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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What is the correct meaning of “held up” here?

Is it grammatically correct to use the phrase "held up" in the following sense? "I got held up with some other work", or "Let's reschedule the meeting. Looks like you got held up."
13
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5answers
747 views

Can one “marry one's wife”?

I was vacantly reading the paper the other day when I came across a strange formation in the obituary: "he married his wife in 19XX". I was rather taken aback by this; surely he can't marry his own ...
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3answers
2k views

Meaning of “a glimpse of insight”

I understand the words glimpse and insight, but what is the meaning of the whole idiom a glimpse of insight?
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4answers
6k views

What does “open up a vein” mean?

I found the phrase 'open up a vein of fury' in the article of today's Washington Post as shown below. The New Year's Day suicide bombing of a church that killed 21 people has opened up a vein of ...
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3answers
7k views

Why can 'kick back' mean 'get relaxed'?

I came across the following sentence in today's NPR news: In 2011, boomers start turning 65, the age when Americans traditionally stop working and kick back. A dictionary at hand gives the ...
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1answer
2k views

What does “Fight through the pain” mean?

What does sentence "Fight through the pain" mean? I heard this sentence in XBox360 game Gears of War. Can the sentence be also used with other verbs - can it be simply expressed as pattern "Do ...
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2answers
4k views

What does “bore down” mean?

I found the following sentence in today's New York Times. Inaction and delays by New York as storm bore down. The city's decision not to declare a snow emergency, transit officials' delay in ...
6
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4answers
43k views

Which is the correct preposition for the end of “pride myself” (is it “on”, “at”, or “in”)?

as in "I pride myself on my ability to speak Klingon and Romulan in the appropriate accents." Which is the correct preposition for the end of that expression?
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2answers
4k views

What is a “far cry”?

What is a far cry, and what is its origin?
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2answers
526 views

Idiom: quoted books

If there is, what idiom is used to refer to a book, which is famous and/or has interesting ideas, so that it's often quoted in speech, books etc. Maybe something like "divided into quotations" ? I'm ...
18
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4answers
3k views

Definite article — “on television” vs. “on the radio”

Why are these different? We heard the news on the radio. We watched the news on television. In this book, the author says we must use television without the. Why? It makes me crazy. Is ...
3
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1answer
3k views

What is “soft skill”?

Please elaborate what does it mean by soft skill in term of English language.
18
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4answers
36k views

Which is the correct idiom: “First thing's first” or “First things first”?

I've gotten into a debate over which usage of an apostrophe in the phrase "first thing(')s first" is correct. My thinking is that one would take the first thing and give it priority, hence the first ...
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5answers
4k views

Pairs in common idioms/phrases

There are phrases which pair things up. For example, "checks and balances", "bells and whistles", What is the rational behind this construct? Any more examples?
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6answers
10k views

What does it mean to be “hard done by” - a phrase I heard from a Canadian friend

From the context of discussion, I took "hard done by" to mean "taken advantage unfair of" as in "He felt hard done by by former friends." I had never heard the phrase before and have not heard it ...
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vote
5answers
10k views

Does “bend over backwards” have bad meaning?

If my boss asks me if I can help him to do something, I reply: I'll bend over backwards to do it. Does this reply literally have a meaning of flattery?
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5answers
23k views

Alternative to “skin in the game”

Is there an alternative idiom with the same meaning as "skin in the game"?
8
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5answers
5k views

What does “new normal” mean?

From one of the survey result (IT related), I came across the following line: Agile Development and Service-Oriented-Architectures (SOA) represent the “new normal.” What does "new normal" ...
7
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3answers
35k views

“Money for rope” … meaning and derivation?

I was listening to John Lennon's song "Gimme Some Truth" just now, and in it there's a recurring line: ". . . money for rope." I never thought about it much before, but it strikes me this has ...
8
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4answers
12k views

What does “to give out” mean when talking about a person?

Billy Joel, in the song She's Always a Woman, writes, Oh, and she never gives out, and she never gives in. She just changes her mind. I understand that by "give in" he means "cease fighting or ...
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8answers
3k views

Idiom for saying “You are making someone go mad/angry.” [closed]

First, a bit of context. Richard Stallman, father of the free software movement, has struggled all his life trying to explain that the "free" in "free software" is a "free" as in "freedom", not as "...
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5answers
67k views

What does 'gotcha' mean?

What does 'gotcha' mean? When would you use it?
8
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6answers
1k views

Why is “X on steroids” good?

As someone who follows tech, I have heard over and over that a product is "X on steroids." Now, outside of a few ailments and allergies that are treated with steroids, it is pretty well accepted that ...
12
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2answers
4k views

What does “boy” mean here?

Recently, in a magazine, I read the following line: It's been an eventful year and boy, has it flown past! My question is, what does the word "boy" mean here? Is it an idiom? What is its usage?
13
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3answers
110k views

What does “I'm game” mean and what's its correct usage?

As it is clear from the question title, What does "I'm game" mean and what's its correct usage?
3
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2answers
12k views

Meaning of “living within means”

Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.— Oscar Wilde. What does living within means mean?
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2answers
1k views

Meaning of the phrase “In the wash”

One of our senior technical architects uses this phrase: it will come out in the wash We generally take that to mean "let's do the detailed/mundane stuff later — and concentrate on the key stuff ...
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3answers
2k views

Using 'to swallow' to indicate having an emotionally hard time accepting a truth

Can 'to swallow' be used to indicate that you have a hard time accepting a truth? Neither a hard time in the sense of being able to understand it nor to accept that it is true, but rather in the ...
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2answers
14k views

Where does the phrase “Scare the Dickens out of…” originate from?

Where does the phrase "Scare the Dickens out of..." originate from? And does it refer to Charles Dickens?
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3answers
2k views

Why is a bad bowler called a 'pie-thrower'?

A poor bowler is called a 'pie-thrower' or a 'pie-chucker'. Does anyone know why this is so; particularly, why 'pie' was adopted for this phrase when it could have been just about anything?
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3answers
4k views

When it came time to

When it came time to... Is the phrase technically correct, or is it an exercise of artistic license?
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14answers
3k views

Is there an idiomatic equivalent of “I really loved what you said”?

In Armenian, we have an expression which literally can be translated as "You talked|told|said from my heart", and means "I really loved what you said", "I really excited about what you said, since I ...
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2answers
2k views

Why the scratch in “up to scratch”?

Up to scratch is used to mean of acceptable quality. Does anyone know why scratch?
5
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3answers
4k views

Etymology of “count your blessings”

I am not a native speaker. I hope I have a more or less accurate understanding of what the phrase "count your blessings" means ("not everything is bad, you should not really complain", is that so?), ...
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3answers
1k views

Is “if winning isn't everything then why do they keep score” a correct sentence?

We wanted to use this as a T-shirt quote, but I feel that "if winning isn't everything then why do they keep score" is wrong. The correct sentence should be "if winning isn't everything then why do ...
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3answers
17k views

Origin and meaning of “lay an egg”

What is the origin and meaning of the idiom lay an egg? I believe the phrase is usually used for when a team goes out and plays really badly, but I am not certain why.
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2answers
4k views

The saying “Hair of the Dog”

I drank a little to much last night, and one of my friends suggested "the hair of the dog" to cure my hangover. Where did this saying come from?
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3answers
4k views

Origin of “Turns the Table” idiom

I know the meaning of the phrase, but where exactly does it come from?
18
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6answers
60k views

Is “my bad” a correct English phrase?

I have seen many people use the phrase "my bad" in Internet forums. What does it exactly imply and is it a proper English phrase?
2
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2answers
439 views

The origin of the “free cash” idiom

Thinking of how I've finally paid my loan, I told myself that from now on, I'll get extra "free cash" each month. But this idiom always made me curious. The fact that both words contradict each other ...
4
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3answers
8k views

The times are a-changing? Why a-? [duplicate]

I'm Italian so I don't know English very well. While listening to Bob Dylan songs I've heard some strange use of progressive tense (is that the correct term?), the title of this question is one ...
7
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3answers
7k views

What does “salad days” mean, and when was it coined?

What does salad days mean? I've heard the term used to describe past better days, but what does that have to do with salad? Also, when was the phrase coined?
5
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2answers
3k views

“Spit and baling wire”

I just heard the phrase: "spit and baling wire". I cannot find it anywhere—can you help give me a reference, the origin...and the meaning?
8
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4answers
11k views

What does “X is not a four-letter word” mean?

Once in a while I see phrases like "Think" is not a four-letter word and just about any word can be where "think" is. I looked up the Wikipedia and looks like it says that "four-letter word" means ...
11
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3answers
7k views

Is “bad loser” a valid expression?

Is the expression "(someone is a) bad loser" valid? If it is valid, is it equal to "sore loser", or does it have a different meaning and/or use?
13
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4answers
7k views

Where does the idiom “Queen Anne is dead!” come from?

Looking through the dictionary, I chanced upon an idiom which attracted my attention: "Queen Anne is dead!" The dictionary says that it means something about "The thing you've just said is well-known,...
8
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2answers
2k views

Where does “Let's roll!” come from?

Where does the idiom "Let's roll!" come from?
6
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3answers
6k views

Origin of idiom “wearing the < role > hat?”

What is the origin of the idiom "wearing the < role > hat"? Here is an example from the post Getting things done when you wear multiple hats in PookieMD's Blog: I wear many hats, and I ...
49
votes
4answers
92k views

Origin and exact meaning of the phrase “I have to go see a man about a dog”

I hear my older coworkers use this idiom/phrase occasionally. It seems possibly to be a humorous way to get out of a conversation. Even as a native English speaker, I've never figured out the exact ...
10
votes
2answers
15k views

what is the origin of the phrase “a penny for your thoughts”?

Googling for the origin of "A penny for your thoughts," I have only found the origin of a likely-related phrase "my two cents" and simple dictionary entries for "a penny for your thoughts." What is ...