Tagged Questions

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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High and Tight Meaning

This is a quote from the movie Avatar: "Col. Quaritch: I want this mission high and tight. I wanna be home for dinner." I seem to remember hearing "high and tight" used elsewhere. But I couldn't pin ...
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62 views

What does “Obama goes big” mean?

The article of New Yorker (November 21) begins with the following sentence under the title “Obama Goes Big on Immigration”: For a two-term President whom his critics used to call “the ...
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101 views

“Must of ” vs “must have”

I was browsing a completely unrelated site and came across the following interesting discussion on the ever increasing proliferation of the phrase, "must of": ... You mean "must have", btw. Or ...
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Should/can the idioms “on the one hand” and “on the other hand” both support the main issue

The motivation for this question came from this Software (C#) question "Why is it faster to check if dictionary contains the key, rather than catch the exception in case it doesn't?" and ...
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Is *to see something through* a productive phrasal verb?

Some verbs in English make the use of additional particles, often called prepositions, due to the fact that they are always homophonous. I do not call them adverbs because I claim they are not always ...
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78 views

Liquid Metaphors in the World of Finance

I want to use the terms in bold, to illustrate how these aquatic expressions can be used to a student of mine who is a trader. Obviously, I've exaggerated and greatly simplified the theme but I would ...
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When did “down” or “down with” in the sense of approval start to be used?

Uses include: "She's down," an absent member of a group is known to think something is a good idea or wants to do it and "I'm down with that," I like that idea, I want to do that, include me in, etc. ...
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What is a possible equivalent for *not worth the paper it's written on*

What is a possible modern equivalent, in our internet, and supposedly paperless age, of the expression not worth the paper it's written on.
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72 views

“One in a million” or “A million to one”?

Last week I took part in an English course, and the teacher was constantly saying a million to one (when he meant "an extremely small possibility"). Is this correct? Is it the same as one in a ...
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Common way to express that my guess is right [on hold]

How do you say to express your guess is right? Example You guessed Yankees would beat Red socks, and actually Yankees won. How do you express that your guess was right?
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822 views

What does “There’s less to the deal than meets the eye,” mean?

There was the following passage in New Yorker’s (November 18) article that came under the title, ”Is China really going green?”: “But here was President Xi Jinping pledging that, by 2030, his ...
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+100

Is the idiom “what price [something]?” used here in the sense of “how about [something]?” - or not?

An excerpt from the movie 49th Parallel (1941), a dialogue between heroes. (the bulk of it by an anthropologist (A) writing about Indian tribes of Canada) (A) Yes, I've discovered some rather ...
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How to start and finish an email/letter in a very formal/polite way? [closed]

What are some email polite regards for finish an email or an statement of purpose document in English?. I would like to be very polite and formal. I'm applying to graduate studies.
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60 views

An idiom for “seen clearly” or “plainly”

I'm looking for a way to convey how multiple things are very well seen from a certain vantage point. In my native language there is a very appealing expression for that, that can be translated as ...
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1answer
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Meaning of “Noble of us” idiom in context

It would be noble of us to not revel in it, though. The sentence above has some idioms that I don't know the whole meaning of the sentence. What dos it say? Or when such a sentence could be ...
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2answers
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His “get-up-and-go” is likely to have “got-up-and-gone” Any hidden meaning in this comment?

I once overheard a conversation between two young women on a long distance flight and one of them said: "He is past seventy, you know. His get-up-and-go is likely to have got-up-and gone." And they ...
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“To show for” correct usage

Came across this sentence in a newspaper article. "But as the months passed by quickly with little other than grand announcements and declarations to show for, the case for more hands at the wheel ...
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How to reply when someone says “How dare you do it” [closed]

I have no idea how to answer this: How dare you do it or How dare you do something that is unusual Is this a correct way of replying I dare it because I needed it Are there any ...
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2answers
173 views

Looking for an idiom regarding trust

In my country, we have an idiom which literally means : people will not trust you ever again if you don't keep your word even just for once Are there any idioms in English that is close enough to ...
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71 views

Use of the phrase “so that”

In my current understanding, after the phrase "so that" should be the purpose of the action/incident preceding to "so that". For example: Darwinism must die so that evolution may live. However I ...
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2answers
102 views

“Jimmy did his homework and so didn't his brother” Is this correct?

Shouldn't it be "...and so did his brother"? I got confused when I read the original sentence in an American newspaper some time ago. It read something like this: "US Representative from ...
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Is it pejorative to use “old girl” to refer to a woman?

Does it encompass any specific age group? (young, middle-aged, elderly, all of them) I heard it in an old film and read it once in sentences like: "Come on, old girl, cheer up." "Who is ...
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What is a saying for someone who does good in the street, but is bad at home?

In Spanish there is this saying "Candil de la calle, oscuridad de tu casa". Which is basically said to people who do good outside, e.g. at work or school, but does nothing good at home for his or her ...
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Can “probability” be used interchangeably with “rate”?

In a document about a barcode reader, I came across an expression "scanning probability" to indicate the percentage of successful reading of barcodes by the barcode reader in question. I would use ...
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Meaning of “a cockle of adventurers”?

Here is the complete first paragraph of Melville Davisson Post's The Doomdorf Mystery: The pioneer was not the only man in the great mountains behind Virginia. Strange aliens drifted in after the ...
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What does “at their doorstop death” mean?

I read an article on Time, entitled: Liberal Group Blames Republicans for Ebola in New ad. “I think any Republican who attempts to chalk this ad up to politics is a Republican who is too afraid ...
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19th century American equivalent of outlandish praise such as “crazy mf!”

Is there an 1850's working-class and/or Black equivalent of "crazy Mf!" used as praise?
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58 views

Can I say “something in your vibe” as an alternative idiom to “to vibe with something.”

I am searching for a slogan for my website named "Vibeware", and as you might have guessed, it is about software (the name itself being a result of playing around with the first letters in my name ...
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686 views

What’s the difference of ‘Truth with capital T” from truth with small t?

In New York Times (November 1) article titled “A cup of G.I Joe,” Maureen Dowd introduces the following remarks from Howard Schultz, the C.E.O. of Starbucks about Leadership. Dowd suspects if Shultz ...
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1answer
104 views

Idiomatic usage of “of which”

Taken from the Barron's SAT prep book: "Ron liked to play word games, of which he found crossword puzzles particularly satisfying." According to the answers this is an unidiomatic phrase ...
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114 views

What does “Picadillo” mean

I've heard expressions such as "He's had his picadillos" or "The Picadillos of his youth". But I can't seem to find any definitions on google (Maybe I'm just spelling it wrong? haha), only examples ...
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54 views

An old-fashioned synonym for “arrogant” and “thinking too high of oneself”

I can't remember this idiom which I once heard and means "arrogant". As I haven't heard it for a long time, say some 30 years, I presume it is outdated. It's a two-word idiom and sounds somewhat ...
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43 views

Do I understand this correctly?

I thanked someone really important for following me on Instagram. his reply: due time pal Does it mean that it was time to do so? thanks
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“He might could come Friday” - Can anyone use two modals for the same verb (and get away with it)? [duplicate]

I've heard someone use two modals for the same verb more than once, in an American film. It looked like an old movie, perhaps from the 70s. The other sentence was: "I might could help you." I wonder ...
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2answers
55 views

Deciphering of William Henley's “Bus-Driver”: put 'a bit on'?

This beautiful sonnet, "Bus-Driver" by William Henley, is studded with idioms, some of which are hard to understand. I've bolded one part (of the two) I don't understand: He’s called The General ...
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53 views

How do I use this idiom ? “ pins and needles ” naturally?

I'm just curious. how can I use this " pins and needles " idiom naturally in everyday life ? like "Ouooch I had pins and needles right now ! " or "Ouooch I have pins and needles right now ! ...
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352 views

Meaning and origin of “put a wrinkle on one's horn”

While investigating a recent EL&U question (What does "throw a wrinkle" mean?), I came across the unusual expression “put a wrinkle on [or in] one’s horn [or horns].” I have three ...
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75 views

What does “throw a wrinkle” mean?

What does "throw a wrinkle" mean? Example: "I’ve got a conversation with Jacob later today that may throw a wrinkle in…"
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What's the meaning of “if anything else”?

I don't seem to understand the exact meaning of "if anything else" in the beginning portion of the sentence below. I think I could use your help to understand what it actually means. If anything ...
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Are there figurative or idiomatic English expressions to mean hindering a person in achieving work / attempt?

When I said “Don’t pull my legs,” in English as a literal translation of Japanese idiom, “足を引っ張る-ashi o hipparu - pull one’s leg” meaning “trip a person up with a mistake” to my English enthusiast ...
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“in these cases use is the best guide”

Please, explain the meaning of the phrase "in these cases use is the best guide". I can't find it in a dictionary. No context. thanks in advance)
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5answers
1k views

Someone who “eats like a …” is someone who eats a lot or has a huge appetite

There was this Chinese TV quiz show and one question was a multiple choice question about English sayings/idioms. It went something like this: In the English idiom, someone who "eats like a [fill in ...
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44 views

What does it mean to show sympathy for the other ticket [closed]

In the movie "All The President's Men", the vice president says that at the airport. What does it mean? What is "the other ticket" referring to?
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105 views

What's the meaning of “pillage and plunder”? [closed]

In the last episode of "Once Upon a Time" (S04E04 - The Apprentice) there was this dialog: Girl: Well, I don't pillage and plunder on the first date, just so you know. Man: Well, that's because ...
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1answer
73 views

How to use “sous vide” in a sentence

First, I'm not sure if sous vide is a trademark or just a cooking method like boil or fry. How should I use sous vide in a sentence when writing a recipe?
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Similar to “burning a hole in my pocket” but for www shopping cart?

I like this: "Got three dollars burning a hole in my pocket". Are there other expressions or phrases with similar meaning? Actually, I want to know what the creative English speakers will write ...
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Hard on the outside but soft on the inside (personality attribute)?

What is a single word (or idiom, or metaphor) that can be used to describe a person's personality that is "hard" or "tough" on the outside, but sensitive and soft on the inside? Something that says: ...
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4answers
121 views

What would be a modern equivalent for “A curtain lecture”?

I chanced on this expression while reading a book by David Crystal. In a chapter dedicated to words that have disappeared from the English language, he mentions this gem in Samuel Johnson's ...
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296 views

Why is “to switch gears” used for “to change topic”?

The expressions to switch gears, to shift gears are often (too often for my taste, but that is a different matter) used to announce a switch from one topic to another in an oral presentation ...
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3answers
80 views

Is there a phrase that is the opposite of “putting two and two together”? [closed]

I've been looking for a phrase that would describe the opposite of putting two and two together. For example: "I thought Cindy's murder had everything to do with Mark's disappearance, but as it ...