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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2answers
14 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: ...
3
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2answers
26 views

Does this situation constitute a “Pyrrhic Victory”? Irony?

Consider the following situation: A person, Alice, is hired to do a job for a company, ZooBiz. Alice is able to entirely outsource her job. She pays the outsourcer 50% of what she makes, and no ...
1
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4answers
13k views

“Going to go” vs “going to”

1) I am going to go watch a game. 2) I am going to a game. 3) I am going to golf. 4) I am going to go golfing. What are the differences and similarities between and among sentences ...
2
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2answers
50 views

idioms that mean being good at something [on hold]

I am looking for a few idioms that mean either being good at something or simply being generally good. "Ace" is the word I have in mind, unfortunately not an idiom.
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4answers
97 views

Expressions to describe having immediately understood someone's personality

What words could I use to describe the event of having successfully and completely "read" or understood someone's personality, upon first meeting that someone?
12
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2answers
19k views

Origin of “Under the weather”?

I understand that "Under the weather" means feeling sick. I heard a rumor that this idiom may have nautical origins, but I don't know for sure. Does anyone know more about the origin of this phrase, ...
1
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2answers
42 views

What's the difference between “from the ground up” and “from scratch”? can they be used interchangeably?

What's the difference between "From the ground up" & "From scratch"? both seem to have the meaning of "from the very beginning". Can they be used interchangeably?
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2answers
75 views

Verb choice 'do' in idiomatic expression [closed]

In common vernacular, an electrician or plumber might say something like "I'll do the plumbing for free". I know it's not exactly proper English but what exactly is going on (In a technical sense) ...
6
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4answers
3k views

Is the use of “all set” exclusive to certain regions?

I grew up in the Northeastern US where the use of the phrase "all set" to mean "ready" or "finished" is common. An example would be, "Are you all set with that?" (perhaps while pointing to an ...
4
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5answers
557 views

What's the US slang term for “following someone in a car”?

I heard this somewhere on YouTube and I wish I could recall where exactly. The person was recording himself from a dash-cam while driving, and when he noticed that a cop was following him, he said ...
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1answer
110 views

Can a spoof and a dark comedy be the same?

I and a group of friends were watching a video on TV when one idiot from the group (who wasn't my friend but a friend's friend) wanting to sound intellectual claimed that the video was based on "dark ...
0
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3answers
166 views

“Any way, shape, or form”

"[In] any way, shape, or form" is a rhetorical idiom, in which shape and form tend to function as intensifiers. It is normally used for emphasis where the non-idiomatic phrases "[in] any way" or (less ...
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0answers
36 views

What does “Dirty Blue” mean? [on hold]

"Dirty Blue" I heard this expression in a song and I don't understand its meaning.
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12answers
4k views

What's an idiom for doing something in an unnecessarily complicated way?

For an example, I'll quote C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: One day the cat got into the dairy and twenty of them were at work moving all the milk out; no one thought of moving the cat. ...
0
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1answer
43 views

Why can't “had better” take a that-clause?

Given that we say things such as "I'd rather (that) you do it.", I'd expect "I had better (that) you do it." to be possible as well to mean "I would consider/find/have it better that you do it.", ...
2
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2answers
6k views

“Make sure to” vs. “Be sure to”: Is the first one correct?

These two versions below are used interchangeably where I live now in the United States: Make sure to do something. Be sure to do something. But I always have found the first version clumsy. I ...
3
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1answer
7k views

Is single-word “inbetween” becoming more acceptable? How far can it go?

I get the distinct feeling that "inbetween" occurs increasingly often as a single word, but I'm not at all clear on why it's used more in some contexts than others. What I can is see that in Google ...
5
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1answer
96 views

Equivalent of local idiom “The potter drinks from a broken jar”

There's an idiom in a native language which literally means "The potter drinks from a broken jar". i.e. a potter will not spend a lot of time making a beautiful jar for himself to drink from, he uses ...
6
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4answers
5k views

What does “no love lost” mean and where does it come from?

I have trouble with the idiom "no love lost". I understand that it is used when people are at odds or don't get along, but I don't understand why. Interpreted literally it sounds like there should be ...
2
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3answers
11k views

“on par with” vs “on a par with”

Which of "on par with" and "on a par with" is the more correct way of saying that two things are of equal value, and why? Examples from a couple of google searches: "His verbal intelligence was not ...
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2answers
7k views

Why do we talk a blue streak?

We might say that someone who is exceptionally chatty can "talk a blue streak." What is the origin and meaning of this phrase? Is it generally insulting, or a nice way of saying someone is a ...
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3answers
82 views

Can someone explain the meaning of this sentence and what “but for ” implies? [closed]

I would not have worked in London in the summer but for being on holiday.
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2answers
64 views

What is the basic meaning of 'blueprint'?

I just want to know the meaning of blueprint. Some websites say it's a method of printing, some say it merely means a pattern or design used by engineers or architects to document their ideas. I ...
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4answers
1k views

How “Devil may care” is different from “After me the deluge”?

I came across the phrase, “Devil may care” in the following sentence of Maureen Dowd’s column titled “The Son Also Sets” in September 22 New York Times. “In 2000, when he (Stuart Stevens, Mitt ...
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2answers
47 views

What does “the balcony is really far away” mean?

Yesterday, I watched MasterChef America. There were two teams competing in the challenge of cooking and serving food at a football game. There were 100 voters and the red team won the blue team by 51 ...
2
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4answers
3k views

What is the meaning of the phrase “a man of the world”?

The name of one of the Ernest Hemingway's short stories is "A man of the world". It seems to me that I understand the meaning of this phrase out from the context of the short story. But all the same ...
0
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1answer
59 views

What is the origin of using '-wise' as a suffix? [duplicate]

What is the origin of using '-wise' as a suffix in expressions such as the following. Is it grammatically correct? Is it strongly idiomatic, or sloppy language? 'What is he doing job-wise these ...
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6answers
7k views

What connotation does “to fork one's repo” have?

In a recent news item, an employee was fired partly for making jokes about "big dongle" and "forking repos", which were alleged to be inappropriate sexual jokes. The employee admitted the dongle joke ...
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1answer
40 views

How is title case applied to idioms containing prepositions?

For title case that does not capitalize articles, conjunctions, and small prepositions, how should one capitalize compound verbs and idiomatic phrases containing one of these elements? For example, ...
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1answer
63 views

Idioms and phrases for showing empathy [closed]

I like to know any other phrases, just like the following ones that shows empathy to the other person. 1) Don't get me wrong 2) I can see where you're coming from.
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3answers
809 views

Do “the alpha and the omega” and “from A to Z” have the same meaning or something in common?

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, as one can read it on The Free Dictionary, says: alpha and omega, noun: 1. The first and the last: "I am Alpha and ...
0
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1answer
64 views

What does “straight out of [person]” mean?

I know the meaning of the straight out. But what does it mean with of? For example: It’s straight out of Alice Miller.
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4answers
12k views

What's the difference between a proverb and an idiom?

I think I have a notion what is what but maybe you know a good definition what is what? For example "Hindsight is always 20:20" — is that a proverb or an idiom?
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5answers
40k views

Origin of the idiom “falling off the wagon”

I often hear the idiom "falling off the wagon", as in "Has Robert Downey Jr. fallen off the wagon?" (i.e. Is he drinking alcohol again?). Where did the phrase originate? What wagon? And why is being ...
2
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3answers
668 views

What does “Stumble into the buzzsaw” mean? Is it a popular idiom?

I came across the expression “stumble into the buzzsaw” in the article titled “House Republican open to gun restriction” appearing in Time magazine January 11 issue. The article begins with the ...
0
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1answer
84 views

Why is a dead man like a plumber's candle? [closed]

Here I read the following about a man who had just died: He was the ghastly pale of a plumber’s candle. What exactly is meant? As far as I can google, a plumber's candle is just a shorter and ...
2
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3answers
1k views

Meaning of “be brought low”

Context (New York Times), The episode has been a sobering lesson in how even an agency that carries some 350,000 passengers over 104 miles of track every workday can be brought low by a seemingly ...
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1answer
83 views

is “ up on your mountain top” an idiom,

I wanna know whether " up on your mountain top" is an idiom? And if it is, whats its meaning? for example if some one gets on some body case and critisize him/her, if his, her answer is: " up on your ...
1
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1answer
47 views

Could anyone care less? [duplicate]

I've noticed recently that where in England we say "couldn't care less" in the US the negative is avoided and the phrase becomes "could care less". This is rather jarring because of the contradictory ...
9
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5answers
3k 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?
6
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10answers
2k views

Idiom request: Putting too much effort, but the return is so low that it was not worth the effort

I am looking for an idiom. You put too much effort, but there is so little gain that it would not be worth the effort. Update: More specifically, some guy wants to save money and gas, thus he skips ...
10
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4answers
3k views

Is there a better phrase that means “non-zero–sum game?”

A "zero-sum game" is a reasonably well understood phrase, though often incorrectly used as "zero sum gain." The opposite of this is a "non-zero–sum game," which I find rather unwieldy. Is there a ...
7
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3answers
4k views

Why can 'kick back' mean 'get relaxed'?

I came across the following sentence in today's NPR news: In 2011, boomers start turning 65, the age when Americans traditionally stop working and kick back. A dictionary at hand gives the ...
4
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4answers
74k views

Meaning of “let bygones be bygones”

What is the exact meaning of the phrase let bygones be bygones? If I had a fight with my best friend and then say it, which of the following does it mean? I want to forget the past and reconcile ...
6
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7answers
3k views

Why do we say “to be a laughing stock”?

I've come through the expression "to be a laughing stock" to talk about a person who has done something stupid and who people laugh at because of that, and I've started to wonder about it. First of ...
11
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4answers
7k views

What is the origin of the phrase “'til the cows come home”?

What is the origin of the term 'til the cows come home? While discussing this with friends tonight, the group had two possible explanations: Cows return to their barn for milking at a given time ...
3
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3answers
1k views

What does “to spit a rat” mean?

I know what spit means, and I know what rat means, but what does to spit a rat mean? I was unable to find any idiomatic meaning in the dictionaries either in the entry for rat or spit. The literal ...
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1answer
50 views

“Go a long way to” + gerund vs infinitive

Which one is correct? If they all are correct, which construction is the most preferable? Why? The fund will go a long way to solving their problem. The fund will go a long way to solve their ...
4
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6answers
78 views

Best way to describe “turning ideas into reality”

I'd like to ask if sentence “We accelerate ideas” sounds odd or natural? What is the best word/phrasal to describe transformation of the ideas into reality/real things?
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2answers
45 views

Rising out of its own momentum

The bellow rose and fell, then it blared out one last time, rising out of its own momentum as if it were escaping finally, after centuries of waiting, into silence. The beady night noises closed in ...