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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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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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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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
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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74 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 ...
7
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9answers
310 views

BrEng expressions to describe a man who is becoming stupid

I'm searching for British English expressions describing a person who starts to be stupid, crazy or foolish. I mean something like the idiom to lose one's head and epithets like: You fool! Are there ...
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3answers
1k views

Where did the expression “every last one” come from?

There is, after all, only one last one. Why did it become common to say "every last one"? Dictionary.com has a definition for last as follows: 8. individual; single: The lecture won't start ...
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6answers
6k views

Etymology of “cut someone some slack”

Teenagers. All the literature tells you one thing and one thing only – that whatever they are doing, give them a break, cut them some slack, it's normal. From the novel, Apple Tree Yard I'm ...
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10answers
53k views

“By foot” vs. “on foot”

Which one is correct? I go to school by foot. I go to school on foot. Are there instances when the expression by foot is preferred? My last question is the following: Why is the ...
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3answers
229 views

Is there a word for the act of butchering a language for the sake of a joke?

My friend and I (may or may not be the same one from my other question) were chatting the other day and we came to a discussion about the idiom tit-for-tat. tit-for-tat (informal) a tit-for-tat ...
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6answers
5k views

What does “stand to” mean in the sentence, “China’s Health Ministry stands to profit from the industry’s growth?”

I found the following sentence in an archive of the Financial Times articles dated August 29, 2007, which was titled “Chinese? Don’t get ill.” The problems of the health system are tangled up in ...
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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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1answer
7k views

“Rich in” vs. “Rich with”

The free dictionary provides two definitions for "rich with" and "rich in". rich with: having a lot of something; abundant in something rich in: having valuable resources, characteristics, ...
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1answer
182 views

Source of the phrase “call [somebody] out of name”

I was introduced today to the phrase "Call out of name" as in: She claimed the other girl called her out of name. I had to ask what it meant and the answer was "she called her a bitch". I'm ...
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5answers
1k views

the idiomatic use of “no more than” and “no less than”

I have questions about the use of no more than and no less than . The following is the item 14. phrase of the word more from COBUILD online dictionary. You use no more than or not more than when ...
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5answers
97k views

What does the idiom/phrase “but I digress” mean?

Okay, so I know when to "but I digress"; I use it when I'm talking about something and then stray off topic and talk about something else, so in order to get back to the topic, I say "but I digress". ...
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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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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
5k views

To “take something under advisement”

Does the idiom "I'll take that under advisement" in a non-legal context always (or usually) mean "I'll ignore your advice"? i.e. is it a polite (or not-so-polite) way to snub someone? For example, ...
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3answers
130k views

Origin of the idiom “If ifs and buts were candy and nuts”?

I’m interested in the origin of the idiom: If "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas. When was it first used? Is this the original idiom, or was there an older ...
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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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2answers
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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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4answers
616 views

“He's unarguably the best” or “He's arguably the best”

I keep hearing the phrases unarguably the best and arguably the best. Some people say one, some people say the other when they mean he's the best. However which one is actually correct? If he's ...
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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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2answers
78 views

Phrase for always watching for something better

There's an idiom for never being satisfied with what you have and always looking out for something or someone better, particularly in reference to dating. The phrase is something like Keep one eye ...
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8answers
22k views

What does “off you go” mean?

I came across the phrase off you go which has been frequently used in many movies. Especially, the movie John Carter impressed me with this phrase. What does it mean in different scenarios/cases?
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2answers
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To be in fine fettle

It means to be in good health, good spirits. The origin seems to be from the OE word fetel, meaning "belt". Can anyone help in understanding how it got to the current meaning please.
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1answer
116 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 ...
3
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1answer
138 views

What is the etymology of “You don't look too clever”

In BrEng, at least in the North, there is an idiom: "You don't look too clever." which means "You're looking quite ill." Does anybody know the etymology of this idiom please?
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5answers
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Word or phrase for someone who annoys you as soon as they walk in and start talking

Looking for both a journalistic and perhaps playful term. In a journalistic sense, how would I describe a CEO figure who holds a company meeting and the employees are either annoyed, bored, or rolling ...
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1answer
53 views

what does “make this/that/ fly” mean?

You really think you're gonna be able to make that fly? I heard this phrase in the movie Crash (I think). I've googled it but came up with up nothing.
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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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7answers
4k views

Why are you a plonker?

The idiom, plonk (something/someone) down means to slap something down; to plop something down to sit or lie down on something in a careless or noisy way to leave someone somewhere to do ...
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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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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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3answers
6k views

What does “salad days” mean, and when was it coined?

What does salad days mean? I've heard the term used to describe past better days, but what does that have to do with salad? Also, when was the phrase coined?
3
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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 ...
3
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3answers
18k views

Whispering “sweet nothings”

Where does the term sweet nothings come from? What is an example of a "sweet nothing"? Does the term connote sincerity or has it been hijacked to represent deceit and seduction? After all, the devil ...
3
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6answers
7k 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
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
67 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 ...
3
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2answers
56 views

Joining phrases, how to exactly use idioms like “with regard to”, “as regard”, “in respect”

My question may sound repetitive; I've been sifting through whole Internet and I haven't found a clear and comprehensive description about how to utilise idioms like: Regarding With regard to In ...
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6answers
34k views

What is the origin of the saying, “faint heart never won fair lady”?

Having heard the phrase, "faint heart never won fair lady" for the third time in very short span, I'm determined to find out its origin. Unfortunately, when I Google, I'm getting a bunch of ...
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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 ...
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3answers
1k views

How far (technically) is a “stone's throw?”

A "stone's throw" means a short distance. Questions: (1) How far--technically-- is a stone's throw in terms of its usage? (i.e., Can you use it for a few feet as well as a mile away?) (2) Is it ...
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 ...