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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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 ...
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2answers
148 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.
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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 ...
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7answers
95 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?
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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".
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3answers
93 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 ...
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1answer
146 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 ...
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138 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 ...
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3answers
180 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 ...
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2answers
116 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 ...
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10answers
778 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 ...
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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.
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4answers
336 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 ...
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10answers
3k 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 ...
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3answers
778 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 ...
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1answer
74 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 ...
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4answers
1k 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?
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3answers
384 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 ...
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0answers
10 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 ...
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4answers
170 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 ...
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2answers
874 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"?
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1answer
46 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.
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2answers
115 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 ...
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4answers
2k 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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3answers
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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
96 views

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

Googling didn't help. Thanks in advance for your help.
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3answers
59 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 :)
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3answers
787 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 ...
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4answers
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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?
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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 ...
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3answers
697 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.
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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?
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3answers
276 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?
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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 ...
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281 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. ...
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65 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 ...
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6answers
409 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 ...
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4answers
90 views

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

I grasp the meaning completely, I'm just looking for alternatives ways to express it.
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219 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. ...
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1answer
109 views

Is “down the years” a common idiom?

Is it possible to say that "something horrible will happen down the years"?
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2answers
89 views

Meaning of the idiom “here falls the shadow”

What does the expression "here falls the shadow" mean? The context is a list describing how to teach your kids to become entrepreneurs:  6. Teach the mental nexus. Here falls the shadow. ...
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1answer
87 views

Idiom for “nothing bad will happen” or“ nothing bad will not happen”?

I just was talking with my Enlish friend and I wanted to use a construction: If yes - ok, if not - nothing bad will happen, right? I am Russian and I am unsure if there is such idiom in English. ...
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4answers
373 views

Is there an alternative word/phrase to “ignorance is bliss?” [edited]

It's a classic phrase, but is there a word that encapsulates the sentiment of this idiom? Edit: Single word isn't a requirement, I'm just looking for a concise and eloquent alternative. I don't ...
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3answers
362 views

Better than the next?

I've heard people using this idiom, such as "each day is better than the next", or "you hope that each experience you have is better than the next" (heard this one on a TV show not long ago), ...
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1answer
69 views

Is the term 'put on his parts' used everywhere, or only in some dialects?

In Norfolk, when a child misbehaves in a demanding, or sulking way, they are often said to 'put on their parts'. 'She is putting on her parts again', means that she is following a pattern, typical ...
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3answers
112 views

Can you say “which goes in a downward direction” in English?

The inventory check conducted by a private contractor (name-of-the contract) has revealed a 20 percent discrepancy which goes in a downward direction. The warehouse ledger shows the total inventory ...
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3answers
408 views

“The Moving Finger writes even in Heaven.”

Following is an extract from a Rabindranath Tagore story called, "A Wrong Man in Workers' Paradise". I need help in understanding the contextual meaning of a line in it. The story is about a man who ...
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2answers
52 views

Meaning of “we're rather flat” in context

From Yellow Slugs by H.C. Bailey: He went to the room where Eddie lay. The doctor was there, and turned from the bedside to confer with him. “Not too bad. We’ve put in a long sleep. Quite quiet ...
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68 views

fitting something large inside something small

In a document I am writing I want to use some imagery to attack the logic of inverting a particular technical procedure. The procedure makes sense in its original sense because it injects a set of ...
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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 ...