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
127 views

Are hatters really mad? [closed]

Given the winter festival and the wearing of hats on stackexchange, I'm reminded about the expression "as mad as a hatter." Does the term "mad" here apply to derangement or anger management issues? ...
1
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2answers
100 views

Word for going to ground floor

In a multi-story building when we go to ground floor from an upper floor, what word is used? Downstairs? Any other word? For example, when I go to the ground floor by elevator, should I say, "I am ...
2
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2answers
91 views

A month of Sundays

In a month of Sundays is used to emphasize that something will never happen. But this one, A month of Sundays in Paris, this is not the case. How can this be` understood?
3
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3answers
286 views

What does the word 'knocked' mean in the old song "Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road'?

What does the word 'knocked' mean in the old song Knocked 'em in the Old Kent Road'? I really want to know because "knocked" in the song, doesn't make sense to me.
3
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3answers
282 views

What does “if flawed” mean in “interesting, if flawed, concept”?

I'm not a native English speaker. I was reading some article and it said: "interesting, if flawed, concept". What does "if flawed" mean in this sentence? Does it mean the concept is ...
3
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0answers
145 views

“Season's greetings” or “Seasoned greetings” [closed]

Today I heard the phrase "Seasoned greetings." Is this just some clever word play on the traditional "Season's greetings," meant to mean greetings spiced up with seasoning, or is it a legitimate ...
7
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2answers
574 views

“Let's get it over (with)” — do I need the “with”?

I'm trying to understand why there is this "with". I can say "Let's get this done". So, why "Let's get this over with?" I would really appreciate if someone could explain that a bit.
0
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1answer
148 views

Why are so many English expressions derived from baseball terminology? [closed]

Get to first base Step up to the plate In the right ballpark etc Why are so many expressions in common use today based on this one specific American sport? Many of them seem to be used often in ...
4
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2answers
369 views

What does “a woman of mean understanding” mean?

In the end of the first chapter of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet is described as a "woman of mean understanding". On the Web, I found two meanings: of little knowledge bad temper ...
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2answers
101 views

Meaning of “yesterday's papers”

What does this phrase mean? It should be an idiom and I can't find it.
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2answers
77 views

What is meaning of “off” in this statement? [duplicate]

Would someone please explain this: "C++, pronounced "C plus plus," is a programming language that was built off the C language". What is meaning of "off" in this statement?
0
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1answer
80 views

“I've been looking to do [this or that].” Is “looking to do” idiomatic?

Pretty much that's the question. I wanna think that I have heard it used many times ("I've been looking to do that for the longest time"), but now I'm not sure. Thanks!
2
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1answer
110 views

Is “get sb / sth off the way” an accepted idiom or ‘theatrical nerd’s line’?

There was the following sentence in New York Times (December 12) article, titled “Govern in poetry”: This guy can write and he can speak, but he’s put those talents in a drawer for much of his ...
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5answers
738 views

A single word for “not seeing the big picture”

I am looking for a word that would describe being obsessed with the details of a larger entity such that the "looker" neglects to see the whole or (perhaps more importantly) the purpose of the whole. ...
0
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0answers
48 views

Difference between “idiom” and “proverb”? [duplicate]

What are the differences between idioms and proverbs?
1
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1answer
186 views

Origin of “Made out of whole cloth”? [duplicate]

Today I came across an idiom I have never before seen. Joe Garagiola, his lifelong friend from the old neighborhood in St. Louis, a fellow catcher, and great raconteur, got a lot of mileage ...
2
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1answer
58 views

Is “back the hall” accepted usage?

In response to the question "Where is she?", I've heard someone say, "She's back the hall." (Cf. "She's back there.") I understand the meaning to be something like "She's down the hall," "She's in the ...
0
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2answers
197 views

What is the meaning of “as much as anything”?

This book is mine as much as anything! What does this mean? Does this mean, "This is REALLY MINE!!" I would want native speakers' opinion.
0
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2answers
112 views

Is “they sold the stocks out from under me” a common idiom?

They sold the stocks out from under me. Is this "sold the stocks out from under me" common? It seems to mean they defrauded me.
4
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2answers
121 views

Is “I like!” a recent idiom? What is its origin?

Does it seem to anyone else that in the past few years people have been saying "I like!" in a new, playful, ungrammatical way? I am not plugged in to popular culture so I wonder if some of you could ...
0
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1answer
840 views

“as it so happens” idiom meaning and usage [closed]

What is the meaning of "As it so happens" and when do we use it? Refer to a synonym if you can please. Thanks.
1
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1answer
97 views

What does the idiom “heel to head” mean?

In Robert Charles Wilson's novel "Vortex" he writes: In the morning I toured him through Vox Core, heel to head. I know the saying "head over heels", but this one is new to me. What does it mean? ...
4
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3answers
556 views

Why do 'fine words butter no parsnips'?

I was at a dinner last night where some rather nice herb butter was served with the vegetables. Conversation close to me then turned to the English expression 'Fine words butter no parsnips'. It ...
0
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1answer
114 views

meaning of “the binding is fragile” [closed]

what is the meaning of "The binding is fragile" ? I saw it in one of the harry potters movie. But didn't know what it means UPDATE: pretend that someone wants to take your book away from you and you ...
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7answers
424 views

What is the opposite of “preaching to the choir”?

I have found "Whistling into the wind" online but I do not think it fits because it seems to mean that your words are not heard, whereas the opposite should mean that you're being informed by someone ...
0
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2answers
226 views

Is “how much ever” correct here?

"How much ever you prepare, it is your attitude in the exam hall that matters" From a previous question concerning the same phrase, I realize "how ever much" could be used.But I am asking this ...
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2answers
1k views

Synonym for “raise the bar”

Is there another way to express "raise the bar"? The context I'm looking for would fit this sentence: A firewall raises the bar for would-be attackers.
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5answers
9k views

“hypothetically speaking” vs “theoretically speaking”

What is the difference between the phrases "hypothetically speaking" and "theoretically speaking"? If one wants to make a point using an example that would likely never happen, which phrase would be ...
0
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2answers
105 views

What's an expression that means bringing something to where it can be seen or used?

I'm specifically thinking of in a public service context. Say there is a resource that exists but no one knows about it or makes use of it, so instead of waiting for the people to come to the ...
2
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1answer
235 views

“Rich in” vs. “Rich with”

The free dictionary provides two definitions for "rich with" and "rich in". rich with: having a lot of something; abundant in something rich in: having valuable resources, characteristics, ...
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3answers
178 views

What does ‘The vast majority (some 63%) of employees in the world are not engaged, “checked out”’ mean?

The Forbs magazine article titled “Unhappy employees outnumber happy ones by two to one worldwide” dealt with the latest survey on international employee satisfaction being conducted by Gallup since ...
1
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1answer
821 views

“For one thing” — meaning in context

I know what "for one thing" means. But sometimes idioms are used in such a way that gives non-native speakers a hard time to understand their meaning. I encountered the following passage: She ...
1
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1answer
126 views

The phrase 'Africa of Blue'

I was reading Martin Amis' 'London Fields' and I came across this sentence - 'The sky was also empty, blown clean, an Africa of blue'. I could not understand it. So, can anyone explain to me ...
17
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5answers
861 views

Etymology of “nick” in, in the nick of time?

We have the nick meaning prison, as in "he served time in the nick", then we have the verb to nick, meaning to steal; but if the police catch you red-handed, then "you've been nicked". And if you led ...
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1answer
633 views

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” vs. “Out of sight, out of mind” [closed]

So which is it? Do we feel more sentimental when we are apart from our loved ones, or do we tend to forget friends and lovers easily once they are out of our sight? Which idiom came first, and was the ...
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3answers
99 views

Does “[noun] of choice” imply the best possible option, or merely *an* option?

If I say something is the "treatment of choice" or the "pencil of choice", etc., does that imply that this is the best of all the possible choices available -- that those who know best would choose ...
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14answers
2k views

Idioms that mean making decision between two good options

I am looking for expressions that mean "to decide between two good options." For example, you have to choose between getting a car that you like or a super car that's very expensive but you are not ...
3
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1answer
98 views

“Advice I wish I'd had ears to hear” — is this phrase in common use? Origins?

Productivity writer Merlin Mann often uses the phrase "ears to hear" on his podcast. An example from his writing: "a discursive mishmash of advice I wish I'd had the ears to hear in the year or ...
8
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3answers
736 views

Do 'learn by heart' & 'learn by rote' mean the same?

Here in India, both the phrases learning by heart and learning by rote are taken to have the same meaning, i.e., blind memorisation without true understanding. However, some sources say that to ...
0
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2answers
135 views

Holding off on it or Holding it off or Holding off of it?

I would like to say that I'm pausing / postponing work on something. I wasn't sure which of the following is the right way to say it: I'm holding off on it for the time being I'm holding off of ...
2
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1answer
159 views

Meaning of “top” in “to sleep as sound as a top”

From "The Early Bird", by George MacDonald. A little bird sat on the edge of her nest; Her yellow-beaks slept as sound as tops; Day-long she had worked almost without rest, And had ...
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2answers
162 views

Is “cut against sth” an idiom or just ‘cut’ followed by a preposition?

There was a phrase, ‘the governor cuts against his core argument” on the issue of how to handle undocumented immigrants in the following sentence in Time magazine’s (Nov 23) article titled, ...
2
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3answers
448 views

Why do we say “to fall in love”? Is it something unwished for?

I was exploring the phrases for "to fall in love" in some other languages. And I came out with the result, only English describes the state of starting to feel love for someone as "falling". I wonder ...
0
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1answer
82 views

To “fling oneself on his/her face” — expression

What does this phase "fling oneself on his/her face" mean in the following context? Winston promptly flung himself on his face.
2
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2answers
128 views

“Thanks for the write-up!!” in American English [closed]

Just confused about something. If person A asks for some suggestions to person B, C and D via email. Now one of three persons say C respond over the email with very detailed reply having some ...
2
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3answers
310 views

An American English idiom for “die of happiness”

Is there an American English idiom for Russian "die of/from happiness"? I thought I would die of happiness when I heard this wonderful song!
2
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3answers
487 views

Does the idiom “The chips will fall as they may” really exist?

I heard this idiom "The chips will fall as they may." in the Elementary drama. I want to know what it means so I have been trying to search it on the internet. But what I could only find is "let the ...
1
vote
1answer
186 views

Sentence fragments as modifiers: “self-sacrifice incarnate, the 10th Doctor wavered…”?

I was recently asked to choose which of following two excerpts sounded better: Emotionally vulnerable and incarnate of self-sacrifice, the Tenth Doctor wavered between romantic and intensely ...
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2answers
84 views

Idiom for or more colorful phrasing of “without having their lack of trivia exposed”

I am writing a children's book (8–12) and am looking for an idiom or more colorful language to be used in place of the highlighted section. Now that she’d stumped me, Ms. Sanders, my favorite of ...
2
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1answer
141 views

What is the meaning of “the green and blue of the crops”?

I'm reading the My mother never worked essay by Bonnie Smith-Yackel. In the other fields, when the oats and flax began to head out, the green and blue of the crops were hidden by the bright yellow ...