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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83 views

Meaning of “Gambler at heart” [closed]

I want to know what does the expression gambler at heart mean and in which context we can use it?
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1answer
76 views

What does the phrase “They would clash with my drapes” mean?

I have come across this phrase in the sitcom, Hot in Cleveland wherein a gay man is asked if he had kids to which he responds with this phrase :"They would clash with my drapes." I tried looking it up ...
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3answers
99 views

Origin of plurality of “wars” in phrases like “Star Wars”

There are a number of compounds in English of the form "noun wars," e.g. "Star Wars," "mommy wars," "culture wars." Why do these show "wars" in the plural? It seems like normally "wars" would pertain ...
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2answers
153 views

What does this idiom mean and where did it come from?

What does the expression "being drug up on the carpet and then run up the mast" mean and where did it come from? It could very well be the person who said it made it up on the spot.
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1answer
40 views

“To take in” and “to catch” in the sense "to attend and visit (or see) [the sights of (a city, etc.)] in AmE

Do these terms share the same degree of informality in the sense "to attend and visit (or see)" as of someone taking in/catching the sights of a place, or taking in/catching a show or a movie? E.g. ...
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2answers
2k views

“Nuke the fridge”

I don't get what this phrase means. I tried googling it, but the answers weren't satisfactory. Could someone please tell me its meaning? I'm guessing it has something to do with TV shows (I first ...
2
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1answer
911 views

What does 'both of you' mean?

How does one reflect the difference in meaning between 'I gave one to both of you' meaning you gave one to each of them, and 'I gave one to both of you' meaning you gave one item for the two to share? ...
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1answer
316 views

What does “I can get behind that :)” mean when you suggest someone to compromise on an alternative option?

"How about we compromise and ... ? ;)" Answer: "I can get behind that :)"
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4answers
622 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. Once I tried to find out how a word meaning a part of the body can develop an expression where it ...
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4answers
2k views

What does “My duh on” mean?

What does "My duh on X" mean? Does it mean "I like X" or "I don't like X" or something else? What does "duh" mean in general?
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2answers
139 views

What is the derivation of “out like a light” meaning “to lose consciousness quickly”?

The idiomatic relationship between out like a light and falling asleep (or being rendered comatose) quickly is easily understood in the context of electric lights extinguished instantly by a switch. ...
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1answer
114 views

“Go ahead” vs. “Carry on” in AE usage

Back when I was a student, I can recall my nonnative English teachers -- after discussing a certain word, or phrase, or passage from a text with the class -- saying for me or some other guy to please ...
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5answers
1k 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 ...
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1answer
115 views

“To set up” for “to arrange/prepare” or “to organize” in colloquial AmE

I already heard and read on various occasions Americans use the expression "to set up" to seemingly mean "to arrange" as in "I'll set up reservations for you" or "I'll be more than happy to set up a ...
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2answers
204 views

Does the idiom “in lieu of” for “instead of” sound legalese or affected in modern day AmE [closed]

I once came across the idiomatic "in lieu of" in some bilingual dictionary I can't seem to put my hands on anymore, but I remember pretty well the phrase being defined as an Americanism. And so, I ...
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2answers
361 views

“Latch onto [something/someone]” for “obtain, get (hold of) [something/someone]” in AE

I just rediscovered the colloquial expression "latch on to [something]" online and would like to know the story to its meaning of "obtain, get", which is presented by CD as AE and CE. ...
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1answer
111 views

To buttonhole someone

Can you help me find a synonym to this expression meaning to approach someone as if by grasping the person's garment to have his attention. Could it be used informally to describe boys' attitude to ...
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2answers
1k views

“ It was a pleasure knowing”, “It was a pleasure to have known”, or “It was a pleasure to know”?

I am in the process of ordering a headstone for my dad and I wish to have the words It was a pleasure to have known (as opposed to the more traditional "in loving remembrance", "in memory of", ...
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1answer
249 views

What is the (explicit) meaning of “Till daddy takes the t-bird away”

I first heard this in an audio-book. I do understand the implicit meaning but I always wondered what this really means and the background of this phrase. I have tried searching the Internet but all I ...
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3answers
98 views

Do you “compare eggs with prunes”?

Just come across the eggs/prunes bit in a book. Is "to compare eggs with prunes" an idiomatic expression meaning "to juxtapose totally different things", or just a licencia poetica by the author?
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1answer
639 views

Origin of “to have an axe to grind”

Where does the idiom to have an axe to grind come from? To have personal, selfish reasons to do or say something.
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1answer
181 views

The expression “And how!”

Where does the expression, "and how," come from? How can we reconcile the literal meaning with the idiomatic one?
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5answers
763 views

What does “Press the point” exactly mean?

The New York Times (March 14) Fashion & Style column reports under the headline, “Walking the Walk to Increase Diversity” that Bethann Hardison, the fashion industry gadfly is to receive the ...
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2answers
60 views

To be in fine fettle

It means to be in good health, good spirits. The origin seems to be from the OE word fetel, meaning "belt". Can anyone help in understanding how it got to the current meaning please.
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18answers
2k views

What is a good idiom for deceptive smile?

Is there a good idiom that implies fake happiness in the same way 'crocodile tears' imply fake sadness?
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2answers
128 views

To bone up on something

What's the origin of this idiomatic expression meaning to study something thoroughly.
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1answer
61 views

How can this be worded better? [closed]

How can this be better expressed? In respect of Anna's written wishes, there will be no funeral.
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1answer
126 views

“Buy the farm” meaning

In Alice Cooper’s song “Hey Stoopid” from his 1991 album, there is a verse that runs like this: Now I know you’ve been kicked around. You ain’t alone in this ugly town. You stick a needle ...
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3answers
157 views

Is “people with a bit of grit under their fingernail” an idiom, or just one-off phrase?

I was interested in the phrase, “people with a “little bit of grit under their fingernails” appearing in the New Yorker magazine’s (March 14) article titled, “American Ads, American Values.” It reads; ...
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3answers
1k views

If you say in English: wear the pants in a relationship, then can you also say wear the skirt in a relationship?

What I mean is: if the person wearing the pants assumes a masculine/dominant role, then can we say someone assumes a feminine/submissive role by saying they wear a skirt in a relationship? Especially ...
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2answers
197 views

If you're “balled up” why are you confused?

I believe the expression 'balled up' dates back to the first decade of the twentieth century and I believe it means 'confused' but I'm all balled up as to why it means 'confused'. The only ...
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5answers
2k views

Is there an idiom or euphemism for when someone has an average/small penis but knows how to use it?

Really, what the question title states. In my language there's a more "flowery" phrase to say "size doesn't matter". It would roughly translate to "even a small clown can work in the big top" – I'm ...
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5answers
111 views

Single word for “at one's wits' end”

While there often appears to be a word that could replace an idiom or a phrase in meaning, this one seems to be an exception (for me that is). I've tried: Confused : Less powerful, isn't it? ...
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2answers
70 views

Is “…written by the author it claims to be and not by someone passing themselves for them” correct?

I have a question to this sentence: Sometimes you need to know if the book was really written by the author it claims to be and not by someone passing themselves off as them. Is that correct? I ...
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3answers
88 views

Is a tin-ear one who dislikes music or one who dislikes new popular music? Why?

I know folks who couldn't hear well used to use a tin-ear to help but I don't understand the connection between a tin-ear and a dislike of music or of new popular music.
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1answer
154 views

Why does the word “joed” mean weary, tired, exhausted, fatigued, etc.?

The word "joed" is a word I use frequently to describe my feeling tired or exhausted. As a child, I used to hear my grandfather say "I feel joed" before he would sit down for a respite or turn in; ...
4
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3answers
248 views

Is the idiom, “one person's word against another” or “another's”?

A common idiom is: This is just one person's word against another. Is the correct form another or another's? I assumed the extended forms would be: This is just one person's word against ...
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1answer
55 views

Where does the term 'board' come from in 'room and board'? [closed]

Where does the term 'board' come from when its used in the 'room and board' context?
7
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4answers
1k views

Why does to “take a powder” mean to run away or to leave?

From Flappers to Rappers: American youth slang by Dr. Thomas Dalzell cites "take a powder" as a 1930s expression meaning to run away or to leave. Does anyone have any ideas why taking a powder would ...
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2answers
91 views

Why does to “cheek it” mean to bluff?

From Flappers to Rappers: American Youth Slang by Dr. Thomas Dalzell cites the 1930s expression "cheek it" as meaning to bluff. I don't quite understand why and I'm hoping someone on here may help me ...
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4answers
274 views

What is the meaning of “having one's kitten in one's pocket”?

This is an extract from 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' by Alexander Baron: Corporal Turnbull was a young man, but he was not a man to be trifled with. He had come back from Dunkirk with all his ...
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1answer
142 views

What does “to take/catch someone off stride” mean in AE?

I guess it might originate from ball game terminology, and mean pretty much the same as "catch/take someone off balance". But, sad to say, I just can't seem to find an authoritative source online that ...
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1answer
107 views

Looking for an idiom similar to 'pros and cons' but with different meaning

I'm writing an essay where where the protagonist faces betrayal & hurt etc (negative things) but along with that she also experiences compassion & affection (Positive things). All the emotions ...
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2answers
64 views

'Master of the universe' or 'Nucleus of the universe'

Can I say: No one likes man thinks he is a nucleus of universe. I've just seen on some website the use of "master of the universe" I'd better use this word? And please correct my grammar.
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2answers
371 views

Upset the apple cart meaning

I'm 32 and today was the first time I've heard the expression 'upset the apple cart' used. It was on reddit and the context was: "Once again, my colleague Stephen Hawking has upset the apple cart. ...
13
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5answers
4k views

You can’t have your cake and eat it too

If you've had your cake, haven't you already eaten it? So why can't you have it and eat it too? It doesn't seem to make sense.
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1answer
67 views

Deconstructing 'for crying out loud'

How did the phrase/idiom for crying out loud come about? I don't understand what is "for" doing here. For X means that X is a requirement that has to be fulfilled. Why don't you do it *for X* means ...
3
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4answers
346 views

“Shag” for “chase and bring back, fetch” in AE

Does "shag" have any currency in modern day AE to mean "chase and bring back, fetch (an escaped animal/prisoner)"? Is its use limited to the pursuit of runaways, or can it be extended to a broader ...
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1answer
36 views

“Snag (a chance, an opportunity, etc.) for ”seize/snatch" in AE

Does "snag" have any currency in modern day AE to say "snatch (or seize) (a chance, an occasion, etc.), and can it be used just about interchangeably with the latter? Or, is there a subtle difference ...
1
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1answer
221 views

It's fine by me

"Fine by me" seems like an unusual use of the word 'by'. Is it unique, or are there other cases like this? Is there a special term for this specific pattern?