Idioms are a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (3)

4
votes
3answers
813 views

What does “flop out of the box” mean? Is it a popular turn of phrase?

Washington Post (April 9) carries a review of now topical Apple watch under the title, “Should you buy an Apple watch?” It begins with the following statement: This is a good product with a bright ...
8
votes
4answers
6k views

What is the origin of the phrase “hard and fast rule?”

I just used this phrase in answering another question, only to realize that I didn't know its origin and it is usually used in the negative, as in "..it's not a hard and fast rule, but..." I'd ...
0
votes
1answer
62 views

Broth of a boy etymology

Could anybody explain the etymology of the phrase broth of a boy? I know the meaning but cannot understand how it happens that it means what it means.
1
vote
1answer
75 views

'If they “would have” recognised this, they would have saved themselves trouble? Correct? [duplicate]

I heard an American speaking on the BBC World at One news this lunchtime, about the Greek debt. He was arguing that the character of a lot of Greece's debt is quite different to that of other debtor ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

Sayings similar to “a picture is worth a thousand words”

I' m looking for a common saying or catchphrase that has the same meaning as "a picture is worth a thousand words". I need this as a title for an article that illustrates that point in a specific ...
31
votes
5answers
1k views

Terms for collections of animals

As I watched the murder of crows sitting on the line above my house this evening, I got wondering where all of the collective nouns for animals (pod of whales, gaggle of geese, pride of lions) came ...
1
vote
2answers
237 views

What does “drone drop” mean?

There is the following passage in Maureen Dowd’s article titled, “Good riddance, Carrie Mathison” in April 4 New York Times: “The co-creator of “Homeland” on Showtime revealed recently that when ...
0
votes
2answers
46 views

Words confuse- prefecture, county and shire.

How could I distinguish the usage between the prefecture and county? In my opinion, I think "shire" is smaller than a county or prefecture. Is there any problem with my concept?
0
votes
1answer
70 views

What does “you can go about” means? [closed]

What does this mean? ...there are a number of ways that you can go about + ing e.g. there are a number of ways that you can go about analyzing there are a number of ways that you can go about ...
-1
votes
1answer
685 views

“Sounds like a plan (, Stan!)”

"Sounds like a plan (, Stan!)" (idiom, used to agree to a suggestion that you think is good) It seems to be of relatively recent origin, if there's really a sound origin, that is. Main Q: What ...
1
vote
4answers
205 views

What's an alternative for “hidden gem”?

Hidden gems is an idiom which means something which is extremely outstanding and not many people may know about; for example, Blame It on Rio by Stanley Donen is a good movie, but relatively unknown ...
2
votes
5answers
380 views

phrase for being prepared for a potential challenge

There is a phrase in Malay that goes "prepare an umbrella before the rain", meaning one must be prudent and proactive of future challenges by making all the preparations necessary. I would like the ...
2
votes
5answers
130 views

Is there a term for when just by saying that something is broken and showing it to someone fixes the issue?

This seems to be a common enough occurrence that it would merit its own phrase. I imagine it might be some sort of subset of Murphy's Law. But it's specific enough that Murphy's Law doesn't quite ...
4
votes
5answers
267 views

What do call individuals who express their opinions as if they were facts?

We all know some individuals who don’t express their opinions as: I think this is going to happen... Instead, they express it as if it were fact or news, e.g.: Next month the price of ...
82
votes
19answers
7k views

How to say that food is hot (temperature) without the listener thinking that I mean “spicy”?

There is an excellent discussion of spicy vs. hot here: Difference between "spicy" and "hot" However, having read the previous question, I did not see any answer that tells how to ...
4
votes
5answers
74k views

What does the phrase “I’m down with” mean?

I was wondering about the meaning of: I am down with something. Also, I was wondering whether people say: I am up with something. If so, what does it mean?
0
votes
1answer
52 views

To go fade out?

Those sweet memories never seem to go fade out. In trying to find a short synonym for "to become to fade out," I've come up with "to go fade out." Is this idiomatic and grammatically correct? The ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

Is the expression 'half a percent' acceptable in formal English?

When central banks raise or lower interest rates the radio announcer will say for example: an increase of one half of one percent Informally people use half a percent instead, which is less ...
0
votes
1answer
49 views

Is it correct to say “Can I enter if don't have a ticket”? [closed]

Is it correct to say "Can I come in if don't have a ticket"? or, Which is more common in ordinary life: A. Can I enter if don't have a ticket? B. Can I enter if I don't have a ticket?
2
votes
1answer
190 views

What is the origin/history of “you do you” (or “do you”)?

A recent New York Times Magazine piece focused on the expression "you do you" (and its variant "do you"), meaning something like a strong affirmation to "be yourself." The article associates the ...
7
votes
3answers
15k views

Meaning of the phrase “put down one's papers”

In India, the phrase "put down one's papers" means to submit one's resignation at a workplace. Is this usage universal? I suspect this is Indian.
2
votes
3answers
113 views

Does “on earth” replace “on the earth” in modern English?

I am a non-native English speaker. Since school, I was taught "on the earth" is equal to "in the world", and "on earth"'s meaning should be "indeed". But nowadays, I find "on earth" has replaced "on ...
1
vote
3answers
580 views

What does “trigger-happy on broken windows” mean?

What does this expression mean: to be "trigger-happy on broken windows"
0
votes
1answer
47 views

what's the word for a common saying? [closed]

A common saying like in Hindi "Juldi ka kaam shaitan ka" translation "Anything done in hurry has Satan's reflection in it. " Something like truism, but it's meaning on google doesn't say what I mean. ...
-1
votes
1answer
41 views

Could anybody scan through my cover letter? [closed]

English is not my native language, so I could write some not idiomatic expressions which are hard to detect for me. I am writing to apply for the position of summer intern at the Boston Group. I have ...
1
vote
3answers
117 views

The history of the phrase, “to drop the ball.” [closed]

How (if at all) does the phrase "to drop the ball" relate to the Times Square dropping of the midnight ball on New Year's Eve? If they are unrelated, where does the phrase come from?
3
votes
1answer
81 views

what does “to walk at grade” mean?

"John was walking at grade and slipped on a patch of ice. When John slipped he did not fall to grade as he caught himself with his right hand [...]" Does "at grade" mean "on an uneven/inclined ...
2
votes
4answers
12k views

Why is “bloody hell” offensive or shocking?

It seems to me that if one describes hell as 'bloody', that is simply describing one of the properties you'd expect of it. So, why is 'bloody hell' used as an offensive or shocking phrase?
4
votes
6answers
1k views

Expression “to arrive at a place with your hands hanging”

In Spanish language there is an expression "llegar con las manos colgando", that can be literally translated to something like: If you are invited to a friend's party or social gathering, you need ...
1
vote
2answers
73 views

It took everything within me?

In a documentary I'm watching, a teenager is missing and her car is found. In the car's truck a bag can be seen, and they suspect that she might be inside of the bag. Her father states: It took ...
1
vote
2answers
53 views

To have ALL + adjective + noun

I am wondering whether the sentence That school has all smart students is a valid alternative to All the students of that school are smart. Is it idiomatic/grammatically sound? (Let's ...
51
votes
8answers
6k views

Is there an English idiom that means “you can always find a law to convict anyone”?

There's an infamous phrase in Russian (attributed to Stalin's Chief Prosecutor Vyshinsky): "Был бы человек, а статья найдется" Translated literally, this means "if there was a man, an ...
5
votes
6answers
92k views

“Take a rest” or “have some rest”?

Which one of the these is the correct, or can I use both? take a rest have some rest Or is there any better way to say that?
6
votes
3answers
370 views

“Went” vs. “went along”

At work, he made up lies as he went along. At work, he made up lies as he went. Is one of those two wrong?
0
votes
3answers
53 views

“come on as” versus “come across as”

Would you say that both sentences sound correct? On the whole, I think you came ON as sincere and credible, and your soft-spoken demeanor, laced with a dash of wry humor, was quite charming. On the ...
4
votes
3answers
125 views

Is “back the hall” accepted usage?

In response to the question "Where is she?", I've heard someone say, "She's back the hall." (Cf. "She's back there.") I understand the meaning to be something like "She's down the hall," "She's in the ...
2
votes
3answers
91 views

Term for someone very good at dodging being blamed?

How do you call someone who is very good at dodging responsibility for his mistakes?
3
votes
4answers
89 views

Is there a name for this: an idiom that ambiguously refers to itself?

Two examples I can think of: The athlete's Achilles heel was her Achilles heel. The chef's bread and butter is his bread and butter. In both cases, the order of the idiom and the thing it ...
-3
votes
1answer
42 views

wait on the laurels [closed]

I heard this in a documentary that I'm translating. Can you tell me what it means? Here's the quote: But one thing I can say, at least we tried and we didn’t sit back and wait on the laurels for ...
3
votes
3answers
967 views

bear trap memory

What does "bear trap memory" mean? Or bear-trap memory? Any why "bear trap"? I googled and saw a few examples. But none is very explanatory. An example of usage: ... I was caught by his bear trap ...
3
votes
3answers
959 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
144 views

Why do we say “be to blame”, not “be to be blamed”?

I wonder why "be to blame" is used rather than "be to be blamed"? I've googled it, and what I found is that it is considered as an idiomatic expression.
0
votes
1answer
45 views
4
votes
5answers
621 views

Single word for an idiom giving advice

I'm trying to find a word referring to an idiom that gives advice (e.g. "Fake it till you make it"). "Nugget of wisdom" is kind of what I'm looking for, but I want a single word, not another idiom. ...
3
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
11
votes
10answers
1k views

What's the word for the facial expression over an unexpected disappointment?

If your friend says something sarcastic to you unexpectedly when you are talking about something that makes you exited or your innermost feelings and makes you feel stupid. What's the most widely ...
3
votes
2answers
634 views

The person who marries for money usually earns every penny of it

The person who marries for money usually earns every penny of it. ...anonymous quote. What does this phrase mean? It seems to suggest that if you marry for money, you will earn all of the money ...
13
votes
2answers
9k views

Origin of “the nature of the beast”

The nature of the beast is a well-known phrase or saying which means something like an essential property of the thing, particularly when the property is a vexatious one. For example: I don't like ...
0
votes
3answers
75 views

How do you express high proficiency in a succinct way?

I heard the following phrase in movies: -- Do you know how to use A? -- I am a f****g surgeon with A I like it a lot, but I can imagine a lot of people will not understand the meaning. I ...