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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15
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2answers
744 views

What does “can't get arrested in this town” mean?

A phrase I've heard on various comedy programs regarding famous people is "[he or she] can't get arrested in this town." It often seems to be in reference to the person no longer being famous, however ...
2
votes
1answer
107 views

Holy holy=Holy s###?

I thought I heard the store manager (a native English speaker, mid-20's) muttered to himself like "Holy holy." That was when the store was newly opened and was so crowded with lots of customers. He ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Origins and meaning of, “Ham and Egg it”?

This term was used by a MLB sports announcer yesterday (5/10/2015 - Padres vs. Diamondbacks @ 2:10:41) talking about relying on relief pitchers. “Diamondbacks today trying to ham and egg it with ...
3
votes
2answers
8k views

Where does the phrase “crazy like a fox” originate?

If you say that someone is "crazy like a fox", it means that their behavior appears to be insane or nonsensical at first glance, but there's actually something very clever and subtle to it that's ...
0
votes
1answer
34 views

What does “working out of” mean? [duplicate]

Can you please tell me what "working out of" means in this context? "African composers working out of European-based choral and instrumental art music traditions are gaining recognition, as are the ...
18
votes
7answers
3k views

Why is news said to be “breaking”?

I was just wondering what the origins of "breaking news" or "we broke the story" are.
0
votes
1answer
18 views

To be a bit angular in one's views

What does it mean for one to be a bit angular in one's views ? This was said while describing an author of a book. The statement was in praise of the author, and in the end adds this qualification ...
10
votes
2answers
7k views

Is “make due” now considered acceptable?

Whilst plodding through Patrick Rothfuss' "The Name of the Wind", I came across: Our dinner was nowhere near as grand as last night's. We made due with the last of my now-stale flatbread, dried ...
0
votes
1answer
36 views

What is the meaning of “may very well be”?

I have come across this phrase recently. What does it mean? A young man who has read the life story of every eminent athlete of the twentieth century, or a coed who has steeped herself in every ...
8
votes
1answer
684 views

Source of the phrase “call [somebody] out of name”

I was introduced today to the phrase "Call out of name" as in: She claimed the other girl called her out of name. I had to ask what it meant and the answer was "she called her a bitch". I'm ...
1
vote
1answer
24 views

What does “in the know” mean? [on hold]

Following are a part of introductive speech given by a moderator at a meeting in the U.S. I couldn't understand or get the nuance of the sentence. Could you explain or express in another way? "This ...
-2
votes
0answers
43 views

What is the first word/phrase you think of when you hear about ARROGANCE? [on hold]

I'm doing my PhD research in cognitive linguistics. The subject of investigation is the concept of Arrogance in British worldview. So I’d really appreciate if British citizens could share their ...
1
vote
1answer
25 views

“Well-rounded” usage in USA

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?
4
votes
1answer
61 views

English equivalent for the Persian expression “To keep one's face red with slap”

In Persian we have a saying "صورت را با سیلی سرخ نگه داشتن" which literally translates to: To keep one's face red(warm) with slap It's used in a situation in which a person, if poor or ...
15
votes
12answers
3k views

Is there any idiom about the problems so bad that cannot be solved? [closed]

Do we have any idiom in English stating such a concept? "the problem got so bad/complex that it cannot be solved anymore"
0
votes
0answers
49 views

What does it mean when someone says that something is a take? [on hold]

I am not a native English speaker. So, I am familiar with only those terms and phrases which are clearly defined and used in literature or in formal communication. Today I came across following ...
5
votes
2answers
498 views

Who was Buggins of 'Buggins' turn'?

'Buggins' turn' refers to the practice of assigning appointments to persons in rotation, rather than on merit. The OED records this and gives examples of its use from 1901. As regards etymology it ...
9
votes
2answers
93 views

A word or idiom for a car mechanic that rips you off

I'm curious if there is an English word or idiom specific for a car mechanic that rips you off. In the case of a doctor, one could use charlatan, or quack.
0
votes
1answer
30 views

Just because he … he doesn't need to be

I hear sentences like Just because he is old doesn't mean he is slow a lot, and I don't like them. Is the alternative Just because he is old he doesn't need to be slow easy to parse and ...
1
vote
1answer
48 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
36 views

Safe-for-work idiom for “Don't give me that bullshit.” [closed]

Suppose someone says they will do something that you know they won't do. What is a safe-for-work way to reply that is similar to "Don't give me that bullshit"?
2
votes
1answer
37 views

“Would that of this journey I had heard…”?

This is a translation of a Heian period poem: Would that of this journey I had heard. So had my heart been with you when you sought the cuckoo's song. What does 'Would that of this journey I had ...
2
votes
1answer
20 views

in pursuit of / through a pursuit of

Do those expressions have some different nuance and grammatically correct? I have seen "in pursuit of" many times but rarely seen "through a pursuit of" which one would be more proper for the ...
0
votes
0answers
42 views

Holding up to an appearance

Can something 'hold up to' an appearance in the Queen's English? That is, can one say 'it appears to be green, but on closer scrutiny it does not necessarily hold up to this appearance'?
3
votes
8answers
3k views

Which of “chafing at the bit” or “chomping at the bit” is more accepted/proper?

I've used "chafing at the bit" for quite some time, but have also heard "chomping at the bit" as a way to indicate impatience, etc. Which of these two is the more "proper" or accepted variant?
5
votes
4answers
767 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Idiom: to be at loggerheads

Idiom to be at loggerheads with someone over sth The meaning is to be in strong disagreement with someone struggling constantly as in The two governments are still at loggerheads over the island. ...
1
vote
1answer
39 views

Is there any difference between ”control of/over“ and ”power over"

For example, what to choose here? "To compete for the control of/over a corporation" or "To compete for the power over a corporation" UPDATE If two workers compete for absolute control/power, what ...
0
votes
3answers
29 views

Phrase similar to “in the offing”

The meaning of "in the offing" I guess is "something that is likely to happen in the (distant) future" Is there any phrase that describes something that is likely to happen soon?
45
votes
5answers
7k views

Around how old is “a woman of a certain age”?

"A woman of a certain age" is a common saying. It means more than "a woman of a given age", "a woman who could be any age" or "female, without respect to age". It's usage instead seems to suggest a ...
6
votes
5answers
15k views

Meaning and origin of “get a grip”

What does get a grip mean and where does it come from? I think it is usually addressed to someone who doesn't understand the obvious, like in the third paragraph of this book review: I am amazed ...
6
votes
5answers
3k views

Expression for two people whose similar personalities makes it difficult for them to get along?

I am aware of the concept of "personality clash", when two people can't get along because their natures are too different, but what is it called when two people can't get along because their ...
5
votes
6answers
151 views

What would I call this 'attitude'?

A friend of mine has a bad habit of undermining people who are not the best in their respective fields. If in a car-race, player A wins out of 26 players (A,B,C...Z). He would claim 'A' to be the ...
37
votes
15answers
5k views

What is the equivalent of Persian idiom “When the reed blooms”?

In Persian, we say "When the reed blooms" when we want to express that an event: Never happens. (This is only the opinion of the speaker so it's not a fact) It's very unlikely to happen. It's going ...
1
vote
5answers
3k views

Where did the phrase “don't spend it all in one store” originate?

I've heard the phrase "don't spend it [money] all in one store" a number of times, virtually always in a joking manner. Where did it originate from and has it always been said as a joke?
1
vote
2answers
50 views

What does Megyn Kelly “dished about” her battle with sb. and “spilled dirt about” her colleagues mean?

Vanity Fair (May 17) carried an article titled, “Megyn Kelly calls out Fox News colleagues for not supporting her.” There was the following line: Appearing on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live — a ...
1
vote
2answers
71 views

How did “on the house” become a synonym of “free”?

question as in the subject. Noticed such an expression at least in two occasions...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

“He's unarguably the best” or “He's arguably the best”

I keep hearing the phrases unarguably the best and arguably the best. Some people say one, some people say the other when they mean he's the best. However which one is actually correct? If he's ...
1
vote
2answers
43 views

Crow collects chunks of glass in a hollow tree

So I'm reading "Norwegian Wood" by Haruki Murakami and I came across this passage this line : "Like the way a crow collects chunks of glass in a hollow tree." In context: "Don't be silly," said ...
1
vote
0answers
41 views

“These kids I tell you” or “kids I tell you” expression meaning

I have read them in few disconnected articles and in conversations but could not understand them completely. "These kids I tell you" or "kids I tell you" expression meaning. What do they mean ?
2
votes
4answers
811 views

What is the hand gesture called when you knock down your opponent in a fight?

Is there a word or an idiom for the hand gesture, done after finishing a task successfully or after knocking down the opponent in a fight? The one like wiping off the dust from your hands, which ...
0
votes
1answer
21 views

To come clean about/over

Could you explain me the right form of the idiom "to come clean" and its connection with subject? I have found the expression "to come clean ABOUT" in both of my printed dictionaries. The same form ...
16
votes
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 ...
0
votes
1answer
29 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
1
vote
2answers
2k views

“No less than” vs. “None less than”

Is the expression none less than similar to the idiom no less than? Which form is preferable to use in the following example: None less than the country's president attended today's meeting. OR ...
7
votes
4answers
9k views

What is the origin of the phrase “playing hooky”?

What does the word "hooky" mean in the phrase "play hooky" (skipping class/truancy) and where did it come from?
2
votes
1answer
27 views

meaning of “easier on the nerves”

What does it mean when we say "something is easier on the nerves"? Does it mean "it is easier to withstand"?
23
votes
9answers
6k views

Is the phrase “I just sucked it out of my thumb” used in American English?

I was born and raised in South Africa. We frequently used the term "to suck out of one's thumb", implying that an answer was just a wild guess or the notion had no evidence but was rather just ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

Where does “at any rate” come from?

People say at any rate to revert to a previous topic. But what kind of rate is it referring to? Like at any rate of exchange? at any speed?
0
votes
1answer
15 views

What is the meaning: splash about and splash around?

I'm reading “Alice in Wonderland” and found some idiom "splashing about in the pool", but cannot understand why is used about preposition. In the Internet I have found "splash around" and became more ...