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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21
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12answers
2k views

Idiom for magic object (or idea) that fixes everything

Some people hold the irrational belief that one object (or possibly idea) can fix all their problems. For example, someone who is unhappy or anxious might think that smoking is a cure to all their ...
2
votes
1answer
59 views

Couldn't be parked: Ngaio Marsh

In one of her novels, Dame Ngaio Marsh has Roderick Alleyn propose marriage to Agatha Troy, who responds she "couldn't be parked." In context this appears to be equivalent to "couldn't be more ...
26
votes
12answers
8k views

Idiom for “just because you give something a different name, it doesn't change what it is”

I'm looking for a way to idiomatically express the sentiment that just because you give something a different name, or precede it with a disclaimer, it doesn't change what it is, e.g.: "I mean this ...
4
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the exact meaning of the “oh so <adjective>” idiom?

I routinely find this expression in newspaper, magazines, blogs... My guess is that it's used to report a widely shared opinion, but I couldn't find any confirmation of this. Or maybe it's just used ...
1
vote
1answer
92 views

Alternative to idiom “Barking up the wrong tree”? [closed]

I want to use the idiom: Barking up the wrong tree. But in the situation it seems a little rude. What are the idioms/phrases similar in meaning to this idiom?
2
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0answers
89 views

Which are the Best sites to Learn Spoken English"? [closed]

What are some sites which have great material to learn idioms , phrases and new words. I want to improve my spoken English skills!
6
votes
4answers
2k views

What does “haul something out” mean as an idiom?

I found the following quote of Mike Nichols, director of the hit revival of Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” on Broadway in the article titled “How Oedipus Wrecks” in March 24. New York Times: ...
1
vote
0answers
48 views

What does it mean to drag something in “by the stamp?” [closed]

In a 1944 radio skit, Fibber McGee says another character dragged something in "by the stamp." Is the stamp a reference to rationing stamps used during WWII?
19
votes
18answers
3k views

What's an idiom for something that you've heard many times?

I'm trying to write something for my blog, and I need an idiom that will replace me saying, "I've heard people say that all the time, it's the same old story."
2
votes
3answers
154 views

What does a patient and doctor “got off” to a rough start mean?

To a non-native English learner like me, understanding of, and familiarizing with the wide scope of usages of idioms associated with basic verbs such as “do, get, go, let, make, and have” are always a ...
1
vote
0answers
198 views

“unconservative” or “inconservative”? [closed]

Which one is correct: "unconservative" or "inconservative"?! If both are incorrect, what word should we use instead?
0
votes
1answer
60 views

Why do we say 'He is Fred to a t'? [duplicate]

I used to think it was only a British idiom. But I read an article in the New York Times stressing how important tea was to the British army in Iraq. Apparently there is even a special attachment on ...
1
vote
1answer
130 views

Is there a word or phrase that means both the answer and the question? [closed]

I am exploring how to create a game that generates metaphors or concepts that could be created outside of a linear thinking of past, present and future. Simultaneous revelations that occur ...
0
votes
3answers
115 views

How to say that event is happening now? [closed]

Imagine if I sit in the classroom and I want to say that some lecture is going in another classroom. I what to express that meaning using active voice, like Lecture is happening now But for me, ...
4
votes
2answers
936 views

“22 Acacia Avenue” British idiom

What is the meaning of this British idiom? I was watching BBC's Top Gear and the presenters were cracking jokes about people who live in the 22 of the avenues. And that the people who live there like ...
6
votes
10answers
885 views

Term meaning careful and thorough, almost excessively so [duplicate]

I'm trying to think of a term which means that one expends extra effort or materials in making sure that something is done properly, to an almost excessive or extravagant extent. One good is example ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “A.C. or D.C.?”

In Heinlein's A stranger in a strange land, there is a moment when nurse Jill kisses Martian man named Mike and another man, Jubal, puts a comment on it. It comes as follows: “Son,” he said, “you ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Pink elephants when drunk

It's a common proverb that you would see pink elephants if you drink to much. In particular there is a quite memorable scene from Disney's 1941 "Dumbo" where Dumbo and his mouse companion receive a ...
0
votes
1answer
51 views

What does “bodded ill” mean? [closed]

Quoted from here: "Not to make an impression but anyone that bodded ill with the Duchess, did not sit with with Ealora" I was wondering what the expression "bodded ill" means. Thank you. P.S. As ...
0
votes
2answers
86 views

“Last straw on camel's back” but positive? [duplicate]

Is there an idiom that is similar in meaning to the last straw that broke the camel's back, except with positive connotations? For eg., how do I idiomatically express that "the My Little Pwny mount ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Idiom for opportunistically exploiting a situation to one's advantage

I was wondering what various figures of speech could be used to describe a situation where somebody exploits a situation in order to push their own agenda. For example in Persian we have 'Catching a ...
4
votes
12answers
7k views

Is there an idiom for people who boast too much?

I am looking for idioms or informal/slang/colloquial expression for some people that make you think that they are able of building a skyscraper, constructing a spaceship, playing the piano better than ...
13
votes
3answers
100k views

Can someone explain the phrase “All is fair in love and war”?

What are its origins and what does it really mean?
1
vote
1answer
57 views

What kind of figurative language is this phrase?

What figurative language is this phrase? Is it an idiom or personification? Or something else? I have tried to figure it out but I can't. "to drive the idea out of my mind"
1
vote
2answers
123 views

“Walk the walk” vs. “talk the talk” vs. “walk the talk”

Normally the idiom is as follows: He walks the walk and talks the talk. Should it not be "he walks the talk", meaning "he does what he says"?
10
votes
2answers
1k views

How should I pluralise “as is”?

Let’s say I write: “Just send me these documents as is”. Is that correct? Should it be pluralised into “as are”, which sounds so wrong to me? Or are they both incorrect, in which case I may write “as ...
13
votes
5answers
14k views

Is it “a tough row to hoe?”, or “a tough road to hold?”

Is it an old farming metaphor, or a military saying? Where did this(these) saying(s) originate?
5
votes
5answers
74 views

Does this situation constitute a “Pyrrhic Victory”? Irony?

Consider the following situation: A person, Alice, is hired to do a job for a company, ZooBiz. Alice is able to entirely outsource her job. She pays the outsourcer 50% of what she makes, and no ...
-1
votes
5answers
544 views

What highway exit does “Next Exit” refer to?

Example: If you have not yet reached exit number 5 is the "next exit" referring to exit 5 or exit 6? "This exit" is clearly exit 5. Similar to the "next Tuesday" question Which day does "next ...
0
votes
2answers
65 views

On / of one's own accord

When it comes to the idiom involving the phrase "own accord", is it considered correct to say "on one's own accord", instead of "of one's own accord"? To me, the former sounds more natural. Example: ...
1
vote
4answers
15k views

“Going to go” vs “going to”

1) I am going to go watch a game. 2) I am going to a game. 3) I am going to golf. 4) I am going to go golfing. What are the differences and similarities between and among sentences ...
2
votes
2answers
125 views

idioms that mean being good at something [closed]

I am looking for a few idioms that mean either being good at something or simply being generally good. "Ace" is the word I have in mind, unfortunately not an idiom.
12
votes
2answers
21k views

Origin of “Under the weather”?

I understand that "Under the weather" means feeling sick. I heard a rumor that this idiom may have nautical origins, but I don't know for sure. Does anyone know more about the origin of this phrase, ...
1
vote
2answers
63 views

What's the difference between “from the ground up” and “from scratch”? can they be used interchangeably?

What's the difference between "From the ground up" & "From scratch"? both seem to have the meaning of "from the very beginning". Can they be used interchangeably?
-3
votes
2answers
122 views

Verb choice 'do' in idiomatic expression [closed]

In common vernacular, an electrician or plumber might say something like "I'll do the plumbing for free". I know it's not exactly proper English but what exactly is going on (In a technical sense) ...
4
votes
5answers
649 views

What's the US slang term for “following someone in a car”?

I heard this somewhere on YouTube and I wish I could recall where exactly. The person was recording himself from a dash-cam while driving, and when he noticed that a cop was following him, he said ...
-1
votes
1answer
126 views

Can a spoof and a dark comedy be the same?

I and a group of friends were watching a video on TV when one idiot from the group (who wasn't my friend but a friend's friend) wanting to sound intellectual claimed that the video was based on "dark ...
0
votes
3answers
377 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 ...
13
votes
12answers
5k views

What's an idiom for doing something in an unnecessarily complicated way?

For an example, I'll quote C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: One day the cat got into the dairy and twenty of them were at work moving all the milk out; no one thought of moving the cat. ...
0
votes
1answer
46 views

Why can't “had better” take a that-clause?

Given that we say things such as "I'd rather (that) you do it.", I'd expect "I had better (that) you do it." to be possible as well to mean "I would consider/find/have it better that you do it.", ...
3
votes
1answer
7k views

Is single-word “inbetween” becoming more acceptable? How far can it go?

I get the distinct feeling that "inbetween" occurs increasingly often as a single word, but I'm not at all clear on why it's used more in some contexts than others. What I can is see that in Google ...
5
votes
1answer
124 views

Equivalent of local idiom “The potter drinks from a broken jar”

There's an idiom in a native language which literally means "The potter drinks from a broken jar". i.e. a potter will not spend a lot of time making a beautiful jar for himself to drink from, he uses ...
2
votes
3answers
14k views

“on par with” vs “on a par with”

Which of "on par with" and "on a par with" is the more correct way of saying that two things are of equal value, and why? Examples from a couple of google searches: "His verbal intelligence was not ...
1
vote
2answers
8k views

Why do we talk a blue streak?

We might say that someone who is exceptionally chatty can "talk a blue streak." What is the origin and meaning of this phrase? Is it generally insulting, or a nice way of saying someone is a ...
-1
votes
3answers
123 views

Can someone explain the meaning of this sentence and what “but for ” implies? [closed]

I would not have worked in London in the summer but for being on holiday.
0
votes
2answers
90 views

What is the basic meaning of 'blueprint'?

I just want to know the meaning of blueprint. Some websites say it's a method of printing, some say it merely means a pattern or design used by engineers or architects to document their ideas. I ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

How “Devil may care” is different from “After me the deluge”?

I came across the phrase, “Devil may care” in the following sentence of Maureen Dowd’s column titled “The Son Also Sets” in September 22 New York Times. “In 2000, when he (Stuart Stevens, Mitt ...
0
votes
2answers
57 views

What does “the balcony is really far away” mean?

Yesterday, I watched MasterChef America. There were two teams competing in the challenge of cooking and serving food at a football game. There were 100 voters and the red team won the blue team by 51 ...
2
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the meaning of the phrase “a man of the world”?

The name of one of the Ernest Hemingway's short stories is "A man of the world". It seems to me that I understand the meaning of this phrase out from the context of the short story. But all the same ...
0
votes
1answer
79 views

What is the origin of using '-wise' as a suffix? [duplicate]

What is the origin of using '-wise' as a suffix in expressions such as the following. Is it grammatically correct? Is it strongly idiomatic, or sloppy language? 'What is he doing job-wise these ...