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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4
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1answer
34 views

“I'll go with the candidate I'm used to” or “I'll go with the candidate to whom I am used?”

I'll go with the candidate I'm used to. I get that this is colloquial, but, c'mon. Ending a sentence with a preposition? However, is the alternative correct? I'll go with the candidate to whom ...
1
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1answer
85 views

“Like swimming in ___” honey? [on hold]

My supervisor and I had a discussion about my thesis progress this morning, and he described my writing progress: Like swimming in _____. I have no idea about the word he said, then he changed ...
0
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1answer
38 views

An alternative saying for “it may be cheaper to build a new house than to renovate an old one”?

I'm looking to communicate the idea that performing a task would be less costly (more than just financially; technically, or when risk is considered) if you start from scratch or anew, instead of ...
3
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2answers
222 views

When does the phrase “Some of us…” include the speaker?

I do not recall ever hearing anyone say "Some of us..." without including themselves. It appears to me that oneself is assumed to be part of the subject. However, some of is usually used to denote an ...
0
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0answers
1k views

What is the meaning of “how did you fare out”?

I was in a conversation with a person and I told them that I'm doing a wild guess (on something) to which the person replied, 'How did you fare out?' What is the meaning of this? Is this specific to ...
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3answers
37 views

Is there an idiomatic prepositional phrase meaning the same as 'with the help of something'?

Is there an idiomatic prepositional phrase meaning the same as 'with the help of something', the something being a theory which helps to shed light on the reasons for certain events found in a novel? ...
3
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4answers
276 views

What are the uses for 'quick'?

Is the word quick ever used in reference to candles eg the quick of the candle? I know about the quick of the nail and obviously about the wick of a candle but I have a memory of the quick too being ...
11
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3answers
10k views

Where does “on one's last legs” come from?

To be on one's last legs means to be worn out, tired, run down, and ready to die or otherwise cease working. Some examples I've found are Grandfather is on his last legs. He'll be on his way to ...
4
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0answers
176 views

A question about “but not” as coordinating conjunction

So I was reading an article or something, and there was a sentence that quite intrigued me. a. You can turn everybody against you, but never your boss. "But never" is used as a coordinating ...
1
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1answer
42 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?
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4answers
49k views

The expression “hands down.”

How did the expression "hands down" come to mean "without a doubt?"
45
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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 ...
5
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2answers
78 views

-— this for a game of soldiers

There is an idiom that seems to be distinctly British: "---- this for a game of soldiers" where the dashes are replaced with various swear words. For example: "Sod this for a game of soldiers." It ...
1
vote
1answer
72 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 ...
0
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0answers
51 views

“That beats everything”

I'm aware that there is an idiom "That beats everything" which is used to express surprise. My question is whether I can say "That beats everything" about something that is way better than everything ...
20
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4answers
3k views

Is it “chalk it up to” or “chock it up to”?

Grammarist & Our beloved StackExchange both say that the phrase "Chalk it up to" dates back to, among other things, debts being tallied on a chalkboard. However, when I hear the phrase "chock it ...
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0answers
43 views

Origin of the term “fun fact”

Where does the term "fun fact" originate?-- namely, not with the compositional meaning but rather with the idiomatic usage to introduce some sort of unusual, esoteric, absurd or otherwise "...
9
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6answers
11k views

Is ‘on (in) a tear’ a popular idiom?

I was drawn to the phrase, ‘on a tear’ that I heard in audio in this week’s Barron’s magazine (June 6) reporting the good sales and profit performance of U.S. sneaker chain, Foot Locker: It says: ...
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2answers
381 views

High and Tight Meaning

This is a quote from the movie Avatar: "Col. Quaritch: I want this mission high and tight. I wanna be home for dinner." I seem to remember hearing "high and tight" used elsewhere. But I couldn't pin ...
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1answer
91 views

What does “drop and give me zen” mean? [closed]

What does "drop and give me zen" mean? Maybe it's some kind of idiom. Can you explain it to me?
4
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3answers
8k views

What is the origin of 'common or garden'?

Why do we speak, for example, of a 'common or garden' bicycle, meaning one that simply does the job of a bicycle without alloy wheels, Sir Bradley Wiggins pedals or any other bells and whistles. '...
14
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1answer
6k views

Etymology of “here goes nothing”?

I was reading my child a manga story today and one character said, "here goes nothing." I hadn't heard that expression since I myself was a kid, and I always took it to mean "here goes my best try." ...
6
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5answers
3k views

Origin of “to bone up on something”.

This unusual expression means to study something thoroughly. According to the Phrase Finder there are two possible but very different sources for its origin: The Bohn story has the feel of ...
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3answers
66 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 ...
2
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3answers
171 views

What are some synonymous phrases for the phrase “Turning Criminal”?

I need suggestions for different ways to say "turning criminal," as in "He began turning criminal, committing illegal acts instead of abiding by the law."
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0answers
14 views

something shouting down the road to something else

What does "to shout down the road to" mean here? Context: To pursue the conversation on triangulated conversations, Creed’s Work No.850 seems also to shout down the road to Gormley’s artwork ...
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0answers
20 views

Element of (possibility; probability; chance; opportunity)?

As in this sentence: "Chess, often referred to as the royal game, is the oldest of all board games which do not contain an element of ... "
0
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1answer
37 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
7
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1answer
93 views

For whom the bell tolls - origin of “ask not” instead of “never send to know”

"Ask not for whom the bell tolls" is a popular cliche. My understanding is that it comes from John Donne's Meditation XVII (1623). But in Donne's poem, the line is any man's death diminishes me, ...
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2answers
981 views

Question on indefinite article (in couple weeks or in a couple weeks)

I have a question on indefinite articles. I thought a is only used with singular nouns, by definition. Why is "in a couple weeks" the right way? Isn't a couple weeks more than one? I thought it would ...
0
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3answers
241 views

What does the phrase “Keep those cards and letters rolling in” actually mean?

How would I explain the following phrase/expression to an ESL learner? "Keep those cards and letters rolling in" I actually don't know where this comes from, or what it exactly means. Any help is ...
1
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0answers
30 views

What was the original word used in the expression “studiously avoiding their glance”

Formerly, there was a distinct word that sounded a lot like studiously and meant to pretend not to do or notice something. It hasn't been used much in a long time, but I remember John Fowles used it ...
3
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9answers
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?
8
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4answers
657 views

When someone phrases a question awkwardly to elicit a wrong response

I'm looking for a phrase that describes the situation when someone asks a question in a way to elicit an incorrect response. For example: Alice: Hey, Bob, have you never done drugs? Bob: Nope!...
28
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4answers
1k views

What are the nuances of the British expression “gone” used with time, as in “gone 8” or “gone midnight”?

An expression I have run across in British novels is "gone [hour]" like this: "It was gone midnight, and the house was quiet." The Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston "It's only just gone eight ...
6
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5answers
11k 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 ...
0
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3answers
89 views

Expressions or idioms that mean killing appropriate for use in a humorous context [closed]

I'm looking for expressions or idioms that sound funny/unusual and mean killing something. For example, I remember when I was playing Starcraft, there was a mission in which my marines had to kill ...
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2answers
7k views

Where did the words “Baby Back” come from when referring to ribs?

Many restaurants sell baby back ribs, but why are they called baby back, and when was the first use of the term?
1
vote
1answer
55 views

Idiom for two different consequences from one antecedent

I'm searching for an idiom to use to say briefly that two different outcomes may represent different sides of the same underlying phenomenon. I would use it in the topic of a chapter. These two ...
0
votes
1answer
583 views

What's a British equivalent to the more American expression 'Kiss my ass'? [closed]

I have the feeling that 'kiss my ass' isn't as widely used in the UK as it is in the US. I'm looking for a more British sounding equivalent.
3
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5answers
2k views

“Put it at the backseat” or “Put it onto the backseat”?

What preposition should I use in the expression "put ___ the backseat"? The sentence goes like this: I have a few items on my plans, item A is the least important one, so I will put it ___ the ...
3
votes
2answers
131 views

Origin of “hang tight”?

What is the origin of "hang tight"? When did it first appear in the American lexicon? It's meaning is well defined: To remain in one's current location. To wait patiently. Checking ...
1
vote
1answer
122 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 ...
5
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6answers
153 views

Generalized statements, mostly political

Is there a term used for statements made by politicians (and others) that are nebulous and allow people to infer what they want from them? For example, politicians speak about "Christian values", "...
12
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5answers
40k views

Cute as a button

Since buttons aren't particularly cute (IMO), where did this common phrase come from? I know it's old; I've seen it in 19th century literature.
0
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2answers
106 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
54 views

Looking for a word or phrase that describes the “flattening” or “smoothing” of a learning curve

A word or phrase that describes the process of making something more easily comprehensible. (I would actually like to exclude the 'learning curve' idiom) Examples; "How might we make this topic more ...
0
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2answers
75 views

Word for an idiom accepted as true but is actually false

According to "Wouldn't say boo to a goose", the idiom's meaning comes from the premise that geese are easily frightened. Assuming, as one commenter stated*, that this is factually false, is there a ...
0
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1answer
46 views

What does the phrase “lead on” mean?

What does the phrase "lead on" mean and how would it be used in idiomatic English? I came across the phrase in a text describing a user interface test, which talked about avoiding bias by "avoiding ...