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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3answers
349 views

Does “Hang a Shingle” refer only to lawyers starting their own business?

I guess I've only heard it used to refer to lawyers. Is the term exclusive to lawyers?
2
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6answers
466 views

Is there a term for when just by saying that something is broken and showing it to someone fixes the issue?

This seems to be a common enough occurrence that it would merit its own phrase. I imagine it might be some sort of subset of Murphy's Law. But it's specific enough that Murphy's Law doesn't quite ...
0
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2answers
86 views

“For most” vs “of many” Idiomatic Language

For example, which choice of idiomatic language would best serve the meaning of this particular sentence? My friend Allan is typical for most / of many programmers today in that he ponders for ...
3
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1answer
62 views

Does the idiom “in check” come from chess? [on hold]

I was recently arguing with a friend that the idiom "in check" comes from chess. With the meaning that keeping someone or something "in check" restrains its choices and limits its actions, this seems ...
1
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1answer
96 views

What vs Where …is the common ground/basis

According to Merriam-Webster the common ground is a basis of mutual interest or agreement and the basis is the principal component of something Both are often used in the context of ...
0
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4answers
820 views

If you're “balled up” why are you confused?

I believe the expression 'balled up' dates back to the first decade of the twentieth century and I believe it means 'confused' but I'm all balled up as to why it means 'confused'. The only ...
5
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3answers
10k views

What is the exact meaning of “You've got yourself a deal”? Is it only an American slang?

I came across the phrase, ‘got yourself a deal’ being introduced as a vulgar American English by a character in Jeffery Archer’s, fiction “The Fourth Estate.” In the scene Keith Townsend, Australian ...
6
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3answers
77 views

Idiom whose etymology involves misunderstanding the original meaning

I found this question on a rather fascinating (if unapologetically prescriptivist) website: Is there any idiom -- not a single word, but a full phrase -- whose meaning has changed over the years, ...
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10answers
19k views

Opposite of “literal”

I was listening to the radio today, and someone said, "The couple came across a literal 'pot of gold.'" It made me think: how do you say the opposite of that? I'm looking for a statement or phrase ...
5
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3answers
102 views

The “wrought /wreaked havoc” misunderstanding

According to the American Heritage Dictionary: the past tense and past participle of the verb to wreak is wreaked, not wrought, which is an alternative past tense and past participle of work. ...
5
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4answers
1k views

Idiom: to be off the wall

When I come across idioms that are not transparent I try to find out what is behind such expressions. In the case of "to be off the wall" one does not see anything that might lead to the meaning ...
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0answers
26 views

Help with direct equivalents? [on hold]

3 questions: Is there a direct equivalent to the Bahasa term 'kepedasan', as in "Hei, kamu kepedasan ya?" in English? and greget as in 'Makan jus paku BIAR GREGET' (found on the Indonesian 9GAG, 1cak) ...
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1answer
31 views

Origin of phrase “passing the trash”

In broadest terms, the phrase Passing the Trash describes dealing with corrupt individuals by giving them transfers, new job titles or even promotions. However, a quick search with Google suggests ...
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6answers
6k views

Why are reveries sometimes called “brown” studies?

Though this idiom is by no means very common, one comes across it now and then. (I just came across it again today, which is why I'm asking this question.) Why is a "brown study" so named?
3
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3answers
389 views

What is the meaning of “Twice yet, carle, I'll come to Spain!”

The phrase "Twice yet, carle, I'll come to Spain!" occurs in the obscure fairy tale Molly Whuppie (more original version?) after a princess tricks a giant by stealing his sword. Contextually: "Woe ...
23
votes
15answers
10k 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 ...
0
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2answers
81 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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1answer
69 views

Meaning of “high in reach” regarding a training session

If an educational company described their session methodology as "high in reach" does it mean: the size of the audience the effectiveness of the training other? The original sentence in a press ...
3
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4answers
268 views

Can I say “something in your vibe” as an alternative idiom to “to vibe with something.”

I am searching for a slogan for my website named "Vibeware", and as you might have guessed, it is about software (the name itself being a result of playing around with the first letters in my name ...
8
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1answer
231 views

Why “out” in “eat your heart out”?

I used the phrase the other day and it struck me as odd that out is needed. Wiktionary cites the following etymology of sorts: Disputed. Three schools of thought exist: From "This will eat ...
0
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1answer
29 views

To no end VS no end

I'm curious to know if my examples are right or the idioms mean the same both ways? It worries me to no end = It worries me in vain. it worries me no end = It worries me a lot.
3
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2answers
41 views

Is “Do your worst” understood to be a cheeky double entendre?

Can be said (good-natured or not) to an opponent before a match in defiance of their abilities. “Bring it on” is a similar phrase. I just realized it can be a backhanded slight. “[I hope you] do ...
4
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5answers
4k views

Origin of “suit yourself”

The young daughter of a friend of mine said, "I think 'suit yourself' comes from a lazy tailor," which cracked us up. It also got me wondering. I did the obligatory google search and came up with ...
5
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6answers
3k views

Phrase which describes falsely improving something

Is there an aphorism or proverb in English which describes attempting to improve something fundamentally flawed by dressing it with a lot of ornament?
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9answers
4k views

Is there a word or phrase for something that one might wish exists, but most certainly doesn't?

An example might be a car that is fast, luxurious, reliable, gets great gas mileage, and is very cheap. Clearly we'd all love to own such a car, but it doesn't exist, and probably never will. There's ...
0
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0answers
23 views

'one can not do this any more than one can do that' [on hold]

I find it strange there are stacks and stacks of web sites and pages devote to explaining some very obvious idioms, like ' no more than', 'any more than', and the like; but I could not find a single ...
0
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5answers
75 views

Preposition usage: “10% off on” vs. “10% off” [closed]

Which one is correct? Enjoy 10% off regular priced item or Enjoy 10% off on regular priced item
0
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2answers
188 views

How to refer to something “demanding” which doesn't happen all of a sudden?

Looking for a verb to express something that requires some time and effort to evolve, like collecting. I want to express that collecting requires some time and the collection doesn't just come out ...
3
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3answers
4k views

Is the last word in “The past is ____.” ‘past’ or ‘passed’?

Which of the following is correct? “The past is past.” “The past is passed.” Both seem plausible to me.
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Where does the idiom “root for something” come from?

I am familiar with the idiom “to root for something” meaning that I am hoping for something to happen or taking the side of something. But what does this have to do with roots? Does it mean that I am ...
0
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1answer
71 views

{be} viewed as + ing-word

Is the expression "viewed as marking" considered idiomatic? I was wondering this because in the following SAT problem, the answer is no error. Jean Toomer was not only the author of Cane, a novel ...
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1answer
43 views

Which sentence is correct (too+adj.)? [closed]

Which sentence is correct? This object has a too low temperature. This object has too low a temperature.
56
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11answers
2k views

Is there an English phrase for an inability to actually *leave* already?

There is a Hungarian expression, küszöbgörcs, which literally means "threshold-cramp", and is used to describe that long conversation you have in the entryway, with all the guests awkwardly holding ...
0
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1answer
26 views

How do I understand when to use the phrase 'mad props'?

In Legally Blond the musical they use the phrase: MARGOT: Dear Elle, He's a lucky guy. I'm like gonna cry, I got tears coming out of my nose! Mad Props! He's the campus catch, You're a ...
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1answer
96 views

What does “discolored themselves” mean?

Murder (said old Quong)—oblige me by passing my pipe—murder is one of the simplest thing in the world to do. Killing a man is a much simpler matter than killing a duck. Not always so safe, perhaps, ...
9
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7answers
917 views

English Idiom 'cut the apple in half'

There is a French idiom, which translated word-for-word is Let's cut the apple in two It means both parties will benefit from 50% of the requested initial negotiated deal. Can this idiom be ...
2
votes
1answer
165 views

Two left thumbs / Two left hands / two left feet

I know there is an idiom 'all thumbs' and 'to have two left feet', but is there an idiom with the same meaning as 'all thumbs'? As in 'to have two left thumbs'? There is a similar idiom in Polish, ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Deconstructing 'for crying out loud'

How did the phrase/idiom for crying out loud come about? I don't understand what is "for" doing here. For X means that X is a requirement that has to be fulfilled. Why don't you do it *for X* means ...
2
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2answers
72 views

“Speak of the devil” neutral-sounding synonym for non-person scenario

Is there a neutral-sounding (i.e. doesn't mention the devil) synonym for the idiom "speak of the devil"? The idiom "are your ears burning" or a derivative of that wouldn't be great for this case ...
11
votes
4answers
5k views

Why is it “have someone wrapped around your LITTLE finger”?

I just had occasion to write she's got him wrapped around her finger (under complete control). I'd never really thought about this one before, but my guess would have been the idiom had some ...
4
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6answers
1k views

Are there figurative or idiomatic English expressions to mean hindering a person in achieving work / attempt?

When I said “Don’t pull my legs,” in English as a literal translation of Japanese idiom, “足を引っ張る-ashi o hipparu - pull one’s leg” meaning “trip a person up with a mistake” to my English enthusiast ...
3
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3answers
46k views

Meaning of “true north”

Roz, I'm just trying to find my true north
0
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1answer
52 views

help to find a taboo equivalent

Excuse me for what you are going to read now. If you don't accept the taboo lexics, please don't read this. There is a taboo phrase in Russian: "ебись оно всё конём" /jebis ono vsjo konjom/ which ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

“Rule the Roast” and “Rule the Roost”

John Ayto, Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms (2009) has this entry for "rule the roost": rule the roost be in complete control The original expression was rule the roast, which was common ...
1
vote
1answer
73 views

What does “hog log” mean and where does it come from? [closed]

I recently read the following line (emphasis mine): What hog logs or sacred cows in the organization should we eliminate? I gather from the context that "hog log" probably means something like a ...
5
votes
7answers
3k views

Idioms for “looking for something” and “trying to find something in a room full of mess”

I am trying to find idioms that could express "looking for something" and "trying to find something in a room full of mess". One that I could find was "hunt high and low," but for some reason I don't ...
3
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4answers
67 views

An Idiom as a reality

Is there a word to describe when you use an idiom to describe reality ? Examples : Raining cats and dogs and it is actually raining cats and dogs, Boxed in and you are actually surrounded by boxes.
9
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3answers
102 views

What is the etymology of the term “form factor”?

I'm a theoretical physicist, and am doing some work on quantities called form factors. To an expert, a form factor says something about scattering particles from fields. This probably originated from ...