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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Euphemisms for rejection (man-women and vice versa)

Example: The more time passed, the more sure I became she’d [...] me. The most common word in this case is reject. I'm wondering, though, what euphemisms I can use aside from turn down?
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1answer
32 views

Avoiding Ignorance

Is the phrase "avoid ignorance" idiomatic? In my mind something is wrong about the combination of the verb "avoid" and the noun "ignorance".
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1answer
206 views

'Not feeling clever' - how far does this extend?

The other day, when my wife was unwell, I happened to mention to a relative in Norfolk that she wasn't 'feeling too clever'. He instantly knew what I meant. But it made me wonder how far this idiom ...
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2answers
32 views

What is the correct method to make a commonly repeated project name stand out?

I have a project titled "Around the World." I refer to this project often in text. I have been instructed not to use quotes, but I am unsure of the best way to identify this phrase as the project ...
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4answers
49 views

“on the back of” meaning and implications

A The Independent of London article, The rise and rise of Sudoku, reads: [...] sales of pencils in Britain are reported to have risen 700 per cent on the back of the Sudoku boom. Question: Does ...
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7answers
111 views

Is there an idiom to describe someone who grew from less than average to influential?

Is there a idiom or common expression to describe someone who used to be shy, unsocial, unskilled, or even perceived to be useless, who somehow transformed himself or herself to be influential and ...
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3answers
73 views

Both arguments are correct

I wrote a paper about two opposing arguments. My conclusion was that the two arguments may be correct. Is there an idiom or phrase that means two opposite things may be correct, independent of each ...
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2answers
55 views

Can I use the phrase, “open and shut” for other subjects than legal cases?

There was the following passage in New York Times (April 28) under the title, “In Baltimore, we’re all Freddie Gray.”: “We’ve watched as Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, in conjunction with ...
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12answers
5k views

Is there a word or an idiom for people who only spend their families' money and fool around?

Is there a word or an idiom for rich people who spend only their families' money and do not bother to work, just fool around?
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10answers
1k views

Phrase for criticism/insults concealed with humor

Passive aggressive people will sometimes veil insulting, critical, derogatory or generally aggressive comments with humor. The patina of humor makes the comment seem like a joke, not to be taken ...
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2answers
62 views

Is “I wish I had one of those …” correctly used in the following sentence?

Sex Education Club? I wish I had one of those when I was a student. The bolded part actually means, I wish my university had had one of those so I could have joined . . . But I picked I wish I ...
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2answers
61 views

Where did the term “Square Meal” come from?

In several older TV shows (think Andy Griffith) I've heard the term "Square Meal" used to describe an ideal hardy and nutritious meal. The term can be applied to breakfast, lunch and dinner. Where ...
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1answer
53 views

Vice and Vice President [closed]

The word "vice" is usually used in a negative sense in the meaning of "immoral or wicked behavior". On the other hand we have a commonly used term "vice president" as the second person in a presidency ...
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2answers
36 views

Some idioms for “psychotherapist” and the meaning of “therapist” in the US

Some Russian-English dictionaries like Multitran suggest that the word "therapist" has a meaning of "psychotherapist" in the US slang. Is it generally true? Can you please suggest me some compact ...
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5answers
68 views

What is the word that describes a demanding look?

Is there an idiom or a single verb for a patronizing stare or a demanding look? As if someone can speak with his looks and says something like "No!", "Stop!", "Do it now!" and makes people obey no ...
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9answers
249 views

What is the word that defines walking confidently, coldly and calmly?

Is there a word for walking confidently, coldly and calmly...but not angrily, frustrated or in a rush. And not a fake self-confident walk to make people believe you are an important person.
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3answers
2k views

What is the action called when a grumpy old man shows that he is annoyed, by making a 'throat-clearing' sound?

Sometimes when a grumpy old man gets annoyed, he makes noises like clearing his throat. Does grumbling or grunting define that action? Is there a more appropriate word or an idiom for that?
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8answers
101 views

Is there a word or an idiom for respecting someone because you are afraid of him?

I am looking for a word or an idiom about showing respect to someone superior in work because you are afraid of him. I'm not talking about real respect or showing respect to him or his works, just ...
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1answer
54 views

What is the word for an amused surprise?

You tell your friend about a person's funny habit and that person shows it right away without knowing. You tell your friend "See!". You are surprised but you were right. What is the verb for that kind ...
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1answer
40 views

Meaning of “near tears” idiom

What is the meaning of "near tears" idiom? Example: When I was 18, while hiking with a friend in Colorado, I tried to impress him by climbing up a rock. A minute later, realizing I was stuck, ...
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3answers
182 views

Made my heart sink

How would you explain in other words this phrase: Made my heart sink I picked it up in one article and can't find its explanation as idiom. Although I suppose it means 'this makes me sorry about ...
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1answer
31 views

Idiom that means “to understand a story better by listening to it from the beginning?”

Example: "I think I should I start my story from the beginning. That way you can [...]. Is there any idiom for that? Preferably idioms that evoke something physical, imagery.
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2answers
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“Patch up holes along the way.” Is this idiom common?

I'm not a native English speaker so I have no idea. Example: "I think I should I start my story from the beginning. That way you don't have to patch up holes along the way." I worry that the ...
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1answer
40 views

What does “no frame of graft” mean in this context?

Young Ethan: All right, look. I've gotta tell you something. I'm not 17. I only said so that you'd think I was cute and vunerable. I'm actually 30, I have a wife, I have a job, I'm your ...
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1answer
40 views

What is it called when you change the nouns in an idiom

What is it called when you change the nouns in an idiom. As an example if I were an artic explorer I might say "Tent Sweet Tent," after comming in from a long day in the cold. The idiom is "Home Sweet ...
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1answer
23 views

On the use of “is not so […] but” [on hold]

Is it proper English to say: "With method A, the goal is not so to perform task B but (rather) to address problem C." Are there other more appropriate/elegant ways to convey the same meaning?
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1answer
52 views

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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2answers
55 views

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
105 views

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

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
951 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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1answer
149 views

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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0answers
50 views

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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0answers
34 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
47 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
39 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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1answer
51 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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1answer
82 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
69 views

Idiom similar to “Go it alone” [closed]

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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2answers
94 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
242 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
107 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
47 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
159 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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2answers
43 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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2answers
54 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
64 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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0answers
36 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
82 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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3answers
791 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
61 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.