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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1answer
64 views

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

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 ...
2
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1answer
65 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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3answers
77 views

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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3answers
76 views

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: ...
2
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4answers
97 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 ...
9
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3answers
248 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 ...
2
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3answers
66 views

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

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 ...
2
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5answers
239 views

What is the best Bible translation by which I can speak proper English if I read it enough times? [closed]

Since over one month I'm reading in over eight different Bible translations in order to find out whose English language is most adapted for today's English language, including grammar, idioms and ...
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0answers
11 views

Most common and usual way to say “to the client's request/demand”, “if desired”, “requesting further negotiations”? [closed]

Most common and usual way to say "to the client's request/demand", "if desired", "requesting further negotiations" ?
41
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16answers
6k views

Alternative expression for “xyz Nazi”

I'm not a native English speaker, but I do understand and personally appreciate the use of the term "xyz Nazi" to say that someone is a bit dogmatic about their point of view, without necessarily ...
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3answers
36 views

“Meandered about” or “meandered around”?

Consider a person who slowly wanders through a large room. Would such a person "meander about" or "meander around" the room? John meandered _____ the hall. Since it is customary to write "walked ...
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1answer
55 views

Is there an idiomatic expression in English for a baby urinating?

I'm translating a children's story from Russian into English, and there is a phrase that I'm having trouble translating into a way that sounds natural in English. A baby boy urinates unexpectedly and ...
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0answers
25 views

Idiom for “even if we can't be together, I'd like us to do this at the same time”

For example, in a long distance relationship one might say "I am headed to bed and you are welcome to join me, if only (what to say here? 'In spirit'?)" The implication being he wishes the two of ...
0
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1answer
35 views

Idioms/phrases for “I won't get in the way?”

Example: "Me and Jake? Don't worry I'm a lesbian. You have [...]." (Meaning she's not going to get in the way). I can only thing of having a clear track. Not sure if it's common, though, since ...
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3answers
172 views

Quote or Idiom about a tree in a storm

I am trying to recall an idiom I heard a long time ago (could be a line from a poem or novel perhaps), that dealt with the appearance of strength even until the last moments before something is about ...
0
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1answer
47 views

Will that be fine?

Quite a few times now, a waiter or shop assistant has asked me: Will that be fine? I've noticed that I've only ever heard Indian English speakers use this turn of phrase. To my (British) ear, ...
3
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1answer
206 views

Should we say “they are high enough as they are” or “they are high enough as it is.”?

I've heard on TV: "We really hope property taxes won't be increased; they are high enough as they are." Would it be ungrammatical to say "...they are high enough as it is."?
2
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1answer
80 views

Meaning and use of girl child

I just stumbled across the name of the United Nations' International Day of the Girl Child To be honest, I have never heard the term "girl child" before, and could not find it in online ...
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0answers
40 views

When/where/why did “Look who it ain't/isn't” appear?

It seems to me that... "Well! Look who it ain't!" ...is/was normally used quite dismissively, referring to a newly-arrived person of low social status, who the speaker would often then proceed ...
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1answer
41 views

Definition of “ How Shakespearian” [closed]

Could you explain what " How Shakespearian" means? I've heard it recently but I can't remember in which situation the phrase was used.
8
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2answers
458 views

Is “It (North Korea) had a deep bench of (brutal madmen)” a common English phrase?

New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz Report (October 10) runs an article under the title, “North Korean government reassures citizens “It had deep bench of brutal madmen.” It begins with the following passage: ...
3
votes
1answer
60 views

Why do we say “Eastern Europe” but “East Asia”?

My girlfriend, who is not a native English speaker, asked me this yesterday: why are some geographical regions prefixed with the nouns North, South, East and West, but others are prefixed with the ...
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2answers
34 views

On second glance, at second glance, on a second glancing, etc

Unfortunately, I've seen all of these being used in very similar contexts: On second glance On a second glance On a second glancing I'm asumming there's no different for this idiom no ...
1
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1answer
65 views

Meaning of Roll sevens or Rolling sevens

What is the meaning of the phrase " you rolled them sevens with nothing to lose " ? In the song entitled " The weary kind " which is a sound track of the "Crazy heart" movie , there is a line that i ...
3
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3answers
56 views

Does “to be on the surface” mean to make something known to the public?

Can I use the expression "be on the surface" to mean that somebody finally makes himself known to the general public? For example They have been ignored so far by the public, but they are now ...
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2answers
58 views

Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Is there a term for a word like Democratic in Democratic People's Republic of Korea? The key point here is that the word is being used precisely because it's false. It has something in common with a ...
2
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2answers
148 views

In the phrase “man enough”, is man an adjective?

I do realize that the phrase "to be man enough" is an idiom. But I wonder what is the grammatical/syntactic role that man plays in it. Is it an uncountable noun? An adjective? An adverb? Or perhaps ...
4
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2answers
366 views

Meaning of “It was a line”

The title sentence is a dialogue from "Friends" (the sitcom): Monica has become acquainted with a man named Paul. On a date Paul says to Monica: "Since my girlfriend left me I haven't had sex with ...
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4answers
68 views

Alternate phrase for “be damned” to avoid profanity

How could you rephrase something like this usage of "be damned" to avoid profanity, but without losing the emphasis conveyed by the idiom itself? I'm going to ask this question on StackExchange, ...
3
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1answer
111 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 ...
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2answers
45 views

What is the meaning of “I can make the deadline.” [closed]

What is the meaning of "I can make the deadline." Someone said "I can make it by the deadline". Thank you in advance!
1
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2answers
89 views

Why “broke” and not “broken” in “If it ain't broke, don't fix it”?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it an idiom says. Why isn't it If it ain't broken, don't fix it On the other hand the lyrics of a song "Victory" played by a band "Deliverance" are as follows: ...
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3answers
56 views

Expression denoting exclusivity

Can anyone think of an idiomatic expression in English to show how exclusive something is? What I'm looking for is an expression that will instantly communicate to a native English speaker that only ...
0
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0answers
19 views

What is the difference among “at the outset”, “from the beginning”, and “at the beginning”?

Let me tell you at the outset that <-- sounds right Let me tell you from the beginning that <-- doesn't sound right Let me tell you at the beginning that <-- doesn't sound as right as #1 ...
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3answers
43 views

idiom for unintended consequences

I am looking for a phrase/idiom that expresses the risk of unforeseen consequences of an action. Fake context: someone develops a treatment for cancer that is later found to cause Alzheimer's. So far, ...
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votes
5answers
718 views

“like a duck takes to water” vs “like a fish takes to water”

I am aware of the idiom like a fish out of water. What intrigued me is an article using like a fish takes to water. Teo Zhen Ren, the swimming sensation from Singapore, took to swimming like a ...
5
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3answers
1k views

Is “pass peach seeds” an idiom or just a figurative expression?

I was drawn to the phrase “pass peach seeds” in Thomas Harris’s novel “The Silence of the Lambs,” which I started to read last month and from whose text I have posted several questions, including one ...
1
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1answer
74 views

How did the meaning of “come off” as “succeed” or “take place” originate?

Example sentences: A television series that never came off (from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary) He tried his Chaplin impression, but it didn't really come off. (from Wiktionary) The match ...
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5answers
54 views

A sports team that has a consistent record of beating another one

I am looking for a word or a concise expression for a sports team A that over a period of time has a consistent record of beating a rival sports team B. It is not necessary that A are better than B. ...
5
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3answers
102 views

What is the origin and sense of the phrase “put up or shut up”?

In researching the recent EL&U question Origins and Interpretations of "Put your money where your mouth is", I repeatedly came across the seemingly related but older phrase “put up or ...
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2answers
72 views

What is the provenance of “ring the cherries”?

I was drawn to the phrase, “ring the cherries” in the following passage in Thomas Harris’ “The Silence of Lambs” in a part officer, Jerry Burroughs telling the profile of a suspect killer to FBI ...
22
votes
6answers
4k views

An English idiom for “solve a problem that has been solved”?

In Polish, and I believe in a number of other European languages, there is an idiomatic expression which translates to "to force a door which is already open". It is used to describe a situation when ...
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5answers
2k views

Preparing for metric dominance: alternatives to idioms using imperial units

Related to this question, are there any metric alternatives to these idioms: He inches closer to her. a. meters? - too far b. centimeters? - too weird c. scoots? - don't use units By ...
0
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0answers
17 views

Difference between anything but and anything other than? [duplicate]

If I say "anything but ordinary", it means it is not ordinary, it is unique and different. What if "anything other than ordinary"? Does it mean the same as "anything but ordinary" or does it simplify ...
3
votes
3answers
89 views

Where and when did the phrase “turkey of the year” originate? [closed]

Was it meant to be an objurgation, an insult, a jocose remark, or something else? And does it have the same meaning today as it had then?" Definitions of “turkey” (when used to refer to a person) ...
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2answers
95 views

Origin of phrase “pulling for you”

When somebody is going through a difficult life situation, people will commonly say, "We're pulling for you." Where did this term come from? It sounds rather strange!
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2answers
57 views

Is there a word for the act of butchering a language for the sake of a joke?

My friend and I (may or may not be the same one from my other question) were chatting the other day and we came to a discussion about the idiom tit-for-tat. tit-for-tat (informal) a tit-for-tat ...
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2answers
54 views

Is there a word that strictly means “mutual understanding?”

In an essay I've written, I come to realize something. Someone else understands that I've just realized this something. The engendered sense of achievement and understanding . . . In this ...
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4answers
89 views

Is there an antonym for the idiom “…remains to be seen” [closed]

I was using "...the truth remains to be seen" in a sentence when I realized I meant the opposite of this. I'm looking a phrase antithetical to this idiom, that follows the same (empirical) line of ...
10
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3answers
823 views

Idioms, how do they work?

So, my friend and I were chatting the other day. I, being a new father, sent him a picture of my clothesline completely full of my daughter's diapers. Then this dialogue happened: My friend: Woah, ...