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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2answers
56 views

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
203 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
31 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
110 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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11answers
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
61 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
245 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
100 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
181 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 ...
0
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1answer
30 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
57 views

“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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2answers
45 views

Words confuse- prefecture, county and shire.

How could I distinguish the usage between the prefecture and county? In my opinion, I think "shire" is smaller than a county or prefecture. Is there any problem with my concept?
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10answers
4k views

Are there English figurative expressions equivalent to Japanese idiom 馬耳東風 meaning a person who doesn’t listen to other’s advice?

North wind tells the arrival of spring season in Japan. And incidentally, we have an idiom, “馬耳東風,” of which literal translation is ‘the east wind to the ears of horse,’ meaning a person who doesn’t ...
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2answers
62 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, ...
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6answers
109 views

Long trip for small reward?

There's a German idiom (I think) for a long trip for a small reward. For example, driving from New York to Boston to buy a roast beef sandwich. Has a connotation of taking a trip for the trip's sake. ...
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12answers
4k views

phrases: “marry a guy and he'll provide”

Trying to find a similar phrase to this Chinese phrase: 嫁汉嫁汉,穿衣吃饭 which basically means if a woman marries a guy, then the guy will provide food and clothing. I can't think of anything off the top ...
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5answers
17k views

What's the origin of “water under the bridge”?

What's the origin/background of the phrase "water under the bridge"? To what does it allude? I understand it means to let bygones be bygones--to move on from the past. But I don't think I understand ...
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2answers
2k views

“Nuke the fridge”

I don't get what this phrase means. I tried googling it, but the answers weren't satisfactory. Could someone please tell me its meaning? I'm guessing it has something to do with TV shows (I first ...
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5answers
3k views

Word or phrase for someone who annoys you as soon as they walk in and start talking

Looking for both a journalistic and perhaps playful term. In a journalistic sense, how would I describe a CEO figure who holds a company meeting and the employees are either annoyed, bored, or rolling ...
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3answers
14k views

Grammar parsing for “if need be”

I have the following question. There is an idiom 'if need be'. The meaning is clear, but I can't comprehend it from a grammatical point of view. How should I parse it? 'if [smth] needs to be'? Why not ...
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2answers
10k views

Implication of “Everything is relative”

Does the phrase “It's all relative” mean that everything is quantifiable in terms of individual perception or opinion? In other words, we all have different opinions or viewpoints with regard to a ...
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5answers
969 views

Opposite of “straight talk”

What is the opposite for the straight talk idiom? How do I best call the activity when someone makes a very long preamble before he says what he wants?
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4answers
89k views

Meaning of “reach out to somebody”

The dictionary explains this as: To show somebody that you are interested in them and/or want to help them The explanation indicates the subject of the sentence is the one that offers help, but ...
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2answers
4k views

Is “make due” now considered acceptable?

Whilst plodding through Patrick Rothfuss' "The Name of the Wind", I came across: Our dinner was nowhere near as grand as last night's. We made due with the last of my now-stale flatbread, dried ...
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4answers
17k views

Origin of the idiom “go south”

What's the origin of the idiom go south? Why is it go south only? Why not go southwest or go east? Are the direction-related idioms go south, go north, go east, and go west correlated? Example, go ...
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3answers
1k views

Does “to flatline” only means “to die”, or can it refer to an actual flat graph?

I was looking at this ngram which features a flat line meaning absolutely no usage of the word I was looking for. I thought about describing it in these terms: The Google ngram clearly flatlines ...
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4answers
3k views

'Between the lines' or 'read between the lines'

Do there exist any circumstances where any verb other than read is used with between the lines? That is, is between the lines an independent and complete idiom, or is it incomplete and meaningless ...
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11answers
48k views

Origin of the term 'country mile'?

A 'country mile' is a term used casually in some areas of the English-speaking world to refer to a very great distance, but what's the origin of the term? Obviously 'mile' refers to what could be ...
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5answers
6k views

What is the story behind the phrase 'as it were'? Where did it come from?

This is a question my High School English teacher could not answer 20-odd years ago and every time I encounter it, it bugs me. I only know what it means in terms of other phrases such as 'per se'. I ...
20
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6answers
40k views

Why does “tell me about it” not mean “tell me about it”?

A commonly used American phrase, but one that still baffles me if I stop and think about it. Why does "tell me about" actually mean, "I understand what you're talking about as I have experienced it ...
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3answers
4k views

Please teach me how to use ‘hot diggity’, and the meaning of ‘corkscrew twists’

Theater reviews of newspapers are one of very valuable sources for me to fish for novel and intriguing expressions to foreign English learner like me. Recently, I found two words quite strange to me ...
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7answers
10k views

Is “below par” good or bad?

I realize a lot of English expressions derive from sports: "his presentation was a slam-dunk," "she really fumbled through that," or "that's pretty much par for the course." I don't play golf, but I ...
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2answers
966 views

Origin of phrase “open-and-shut” as in “it's not an open-and-shut case”

I used the phrase "open-and-shut" today, as in, "It's not an open-and-shut case", meaning that the item under discussion has not been decided and the outcome is not obvious. I don't think I've ever ...
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3answers
68k views

What does “I stand corrected” mean? [closed]

When someone says I stand corrected. What does that mean?
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4answers
5k views

What is the meaning of the phrase “a man of the world”?

The name of one of the Ernest Hemingway's short stories is "A man of the world". It seems to me that I understand the meaning of this phrase out from the context of the short story. But all the same ...