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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2
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3answers
90 views

“to have merchant's ears”

Is the expression "to have merchant's ears" an idiom or a recognized adage, meaning "pretending not to understand"? Please explain with examples or provide a better idiomatic phrase.
5
votes
3answers
72 views

What do we 'turn round and say'?

Often you will hear people say something like 'He turned round and called me a liar', or 'what if she turns round and refuses to pay'. This 'turn round' (I am informed it is much less used in ...
3
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5answers
413 views

English idiom related to time

I wonder what is the English idiom with the following meaning. "There are two opinions and only time could decide what is true". It should be something like "survive time's exam" or something like ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

What does “Nothing doing as he took it right to him” mean?

I regularly read chess articles on chessbase.com and quite often I find myself struggling with the English they are using. Sometimes it just doesn't feel correct. OK, I am not a native English speaker ...
0
votes
2answers
42 views

The meaning of “minking it”

There's a line in the musical Guys and Dolls: When you see a Joe saving half of his dough, You can bet he'll be minking it for some doll. My initial instinct is that this is a ...
3
votes
2answers
132 views

What is the prototype of “Place blame where it is deserved / Blame where it’s due / Blame only where blame is due”?

New Yorker (June 13) carries an article written by John Cassidy under the title, “The Iraq mess: Place blame where it is deserved.” I thought the phrase, “Place blame where it is deserved” is a ...
2
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2answers
56 views

“On/over the phone” [closed]

Which version is correct? As discussed with you over the phone. As discussed with you on the phone.
2
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2answers
61 views

(almost solved) “all I had to see me through”: Explain & how to look up?

Edit: Supplemented "through" in the title. I tried an intermediate summary after the original questions. It seems that "all I had to see me" simply means "all I had", or "all that was available for ...
4
votes
2answers
588 views

Meaning of 'a third leg'

When Dr. Barclay was called, I was surprised. I had expected an elderly man, but he was only in the late thirties and good-looking. Knowing Elinor, I wondered. Except for Fred, who had no looks ...
8
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2answers
244 views

why do some people call green peppers mangoes?

I have heard people from Lima, Ohio refer to green peppers as mangoes. How did that come about?
0
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1answer
67 views

Is “Arriving late to the party, but dancing on all the clichés” an adaptation of a cliché?

Yesterday’s (June 12) New York Times introduced Guggenheim’s new ventures of collecting artworks from South and South east Asia, Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America, which it has paid little ...
0
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2answers
101 views

Opt for, to be up for (and to be down for)

What's the difference between I opt for the party and I'm up for the party? And, to make it more complex, I'm down for the party. But I'm especially interested in the first two.
17
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2answers
2k views

Etymology of the idiom “by and large”

The idiomatic phrase by and large means largely; generally; mostly The two earliest usages listed in Google's ngram, from 1812 and 1837, appear to use it in its current form and meaning. What ...
3
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7answers
94 views

not-quite-honest public service

In a noun or idiom, what are public servants who only seek public office for the sake of income called?
0
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0answers
11 views

Outside of usage [duplicate]

Is it ok if I use outside of like this: "It can do much more outside of a gaming machine".
4
votes
3answers
90 views

“running a fever” origin

I'm running a fever/temperature. I have a student who likes to ask where idioms come from. Since the meanings are not literal, it is challenging for her to remember them. It often helps her to ...
0
votes
1answer
123 views

Idioms and bodyparts: punch your lights out and lights

There is an idiom "I'll punch your lights out" which means punch someone's lights out Sl. to knock someone out with a fist There is also "lights" which, when used about a body, mean ...
1
vote
2answers
101 views

Alternative Meanings of “Don't waste time with…”

Consider the phrase "Don't waste time with American literature." Is it legitimate to interpret it as meaning, spend your time cautiously while reading American literature, and don't spend too much ...
0
votes
2answers
131 views

“Any way, shape, or form”

"[In] any way, shape, or form" is a rhetorical idiom, in which shape and form tend to function as intensifiers. It is normally used for emphasis where the non-idiomatic phrases "[in] any way" or (less ...
0
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2answers
70 views

Does “you don't want X” mean “I don't recommend X to you”?

Quite often I read exchanges like this: — I want [something], I tried this and that but still no luck, how can I do that? — You don't want [it]. An example: example. I'm Russian, and this ...
2
votes
10answers
716 views

Looking for an idiom to describe “a misunderstanding”

Can you suggest an idiom or common expression that can be used to describe a misunderstanding? The typical case is when Mr. A is talking about something and Mr. B understand something else. Mr. A ...
0
votes
1answer
34 views

How do I better ask question which may not contain subject?

Which of the following sounds better: How do I cook an omelet? – or How to cook an omelet? If I am asking which steps someone, in general, should take to cook an omelet.
0
votes
4answers
200 views

Pessimism idiom - opposite of rose-tinted glasses?

In Hebrew, we say "pink glasses" to mean optimistic observation, and "black glasses" for pessimism. I was trying to figure out how popular the literal translations are in English. I found "rose-tinted ...
23
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10answers
2k views

Idiom for “the first attempt (of something) is never right”

In Russian there's a saying that 'the first crepe always comes out wrong' (literally 'stuck together into a ball'), meaning that you'll have to try more than once to succeed at something - because ...
3
votes
3answers
630 views

What is the meaning of “paint it black” and when to use it?

I stumbled upon the phrase "paint it black" in a tv series (Elementary) and was wondering what does it exactly mean? Also, in which situations would you use it normally? Except when you tell the ...
0
votes
1answer
63 views

Anything and everything

Is it correct to say, "Please feel free to change anything and everything in the draft"? I want to mean the reviewer can change as much as he wants (but want to say that more emphatically). What ...
6
votes
4answers
851 views

Meaning of “Put an egg in your shoe and beat it”

Go on! Put an egg in your shoe and beat it. What does "Put an egg in your shoe and beat it" mean?
6
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3answers
372 views

What is the geographical origin of the idiom “be a fly on the wall”?

Does the following expression originate from English? I'd like to be a fly on the wall I discovered today that a similar expression exists in Brazilian Portuguese: "I'd like to be a fly" (with ...
0
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0answers
9 views

The barn needs painted [duplicate]

I was raised in California, the son of an English teacher, but when I moved to Indiana, I discovered an idiom that I haven't heard elsewhere. The idiom is to use the past participle form of a verb as ...
3
votes
4answers
141 views

Equivalent for the Russian idiom “to write into the drawer”

There is following idiom in Russian "to write into the drawer" which is being used to describe situation when writer or scientist writes (sometimes prolifically) without publishing anything. Are there ...
2
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2answers
358 views

Keen eye for detail (or details?)

Which one is correct? "To have a keen eye for detail" or "To have a keen eye for details"?
0
votes
1answer
45 views

Is there a single word for people/ consultants who partner with our health? [closed]

We made a card for hospitals which introduces the doctors to its patients. We named the card Meet Your Healers, but we need a new word to replace Healers now.
2
votes
2answers
105 views

What is opposite of “Love”? [closed]

In a argument with my friend who lost her love, I came across her experience of life and what she said is : Opposite of love is NOT Hate. why, Because in love people have feeling and think about ...
3
votes
4answers
800 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 ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

What proof is there in pudding?

Yesterday I heard an English baker on a cooking show say that "the proof is in the pudding." I've heard the expression before but I can't imagine how pudding would prove anything. How did the idiom ...
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2answers
84 views

What does “pleasant to a fault” mean? [closed]

Googling didn't help. Thanks in advance for your help.
0
votes
3answers
54 views

Is “Everyone tends to get the best of my worst” a valid sentence?

Is there any alternatives to the above sentence? I just needed to know how to say : "everyone tends to find my worst qualities easily" in a subtle way. And i really had no what to tag it with :)
3
votes
3answers
421 views

Can “the chickens have come home to roost” have positive as well as negative connotations?

In answering a recent EL&U question (Idiom for the phrase "someone who gets what he deserved"), I cited the phrase "The chickens have come home to roost," and said that it "applies ...
-2
votes
4answers
58 views

reminescent hankering of a past event

Is there a single word or idiom for a reminescent hankering for a past event - such as a concert, a party, a vacation, etc. attended with friends or whoever company?
5
votes
4answers
1k views

What does “stuff one's nose into another's orifices” mean?

According to Maureen Dowd's article in New York Times (May 20) under the headline, “Remember to forget,” the European Court of Justice ruled last week that Google and other search engines can be ...
-1
votes
3answers
306 views

Which is correct: “not less than” or “no less than”? [closed]

Which is the correct idiom: "not less than" or "no less than"? Example (edited): There were no less than fifty people at the meeting. There were not less than fifty people at the meeting.
6
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11answers
2k views

Idiom for the phrase “someone who gets what he deserved”

Is there an idiom for someone who gets what he deserved? Like someone receiving punishment for his evil deeds or someone getting awarded for his good deeds?
8
votes
3answers
242 views

Is there a term for a word that serves as its own antonym? [duplicate]

For example: "transparent" can mean both "obvious" and "hidden" "aught" can mean both "all" and "nothing" Is there a term for a word which has multiple definitions that are antonyms?
4
votes
1answer
43 views

Who was Buggins of 'Buggins' turn'?

'Buggins' turn' refers to the practice of assigning appointments to persons in rotation, rather than on merit. The OED records this and gives examples of its use from 1901. As regards etymology it ...
2
votes
3answers
234 views

“Under/straight from the horse's mouth” — etymology?

I'm reading Kim Philby's autobiography, My silent war, where in the early pages he describes an acquaintance as being under the horse's mouth, the proverbial horse being some high-ranking official. ...
0
votes
1answer
62 views

Is it ever correct to say “turn down the building”?

I'm a non-native speaker of English, and so is my wife. We were talking to a native speaker when at one point, my wife commented, "They should turn down the building." I've never heard of the phrase ...
2
votes
6answers
338 views

Another idiom or phrase (in English) that has the same meaning as 'the fruits of our/your labour'?

I was wondering if anyone knew any other phrases or idiom's for 'the fruit's of our/your labour'? I wanted to use it in the context, of a graduation speech, on how hard they've worked and how far ...
3
votes
4answers
82 views

What are alternative terms/words for “cognitive dissonance?”

I grasp the meaning completely, I'm just looking for alternatives ways to express it.
0
votes
1answer
108 views

What is the origin of 'common or garden'?

Why do we speak, for example, of a 'common or garden' bicycle, meaning one that simply does the job of a bicycle without alloy wheels, Sir Bradley Wiggins pedals or any other bells and whistles. ...
0
votes
1answer
95 views

Is “down the years” a common idiom?

Is it possible to say that "something horrible will happen down the years"?