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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2
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1answer
34 views

Personification of a Vehicle and it's sleeves

Normally, to describe something which has special abilities or something secret, we use the phrase Something up its sleeve or something similar to that. Now, if I had to say the same thing about a ...
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2answers
74 views

My coworker and I were trying to solve a problem — we both tried two different things at once that only worked because of the other's attempt

Each solution to the problem we were trying to solve would have independently failed. We were each trying many different solutions at the same time. We each happened to try a solution that worked, but ...
0
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2answers
60 views

What is the idiom or proverb or phrase for this “hard packing but loose knot”? [closed]

What is the idiom or proverb or phrase for this "hard packing but loose knot"? For example, you took hard preparation for the exam, but, didn't attend it.
0
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1answer
34 views

Demonstrate a discrepancy? [closed]

I was writing some article about scientific debate over one subject and then came to my keyboard the following : "... demonstrate large variability..." . I was wondering if I could replace ...
-2
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1answer
86 views

“Righting wrongs” or “Writing wrongs”? [closed]

I've seen people using different forms of this phrase. "Righting some wrongs", "Righting the wrongs", "Right a wrong" "Writing some wrongs", "Writing the wrongs", "Write a wrong" It seems to be an ...
6
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3answers
6k views

Origin of idiom “wearing the < role > hat?”

What is the origin of the idiom "wearing the < role > hat"? Here is an example from the post Getting things done when you wear multiple hats in PookieMD's Blog: I wear many hats, and I ...
13
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4answers
4k views

What is the origin of the idiom 'all the rage'?

There are various expressions in English and other languages that use all, for example all right, or all dressed up and ready to go, however all the is not that common. The use of rage is even ...
22
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7answers
8k 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 ...
0
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1answer
51 views

What is the meaning of “to spite the whole world"? [closed]

I found that in this text: recently wrote on Twitter that he was willing to revise his position towards ISIL and join it “to spite the whole world" if it stopped labeling other jihadists as ...
12
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9answers
4k views

Derogatory word or idiom for city dwellers

I'm looking for something people from rural area would use, especially when they refer to that person's inability to adapt to the country life.
2
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2answers
25k views

“Hang in” vs. “hang on”

Are these two the same when used to express "keep it up" or "survive a little longer"? Also, I often hear people say "hang in there", but I rarely hear people say "hang on there".
15
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9answers
56k views

Origin of “More X than you can shake a stick at”

What is the origin of the phrase "more X than you can shake a stick at"? Every website I've seen on this basically says the same thing (e.g., http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-sha2.htm): Recorded ...
6
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4answers
618 views

Why do we say “it's not even funny” after something that is not funny at all?

"My head hurts so bad, it's not even funny." Why would my head hurting be funny in the first place? It's already clearly not a joking matter. Why "guard" it from being a laughing matter, then? I get ...
17
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7answers
3k views

What is the origin of the idiom “with all the bells and whistles”?

No major dictionary website carries the origin of this proverb. Some blogs speculate that it comes from a locomotive usage. In the days of the steam engine, engines would be equipped with bells and ...
2
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7answers
4k views

Does “walk back” have a meaning of ‘deny’ or 'keep distance from somebody / something.' as an idiom?

I came across the phrase walked back from time.com: a State Department spokesperson had walked back his (John Kerry’s) comments in the Time magazine’s (August 2) article titled, “Oops: John Kerry ...
2
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1answer
101 views

What is the etymology and the context of calling an unrelated woman “sister”?

For specific context, the question arose out of discussing Han Solo calling Princess Leia "sister" in "Star Wars" Episode IV. What is the etymology and context of using the term "sister" in this way? ...
5
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2answers
5k views

What's the meaning of “real gone”

As in the song 'Real Gone' by Sheryl Crow: "Everybody's lookin' for a way to get real gone." Does that mean something cool?
0
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1answer
74 views

Meaning of “off the clock”

Could you explain the meaning of the expression "off the clock"? Do I need to use hyphens as in "off-the-clock"? I have seen some explanations on the Internet, but none of them seem to be reliable.
3
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2answers
91 views

Does “taking the heart out of something” mean to defeat it?

Does the idiom "taking the heart out of something" mean to defeat it? Context: rituals of science have taken the heart out of the rituals of religion
3
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5answers
23k views

A word that represents a group of people working to achieve a common goal or dream

I am working on a project that involves bringing people together who share common goals or dreams. Is there a word or phrase to describe groups of people who are working together to accomplish these ...
29
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7answers
6k views

An English idiom for “solve a problem that has been solved”?

In Polish, and I believe in a number of other European languages, there is an idiomatic expression which translates to "to force a door which is already open". It is used to describe a situation when ...
4
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3answers
124 views

Idiom for being forced to dig your own grave?

Suppose that a team of people is laid off but is asked to temporarily stay to train their replacements. Is there any idiom that would describe people in such a conflicting situation? "Digging their ...
2
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2answers
147 views

What's another way of saying “to hell with it”? [closed]

How do you express displeasure and disregard over something (e.g. To hell with that new policy _____'s office has come up with! I'm going to do whatever the hell I want) without sounding crude? I am ...
9
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8answers
1k views

Idiom/phrase for someone that looks completely different from everyone else

I swear, there's a phrase (a simile) I hear a lot that describes when someone just appears different from everyone else in a given crowd or location. For example, (and I'm trying to be as sensitive ...
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2answers
27 views

Meaning meaning [closed]

Could someone please help me out of the misunderstanding problem below? Empowering the underprivileged lies in assuring them that education holds the real source of power
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1answer
44 views

correct language usage [closed]

Those clerics, who often have views on life which are in stark contrast to the Belgian lifestyle, have been provoking identity crises in many immigrant youths, making them vulnerable for ...
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2answers
49 views

Synonyms for “having a property”

When writing a mathematical text one often wants to express that a certain object has a certain property, i.e.: "Object A has property X." Since this formulation gets boring if used too many times, ...
10
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2answers
407 views

How come “John is friends with Jane”?

The usage in the question title seems common enough to me, though it may be more common in Britain. But I can't exactly see what "part of speech" the word friends is here, and I can't come up with ...
1
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3answers
112 views

'Third wheel' or 'fifth wheel'?

If you are the "extra" person in a situation, are you the "third wheel" or the "fifth wheel"? Some books—like Film Noir Guide—say "third": O'Keefe plays an escaped convict on the run with his ...
7
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6answers
18k views

What is this idiom: “I'm going to start taking names and…”?

There is some idiom that starts out like, "I'm going to start taking names and..." I can't remember the rest of it. What is it and when is it used?
0
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1answer
37 views

running into someone after vacation

for the question 16, I don't know either using "How was your break?" or "What's going on". And Q20,"what about you?" and "what are you up to?" seem able to use? Could someone explain their usages?
4
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3answers
68 views

Need help naming this platform in my back yard

What do I call a semi-circular concrete platform in my back yard that looks like a stage. It is about 30 inches above my grass lawn and is attached to my rear wall and appears that it could be a band ...
4
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3answers
13k views

Origin of the phrase “free, white, and twenty-one”?

I understand the phrase "I'm free, white, and twenty-one" was used in several films of the 1930's, generally to mean "I can do what I want and no one can stop me" and that the phrase was common in ...
0
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1answer
55 views

Is there another idiom to replace “rolling the dice”?

Does this sentence sound unnatural? The journalist has read the book, written a review and rolled the dice. I know rolling the dice means to "take a chance". But I am not sure if giving ...
0
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1answer
30 views

Is there another way to say a false dichotomy, such as a forced choice or …?

Is there another way to say a false dichotomy, such as a forced choice or ... ??? Isn't there some even handier phrase, that I can't for the life of me think of (doesn't that drive you absolutely ...
5
votes
1answer
129 views

Why does “keep tabs on” mean what it means

Keep tabs on sth/sb means "to ​watch something or someone ​carefully". Why is that? Can somebody analyze and explain this idiom, please? What does "tabs" mean here, and how does the whole phrase ...
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2answers
43 views

Synonym for Idioms [closed]

I need to know one or more synonyms of this idiom: beating around the bush Thank you.
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2answers
5k views

Think in the shoes of someone

I want my readers to imagine being at a place. Is this a reasonable way of saying it? Think in the shoes of a visitor of a mass public event, like the Norwegian Constitution Day. As an ...
12
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5answers
15k views

What is the origin of the phrase “'til the cows come home”?

What is the origin of the term 'til the cows come home? While discussing this with friends tonight, the group had two possible explanations: Cows return to their barn for milking at a given time ...
0
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3answers
12k views

“Too much time has passed.”

Too much time has passed. Is this grammatically correct? Wouldn't it be better to say Too much time has passed by. or Too much time has gone past.
13
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14answers
4k views

Idiom for someone who forgets their roots

I am having difficulty finding English idiom(s) for these situations: A person who was previously poor then becomes arrogant because she/he is rich now. A person who has been helped (because she/he ...
5
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7answers
4k views

Idioms for “looking for something” and “trying to find something in a room full of mess”

I am trying to find idioms that could express "looking for something" and "trying to find something in a room full of mess". One that I could find was "hunt high and low," but for some reason I don't ...
3
votes
4answers
205 views

What is another idiomatic way to say “have a trick up my sleeve”? This “trick” is the last resort.

I am translating a Chinese short film. In a dialogue, a soldier suggests to the king that they should activate a sacred time-travel item. The king knows full well that the time-travel item as their ...
17
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8answers
7k views

Is the phrase “for free” correct?

A friend claims that the phrase for free is incorrect. Should we only say at no cost instead?
1
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0answers
47 views

Phrase Synonymous to “Stop at nothing?”

I'm writing a paper describing a fashion designer who creates incredibly complex and EXTRAVAGANT sets for his runway shows. I want to say he "stops at nothing" or "spares no effort" or "leaves no ...
7
votes
3answers
297 views

Is there any idiomatic meaning of 'it can be a real pig'?

In the Terry Pratchett's book, 'Reaper Man', there is a passage: Most species do their own evolving, making it up as they go along, which is the way Nature intended. And this is all very natural ...
5
votes
2answers
119 views

'one's chest has straitened, yet he doth not utter'

This is a rough translation of a line in Arabic poetry and I can't seem to find a good equivalent to it. 'Ones chest/bosom has straitened/has narrowed so much/distressed/heavied (no more room in his ...
3
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3answers
2k views

“Under/straight from the horse's mouth” — etymology?

I'm reading Kim Philby's autobiography, My silent war, where in the early pages he describes an acquaintance as being under the horse's mouth, the proverbial horse being some high-ranking official. ...
2
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2answers
74 views

How should I interpret 'come evening' in this long sentence?

How should I interpret come evening in this long sentence? This ensures that, come evening, you've remembered whether or not you followed through in the morning. This is a new grammar that I ...
4
votes
2answers
118 views

Idiom for tinkering and then returning to what you had at first?

I'm trying to think of a good idiom/phrase for the process of questioning what you have, tinkering with it and finally returning to what you had at first. Specifically returning accidentally, then ...