Gun an engine” vs. “Rev an engine”

The driver of the van brakes sharply at every red light or junction and guns the engine when we move off. I begin to sweat—travelling sideways isn't helping. "To gun the engine" is a new ...
1
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2answers
91 views

“To Put the flag up the pole and see who salutes”

Is this a common expression? Is it used in an ironic way nowadays? If the latter is the case: Is there a similar phrase that is usually not used ironically?
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1answer
73 views

How to say “in the strict … of the term”?

I am not quite sure if the following expression makes sense in English: in the strict meaning of the term Is it right? Should the word meaning be replaced by sense? The meaning of the phrase ...
0
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1answer
62 views

“Paper never refused ink” - has any one heard a more modern/online version?

I'd imagine most of us have heard of the phrase "paper never refused ink", roughly meaning "they'll" print anything. Can anybody think of a more modern/online version?
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1answer
84 views

Meaning of 'head screwed tightly to one's shoulders' [closed]

I came across a comment on The Economist article about hardships people working on lower wages or living off disability payments face. In one of the comments, one commentator narrates a story of a ...
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7answers
577 views

The statues were unheralded for almost a century - a better idiom/phrase

British experts found two rare bronze statues crafted by Michelangelo. What idiom or phrase can describe either the state or the period for which the invaluable piece of art remained hidden from ...
3
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1answer
723 views

Why not “on a street”? [closed]

Why do people say "I met him on the street" instead of "on a street", even though they're talking about a street for the first time and another person doesn't know what exact street they mean?