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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Idioms describing the entirety of something [closed]

What are some idioms that describe the full entirety of something, or the complete collection. One would be "the whole nine yards" - what else?
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61 views

English idiom for 'went on to kohl it, so he/she blinded it'

'He went on to kohl it [namely, rim the eye with kohl], so he/she blinded it [the eye].' This is a rough translation of the Arabic idiom, 'ذهب ليكحلها فعماها' To rim the eye with kohl is to ...
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1answer
74 views

Clarify an idiom in a political text

Please carefully read the text below: On 24 November, 1993, a meeting of Leftist intellectuals occurred in London under the auspices of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), which ...
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1answer
45 views

“It was a litany of gratitude to put an Oscar-winner to shame.”

What is the meaning of the above sentence? It was used in "Life after Noynoy," an article appearing in the August 1, 2015, issue of The Economist. Extract: IT WAS a litany of gratitude to put ...
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2answers
111 views

Why does “one of a kind” mean “unique?”

The wording suggest the opposite. Something that is one of a kind is but one of a category of many, if you look at each word non-idiomatically. Why, then, does "one of a kind" mean "unique?"
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1answer
401 views

Is “save some trouble” a correct phrase?

Today a friend of mine asked me to teach her how to fix her computer. The procedure was a little too technical for a layperson so I asked her out so that I can fix it for her in person, that she can ...
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1answer
130 views

Meaning of “No cookie for the rookie”

From time to time, I listen to people (NBA narrators) saying "no cookie for the rookie", normally when there is a very good play at the game. Does someone know what it can be? There is an example in ...
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2answers
160 views

Term or Phrase for “Listening without Understanding”

Is there a word or a phrase that describes someone listening to somebody else speak to him without understanding what is being said while acting like he's getting it?
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1answer
239 views

what does “there was wild talk” mean?

Can anyone help me to describe the meaning of using "There was wild talk about the end of history" in the context below ? (what does "wild talk" mean exactly?) Context With the Cold War over, there ...
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1answer
86 views

What does “right round toward” mean?

Can anybody help me to describe the meaning of "right round toward", especially in the bold sentence of the context below. Context: Within two years, Deng was the most powerful man in China. Deng's ...
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2answers
62 views

'Holder/owner of right'

Holder/owner of right./ The right is with me. Is there a noun/or a compound noun in english? Even an idiom or smth? Examples: We fight, because right is with us/holders/owners of right, and because ...
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7answers
788 views

Fear of incrimination by inaction

During the Chinese cultural revolution, students assaulted their teachers. During the French liberation, Nazi collaborators were shaved in the streets. The perpetrators are often described as being in ...
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6answers
93 views

More compelling way to describe something as “The Next Big Thing”

What is a more compelling way to say "The next big thing in X".? It will be describing a technology company that is "disrupting" (also too much of a cliche) the industry.
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0answers
64 views

appropriate phrase for expressing close distances toward a person

Imagine this scenario: You are having a conversation with someone about a tropical fruit which you have seen the picture of it(on the internet or something) and you do know the name of it, but you ...
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0answers
53 views

the night before last

"It was the dog he'd heard the night before last." How should I change "the night before last" in reported speech? He said it had been the dog that he had heard...
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5answers
771 views

How to say it: Fleeing from responsibility

Is it common in English to use the following idiom: "He flees from responsibility"? Or is there some more common form of saying this?
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1answer
493 views

What is the meaning of “One for the kitchen, one for the soul”? [closed]

I want to know the proper meaning of this expression: One for the kitchen, one for the soul
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0answers
52 views

Is “face-off” a misnomer?

In ice hockey, the face-off is the method of starting play. The two teams line up in opposition to each other, and two opposing skaters try to gain control of the puck after it is dropped between ...
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1answer
42 views

What does “a curious mix of a man” mean?

Context The top-secret American operation to build and use the atom bomb would challenge the humanitarian values on which democracy is built. It was led by one of the most intriguing minds of the ...
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1answer
70 views

Meaning of “Banksy’s your bag”

In the article about Dismaland there is a paragraph saying: Inside the walls of a derelict seaside swimming resort in Weston-super-Mare, UK, mysterious construction over the last month—...
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1answer
54 views

'Later' of 'See you later'

See you! See you later! Is there any nuance by adding later or not?
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2answers
175 views

What is another way of saying “No more likely?”

A No more likely than B B No less likely than A What is a good way of saying "No more likely?"
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6answers
163 views

Is there a pejorative word for “poor” that can be used in a self-deprecating way?

I was trying to translate Portuguese-language expression pé-rapado into English, which literally means "grated/rasped/shaved foot", but that probably makes no sense in English. I'm not sure those ...
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5answers
5k views

Why “the powers that be”?

In the phrase "the powers that be," as in the sentence: It would never have occurred to the powers that be to run and supervise the National Lottery from anywhere but London. Oxford ...
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1answer
156 views

Etymology of ~Getting into someone's “kitchen”~

Popular in the 80s and early 90s in Black-American culture, but I doubt it made it into many books so we may be at a loss. The meaning, quite visual, is walking into someone's house and banging all ...
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2answers
101 views

Which is correct: '. . . mistaken on two counts' or '. . . mistaken on two accounts'?

Both appear to be used in academic writing. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any information on the idiom.
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1answer
69 views

What is said to check on a planned date?

When you have preplanned a date for something with a friend or a group of people and you want to ask if they are still committed to it and it's sort of a reminder Are on date? That doesn't seem right....
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1answer
52 views

Meaning of “not so apt to be solicited”

In 1852, a US senator complained that the head of the census bureau presented medical statistics to congress when he lacked expertise in the field. When the bureau chief told the senator of the ...
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2answers
178 views

word or phrase for 'collective serendipity' or win-win situation

I'm looking for a word or a phrase which describes, a change in situation having positive effect or being equally beneficial to both parties involved. eg. one fears not being able to make it to a ...
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1answer
133 views

Meaning and usage of “a bull in a china shop” [closed]

While I can kinda guess the meaning of the idiom a bull in a china shop, I would like to learn the proper meaning. And in what situations can I use this idiom properly?
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1answer
115 views

“Bring to a boil” vs. “bring to the boil”

Which is grammatically correct? Are both valid? Is it perhaps regional? Bringing something to a boil. Bringing something to the boil. I've always heard and said it "a boil" until I heard the cooks ...
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1answer
102 views

The rain/snow/storm “let up”

What does "let up" denote in "the rain/storm has let up so we can go out/drive back home"? With a context lacking clarity, should it be understood as, "the [hard] rain/storm has lessened up to a ...
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2answers
353 views

Is “star wars” equivalent to “wars of the stars” ? Then how about “world war”? [duplicate]

I have some questions: Why "star wars" and not "stars wars"? Is "star wars" equivalent to "wars of the stars"? In French it would be "les guerres des etoiles", what about the English version? If ...
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1answer
50 views

what is a “Tragic missed opportunity”? [closed]

What is "A tragic missed opportunity."? Context: It (The fight between Russia Tsar and landowners) was a tragic missed opportunity. Had the Tsar had pulled this off, Russian history would have been ...
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4answers
389 views

Meaning of “win-the-cycle crap”

In the CBS TV political drama Madam Secretary, Season 1 Episode 17, Secretary of State comes back from Iran after successfully stopping a coup secretly plotted by some Iranian anti-government ...
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3answers
379 views

Since when has “wallflower” been used to refer to men?

Dictionaries these days define wallflower as a shy or unpopular person not dancing at a party (see Merriam-Webster for instance). Etymonline says the first recorded use of the word in this sense was ...
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2answers
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Is a “wall-prop” a non-dancer at a ball?

Kipling uses the word that way in “A Friend’s Friend”, Plain Tales from the Hills, 1888. The fictional Kipling takes his guest Jevon to a ball, and Jevon gets hopelessly drunk, annoys everybody, and ...
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4answers
202 views

Single-word or idiom request to mean “overshoot the runway” and its etymology

In yesterday's Outfront anchored by Erin Burnett, she and one of the panelists exchanged the below conversation: Burnett: So, Van, Clinton was wrong technically in terms of there's been no ...
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162 views

How to say “I had cleaned at home”? [closed]

I can't find a similar sentence in Google. I'm trying to say that I already have done cleaning in my apartments and in the process of it I ... etc. Is "A couple months ago, we had cleaned at the home."...
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2answers
64 views

Etymology of the phrase “goof off”

It seems clear to be an American idiom with the approximate meaning, "to waste time or procrastinate." My curiosity is about its possible relation to the Goofy, the Disney cartoon character.
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2answers
71 views

What is the origin of the idiom 'a beam in one's eye'?

I already understand and so ask not about this idiom's meaning. Though some idioms fail the Principle of Compositionality, this idiom seems to derive from imagery and so its semantic shift can be ...
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3answers
136 views

What idioms could be used to say you are a close relative with someone?

Anne, Emily, and Charlotte Brontë are such talented writers. No wonder, they are cut from the same cloth. To be cut from the same cloth means to be very similar, according to Cambridge Idioms ...
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1answer
85 views

“Quality cannot be tested in” idiom

Please explain to me the meaning of an idiom “Quality cannot be tested in”. The context is as follows (from the book How Google Tests Software): “Quality cannot be tested in” is so cliché it has ...
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3answers
720 views

Is it correct to say “She hid quite a figure behind the wardrobe”? [closed]

I'm writing a story for my English class. Does the following sentence effectively mean that she had a good figure behind her dress? She hid quite a figure behind the Wardrobe. Does it apply to ...
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2answers
107 views

Usage of the slang “a man Friday” in English conversation

Our Boss was talking with someone and he said, The office clerk typist is our man Friday. Does the Boss mean the clerk typist is the person who he/she trust? And can I use this slang for a ...
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3answers
119 views

Idiom/Phrase for “results without work/effort”

I'd be greatly appreciative of a cleverly devised idiom/phrase that depicts the following concept: Results without work/effort. ...and/or... My Work/Effort; Your Result. Any idioms/phrases ...
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4answers
3k views

Is it “chalk it up to” or “chock it up to”?

Grammarist & Our beloved StackExchange both say that the phrase "Chalk it up to" dates back to, among other things, debts being tallied on a chalkboard. However, when I hear the phrase "chock it ...
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1answer
110 views

Is “be sleeping with a person in charge” a common metaphor or idiom for “being favored by that person”?

I couldn't find it in the Oxford Idioms Dictionary, but I've heard it a couple times from people who'd been unjustly favored over, and who possibly didn't mean to imply a sexual relationship: -...
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1answer
401 views

Meaning of “have one's fingers in every pie”

What is the meaning of "have one's fingers in every pie"? I know it is an idiom, but I can't find its meaning in any online dictionary. Also, I want to ask if it is a neutral phrase or if it has ...
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1answer
221 views

Etymology of “Horsengoggle”

(Note to the dyslexic: be sure NOT to confuse this with “Google”.) Horse and goggle --> Horse 'n' goggle --> Horsengoggle There is a Wikipedia entry for this hand game: a kind of rock-paper-scissors,...