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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the night before last

"It was the dog he'd heard the night before last." How should I change "the night before last" in reported speech? He said it had been the dog that he had heard...
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3answers
654 views

How to say it: Fleeing from responsibility

Is it common in English to use the following idiom: "He flees from responsibility"? Or is there some more common form of saying this?
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1answer
112 views

What is the meaning of “One for the kitchen, one for the soul”? [closed]

I want to know the proper meaning of this expression: One for the kitchen, one for the soul
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0answers
47 views

Is “face-off” a misnomer?

In ice hockey, the face-off is the method of starting play. The two teams line up in opposition to each other, and two opposing skaters try to gain control of the puck after it is dropped between ...
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1answer
30 views

What does “a curious mix of a man” mean?

Context The top-secret American operation to build and use the atom bomb would challenge the humanitarian values on which democracy is built. It was led by one of the most intriguing minds of the ...
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1answer
56 views

Meaning of “Banksy’s your bag”

In the article about Dismaland there is a paragraph saying: Inside the walls of a derelict seaside swimming resort in Weston-super-Mare, UK, mysterious construction over the last ...
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1answer
42 views

'Later' of 'See you later'

See you! See you later! Is there any nuance by adding later or not?
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2answers
81 views

What is another way of saying “No more likely?”

A No more likely than B B No less likely than A What is a good way of saying "No more likely?"
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6answers
142 views

Is there a pejorative word for “poor” that can be used in a self-deprecating way?

I was trying to translate Portuguese-language expression pé-rapado into English, which literally means "grated/rasped/shaved foot", but that probably makes no sense in English. I'm not sure those ...
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5answers
5k views

Why “the powers that be”?

In the phrase "the powers that be," as in the sentence: It would never have occurred to the powers that be to run and supervise the National Lottery from anywhere but London. Oxford ...
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1answer
51 views

Etymology of ~Getting into someone's “kitchen”~

Popular in the 80s and early 90s in Black-American culture, but I doubt it made it into many books so we may be at a loss. The meaning, quite visual, is walking into someone's house and banging all ...
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2answers
61 views

Which is correct: '. . . mistaken on two counts' or '. . . mistaken on two accounts'?

Both appear to be used in academic writing. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any information on the idiom.
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1answer
43 views

What is said to check on a planned date?

When you have preplanned a date for something with a friend or a group of people and you want to ask if they are still committed to it and it's sort of a reminder Are on date? That doesn't seem ...
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1answer
45 views

Meaning of “not so apt to be solicited”

In 1852, a US senator complained that the head of the census bureau presented medical statistics to congress when he lacked expertise in the field. When the bureau chief told the senator of the ...
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2answers
89 views

word or phrase for 'collective serendipity' or win-win situation

I'm looking for a word or a phrase which describes, a change in situation having positive effect or being equally beneficial to both parties involved. eg. one fears not being able to make it to a ...
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1answer
74 views

Meaning and usage of “a bull in a china shop” [closed]

While I can kinda guess the meaning of the idiom a bull in a china shop, I would like to learn the proper meaning. And in what situations can I use this idiom properly?
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1answer
47 views

“Bring to a boil” vs. “bring to the boil”

Which is grammatically correct? Are both valid? Is it perhaps regional? Bringing something to a boil. Bringing something to the boil. I've always heard and said it "a boil" until I heard the cooks ...
3
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1answer
58 views

The rain/snow/storm “let up”

What does "let up" denote in "the rain/storm has let up so we can go out/drive back home"? With a context lacking clarity, should it be understood as, "the [hard] rain/storm has lessened up to a ...
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2answers
293 views

Is “star wars” equivalent to “wars of the stars” ? Then how about “world war”? [duplicate]

I have some questions: Why "star wars" and not "stars wars"? Is "star wars" equivalent to "wars of the stars"? In French it would be "les guerres des etoiles", what about the English version? If ...
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1answer
40 views

what is a “Tragic missed opportunity”? [closed]

What is "A tragic missed opportunity."? Context: It (The fight between Russia Tsar and landowners) was a tragic missed opportunity. Had the Tsar had pulled this off, Russian history would have been ...
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4answers
370 views

Meaning of “win-the-cycle crap”

In the CBS TV political drama Madam Secretary, Season 1 Episode 17, Secretary of State comes back from Iran after successfully stopping a coup secretly plotted by some Iranian anti-government ...
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2answers
313 views

Since when has “wallflower” been used to refer to men?

Dictionaries these days define wallflower as a shy or unpopular person not dancing at a party (see Merriam-Webster for instance). Etymonline says the first recorded use of the word in this sense was ...
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2answers
60 views

Is a “wall-prop” a non-dancer at a ball?

Kipling uses the word that way in “A Friend’s Friend”, Plain Tales from the Hills, 1888. The fictional Kipling takes his guest Jevon to a ball, and Jevon gets hopelessly drunk, annoys everybody, and ...
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4answers
116 views

Single-word or idiom request to mean “overshoot the runway” and its etymology

In yesterday's Outfront anchored by Erin Burnett, she and one of the panelists exchanged the below conversation: Burnett: So, Van, Clinton was wrong technically in terms of there's been no ...
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3answers
75 views

How to say “I had cleaned at home”? [closed]

I can't find a similar sentence in Google. I'm trying to say that I already have done cleaning in my apartments and in the process of it I ... etc. Is "A couple months ago, we had cleaned at the ...
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2answers
56 views

Etymology of the phrase “goof off”

It seems clear to be an American idiom with the approximate meaning, "to waste time or procrastinate." My curiosity is about its possible relation to the Goofy, the Disney cartoon character.
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2answers
54 views

What is the origin of the idiom 'a beam in one's eye'?

I already understand and so ask not about this idiom's meaning. Though some idioms fail the Principle of Compositionality, this idiom seems to derive from imagery and so its semantic shift can be ...
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3answers
80 views

What idioms could be used to say you are a close relative with someone?

Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë are such talented writers. No wonder, they are cut from the same cloth. To be cut from the same cloth means to be very similar, according to Cambridge Idioms ...
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1answer
45 views

“Quality cannot be tested in” idiom

Please explain to me the meaning of an idiom “Quality cannot be tested in”. The context is as follows (from the book How Google Tests Software): “Quality cannot be tested in” is so cliché it has ...
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3answers
663 views

Is it correct to say “She hid quite a figure behind the wardrobe”? [closed]

I'm writing a story for my English class. Does the following sentence effectively mean that she had a good figure behind her dress? She hid quite a figure behind the Wardrobe. Does it apply to ...
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2answers
73 views

Usage of the slang “a man Friday” in English conversation

Our Boss was talking with someone and he said, The office clerk typist is our man Friday. Does the Boss mean the clerk typist is the person who he/she trust? And can I use this slang for a ...
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3answers
69 views

Idiom/Phrase for “results without work/effort”

I'd be greatly appreciative of a cleverly devised idiom/phrase that depicts the following concept: Results without work/effort. ...and/or... My Work/Effort; Your Result. Any idioms/phrases ...
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3answers
2k views

Is it “chalk it up to” or “chock it up to”?

Grammarist & Our beloved StackExchange both say that the phrase "Chalk it up to" dates back to, among other things, debts being tallied on a chalkboard. However, when I hear the phrase "chock it ...
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1answer
69 views

Is “be sleeping with a person in charge” a common metaphor or idiom for “being favored by that person”?

I couldn't find it in the Oxford Idioms Dictionary, but I've heard it a couple times from people who'd been unjustly favored over, and who possibly didn't mean to imply a sexual relationship: ...
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1answer
117 views

Meaning of “have one's fingers in every pie”

What is the meaning of "have one's fingers in every pie"? I know it is an idiom, but I can't find its meaning in any online dictionary. Also, I want to ask if it is a neutral phrase or if it has ...
14
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1answer
191 views

Etymology of “Horsengoggle”

(Note to the dyslexic: be sure NOT to confuse this with “Google”.) Horse and goggle --> Horse 'n' goggle --> Horsengoggle There is a Wikipedia entry for this hand game: a kind of ...
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2answers
63 views

Is there any difference between “from the beginning” and “in the beginning”?

I am not sure if this is correct. I feel that from the beginning implies something that lasts until now, while in the beginning implies something that only existed at the beginning. Please correct me ...
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3answers
82 views

What does it mean to be in a “complete” muddle?

People talk of a complete mess, a complete failure, a complete success, a complete misunderstanding...etc. What do they mean by complete? In what sense can a failure, a sense of inferiority, a ...
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19answers
2k views

Word/Idiom/Phrase to describe a stage in a project's life-cycle when you are stuck and thus no progress is happening?

Sometimes while working on a project, we get stuck. We run into a problem which we are not able to solve despite of trying for some time (a few days or weeks). Sometimes we don't even know what is ...
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1answer
32 views

What does «spec-speak» mean?

There is a sentence in this article: Continue reading to begin your crash course in PC spec-speak. Googling gave some links to MaximumPC and another article with the title «Architectual ...
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1answer
57 views

Is it okay to use “to have a picture of something” when you mean having an idea and a qualitative understanding of sth?

I want to use "to have a picture of ..." in a sentence like this: to have a picture of this process we applied some theory to the system ... Which by "to have a picture" i mean to have a ...
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1answer
70 views

On a side note vs. on a different note?

Is it grammatically correct if I write: On a side note, should I expect an e-mail/telephone call from you confirming my NHO date? I am not sure if you are able to obtain/verify all the required ...
1
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1answer
45 views

Meaning of “___ does not pretend to speak for everyone”

"The committee does not pretend to speak for every member of the association" What are some of the meanings behind the sentence above? Is this sentence used to suggest that the committee works hard ...
2
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3answers
88 views

A specific expression that means “a child is the exact opposite of his parent(s)”

I am looking for a specific expression or phrase that means "a child is the exact opposite of his parent(s)" Is there an opposite idiom, phrase or expression of the saying: Like father, like ...
3
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2answers
58 views

to almost meet someone at some place

Is there a common way to say in English that two people were in the same place but didn't know at the time about each other and eventually didn't meet? I know one can say they passed each other on ...
3
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2answers
72 views

I know what “so help me God” is used for, but what does it actually mean?

The phrase is of course very well known: Do you promise to say the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God? I used to interpret “so help me God” as: (a) God help me ...
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4answers
157 views

Why do we say “it's not even funny” after something that is not funny at all?

"My head hurts so bad, it's not even funny." Why would my head hurting be funny in the first place? It's already clearly not a joking matter. Why "guard" it from being a laughing matter, then? I get ...
3
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1answer
86 views

The meaning of ''give up''

If Molière had given himself up to his abyss, Pascal — with his — would look like a journalist. E. M. Cioran, All Gall is Divided What does ''give up'' means here? Does it mean that Molière decided ...
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2answers
112 views

“I am filled with pity” vs “I am pitiful”

If I am filled with pity for an individual / group (eg - the Syrian situation), I would probably say, "I am filled with pity for the individuals concerned," as opposed to "I am pitiful for the ...
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2answers
29 views

“means of” vs “mean of” [closed]

When you use "means of" as a way to say a method eg. means of identification, do you always use means and not mean? Or does it depend on the subject? I have googled it but am still not sure.