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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3
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5answers
9k views

Who were the 'pros from Dover'?

I was reading Rainbow Six by Tom Clancy this morning, and he compares his characters to the 'pros from Dover'. This was a phrase that I also remember hearing in the movie M*A*S*H - so it seems to be ...
0
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2answers
134 views

Why “a” bow and arrow?

Anyone who's watched CW's Arrow would recognize this line immediately: They've got guns. You've got a bow and arrow. They never say a bow and arrows. They never say a bow and an arrow. They say ...
0
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2answers
44 views

(go) off the boil

"(go)off the boil" seems to mean "past the crisis" in British English. What is the origin/etymology of this expression? Is it used nowadays?
2
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3answers
59 views

What does “face as sharp as a pen” mean?

I am reading a text and there is a phrase which I don't know the meaning of: His face was as sharp as a pen. What does it mean?
0
votes
1answer
49 views

Is “It's not a second, seven seconds away” a kind of idiom in English? [on hold]

Is "it's not a second, seven seconds away" a kind of idiom in English? What is its meaning? I am trying to make sense of the chorus in "7 seconds" by Youssou N'Dour and Neneh Cherry and I just can't ...
7
votes
8answers
3k views

What's the origin of “rob someone blind”?

To rob someone blind either means to steal freely from them, or to overcharge them: Fig. to steal freely from someone. Her maid was robbing her blind. I don't want them to rob me blind. Keep an ...
2
votes
2answers
99 views

How to politely say to sellers in stores that you don't need help? [on hold]

This happens quite often. You're at a store, and while looking for clothes sellers come over and ask if you need any help. And since my English is far away from normal English I just use what I know ...
-1
votes
3answers
74 views

“Thanks, my lovelies!” [on hold]

I was looking for a phrase to thank multiple people. It's supposed to be an endearment for friends but not super close friends. Is this an appropriate reply to compliments or birthday wishes, e.g. on ...
0
votes
1answer
51 views

I've just had a cup: is it correct?

Is it correct to say like this? "Would you like some tea?" "Thank you, but I've just had a cup" Would it be more idiomatic to say had one? Or both options are wrong? If so, how would you ...
1
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1answer
74 views

Where did the expression “falling down on the job” come from?

What is the origin of falling down on the job? What did it originally mean?
15
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5answers
7k views

Origin of “Put up your dukes”

This link claims that one cannot be sure of origin of this phrase. Three explanations are given here, but they are not very convincing (I am not a native speaker). In one of our newspapers, ...
0
votes
1answer
40 views

“He cooked me a soup with a lot of hot oil”

I'm looking for an English equivalent to a Persian expression which means this person got me in a lot of trouble. Literally translated, the expression is this person cooked a soup for me that had too ...
2
votes
4answers
7k views

“Have got” — verb form and tense

In the following sentence, what is the main verb and in what tense does it occur? I have got a car. There are two possible explanations that I can think of: get as the main verb in the present ...
5
votes
10answers
586 views

Is there any saying or idiom to describe the opposite of “blessing in disguise”?

Something that looks like a good thing at first, but has unforeseen bad consequences. For instance, while irrigation schemes provide people with water for agriculture, they can increase waterborne ...
5
votes
7answers
1k views

What does “too on the nose” mean?

What does "too on the nose" mean, especially as applied to art? I use the expression but struggle to explicitly articulate what I mean. My best attempt is that I use it to refer to film, music, etc. ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

What does “Picadillo” mean

I've heard expressions such as "He's had his picadillos" or "The Picadillos of his youth". But I can't seem to find any definitions on google (Maybe I'm just spelling it wrong? haha), only examples ...
1
vote
1answer
41 views

Synonyms for “big deal”

I have read on The Free Dictionary that the expression big deal may be used as an interjection to answer ironically "to indicate that something is unimportant or unimpressive". If it is the case, what ...
0
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1answer
28 views

aimless milling [closed]

"Prices in trading ranges go nowhere, just as crowds spend most of their time in aimless milling." What does aimless milling mean here? I don't think it means its literal meaning.
1
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2answers
1k views

Which is the correct idiom: “Force of habit” or “course of habit”?

Which is correct, "course of habit" or "force of habit"? (This question is inspired by this post on the woot forums.)
1
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1answer
10k views

Which is correct: “as good as possible” or “as best as possible”?

Which one is the correct expression: as good as possible as best as possible Both were suggested to be used in the following sentence: The activity has been performed as good/best as ...
1
vote
2answers
46 views

Difference between “Putting in one's papers” and “Putting down one's papers”

I have come across these two phrases and both appear to mean almost the same. As mentioned here: Putting in one's paper means voluntary separation from employment. and as I read here: ...
0
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2answers
86 views

A word for an amused surprise?

You tell your friend about a person's funny habit and that person shows it right away without knowing. You tell your friend "See!". You are surprised but you were right. What is the verb for that kind ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Meaning and origin of “bite the bullet”

I just learnt about the expression "to bite the bullet", meaning Accept the inevitable impending hardship and endure the resulting pain with fortitude (as seen in its article in phrases.org). I have ...
1
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1answer
40 views

Synonyms for “speak of the devil [and he doth/shall appear]”

Specifically, I'm looking for something that would fit in the same situation, but I need a less negative connotation. Saying that when my Dad, for instance, walks into the room while I'm talking about ...
2
votes
2answers
48 views

Suitable idiom for a situation, where one thinks that by getting rid of the effect, one has gotten rid of the cause

Suitable idiom needed for describing a situation, where one thinks that by getting rid of an unwanted effect, one has gotten rid of its cause, while in reality the cause remains and will start to ...
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0answers
22 views

forming a human being [closed]

one person tell me about importance of family in life. I got it , but can you elaborate it. I think there is nothing more important in forming a human being than your family.
1
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3answers
152 views

Priscilla = a girl who prefers to stay home: who might this term have been based on?

From Flappers to Rappers, a book of American youth slang, records "Priscilla" as a 1920s slang word for a girl who prefers to stay home. I'm curious to know why the author chose that name. Is there a ...
16
votes
13answers
1k views

What is the English version of the Vietnamese idiom “như cá nằm trên thớt” - “like a fish on cutting board”

We have a Vietnamese idiom, "như cá nằm trên thớt" - literally, "like a fish on cutting board". My apology for the rough translation because I regard myself as an English learner who is above the ...
3
votes
1answer
84 views

Why did Mother Teresa use the phrase “it is a poverty”?

I frequently see bumper stickers with quotations attributed to Mother Teresa that begin with the words "It is a poverty," for example: It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that ...
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2answers
2k views

What's the origin of the idiom “miss the boat”?

What is the origin of the idiom miss the boat? This is the definition of the idiom from Dictionary.com: a. to fail to take advantage of an opportunity: He missed the boat when he applied too late ...
0
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0answers
60 views

How do idioms come to be? [closed]

All these questions about idioms here on ELU makes me wonder - how do idioms come to be? How are they made up? How do they become accepted? Common examples are: silly as a wheel that's another ...
5
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2answers
2k views

Why does 'swings and roundabouts' mean 'gains and losses that offset each other'?

I know "swings and roundabouts" means "gains and losses that offset each other", but I can't understand. Any story behind this?
0
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7answers
14k views

What does “off you go” mean?

I came across the phrase off you go which has been frequently used in many movies. Especially, the movie John Carter impressed me with this phrase. What does it mean in different scenarios/cases?
3
votes
3answers
8k views

When is it appropriate to use “see you later”?

Most of the references I found online simply note that "see you later" is a farewell or parting phrase but nothing discussed when it is appropriate to use the phrase. Is it acceptable to use "see you ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

Where does the Irish idiom “at all at all” come from?

It's a common stereotype of Irish-English speakers that they end sentences with "at all, at all" as in You want a drink at all, at all? You have any money at all, at all? My question is ...
1
vote
4answers
8k views

What's the meaning of “a class act”?

What does the term "class act" mean? For example, The club is lucky to have such a class act and he is lucky to have the club. What does "class" and "act" mean respectively in this set phrase or word ...
0
votes
0answers
50 views

Is “And this X?” a common English expression?

In Spanish we say, "And this X?" as a short form for "And who is X?" Example: When I entered the room with Billy, Tom looked up and said, "And this high school brat?" Is this also a common ...
1
vote
3answers
75 views

One word for someone “excessively sentimental” in everything [closed]

Someone who makes you sick with his sentimental blabber. I have a colleague who cribs and complains at almost everything. He would always get sentimental while describing his misadventures or ...
2
votes
2answers
228 views

Why do we say kith & kin and not kin & kith?

Why do we often say Kith & Kin and not Kin & Kith? I was taught to believe that family comes first and the other later and I do still believe in what I was taught.
5
votes
2answers
5k views

Origin of “It's been a slice”

What is the origin of the phrase "it's been a slice"? I understand its meaning, but cannot find any listing of its origin, or possibly to what specifically "a slice" is referring.
5
votes
1answer
46 views

Why “hoping against hope”?

Doubtless the Orcs despoiled them, but feared to keep the knives, knowing them for what they are: work of Westernesse, wound about with spells for the bane of Mordor. Well, now, if they still live, ...
5
votes
10answers
323 views

What's an idiom or word or name for an initial tester?

What would be an idiom or word or name for someone that is an initial tester (like a beta tester). I am writing a speech for my younger brother's engagement and want to say how I have always been the ...
0
votes
1answer
22 views

What is the etymology of the Baseball term “meat hand”?

The term is used to signify the non gloved hand of the pitcher. I've only ever heard it used relative to the pitcher. For example, “On the bunt the pitcher used his meat hand instead of gloving the ...
7
votes
6answers
765 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
6k views

double whammy usage for two good things?

The phrase "double whammy" is used in a situation where two bad things happen but can it be used in a situation where two good things happen? I didn't know "double whammy" is used in a situation with ...
0
votes
1answer
28 views

Doing this also does or causes that type of sentence

I am writing the instructions of a piece of software I am working on and I would like to remind the user that running the specified computer command will also have a secondary effect of installing ...
5
votes
5answers
124 views

Is there a specific term for when you get offended by a criticism which wasn't meant for you?

For example, person A says something not directed towards anyone in particular, but it was a criticism nonetheless, and it was intentionally meant to indirectly tell off some people. Person B takes ...
1
vote
1answer
28 views

“Dance it out” or “dance it off”? [closed]

If the one wanted to, for example, dance to forget about problems/to unload, should we colloquially say 'dance it off' or 'dance it out'?
0
votes
1answer
51 views

Looking for a correct word / idiom

Here is a scenario: Suppose X, Y, Z lives together. X and Z had a fight and X decided not to live with Z any more. Seeing this, Y decided to help X to fight Z out. But then X and Z becomes friends ...
4
votes
4answers
752 views

Is there a word for lying on the bed peacefully, all your muscles relaxed?

Is there a word or an idiom for lying on the bed peacefully and happy? Throwing yourself down on bed arms wide open, all your muscles relaxed and staring at the ceiling with a happy smile like ...