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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3answers
795 views

Why is it “have someone wrapped around your LITTLE finger”?

I just had occasion to write she's got him wrapped around her finger (under complete control). I'd never really thought about this one before, but my guess would have been the idiom had some ...
2
votes
1answer
864 views

What is the origin of “go suck an egg”?

"Go suck an egg" is a saying typically used similarly to "take a hike" or "piss off": Hey, you going to help me with this or what? Go suck an egg. An few Ngram searches shows that "suck an ...
0
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3answers
85 views

Does this expression makes sense? [closed]

W : I'm impressed at how expertly you played that piano sonata. M : Sorry. I'm still just an apprentice. When the man says "sorry", what does this exactly mean in this circumstances? Is it ...
3
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1answer
144 views

What is the origin of 'pale, male and stale'?

The major Cabinet reshuffle of Prime Minister David Cameron this week has been seen by much of the press as an opportunity taken to dispose of ministers who are white, male, middle-aged, middle-class, ...
0
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1answer
88 views

Meaning of “get off the hammock” [closed]

Is the phrase get off the hammock idiomatic, and what does it mean if it is?
5
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3answers
84 views

idiom for “if you are not improving, you are deteriorating”

Is there an idiom or expression for "if you are not improving, that means you are deteriorating" Thank you
2
votes
1answer
78 views

What is this usage of harrumph?

So this question was just asked and it made me realize I didn't understand what was going on this particular movie scene (Mel Brooks' 1974 Blazing Saddles). Transcript: Governor William J. Le ...
2
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3answers
85 views

Origin of the phrase 'space case'

Just wondering what the origin of this phrase is. When was it first used and by whom?
2
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3answers
63 views

Word for “quietly accumulating shares of stock by traders when the stock is at a lower price”?

I'm looking for a word or expression that means "the act of quietly accumulating shares of stock by traders when the stock is at a lower price"?
2
votes
3answers
129 views

Alternatives of 'a snowball's chance in hell'

I am looking for a different, common English idiom that expresses the same thing as a snowball's chance in hell. My teacher says I use this expression too much, and that it is not appropriate for ...
2
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2answers
80 views

“He disagreed with something that ate him.” (spoilers)

In The Living Daylights (a James Bond film), there is a man named Felix Leiter who is [partially] eaten by a shark. The villain writes a paper that says: 'He disagreed with something that ate him.' Is ...
5
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3answers
151 views

When and where did saying “nice” become so popular?

When one person tells another something good or shows off something they like the other person will often say "nice". For example, "Check out my new car it has so many bells and whistles" -Person ...
1
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2answers
255 views

What does “those are the breaks” mean?

I remarked to a friend, "It's too bad I have to wake up early," and he responded "those are the breaks." What does this mean? Isn't it a bad thing to wake up late, which would be the opposite of a ...
1
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3answers
146 views

What is the origin of the phrase “knock-down, drag-out”?

I can find this phrase in a few dictionaries: knock-down, drag-out — marked by extreme violence or bitterness and by the showing of no mercy knock–down, drag–out political debates But I ...
3
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2answers
72 views

Idiom like “His star is shining”

There's an idiom that's on the tip of my tongue, but I don't remember what it is. I remember it as "His star is shining" but I'm not sure that's it, I may be confusing it with something else. it's ...
0
votes
2answers
453 views

we are in receipt of something

what does it mean "to be in receipt of something"? I have checked the meaning but have not figured it out fully, since I am a translator I need a literal translation for me to build out a meaningful, ...
1
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1answer
113 views

Origin of “walking on eggshells”?

Where does the phrase "walking on eggshells" originally come from?
0
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2answers
324 views

“one of a kind” idiom

This is an official practice question for the SAT Reasoning Test: Along the curve of islands known as the Florida Keys lies a reef of living coral, the only one of a kind in the continental United ...
1
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1answer
187 views

Using “So” Followed by a Noun Phrase to Express Boredom, Disgust, Tediousness, Dullness, Banality

In the BBC TV series Sherlock’s episode two from series three, “The Empty Hearse", John Watson waxes maudlin over being left out of the loop for two years regarding Sherlock’s faked death. Sherlock ...
2
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4answers
95 views

is “merablum” or “merablem” a word?

is there a word "merablum"? maybe "merablem"? It means scrap or remnant of food left on a plate. I always thought it was a word but I googled it and - nothing. Is Google unaware of it or is it a made ...
1
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2answers
90 views

The right word for saying goodbye to someone on the street corner, and then both of you walking in the same direction? [closed]

This happens occasionally to me in New York. I will part ways with someone after chatting, and then it will turn out we're both walking in the same direction. What word captures this phenomenon?
8
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8answers
2k views

Word/phrase/idiom to describe avoiding answering a question by stating the question doesn't need to be asked

I run into this situation often in the office. I have a specific question to ask somebody and have chosen the person to ask it, but that person doesn't know the answer. Instead of answering the ...
0
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1answer
56 views

crawl in a hole and pull it in after me

This phrase occurs surprisingly frequently. I assume, based on contexts, that it means roughly 'I am so embarrassed'. What I wonder is what it is that 'it' refers to. What is to be pulled in? Any ...
3
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2answers
139 views

Is “Go against type” a stand-alone popular idiom?

Today’s New York Times carries an article with the headline, “James Gorman of Morgan Stanley, Going Against Type,” followed by the lead copy: Forgoing Wall Street flash, Morgan Stanley’s chief ...
0
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1answer
39 views

Shifting the discussion to personae [duplicate]

I wonder if there is any phrase or idiom to express a situation, where one of the discussion participants, lacking arguments to upkeep a constructive discussion, steers the direction to personae: ...
25
votes
9answers
6k views

Atheist/agnostic form of expressing condolences

I have lived in the U.S. 20 years now but I am yet to find an elegant and eloquent wording to express condolences to somebody upon the death of a close one that does not involve religiosity and prayer ...
3
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2answers
80 views

Is there a term for if someone uses their own words on idioms consciously?

For example, instead of "barking up the wrong tree", someone uses "pulling out the wrong plant". Consciously or not, is there a term for saying idioms in your own words?
3
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1answer
86 views

Meaning of palm [closed]

What is the meaning of Palm and grease in this sentence. He then listed out the palms we had to grease in order to open a place to teach kids in our country. I read this sentence from the book ...
3
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2answers
232 views

What does the term “night moves” mean?

There are a number of songs, films, and other cultural artefacts that use or reference this term, but I can't figure out if it has some kind of idiomatic meaning. Any ideas?
0
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1answer
159 views

What does the American idiomatic expression “2 x 4” exactly mean? [duplicate]

What does the American idiomatic expression "2 x 4" exactly mean? I've read a very interesting book by Father Donald H. Calloway, No turning back (an autobiography and a conversion story), and ...
1
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1answer
67 views

“as they come”, a state of a particular thing [closed]

Like in its usage in the example below what does "as they come" mean? "Kryn was once physically and mentally as sharp as they come."
6
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3answers
82 views

skin in the game, idiomatically?

What does "skin" or "skin in the game" mean in the following sentence? "make sure that everyone has skin in the game".
1
vote
1answer
63 views

What does “pay the graces” mean? [closed]

Have the Three Graces actually been paid? Is that the origin? I found it in the lyrics for a song, where it doesn't seem to make sense at all: I had an impulse to clear it all away oh I used the ...
2
votes
3answers
101 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
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3answers
80 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
519 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
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4answers
2k 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
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2answers
47 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
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2answers
159 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
71 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
78 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
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2answers
900 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
359 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
88 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
223 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
votes
7answers
99 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
12 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
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3answers
100 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
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1answer
180 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 ...