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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3
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2answers
31 views

You're Coming On All-(blank), Coming Over All-(blank)

I'd like to know how widespread these statements are in the UK. In the movie 'In Bruges' Ralph Fiennes says to, a suddenly, soft-sounding Brendan Gleeson (employed as a hit-man by Fiennes): ...
2
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2answers
38 views

Which of “chafing at the bit” or “chomping at the bit” is more accepted/proper?

I've used "chafing at the bit" for quite some time, but have also heard "chomping at the bit" as a way to indicate impatience, etc. Which of these two is the more "proper" or accepted variant?
0
votes
1answer
95 views

What's a British equivalent to the more American expression 'Kiss my ass'?

I have the feeling that 'kiss my ass' isn't as widely used in the UK as it is in the US. I'm looking for a more British sounding equivalent.
1
vote
1answer
70 views

Is there a word or phrase that means both the answer and the question?

I am exploring how to create a game that generates metaphors or concepts that could be created outside of a linear thinking of past, present and future. Simultaneous revelations that occur ...
0
votes
1answer
37 views

Can an abandoned software project “gather dust”?

I was reading a blog of someone who is trying to emulate Nintendo Gameboy hard- and software as a hobby project. In the oldest post, in the following sentence: I eventually [...] bought myself a ...
8
votes
8answers
1k views

What is meant by “same difference”?

Unless you are comparing two different sets of items to then have a couple of differences and the differences are the same, I do not get it. This would be analogous to: 12-9=3, 7-4=3. Here we have ...
1
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2answers
57 views

Is “right hand of” means right hand of anybody else? [on hold]

Idiom meaning of "right hand of" Example. Right hand of GOD.
0
votes
1answer
84 views

“silk purses out of a sow's ears”

Yesterday I posted a question(How do expert writers avoid using "I" when they have to refer to themselves in their article?) and received a good yet insult-ish like answer. I'm not a native ...
3
votes
3answers
94 views

Does the expression, “As sound as a pound” still holds its currency?

There is the following sentence in the New York Time’s (July 24) article titled, “A Chinese gold standard?” written by its Op-Ed Contributor, Kwasi Kwarteng. “For most of the 19th century the ...
3
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2answers
51 views

“get a coating”

I recently saw the expression "get a (real) coating" in this book review: Swales, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the only guy who gets a real coating, but only in passing But I just cannot figure ...
1
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4answers
55 views

Meaning of “that's the idea” [closed]

I read a book in which a character wrote a poem. She told herself I should fix the first part, but that's the idea. What does this mean, "but that's the idea"? Does it mean she should fix ...
1
vote
1answer
56 views

Etymology of “throw good money after bad”?

The idiom "throwing good money after bad" refers to spending more money on something problematic that one has already spent money on, in the (presumably futile) hopes of fixing it or recouping one's ...
7
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2answers
99 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
178 views

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

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
513 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
85 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
74 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
68 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
75 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
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4answers
66 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
2
votes
1answer
67 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
52 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
58 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
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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
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3answers
75 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
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2answers
60 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 ...
5
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3answers
142 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
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2answers
72 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
88 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
53 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
47 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
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1answer
53 views

Origin of “walking on eggshells”?

Where does the phrase "walking on eggshells" originally come from?
0
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2answers
79 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
162 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
93 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
69 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
104 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
80 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
149 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
135 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 ...