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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5answers
72k 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". ...
2
votes
2answers
107 views

Does the phrase “Do you want a hand in this” make sense?

From someone, somewhere, I remember hearing the phrase do you want a hand in this? I was told that it meant do you want to be a part of this? However, when I googled this phrase, nothing turned up. ...
1
vote
1answer
47 views

What does Cairne Bloodhoof mean by “a pup still wet behind the ears”? [closed]

This is a quote from War Crimes: “For the Thrall I knew, who befriended the tauren and helped them so greatly, would not have blithely handed over the Horde he restored to a young pup still wet ...
16
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5answers
2k views

“… gets my goat”. What's my goat and why does it get it?

To get someone's goat is make them annoyed or irritated. But what is the goat and why does getting it annoy them? When and where does the phrase come from? What's the first known use?
2
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2answers
258 views

To “levy criticism” or to “level criticism?”

In a recent NY Times article the reporter writes, "Criticisms are also levied at Jews...". I have always heard the idiom as "to level criticism" or to "level charges" against. Which is the proper ...
1
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3answers
102 views

Mind Blowing vs. Mind Boggling

I have seen these phrases using interchangeably, but I couldn't pinpoint exactly what do they mean. what is the difference between the 2 and where/how to use them?
12
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14answers
3k views

Is there an expression or idiom for something convenient that happens right when you need it to?

Especially if it's something unlikely. Almost as if it could only happen in a movie. For instance, you're about to be robbed and a random cop on patrol arrives at that exact time. What are the chances ...
1
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1answer
44 views

Is this girl “piling on agony” or “ throwing a pity party” or what?

Is this girl"piling on agony"? ( I mean she is trying to draw attentions, while her situation is not that bad and scary, she is shedding tears falsely(?), and reacting so exaggeratedly ) What is the ...
3
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3answers
12k 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 ...
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0answers
58 views

Proper ways of saying “just had” or “expecting” a child for future guardians that aren't the birth mother

If a person is the spouse of or is adopting a newborn from a currently or recently pregnant person, what phrase describes their relationship with the unborn or recently born child? Are there clearer ...
1
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3answers
141 views

Phrase/Idiom for increasing odds of winning by placing multiple bets

I'm looking for a phrase/idiom that represents when you increase your chances of winning some sort of gamble (or event with multiple possible outcomes) by saturating the field with bets. E.g. ...
0
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8answers
17k 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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4answers
523 views
2
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1answer
87 views

are there any compiled lists of modern equivalents of historical proverbs? [closed]

I'm not even sure of what we commonly label these types of expressions that are passed down from generations. Some are attributed to the bible, like, "idle hands are the devil's workshop." There ...
4
votes
8answers
219 views

Is there an idiom to describe someone who grew from less than average to influential?

Is there a idiom or common expression to describe someone who used to be shy, unsocial, unskilled, or even perceived to be useless, who somehow transformed himself or herself to be influential and ...
10
votes
2answers
1k views

origin of “5 seconds flat”

Does anyone know the etymology of this expression? "He ran down the street in five seconds flat" I found this explanation of meaning at Wordreference but would like to know where the expression ...
0
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2answers
85 views

What is the opposite for “thin-skinned”? [closed]

What is the idiom or term for describing a usually respectful and nice person who is not easily offended by others' criticism, advice, jokes, or insults? ( I know the opposite is "thin-skinned", but ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

“One in a million” or “A million to one”?

Last week I took part in an English course, and the teacher was constantly saying a million to one (when he meant "an extremely small possibility"). Is this correct? Is it the same as one in a ...
1
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3answers
88 views

expressions meaning to risk death [closed]

I am looking for expressions roughly synynymous wtih 'to risk death'. The following are some examples. Can you think of others? to risk one's life to put one's life on the line to flirt with ...
0
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4answers
1k views

Expression for “pulling out something from the past”

I am looking for an expression (proverb / idiom) meaning "pulling out something from the past" in disapproval. An example of this would be: somebody mentioning a thing of the past, which is not ...
3
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3answers
172 views

What does “… which is somewhat long in tooth” mean, and what is the source of the phrase? [closed]

This is the complete sentence where I found it. It is from an online training about the Linux operating system. e4defrag is part of the e2fsprogs package and should be on all modern Linux ...
0
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1answer
96 views

Idioms and phrases [duplicate]

In a sentence idioms acts as which parts of speech??
1
vote
1answer
108 views

What's the difference between “case by case” and “case to case”?

What's the difference between "case by case" and "case to case"? I often hear the former from my Japanese students. When I asked them where they got the phrase, they always say they learned it from ...
4
votes
5answers
177 views

Idiom/expression that means “canceling” an event from your calendar?

This is a bit tricky because checking off and crossing out could mean that I marked those items as finished. What I want to convey is that I changed my mind and decided not to do those items. ...
11
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3answers
4k 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
97 views

Every once in a while [closed]

Representatives from my recruiting company sometimes come to visit me, may be once in a six months in my office. Is it correct to write some words of appreciation to them as shown below?. "I ...
0
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1answer
71 views

“He cooked me a soup with a lot of hot oil”

I'm looking for an English equivalent to a Persian expression which means this person got me in a lot of trouble. Literally translated, the expression is this person cooked a soup for me that had too ...
2
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2answers
80 views

What are some synonymous phrases for the phrase “Turning Criminal”?

I need suggestions for different ways to say "turning criminal," as in "He began turning criminal, committing illegal acts instead of abiding by the law."
11
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4answers
1k views

Do brides in church weddings go up the aisle toward the altar or down the aisle toward the altar?

Nigel Rees, The Cassell Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (1987) has this entry regarding the question "WHY DO WE SAY ... BRIDES GO UP THE AISLE?" Sir Thomas Bazley fired off a letter to The ...
7
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4answers
23k views

Cute as a button

Since buttons aren't particularly cute (IMO), where did this common phrase come from? I know it's old; I've seen it in 19th century literature.
5
votes
1answer
103 views

How did screaming as loud as you can become screaming “at the top of your lungs”?

What is it about the top of one's lungs that has to do with especially loud screaming? Every time I hear this idiom I imagine a little man screaming atop a giant lung.
4
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2answers
95 views

Is 'yeah-nah' a uniquely Australian idiom?

There is a response in Australian English that means "Yes I hear you and empathise with your situation, but no this course of action won't work for me." [Yeah-Nah] I assumed this was a normal part of ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is “to switch gears” used for “to change topic”?

The expressions to switch gears, to shift gears are often (too often for my taste, but that is a different matter) used to announce a switch from one topic to another in an oral presentation ...
17
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3answers
2k views

What is the action called when a grumpy old man shows that he is annoyed, by making a 'throat-clearing' sound?

Sometimes when a grumpy old man gets annoyed, he makes noises like clearing his throat. Does grumbling or grunting define that action? Is there a more appropriate word or an idiom for that?
5
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4answers
12k views

Differences among expression and idiom, as well as colloquial and vernacular

Expression and idiom are used interchangeably, and so are colloquial and vernacular; albeit incorrectly. Please advise on differences in meaning and recommend a proper usage.
5
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2answers
183 views

Why “hoping against hope”?

Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives, knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about with spells for the bane of Mordor. Well, now, if they still live, ...
0
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2answers
48 views

Keep proper time

What does "keep proper time" in the following sentence mean? I've needed a new one for ages- mine hasn't kept proper time since I dropped it in the bath.*
0
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1answer
82 views

Meaning of “Noble of us” idiom in context

It would be noble of us to not revel in it, though. The sentence above has some idioms that I don't know. What is it going to say? Or when such a sentence could be said?
6
votes
3answers
9k views

Why do you survive 'by the skin of your teeth'?

If someone does something 'by the skin of their teeth', it means they just barely managed to do it. What is this idiom supposed to be referring to exactly, and how did it originate?
4
votes
5answers
163 views

Someone who uses idioms excessively

Is there a term for someone who uses idioms (e.g. right off the bat, lowest hanging fruit, living under a rock) excessively (but correctly)? To clarify the confusion in the comments: I'm referring to ...
0
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2answers
65 views

Is “go to the papers” a standard idiomatic expression?

"I'll go to the papers since it's the most appropriate thing to do." I received this email not long ago from a blogger. (He is Scottish by origin.) He was complaining about plagiarism of an article ...
2
votes
4answers
112 views

A better way to say “too busy to become more productive”?

I am looking for a clear way to describe a situation in which someone is genuinely interested in becoming more skilled, but is so overburdened with obligations that they have no time to learn how to ...
3
votes
2answers
204 views

Why is it called “to not pull any punches” and how did this phrase originate?

If one does not pull any punches, he speaks bluntly. Why is this idiom phrased this way? Is it because the motion of a punch, i.e., to speak bluntly, can be described as a push, which is the ...
17
votes
11answers
7k views

Idiom: in my neck of the woods, AmE

Idiom: in my neck of the woods (AmE) The meaning of this expression is: in the region where I live. I once tried to find out how a word that referred to a part of the body could later develop into ...
5
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5answers
3k views

Idiom for a Shy Girl [closed]

What do you tell a girl who shies away from expressing her feelings and avoids saying what you expect her to?
17
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6answers
2k views

Why is news said to be “breaking”?

I was just wondering what the origins of "breaking news" or "we broke the story" are.
0
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1answer
65 views

Can “in alpha” be used as an antonym to “in beta,” or it’s a totally different animal?

I was drown to the phrase, “in beta” in the following passage of New York Times’ (June 16) publicity of their own new scheme, Trending: “The Times unveils a new tool, Trending, that shows you ...
0
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2answers
58 views

Idiom for “Single out” in a negative way

In a small group of people, the leader singled out Person A to pick on her. What's another idiom (that's a verb) to describe this action? There was a two-word idiom which I cannot remember. The idiom ...
13
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3answers
4k views

Where did the phrase “used to” come from?

I used to wonder about these usages a lot: Why does "used to" mean "accustomed to"? Why is "used to" used to indicate a recurring past event? I used to be used to using it. In that example, ...
2
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3answers
321 views

Are they “in a good mood“ or ”in good moods"?

Just now I was walking my dogs down S St. in Sacramento. We were gaining on a woman walking in front of us, when she turned around to see who was behind her. "Sorry," I said. "We aren't going to ...