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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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?
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6answers
58k 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?
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2answers
436 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 ...
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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?
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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 ...
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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?
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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 ...
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2answers
2k views

Where does “Let's roll!” come from?

Where does the idiom "Let's roll!" come from?
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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 ...
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4answers
90k 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 ...
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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 ...
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3answers
17k views

What's the meaning of “get one's finger in the air”?

Could anyone give me an explanation of the meaning of "get one's finger in the air" and the usage of it?
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1answer
2k views

Literal breakdown of the phrase “case in point”

A "case in point" is something like a relevant example. How does the phrase break down literally, though? For example, "with bated breath" makes sense because "to bate" means to hold, so "with bated ...
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2answers
30k views

What does the “atta” mean in “attaboy” and “attagirl”?

What does the prefix atta mean? What is it trying to abbreviate? What a? Wiktionary claims that it stands for that's a or that's the, but I do not see the resemblance to atta.
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1answer
234 views

Is “plantingly” an adverb?

Is plantingly an adverb form of plant? Can you give me a example sentence? Edit: This use of plantingly came from the following quote: Firstly I [would like] to thank you for taking the time from ...
5
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3answers
684 views

Where did the “three fingered salute” come from?

Where did the phrase "three-fingered salute", meaning to press CTRL-ALT-DELETE on the keyboard, come from? As the "two-fingered salute" appears to be a mainly British gesture, I suspect the ...
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7answers
65k views

Which day does “next Tuesday” refer to?

At what point does next Tuesday mean the next Tuesday that will come to pass and no longer the Tuesday after the Tuesday that will come to pass? And, when does the meaning switch back? ...
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2answers
1k views

What is the meaning of “laying a fuse”?

What is the meaning of the phrase "laying a fuse"?
2
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1answer
1k views

What is the meaning of “being the type to point fingers”?

Here is the whole sentence: Being the type to point fingers, this person decides to run a git blame to see who last modified this line of code.
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9answers
1k views

Is there any idiomatic expression with the meaning “show all the hidden stuff”?

Which idiomatic phrase can be used to express 'showing all the hidden stuff' (it's supposed that nobody should find that out, some scandal things)?
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5answers
594k views

What does “What are you up to?” mean?

I overheard my manager asking "What are you up to?" What does that idiom mean? Is it an informal/negative way of asking??
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3answers
5k views

“Get out of your own head”

Get out of your own head How do I get out of my own head. Kindly explain this idiom!
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1answer
2k views

What does “Red tape” refer to?

What does "Red tape" refer to?
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2answers
442 views

“Friday afternoon” vehicle

New-car buyers often fear that they're getting a "Friday afternoon" vehicle! What does a "Friday afternoon" vehicle mean?
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5answers
2k views

“Put it at the backseat” or “Put it onto the backseat”?

What preposition should I use in the expression "put ___ the backseat"? The sentence goes like this: I have a few items on my plans, item A is the least important one, so I will put it ___ the ...
24
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3answers
77k views

Which is correct: coming down the “pike” or “pipe”?

Is the expression "coming down the pike" or "coming down the pipe"? I've always used pike, but I've heard a few people use pipe recently. I can see how both could make sense, but which is correct?
9
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1answer
3k views

What is the meaning of 'That about covers it'?

I am reading a book titled Struts 2 in action, and there is this sentence: That about covers it for aspects of OGNL that are commonly used in Struts 2. What I am confused by it is the structure ...
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13answers
6k views

What does “from hunger” mean?

What is the meaning of the phrase "from hunger", as in, "This xyz is from hunger"? From the context I found it in, it appears to mean either very good, or very bad, but it's hard to tell which. The ...
5
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2answers
6k views

“Up to” vs “up to it”

What does the phrase up to mean in the following? That sketchy character is up to something. That sneak is up to no good. How does that differ from up to it in the following? I'm sick, ...
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4answers
11k views

Answering the question: Do you mind if…?

The following always puzzles me as a non-native speaker. When somebody asks the question "Do you mind if...", there seem to be two possible responses. "Sure" and "No, not at all", which both mean ...
5
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3answers
7k views

How should “Home sweet home” be punctuated?

A quick survey of the internet reveals many instances of "home sweet home", no punctuation. But doesn't "home, sweet home" make the most sense?
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5answers
2k views

What does the expression “body shop” mean?

I recently encountered the expression "the man in the body shop", and I have absolutely no idea what it means. All help is welcome.
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4answers
1k views

How can I learn to get collocations right?

I read an article about collocation which includes an example: We can say highly sophisticated, and we can say extremely happy. highly happy and extremely sophisticated would be wrong. How can I ...
7
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3answers
48k views

“Intents and purposes” versus “intensive purposes”

I know that "for all intents and purposes" is the correct saying, but I often hear/see people say/write "for all intensive purposes". I was under the impression that the latter is completely ...
2
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7answers
623 views

“Aaron is a genius boy”

I wonder whether can we call someone a genius boy? I've been using this term to describe my cousin until someone told me that the correct usage should be boy genius. The question is: Can we say Aaron ...
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5answers
2k views

Terms for collections of animals

As I watched the murder of crows sitting on the line above my house this evening, I got wondering where all of the collective nouns for animals (pod of whales, gaggle of geese, pride of lions) came ...