3
votes
1answer
109 views

Meaning of: “The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right”

This is a Mark Twain aphorism: The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. This is apparently intended to be easily understood, but the ...
2
votes
1answer
73 views

“Rule the Roast” and “Rule the Roost”

John Ayto, Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms (2009) has this entry for "rule the roost": rule the roost be in complete control The original expression was rule the roast, which was common ...
5
votes
9answers
625 views

What's the English idiom/saying to describe that the chosen word is not correct?

I mean that the word used is too light or too subtle to describe the gravity of the situation? For example (an artificial example): the tsunami starts, the incredibly big waves are coming to the ...
2
votes
4answers
167 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?
21
votes
12answers
4k views

Are there English equivalents to the Japanese saying, “There’s a god who puts you down as well as a god who picks you up”?

There is an old Japanese saying, “捨てる神あれば、拾う神あり-Suterukami areba hirou kami ari,” meaning “There’s a god who puts you down as well as a god who picks up you.” In other words, “In this world, some ...
2
votes
5answers
2k views

A word that represents a group of people working to achieve a common goal or dream

I am working on a project that involves bringing people together who share common goals or dreams. Is there a word or phrase to describe groups of people who are working together to accomplish these ...
1
vote
1answer
458 views

Flog meaning to sell in “Flogging a dead horse”

I saw an article recently where the author used the term "flogging a dead horse" where the term flogging was meant in the UK slang sense of "to sell".It was accompanied by a drawing of a stuffed horse ...
1
vote
1answer
929 views

Difference between tomorrow never comes and tomorrow will never come

What is the difference between tomorrow never comes and tomorrow will never come? A friend said that Tomorrow never comes is a saying. Then Why is the latter not a saying too? Are their meanings the ...
7
votes
6answers
361 views

“Soldier sleeps - the service continues” (Russian idiom/saying)

What are English equivalents for following Russian idiom: "soldier sleeps - the service continues"? In Russian it means that "you have a rest, but your work is still being done". UPD from comments: ...
1
vote
1answer
160 views

Who translated “He's a muddled fool, full of lucid intervals.” [closed]

I have revised herein my question of Aug 18 and update my research based on the most helpful suggestions of Peter Schor and tchrist of Aug 18, 2013. I'm not a Cervantista and don't speak Spanish. ...
2
votes
5answers
805 views

What does Pope Francis’s remark, “You can always add more water to the beans,” mean?

In connection with my question about Pope Francis’s remark I posted today, there was the following statement in the same article of New York Times (July 29): “In contrast, Francis spoke on the ...
1
vote
0answers
27 views

“I am yet to see” versus “I have yet to see” [duplicate]

What is the difference between I am yet to see X and I have yet to see X and in which situations would each be preferred?
0
votes
2answers
173 views

An idiom for “going with the most likely option”

What's an idiom for the action of going for the most likely / most appropriate option? I had been saying "placing my bets with _" but it turns out that doesn't exist :D Must have got it from "hedge ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Is there an idiom beginning “when a dog is cornered”?

Is there any saying in a complete sentence including “a dog which is cornered”? I have tried to find a complete one, but there seems to be no one. Actually, what I want to know is how to explain the ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

What is a more politically correct way to call something a “Red-Headed Step-Child”?

I can't use the phrase "second-class citizen" either. This is for a professional blog post, so I'd rather stay away from "red-headed step-child". I can't use "second-class citizen" because I'm ...
4
votes
5answers
2k views

“Best is enemy of the good” (Russian idiom/saying)

What are English equivalents for following Russian idiom: "best is enemy of the good"? In Russian it means that if you are going too much after perfection you may make things even worse instead of ...
11
votes
1answer
305 views

Meaning of “match Greek with Greek”

From Christmas Storms and Sunshine by Elizabeth Gaskell (4th paragraph): Jenkins had his wife too. Wives were wanting to finish the completeness of the quarrel, which existed one memorable ...
36
votes
10answers
5k views

“To shoot out of cannon into sparrows”

In Russian we have idiom/saying "To shoot out of cannon into sparrows" (literal translation) which is used to convey an idea of applying too drastic measures to small problems. I believe there should ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Expression for “someone who's clueless of their surroundings”?

What is an expression or saying you could use to describe someone that is totally clueless of their surroundings?
13
votes
5answers
14k views

Is it “a tough row to hoe?”, or “a tough road to hold?”

Is it an old farming metaphor, or a military saying? Where did this(these) saying(s) originate?
1
vote
6answers
583 views

A phrase for ignoring the disparity at a low level, while seeking commonality at a high level

I'm having a hard time describing the phrase I'm looking for, so I think the best way to ask the question is to simply present the problem. At work I've been tasked with merging the guidelines (the ...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

Why is the term “double-edged sword” used for something that can be favorable and unfavorable?

When something can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences, the term double-edged sword is often used to describe it. Why? Does a double-edged sword have unfavorable consequences? Are ...
13
votes
14answers
5k views

Phrase for focusing on unimportant details

I'm looking for an idiom or saying that I could use when people are focusing too much on small details and not seeing the big picture. A couple that come to mind are "being penny-wise and pound ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

Sayings similar to “a picture is worth a thousand words”

I' m looking for a common saying or catchphrase that has the same meaning as "a picture is worth a thousand words". I need this as a title for an article that illustrates that point in a specific ...
2
votes
1answer
912 views

Idiomatic expression related to “cat-putting” [closed]

I lived in a scholarship house for all of one year when I was in college (in the US). At the end of every year, they held an event that they called "The Cat-Putting" in which a few residents would ...
5
votes
6answers
21k views

What is the origin of the saying, “faint heart never won fair lady”?

Having heard the phrase, "faint heart never won fair lady" for the third time in very short span, I'm determined to find out its origin. Unfortunately, when I Google, I'm getting a bunch of ...
4
votes
3answers
18k views

More idioms like “needle in a haystack” relevant to hidden/hard to find items? [closed]

Are there more idioms, sayings or phrases similar to "needle in a haystack" that are relevant to hidden objects, or difficult to find items? Also interested in similar nouns relevant to the somewhat ...
7
votes
9answers
29k views

Is it 'Close to the chest' or 'Close to the vest'?

Apologies if this is a duplicate, I am just curious. Are they both valid? Which originated first?
13
votes
3answers
18k views

Which is the correct idiom: “First thing's first” or “First things first”?

I've gotten into a debate over which usage of an apostrophe in the phrase "first thing(')s first" is correct. My thinking is that one would take the first thing and give it priority, hence the first ...