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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1answer
223 views

Should we say “they are high enough as they are” or “they are high enough as it is.”?

I've heard on TV: "We really hope property taxes won't be increased; they are high enough as they are." Would it be ungrammatical to say "...they are high enough as it is."?
2
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1answer
109 views

Meaning and use of girl child

I just stumbled across the name of the United Nations' International Day of the Girl Child To be honest, I have never heard the term "girl child" before, and could not find it in online ...
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0answers
65 views

When/where/why did “Look who it ain't/isn't” appear?

It seems to me that... "Well! Look who it ain't!" ...is/was normally used quite dismissively, referring to a newly-arrived person of low social status, who the speaker would often then proceed ...
-1
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1answer
46 views

Definition of “ How Shakespearian” [closed]

Could you explain what " How Shakespearian" means? I've heard it recently but I can't remember in which situation the phrase was used.
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2answers
506 views

Is “It (North Korea) had a deep bench of (brutal madmen)” a common English phrase?

New Yorker’s Andy Borowitz Report (October 10) runs an article under the title, “North Korean government reassures citizens “It had deep bench of brutal madmen.” It begins with the following passage: ...
3
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1answer
76 views

Why do we say “Eastern Europe” but “East Asia”?

My girlfriend, who is not a native English speaker, asked me this yesterday: why are some geographical regions prefixed with the nouns North, South, East and West, but others are prefixed with the ...
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2answers
145 views

On second glance, at second glance, on a second glancing, etc

Unfortunately, I've seen all of these being used in very similar contexts: On second glance On a second glance On a second glancing I'm asumming there's no different for this idiom no ...
1
vote
1answer
187 views

Meaning of Roll sevens or Rolling sevens

What is the meaning of the phrase " you rolled them sevens with nothing to lose " ? In the song entitled " The weary kind " which is a sound track of the "Crazy heart" movie , there is a line that i ...
3
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3answers
62 views

Does “to be on the surface” mean to make something known to the public?

Can I use the expression "be on the surface" to mean that somebody finally makes himself known to the general public? For example They have been ignored so far by the public, but they are now ...
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2answers
65 views

Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Is there a term for a word like Democratic in Democratic People's Republic of Korea? The key point here is that the word is being used precisely because it's false. It has something in common with a ...
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2answers
224 views

In the phrase “man enough”, is man an adjective?

I do realize that the phrase "to be man enough" is an idiom. But I wonder what is the grammatical/syntactic role that man plays in it. Is it an uncountable noun? An adjective? An adverb? Or perhaps ...
4
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2answers
641 views

Meaning of “It was a line”

The title sentence is a dialogue from "Friends" (the sitcom): Monica has become acquainted with a man named Paul. On a date Paul says to Monica: "Since my girlfriend left me I haven't had sex with ...
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4answers
93 views

Alternate phrase for “be damned” to avoid profanity

How could you rephrase something like this usage of "be damned" to avoid profanity, but without losing the emphasis conveyed by the idiom itself? I'm going to ask this question on StackExchange, ...
3
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1answer
190 views

Meaning of: “The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right”

This is a Mark Twain aphorism: The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right. This is apparently intended to be easily understood, but the ...
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2answers
114 views

What is the meaning of “I can make the deadline.” [closed]

What is the meaning of "I can make the deadline." Someone said "I can make it by the deadline". Thank you in advance!
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2answers
185 views

Why “broke” and not “broken” in “If it ain't broke, don't fix it”?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it an idiom says. Why isn't it If it ain't broken, don't fix it On the other hand the lyrics of a song "Victory" played by a band "Deliverance" are as follows: ...
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3answers
74 views

Expression denoting exclusivity

Can anyone think of an idiomatic expression in English to show how exclusive something is? What I'm looking for is an expression that will instantly communicate to a native English speaker that only ...
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0answers
41 views

What is the difference among “at the outset”, “from the beginning”, and “at the beginning”?

Let me tell you at the outset that <-- sounds right Let me tell you from the beginning that <-- doesn't sound right Let me tell you at the beginning that <-- doesn't sound as right as #1 ...
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3answers
89 views

idiom for unintended consequences

I am looking for a phrase/idiom that expresses the risk of unforeseen consequences of an action. Fake context: someone develops a treatment for cancer that is later found to cause Alzheimer's. So far, ...
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5answers
1k views

“like a duck takes to water” vs “like a fish takes to water”

I am aware of the idiom like a fish out of water. What intrigued me is an article using like a fish takes to water. Teo Zhen Ren, the swimming sensation from Singapore, took to swimming like a ...
5
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3answers
1k views

Is “pass peach seeds” an idiom or just a figurative expression?

I was drawn to the phrase “pass peach seeds” in Thomas Harris’s novel “The Silence of the Lambs,” which I started to read last month and from whose text I have posted several questions, including one ...
1
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1answer
115 views

How did the meaning of “come off” as “succeed” or “take place” originate?

Example sentences: A television series that never came off (from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary) He tried his Chaplin impression, but it didn't really come off. (from Wiktionary) The match ...
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5answers
76 views

A sports team that has a consistent record of beating another one

I am looking for a word or a concise expression for a sports team A that over a period of time has a consistent record of beating a rival sports team B. It is not necessary that A are better than B. ...
5
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3answers
305 views

What is the origin and sense of the phrase “put up or shut up”?

In researching the recent EL&U question Origins and Interpretations of "Put your money where your mouth is", I repeatedly came across the seemingly related but older phrase “put up or ...
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2answers
83 views

What is the provenance of “ring the cherries”?

I was drawn to the phrase, “ring the cherries” in the following passage in Thomas Harris’ “The Silence of Lambs” in a part officer, Jerry Burroughs telling the profile of a suspect killer to FBI ...
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6answers
4k 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 ...
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5answers
2k views

Preparing for metric dominance: alternatives to idioms using imperial units

Related to this question, are there any metric alternatives to these idioms: He inches closer to her. a. meters? - too far b. centimeters? - too weird c. scoots? - don't use units By ...
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0answers
17 views

Difference between anything but and anything other than? [duplicate]

If I say "anything but ordinary", it means it is not ordinary, it is unique and different. What if "anything other than ordinary"? Does it mean the same as "anything but ordinary" or does it simplify ...
3
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3answers
143 views

Where and when did the phrase “turkey of the year” originate? [closed]

Was it meant to be an objurgation, an insult, a jocose remark, or something else? And does it have the same meaning today as it had then?" Definitions of “turkey” (when used to refer to a person) ...
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2answers
191 views

Origin of phrase “pulling for you”

When somebody is going through a difficult life situation, people will commonly say, "We're pulling for you." Where did this term come from? It sounds rather strange!
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2answers
77 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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2answers
76 views

Is there a word that strictly means “mutual understanding?”

In an essay I've written, I come to realize something. Someone else understands that I've just realized this something. The engendered sense of achievement and understanding . . . In this ...
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4answers
117 views

Is there an antonym for the idiom “…remains to be seen” [closed]

I was using "...the truth remains to be seen" in a sentence when I realized I meant the opposite of this. I'm looking a phrase antithetical to this idiom, that follows the same (empirical) line of ...
10
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3answers
849 views

Idioms, how do they work?

So, my friend and I were chatting the other day. I, being a new father, sent him a picture of my clothesline completely full of my daughter's diapers. Then this dialogue happened: My friend: Woah, ...
11
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2answers
1k views

What does “I got a bee up my ass about you two” mean?

The context is: Just so you know, I got a bee up my ass about you two.
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1answer
696 views

saying thanks to someone answering your email ASAP who is important for you [closed]

Which of these sentences sounds more american? and which sounds more polite against who is important for you like a professor or boss? first: Thanks for your prompt response second: Thanks ...
0
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2answers
158 views

“Can't help but” vs “can't help” [duplicate]

What's the difference between "can't help but" and "can't help" Consider two examples: I can't help thinking about you. I can't help but think about you. Do the two sentences mean same, or is ...
2
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1answer
277 views

“Rule the Roast” and “Rule the Roost”

John Ayto, Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms (2009) has this entry for "rule the roost": rule the roost be in complete control The original expression was rule the roast, which was common ...
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2answers
57 views

American products, first, last, and foremost

I have a survey and I need to translate it into another language. There is a question in the survey - "American products, first, last, and foremost.". Users have to answer using scale from 1 to 7, ...
2
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2answers
86 views

Idiom help: If beauty is her Yin, then intelligence is her Yang

I've always assumed that the phrase If X is her Yin, then Y is her Yang meant two positive traits, X and Y, that were not extensions of each other, but rather opposites that complemented each other. ...
2
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2answers
238 views

“I'm no more hungry” or “I'm no longer hungry” or “I'm hungry no more.” [closed]

I'm no more hungry I don't think I've heard the first one very often, but wasn't sure about the last two. I'm no longer hungry and I'm hungry no more Which of these three sentences ...
5
votes
1answer
108 views

Why “on the books”, not “in the books”

On the books means "part of the law". These changes would add little to the civil rights laws now on the books. I know the meaning of this idiom, and idioms are used as they are, but idioms ...
2
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1answer
347 views

Is the usage “God only knows” correct?

I was watching a movie last night and a character, when asked a question, replies, "God only knows". Is that the correct usage? It sounds to me as if God just knows stuff and can't do anything about ...
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3answers
183 views

different versions of “take into account”

The Free Dictionary collates a number of definitions for "take into account." take someone or something into account and take into account someone or something to remember to consider someone ...
0
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1answer
114 views

Dull as ditchwater (not dishwater) … specific questions thereon

(1) who specifically, or at least when specifically, did originate the phrase? {Example answer - "that was one of Shakespeare's!"} (2) why? (3) when first did someone screw up and use ...
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2answers
92 views

Is “far from the end” correct?

Is it right to say far from the end in the following example? Researches on the exploitation of the DAS method are far from the end.
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1answer
90 views

Idiom/expression for “responsible for what happened.”

Example: I doubt the kids are responsible for what happened. What idiom/expression can I use to replace the responsible for what happened part? Something that isn't as straight forward as the ...
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2answers
198 views

What is the meaning of the phrase “picking up friction”?

Earlier today, I used the phrase "picking up friction" thinking it was a common saying. Later intrigued by the possible history of the phrase, a Google search turned up pretty much no results for the ...
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11answers
4k views

phrases: “marry a guy and he'll provide”

Trying to find a similar phrase to this Chinese phrase: 嫁汉嫁汉,穿衣吃饭 which basically means if a woman marries a guy, then the guy will provide food and clothing. I can't think of anything off the top ...
0
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1answer
256 views

Is “or so they say” idiomatic?

Icame across a long sentence followed by elipses and the phrase "or so they say", is it idiomatic?