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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12answers
4k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
4k views

Where did the phrase “shut up” as an expression of disbelief or amazement originate?

I recently heard shut up used according to this definition in Urban dictionary. shut·up (shuht-up) --interjection 1. An expression of disbelief. 2. Amazement; astonishment. I've only ...
60
votes
7answers
58k views

Which day does “next Tuesday” refer to?

At what point does next Tuesday mean the next Tuesday that will come to pass and no longer the Tuesday after the Tuesday that will come to pass? And, when does the meaning switch back? ...
4
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4answers
3k views

“What a weather” vs. “What weather”

Which of the following is correct: What a Weather! or What weather! This grammar app I have (for SATs) says that the right answer is the first one, but I've never heard it used in regular ...
3
votes
1answer
5k views

“what's in store” vs. “what's in stall”

I think this is probably just one of those phrases people get wrong, such as "for all extensive purposes" - but I just found this on a cafe web page: This question asks the meaning of "in store" ...
5
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4answers
8k views

Is it “If money were not an object” or “If money were not an option”?

The phrase "If money were not an option" is often used to mean "Don't worry about how much it would cost". However, I just noticed that the last word, option, makes it sound like saying "If spending ...
2
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2answers
54 views

Walls closing in

An old couple who are my friends, are so lonely that the walls are closing in/on them. Is my phrase correct to say that they start to behave oddly?
5
votes
4answers
3k views

“running a fever” origin

I'm running a fever/temperature. I have a student who likes to ask where idioms come from. Since the meanings are not literal, it is challenging for her to remember them. It often helps her to ...
9
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5answers
203 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. ...
8
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4answers
15k views

Analysis of “It is like a dream come true”

I've been unable to grammatically analyse the sentence It is like a dream come true. To me, it should either be It is like a dream that has come true or It is like a dream comes true. ...
4
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3answers
402 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?
0
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0answers
50 views

Who is Charlie Hustle?

From time to time I hear the expression "he's being Charlie Hustle" or something similar, referring to a person, who, well, hustles. Haven't managed to find any reference to the origin of this phrase, ...
7
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6answers
136 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, ...
2
votes
6answers
473 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
votes
2answers
87 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
votes
1answer
73 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
98 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
831 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 ...
29
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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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4answers
2k 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 ...
-1
votes
0answers
28 views

Help with direct equivalents? [closed]

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) ...
1
vote
1answer
39 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 ...
10
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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
votes
3answers
393 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
85 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?"
1
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1answer
71 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
votes
4answers
274 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
votes
1answer
234 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
votes
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
votes
2answers
42 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
votes
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?
16
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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
24 views

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

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
votes
2answers
189 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
votes
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
votes
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 ...
-1
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1answer
45 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.
57
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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
votes
1answer
28 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
97 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
votes
7answers
923 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
178 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
votes
2answers
73 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 ...