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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4answers
45 views

Synonyms for “walking on thin ice”

It's tough to find synonyms for whole phrases as opposed to single words. I'm trying to think of at least a couple for "walking on thin ice." So far the only one I've come up with is "playing a ...
8
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1answer
107 views

Why is “violated” being used as future perfect with a person as the object?

On Aviation StackExchange, I've seen these: I don't think you will be violated.. He was subsequently violated... Pilot [...] may now be violated for it. ... pilots have been violated... It seems ...
2
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1answer
95 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 ...
3
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4answers
62 views

Word describing the one flaw in an otherwise perfect crime, plot or plan

I am wondering if there is a noun or phrase that articulates how a crime, plot or plan was foiled. I am interested in a noun or phrase that relates to crime in particular. For example, They two ...
8
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2answers
73 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.
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2answers
47 views

What does “be (totally) on” mean?

Today I come across the headline、“Meek and Nicki are still totally on” followed by sub-headline, “Just stop asking when they're getting engaged.” in the Scene site. Does “A and B are on” mean A and B ...
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2answers
49 views

Does “the military” refer to any military?

When someone uses the term "the military" is it implied they are talking about the military of the current country they are in, or any military? For example I sometimes see on application forms "Have ...
3
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0answers
82 views

Meaning of “Mythical Distance”

In this sentence With the break-up of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christianity, Europe saw India recede into a mythical distance Is mythical distance an idiom? What does it mean?
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1answer
24 views

Any difference between pleasure to us to… vs. pleasure of ours to…?

I am writing a super-formal letter (it is a semi-legal text) and I am unsure if there is any sensible difference between writing "It is a great pleasure to us to..." (26,200,000 hits on Google) ...
3
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2answers
126 views

Term or Phrase for “Listening without Understanding”

Is there a word or a phrase that describes someone listening to somebody else speak to him without understanding what is being said while acting like he's getting it?
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2answers
9k views

On / of one's own accord

When it comes to the idiom involving the phrase "own accord", is it considered correct to say "on one's own accord", instead of "of one's own accord"? To me, the former sounds more natural. Example: ...
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0answers
13 views

Can Fair Enough mean quantity enough?

Fair could mean quite large/big or many in quantity or degree, so can fair enough mean it's quite big enough or it's quite much/many(corret me if im wrong) enough?
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2answers
2k views

What is the origin of the “Dear John” letter?

You might receive one of these when you are getting dumped by your erstwhile partner. I don't think it is a coincidence that the a recent movie called Dear John includes a Dear John letter as one of ...
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5answers
1k views

“Must of ” vs “must have”

I was browsing a completely unrelated site and came across the following interesting discussion on the ever increasing proliferation of the phrase, "must of": ... You mean "must have", btw. Or ...
3
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1answer
59 views

English idiom for keeping a lousy employee on the payroll because of his connections? [duplicate]

You know (hypothetical) Larry, the CEO's third cousin, who was hired on an important and well paid position even though he totally sucks at it, dragging the entire department down, but the CEO keeps ...
35
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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 ...
12
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6answers
15k views

Does “to err on the side of … ” indicate wrongdoing?

Does the phrase "to err on the side of ...," specifically "err on the side of caution," indicate that it is wrong to be "on the side of," the object? "Err" makes me think of "error," and is such the ...
2
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1answer
28 views

Personification of a Vehicle and it's sleeves

Normally, to describe something which has special abilities or something secret, we use the phrase Something up its sleeve or something similar to that. Now, if I had to say the same thing about a ...
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2answers
61 views

My coworker and I were trying to solve a problem — we both tried two different things at once that only worked because of the other's attempt

Each solution to the problem we were trying to solve would have independently failed. We were each trying many different solutions at the same time. We each happened to try a solution that worked, but ...
0
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2answers
55 views

What is the idiom or proverb or phrase for this “hard packing but loose knot”? [closed]

What is the idiom or proverb or phrase for this "hard packing but loose knot"? For example, you took hard preparation for the exam, but, didn't attend it.
0
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1answer
30 views

Demonstrate a discrepancy? [on hold]

I was writing some article about scientific debate over one subject and then came to my keyboard the following : "... demonstrate large variability..." . I was wondering if I could replace ...
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1answer
50 views

“Righting wrongs” or “Writing wrongs”? [closed]

I've seen people using different forms of this phrase. "Righting some wrongs", "Righting the wrongs", "Right a wrong" "Writing some wrongs", "Writing the wrongs", "Write a wrong" It seems to be an ...
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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
4k views

What is the origin of the idiom 'all the rage'?

There are various expressions in English and other languages that use all, for example all right, or all dressed up and ready to go, however all the is not that common. The use of rage is even ...
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7answers
7k views

Etymology of “cut someone some slack”

Teenagers. All the literature tells you one thing and one thing only – that whatever they are doing, give them a break, cut them some slack, it's normal. From the novel, Apple Tree Yard I'm ...
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1answer
50 views

What is the meaning of “to spite the whole world"? [closed]

I found that in this text: recently wrote on Twitter that he was willing to revise his position towards ISIL and join it “to spite the whole world" if it stopped labeling other jihadists as ...
12
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9answers
4k views

Derogatory word or idiom for city dwellers

I'm looking for something people from rural area would use, especially when they refer to that person's inability to adapt to the country life.
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2answers
24k views

“Hang in” vs. “hang on”

Are these two the same when used to express "keep it up" or "survive a little longer"? Also, I often hear people say "hang in there", but I rarely hear people say "hang on there".
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9answers
54k views

Origin of “More X than you can shake a stick at”

What is the origin of the phrase "more X than you can shake a stick at"? Every website I've seen on this basically says the same thing (e.g., http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-sha2.htm): Recorded ...
6
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4answers
365 views

Why do we say “it's not even funny” after something that is not funny at all?

"My head hurts so bad, it's not even funny." Why would my head hurting be funny in the first place? It's already clearly not a joking matter. Why "guard" it from being a laughing matter, then? I get ...
17
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7answers
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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7answers
4k views

Does “walk back” have a meaning of ‘deny’ or 'keep distance from somebody / something.' as an idiom?

I came across the phrase walked back from time.com: a State Department spokesperson had walked back his (John Kerry’s) comments in the Time magazine’s (August 2) article titled, “Oops: John Kerry ...
2
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1answer
94 views

What is the etymology and the context of calling an unrelated woman “sister”?

For specific context, the question arose out of discussing Han Solo calling Princess Leia "sister" in "Star Wars" Episode IV. What is the etymology and context of using the term "sister" in this way? ...
5
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2answers
5k views

What's the meaning of “real gone”

As in the song 'Real Gone' by Sheryl Crow: "Everybody's lookin' for a way to get real gone." Does that mean something cool?
0
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1answer
57 views

Meaning of “off the clock”

Could you explain the meaning of the expression "off the clock"? Do I need to use hyphens as in "off-the-clock"? I have seen some explanations on the Internet, but none of them seem to be reliable.
5
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4answers
10k views

Origin and meaning of “from out of left field”

What is the origin of the phrase from out of left field? My understanding is that the meaning is unexpected, or odd. Is that correct? Real world examples of the phrase being used badly would be great ...
3
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2answers
72 views

Does “taking the heart out of something” mean to defeat it?

Does the idiom "taking the heart out of something" mean to defeat it? Context: rituals of science have taken the heart out of the rituals of religion
3
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5answers
21k views

A word that represents a group of people working to achieve a common goal or dream

I am working on a project that involves bringing people together who share common goals or dreams. Is there a word or phrase to describe groups of people who are working together to accomplish these ...
28
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7answers
6k views

An English idiom for “solve a problem that has been solved”?

In Polish, and I believe in a number of other European languages, there is an idiomatic expression which translates to "to force a door which is already open". It is used to describe a situation when ...
4
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4answers
101 views

Idiom for being forced to dig your own grave?

Suppose that a team of people is laid off but is asked to temporarily stay to train their replacements. Is there any idiom that would describe people in such a conflicting situation? "Digging their ...
2
votes
2answers
100 views

What's another way of saying “to hell with it”? [closed]

How do you express displeasure and disregard over something (e.g. To hell with that new policy _____'s office has come up with! I'm going to do whatever the hell I want) without sounding crude? I am ...
9
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8answers
1k views

Idiom/phrase for someone that looks completely different from everyone else

I swear, there's a phrase (a simile) I hear a lot that describes when someone just appears different from everyone else in a given crowd or location. For example, (and I'm trying to be as sensitive ...
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2answers
25 views

Meaning meaning [closed]

Could someone please help me out of the misunderstanding problem below? Empowering the underprivileged lies in assuring them that education holds the real source of power
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1answer
42 views

correct language usage [closed]

Those clerics, who often have views on life which are in stark contrast to the Belgian lifestyle, have been provoking identity crises in many immigrant youths, making them vulnerable for ...
5
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3answers
8k 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
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2answers
41 views

Synonyms for “having a property”

When writing a mathematical text one often wants to express that a certain object has a certain property, i.e.: "Object A has property X." Since this formulation gets boring if used too many times, ...
10
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2answers
397 views

How come “John is friends with Jane”?

The usage in the question title seems common enough to me, though it may be more common in Britain. But I can't exactly see what "part of speech" the word friends is here, and I can't come up with ...
1
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3answers
86 views

'Third wheel' or 'fifth wheel'?

If you are the "extra" person in a situation, are you the "third wheel" or the "fifth wheel"? Some books—like Film Noir Guide—say "third": O'Keefe plays an escaped convict on the run with his ...
7
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6answers
17k views

What is this idiom: “I'm going to start taking names and…”?

There is some idiom that starts out like, "I'm going to start taking names and..." I can't remember the rest of it. What is it and when is it used?
0
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1answer
25 views

running into someone after vacation

for the question 16, I don't know either using "How was your break?" or "What's going on". And Q20,"what about you?" and "what are you up to?" seem able to use? Could someone explain their usages?