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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3answers
113 views

Can you say “which goes in a downward direction” in English?

The inventory check conducted by a private contractor (name-of-the contract) has revealed a 20 percent discrepancy which goes in a downward direction. The warehouse ledger shows the total inventory ...
3
votes
3answers
412 views

“The Moving Finger writes even in Heaven.”

Following is an extract from a Rabindranath Tagore story called, "A Wrong Man in Workers' Paradise". I need help in understanding the contextual meaning of a line in it. The story is about a man who ...
2
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2answers
52 views

Meaning of “we're rather flat” in context

From Yellow Slugs by H.C. Bailey: He went to the room where Eddie lay. The doctor was there, and turned from the bedside to confer with him. “Not too bad. We’ve put in a long sleep. Quite quiet ...
0
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2answers
68 views

fitting something large inside something small

In a document I am writing I want to use some imagery to attack the logic of inverting a particular technical procedure. The procedure makes sense in its original sense because it injects a set of ...
21
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12answers
4k views

Are there English equivalents to the Japanese saying, “There’s a god who puts you down as well as a god who picks you up”?

There is an old Japanese saying, “捨てる神あれば、拾う神あり-Suterukami areba hirou kami ari,” meaning “There’s a god who puts you down as well as a god who picks up you.” In other words, “In this world, some ...
2
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2answers
274 views

What is the origin of “I calls ’em like I sees ’em”?

This expression seems to be pretty widespread, for example being in Wiktionary and Futurama. Does anyone know what the origin is? Also, what kind of dialect might I calls or I sees be?
0
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3answers
114 views

Word for word meaning of “to beard a lion in his den” [closed]

I'm going to illustrate a word for word meaning of some English idioms. Just a fun drawing. Get stuck with the phrase “to beard a lion in his own den”. I understand the meaning “to confront someone on ...
0
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1answer
63 views

“The best and brigthest is…” or “the best and the brightest are…”?

I asked a question on another StackExchange site, and used "the best and brightest..." as a singular "noun"/expression. However, one of the people that commented used "the best and the brightest..." ...
1
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2answers
165 views

Once bitten twice shy [closed]

What is the meaning and origin of the idiom 'once bitten twice shy'?
2
votes
1answer
62 views

Tower of Babel, what is the meaning of the following verse?

What is the meaning of the following verse from Bernie Taupin's Tower of Babel as sung by Elton John on the album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy? Those hungry hunters Tracking down the ...
2
votes
3answers
104 views

Meaning of the phrase “Four pounds if he's an ounce” [duplicate]

In The Thirty-Nine Steps, Sir Walter is describing a fish and says "Look at that big fellow. Four pounds if he's an ounce." I've heard similar phrases before but never understood what is being said ...
2
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2answers
4k views

“in the same vein as” vs. “in a similar vein to” vs. “along a similar vein”

Which of these three are valid/accepted idioms? Is one of them the "original" one, and others variations on it? Do they have slightly different shades of meaning?
3
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1answer
50 views

Is William Blake's usage of “to break a net” idiomatic or metaphorical?

The following passage is from William Blake's 1793 work "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell": A man carried a monkey about for a shew, & because he was a little wiser than the monkey, grew vain, ...
1
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1answer
338 views

What exactly does “heavy conversation” mean?

I think it is a serious conversation which has become boring. Am I right?
2
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4answers
108 views

Is there lunchtime analogue of the 'breakfast of champions' idiom?

In British English (possibly US too) there is an an idiom which it is to suggest that something is the 'breakfast of champions' when the content of the breakfast is particularly notable. Perhaps a ...
2
votes
1answer
105 views

Origin of “nose out of joint”

I was watching a TED talk on cartoons in The New Yorker, and the presenter used an idiom I've never heard. But like I said, you cannot satisfy everyone. You couldn't satisfy this guy. ...
2
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4answers
2k 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". ...
6
votes
1answer
109 views

Concessive “as much as” and “much as”. Which came first?

Related: "Much though" vs "much as", Use of 'Much as' [closed], Using “as much as” at start of sentence Consider the following two variations: As much as I hate to admit it, I cannot swim. ...
0
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4answers
930 views

is there anything wrong with “from my perspective” [closed]

Is the expression "from my perspective" good English? I was always under the impression that "perspective" refers to what someone else can see (i.e. a third person), and that if you wanted to refer to ...
1
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2answers
81 views

Is “release stress” acceptable in English?

Would it be correct English to say "release stress", for example: "If you do not find a way to release stress, you will get tired, you may even fall ill." Is "release stress" an acceptable ...
0
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2answers
236 views

Is it idiomatic to say “learn knowledge”?

In this book, the author has introduced many good ways to learn knowledge. Is it good English to say learn knowledge? Is this a common collocation in English?
2
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1answer
132 views

does 'A' in 'Easy A' (movie) mean “ei”?

English is not my first language. I have just watched the movie Easy A. I understood its content a little bit but I don't understand what the title means. I often hear many Native English speakers ...
5
votes
1answer
110 views

What's the meaning and the origin of “skewer a sacred cow ?” [closed]

I've read this idom from an article, and it seems that the phrase "skewer a sacred cow" mean "to criticize" but I am not very sure. Does anyone know the exact meaning and the origin of this idom?
2
votes
1answer
83 views

Years worth of… Can it describe age?

I have recently stumbled upon the following sentences: Randomly found 115 years worth of change. Almost put it in the meter. As seen here Does it mean he found an old coin or a lot of them? ...
1
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1answer
264 views

What are some colloquial English expressions for comparing hot/cold weather to something else? [closed]

I'm looking for colloquial expressions that compare hot, cold, and wet weather to something else. For example, “It’s hotter than two goats in a pepper patch”, “Colder than a witch’s tit”, etc. Often ...
1
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1answer
262 views

How to use the phrase “if you will”?

Am I using the phrase if you will correctly here? To be honest, she wasn't much to look at, a plain Jane, if you will.
4
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2answers
164 views

What does “sheafs” mean in “The rays cut straight sheafs”?

This sentence is from Atlas Shrugged, depicting rays of light running through coils of steam enveloping a building: The rays of a few strong lights cut straight sheafs through the coils. Could ...
0
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2answers
115 views

Meaning of “man of his own invention”

There is a song "Something That I Want" (ending theme from Tangled). It has the following lines: She's a girl with the best intentions. He's a man of his own invention. What is the meaning ...
0
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2answers
312 views

What does “make it last” mean?

There is a song but I am not sure about the meaning of "make it last" in that song. Please let me know what it means and which situation I should use this? Make it last - Tim Mc Morris ...
1
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2answers
181 views

How did “yours truly” become a euphemism for “I” or “me”?

Rarely but occasionally I've seen yours truly appear in text when the author wishes to refer to him- or herself. An example from The Cambridge Dictionary: Some folks, such as yours truly, can't ...
2
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4answers
773 views

An expression to say that someone is talking without thinking

What idiom can be used define a the situation where someone is telling something without thinking? Possibly a slang definition. Is "Don't say bullshit" a possible answer?
10
votes
9answers
5k views

What do you mean when you ask “How are you?”

I have been asked one simple question many times by Americans: "How are you?". I know this does not mean that the person I am talking to wants to know how I feel, but sometimes I see that they repeat ...
1
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2answers
108 views

What does 'to be maxed out' mean?

I want to understand what Chandler means when he says he's maxed out after thinking he's embarrassed by his bunny costume.
2
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1answer
197 views

The person who marries for money usually earns every penny of it

The person who marries for money usually earns every penny of it. ...anonymous quote. What does this phrase mean? It seems to suggest that if you marry for money, you will earn all of the money ...
3
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5answers
182 views

What words or idioms are there for “beneficial constructive distraction that would establish or facilitate balance”?

What words are there for beneficial constructive distraction from a task that would improve the results or establish or facilitate balance among various tasks (all being a "distraction" in that ...
0
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2answers
59 views

Who(m) I have left out [duplicate]

In the acknowledgments of my thesis, after a long list of names, I (also) want to thank "[...] all other supportive people who**m** I have inevitably left out". Does this look appropriate? In ...
0
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1answer
172 views

Does “but one” mean “only one” or “except one”? [duplicate]

Does "but one" mean "only one" or "except one"? This phrase shows up in the song "Love is an Open Door" from the movie "Frozen". The relevant line is "Our mental synchronization can have but one ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

Can “your reputation precedes you” be used as a negative statement?

I have always considered "your reputation precedes you" as a gesture of complement and respect. However it occurred to me if it is possible to use it for a notorious person with a bad reputation? ...
2
votes
3answers
119 views

Origin of “to be in fat city”?

What is the origin of the phrase "to be in fat city" meaning "to do well" (financially or otherwise)? A search with an internet search engine suggests that it is of fairly recent vintage, as the two ...
1
vote
1answer
133 views

Is this the correct useage of… including; but not only,

Is this the correct useage of, "every possible accessory and trimming a body could desire to adorn their costumes with, including; but not only, brightly colored ribbons, buttons, needles of brass and ...
3
votes
4answers
254 views

Suitable idiom for using instead of immunize

We have water that is not drinkable, we boil it for killing the microbes, is this sentence correct “I immunize the water ” or there is an idiom for this action?
12
votes
9answers
3k views

“Teaching fish to swim”

Imagine one has to give a presentation to explain something to an audience which already knows very much about that topic. Is that correct to say in such a situation that one is teaching fish to ...
3
votes
2answers
127 views

Is there more than a 'double' whammy?

I have three (could grow to be more) bad reasons for a situation and I wondered if there is such a thing as a triple whammy that is an extension of the double whammy. From my research online, a triple ...
1
vote
2answers
202 views

To have all one's marbles, usage and origin

I have seen this idiom used within a negative context such as: Don't think he still has all is marbles, but could it be used correctly within a positive context? Plus, where does this saying come ...
0
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3answers
418 views

'Blowing Dixie double four time' and 'He can play the honky tonk like anything' meaning

in Dire Straits "Sultans of Swing" what is the meaning of these two lines: In the first verse: You get a shiver in the dark It's been raining in the park but meantime South of the ...
2
votes
3answers
254 views

correct idiom for if you were me

I am looking for an idiom that can be used for this like "if you were me you would have done the same thing " OR something like empathy , think from my sight, is there any idiom for such scenerio? I ...
0
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1answer
40 views

At the beginning of “The hands of Mr. Ottermole” by Thomas Burke, an expression 'discolored themselves', which I can't simply understand

Murder (said old Quong)—oblige me by passing my pipe—murder is one of the simplest thing in the world to do. Killing a man is a much simpler matter than killing a duck. Not always so safe, perhaps, ...
30
votes
22answers
6k views

Are there metaphoric English expressions meaning “keeping composure at a fatal moment, never panicky”?

We have a Japanese old saying, “俎板の上の鯉-manaita no ueno koi, a carp laid on a chopping block” for describing (1) a critical situation you cannot avoid, and (2) a person who is self-poised at such a ...
1
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1answer
41 views

Meaning of “affectionate abandon”

You should treat your book with affectionate abandon. In this sentence what does affectionate abandon mean? Is there an abandon that is affectionate?
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2answers
440 views

Meaning of “welcome distraction”

I want to know the meaning of a welcome distraction. It has no meaning when someone reads it first. I want to know the exact meaning. Is there a distraction that we can welcome?!