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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“Well-rounded” usage in the United States

What’s the first recorded use of the term well-rounded as it refers to being competent or trained in several fields, e.g., from astronomy to literature to social dancing to cookery?
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11answers
2k views

How do you describe someone who can hear you or see you but pretends or ignores your presence while you are trying to get his or her attention ?

you are trying to get somebody's attention by waving your hand or saying hello! but he or she ignores you; I am looking for an Idiom or word to describe the situation or attitude of that person.
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0answers
56 views

What is the role/function and origin of “to” being used in the idiomatic phrases “there's something to him/her/it” & “there's nothing to him/her/it”?

"something to him/her/it" Google Books (to him): Google Books (to her): Google Books (to it): The phrase meaning "there's something (with respect to/about) him/her/it (that is observable/...
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3answers
107 views

Idiom or phrase that describe some of being ordinary

I was reading an article I don't remember where; it was comparing baroque composers, who is prominent and who is not. Those who are not where described by an idiom (I remember it was something like "...
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5answers
3k views

What is a saying for someone who does good in the street, but is bad at home?

In Spanish there is this saying "Candil de la calle, oscuridad de tu casa". Which is basically said to people who do good outside, e.g. at work or school, but does nothing good at home for his or her ...
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8answers
730 views

Is there an idiom to describe someone who grew from less than average to influential?

Is there a idiom or common expression to describe someone who used to be shy, unsocial, unskilled, or even perceived to be useless, who somehow transformed himself or herself to be influential and ...
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5answers
504 views

Someone who uses idioms excessively

Is there a term for someone who uses idioms (e.g. right off the bat, lowest hanging fruit, living under a rock) excessively (but correctly)? To clarify the confusion in the comments: I'm referring to ...
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5answers
449 views

Describe a person who brags about difficulties

I am looking for a commonly used phrase, idiom, or simile that describes people who like to talk (brag?) about their difficulties, especially self inflicted or easily avoidable ones, as if having ...
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9answers
381 views

BrEng expressions to describe a man who is becoming stupid

I'm searching for British English expressions describing a person who starts to be stupid, crazy or foolish. I mean something like the idiom to lose one's head and epithets like: You fool! Are there ...
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8answers
3k views

What is the origin of the idiom “with all the bells and whistles”?

No major dictionary website carries the origin of this proverb. Some blogs speculate that it comes from a locomotive usage. In the days of the steam engine, engines would be equipped with bells and ...
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15answers
5k views

Idiom for someone who forgets their roots

I am having difficulty finding English idiom(s) for these situations: A person who was previously poor then becomes arrogant because she/he is rich now. A person who has been helped (because she/he ...
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1answer
122 views

What is the meaning of “your argument is invalid”?

Does the phrase "your argument is invalid" has some idiomatic meaning? Because I am often seeing it in places where its literal meaning doesn't make sense. In some cases I felt it means something ...
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1answer
15 views

Is 'what kind of starting pay' right?

What kind of starting pay do you have in mind? I've learned the above sentence today. But I don't understand how 'what kind of' comes with 'starting pay'. I think using 'how much' looks more ...
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1answer
50 views

A phrase for something that you enjoy, but is quite bad for you

I used to use it, but for some reason, and it's annoying me, I can't remember it. A synonym might be "my sweet poison". Usually used when talking about foods that are bad for you. Thank you guys, it ...
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1answer
42 views

Word for turning a situation around on someone

Let me describe the situation: My wife has been having issues with a certain employee at work...long story short, this other employee now goes out of her way to try and exclude/snub/cold shoulder my ...
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2answers
641 views

Origin of “off the meter” idiomatic phrase

When and how did the phrase "off the meter" become established as an idiom? Urban Dictionary defines "off the meter" as the condition of being "very good, awesome, great". I have heard and said it ...
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2answers
49 views

What's an idiom for missing the obvious?

A friend posted a photo of her daughters examining something tiny in the road. Up ahead of them is an enormous chasm where the road has been destroyed and washed out. They're absorbed in something ...
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4answers
5k views

What does “not biting” mean?

In a recent exchange with a highly eloquent friend (we were discussing a particularly peculiar episode he has pointed to me in a book) he replied to my comments on the episode with an idiom I've never ...
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1answer
50 views

What does “move his bust around” mean in this context? [closed]

Quite the contrary, actually. Winston Churchill, on the other hand, was terrible to his servants and family, and he was such a well-regarded leader that you can’t even move his bust around now without ...
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1answer
34k views

Proper use of the phrase “of all time”

I have a client who insists on using the following sentence in his web site: Lance Armstrong is the most successful American bike racer of all times. I think that "of all times" should be "of ...
3
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1answer
68 views

“In thrall to” vs “in the thrall of”

If you are in thrall to someone or something, or in the thrall of someone or something, he, she, or it has a lot of power to control you. Cambridge Dictionary Why "in thrall to" but "in the thrall ...
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4answers
2k views

Large as life and twice as natural

What does this idiom mean? Where did it originate from? In what circumstances could I use this phrase? (Because it is so cool.)
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1answer
18 views

“Don't hold me against your decision”—grammatical?

There's a fairly common expression: "Don't hold it against them", meaning "Don't blame them for what has happened". But does this exact phrase make sense: "Don't hold me against your decision"? ...
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3answers
12k views

What does “change one's stripes” exactly mean?

I found a phrase in the headline of today’s Washington Post article (Feb. 14) that reads "Mubarak loyalists change stripes to fit into the new Egypt." Though I interpreted the meaning of change one’s ...
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14answers
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Looking for idiom/expression to describe an instance where one makes something seem better than it really is

Maybe the example would help to describe the expression I am looking for: Say - a sub-par school or organization makes a promotional video, whereby they make the school look way better than it ...
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2answers
37 views

A word or an idiom for a person who is different from other people [closed]

And it should have positive connotations and it should be a noun Thanks
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0answers
43 views

Any English equivalent for Russian idiom “to write for the desk drawer”? [duplicate]

It means "to write literary works, knowing that they will not pass censorship and be published". I am looking for some English equivalents that can be used to describe not only writing but also doing ...
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4answers
143 views

What is an idiom for better than “textbook case”, “by the book” or “best practices” [on hold]

Something indicating above and beyond the standard best practices, superior to by-the-book-experience. For instance, I would like to use it in a blog title The non-textbook / non-standard / beyond ...
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2answers
2k views

Is there a word/phrase/idiom for temporarily satisfying strong feeling of hunger?

Imagine a situation where you've been invited to dinner at a friend's place. You're extremely hungry but you learn that the dinner won't be ready for another half an hour. So you decide to eat an ...
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0answers
34 views

Call in, drop in, drop by, call on, come by, run in, step in… how and when to use them? [closed]

call in drop in drop by call on come by run in step in They all expressed the idea of visiting someone/someplace, but I want to know the nuances of the using those verbs. Would you sort/group them ...
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1answer
42 views
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4answers
1k views

What's the sailing ship equivalent for “Full speed ahead!”?

It was "full steam ahead" in the time of steamers. One of the last sophisticated sailing ships was the clipper. They were capable of crossing the Atlantic in something like 11 days. Had crews of up to ...
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1answer
77 views

getting used to my new job [closed]

Are there good phrases to sound like a native speaker when you want to say you are getting used to your new job? A: How's your new job? B: _________________
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1answer
53 views

why come ing with verb after preposition

why we use "ing" with verb that comes after preposition? For example: he is accused for breaking a new vase. here breaking is being used after for
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4answers
142 views

Equivalent idiom for “turning in one's grave” for a living person?

If you do something that would greatly upset a deceased person, it would cause him to "turn in his grave". However, what if the person affected is still alive? Is there an equivalent idiom for this?
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2answers
78 views

Super Duper -usage and nuance

I'd like to know how to use the idiom: Super Duper. It seems to be a slang which means great or marvelous. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/superduper But, one of my colleagues sometimes says "I'm ...
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1answer
309 views

Origin of the slang AmE and BrE usage of “beef”

Beef began its life as an intransitive verb in 1888 and soon took on the noun meaning in 1899 appearing in such expressions as "What's your beef? and "I had a beef with him" (not a steak). Beef ...
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2answers
79 views

What does it mean to “dance with your demons”?

I have tried googling and there I cannot seem to find a definition. Just an anecdote here and there that incorporates the phrase. I've also tried an idiom dictionary but it doesn't come up. Is this an ...
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2answers
18k views

Origin of “sleep like a baby”

I believe that many, or in fact, most of you have heard the phrase "sleep like a baby". But actually, where does the phrase originate from? Personally, I don't think using baby is a good reference as ...
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1answer
5k views

How to use the phrase “if you will”?

Am I using the phrase if you will correctly here? To be honest, she wasn't much to look at, a plain Jane, if you will.
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17answers
3k views

Opposite idiom for putting my foot down

I got stumped when trying to write the opposite of "putting my foot down". As an example i'll give some context. I said: "In these instances I always put my foot down, but you make me X", where X ...
6
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2answers
98 views

Middle of Nowhere — An Idiom? [closed]

There's a debate in the office about what makes a phrase or expression or group of words an idiom. The phrase in question: "middle of nowhere." The sentence: "The website drops you off in the middle ...
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0answers
21 views

One could've it mistaken for…?

am currently writing a document that describes a person's behavior. And in one of my paragraphs, I have this three girls laughing so hard at a rooftop and a person from below might've mistaken their ...
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4answers
66 views

Is there an idiom for: “a list of things that you know will not be completed but you are asking anyway”?

Sometimes in a written text I express a ton of things I would desire for something to have even though I know it is absolutely impossible to fulfill those desires. For example in Spanish we can use: "...
3
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1answer
1k views

Meaning and use of girl child

I just stumbled across the name of the United Nations' International Day of the Girl Child To be honest, I have never heard the term "girl child" before, and could not find it in online ...
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0answers
28 views

on the usage of “put hopes…”

I am editing subtitles (for a language I know nearly nothing about). The original subtitlers(sp?) were not native English speakers, and as a result there are many corrections to make. This means that ...
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9answers
3k views

What's the English idiom for wanting something without the effort necessary to get it? [closed]

What's the English idiom for wanting something without the necessary effort to get it? In German, we say "wash me but don't get me wet."
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2answers
10k views

Do you have a beef with me?

To have a beef with somebody/something means:. to think someone or something should be changed. I've got nothing against advertising, but I do have a beef with how many bad ads there ...
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2answers
46 views

A word or idiom similar to sour grapes but simply not hating the object you cannot obtain? [duplicate]

I am looking for a word or idiom which can express a feeling similar to the sour grapes idiom but instead of putting down or hating the thing you cannot obtain, you just simply do not want it anymore. ...
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3answers
4k views

What is the origin of the phrase “grease the skids”?

What is the origin or derivation of the phrase "greasing the skids?" The phrase connotes preparation, in such a way as to make the subsequent activities easier. Definitions are available various ...