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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6answers
485 views

Idiom/saying/word request for “inappropriately complex analogy”

I'm looking for an adjective, saying or idiom for an analogy which makes the things even harder to grasp, that was supposed to make things easier to understand. Examples: A guy makes an analogy to ...
5
votes
3answers
585 views

Do you know the meaning of the American idiom “pot calling the kettle black”?

I just want to conduct a research about this American idiom and how native American people use it. Can you guys answer my questions in the following orders? If you have better questions, I will be ...
0
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2answers
72 views

Is a blushing violet the opposite of a shrinking violet?

I understand that "shrinking violet" is used to describe an excessively shy individual. Recently, I encountered the similar-sounding phrase "blushing violet", but the definition given was the very ...
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9answers
2k views

“Teaching fish to swim”

Imagine one has to give a presentation to explain something to an audience which already knows very much about that topic. Is that correct to say in such a situation that one is teaching fish to ...
3
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4answers
200 views

Suitable idiom for using instead of immunize

We have water that is not drinkable, we boil it for killing the microbes, is this sentence correct “I immunize the water ” or there is an idiom for this action?
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1answer
30 views

Is this the correct useage of… including; but not only,

Is this the correct useage of, "every possible accessory and trimming a body could desire to adorn their costumes with, including; but not only, brightly colored ribbons, buttons, needles of brass and ...
30
votes
24answers
4k views

Are there metaphoric English expressions meaning “keeping composure at a fatal moment, never panicky”?

We have a Japanese old saying, “俎板の上の鯉-manaita no ueno koi, a carp laid on a chopping block” for describing (1) a critical situation you cannot avoid, and (2) a person who is self-poised at such a ...
1
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1answer
56 views

Is there more than a 'double' whammy?

I have three (could grow to be more) bad reasons for a situation and I wondered if there is such a thing as a triple whammy that is an extension of the double whammy. From my research online, a triple ...
2
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2answers
51 views

To have all one's marbles, usage and origin

I have seen this idiom used within a negative context such as: Don't think he still has all is marbles, but could it be used correctly within a positive context? Plus, where does this saying come ...
1
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7answers
400 views

What is the opposite of “preaching to the choir”?

I have found "Whistling into the wind" online but I do not think it fits because it seems to mean that your words are not heard, whereas the opposite should mean that you're being informed by someone ...
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2answers
43 views

'Blowing Dixie double four time' and 'He can play the honky tonk like anything' meaning

in Dire Straits "Sultans of Swing" what is the meaning of these two lines: In the first verse: You get a shiver in the dark It's been raining in the park but meantime South of the ...
2
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4answers
2k views

What does “slicker than snot on a doorknob” mean?

I have a friend from Mississippi and I've heard him use this expression sometimes: slicker than snot on a doorknob. What exactly does it mean? (I guess it's something positive but I'm not too sure ...
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3answers
562 views

Meaning of “at least Dick Turpin wore a mask”

I tried to sell my stuff and one of the guys asked me if I could bargain on the item and I said no. He replied with the message, At least Dick Turpin wore a mask. What does that mean?
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5answers
9k views

Why do we say “last night” and not “yesterday night”?

As from object, is there a rational reason for saying "last night" rather than "yesterday night", though you would say "yesterday morning" and "yesterday afternoon"?
2
votes
3answers
168 views

correct idiom for if you were me

I am looking for an idiom that can be used for this like "if you were me you would have done the same thing " OR something like empathy , think from my sight, is there any idiom for such scenerio? I ...
0
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1answer
23 views

At the beginning of “The hands of Mr. Ottermole” by Thomas Burke, an expression 'discolored themselves', which I can't simply understand

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, ...
5
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1answer
3k views

“When it comes to” and “with regard to”

Are when it comes to and with regard to always interchangeable? Is there any difference at all?
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5answers
19k 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 ...
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9answers
12k views

Why do people say “break a leg” to actors?

Frequently, before going on stage, someone will say "break a leg" to an actor, which is a peculiar acting saying meaning "good luck!" How did this expression come about?
3
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3answers
487 views

What does “boogeyman for everybody” mean?

I was watching a TV show about an air crash where an air traffic controller was partly responsible for the crash. In an interview an official says: "You don't deserve to be a boogeyman for ...
4
votes
5answers
17k views

What does “the need of the hour” mean?

I came across this idiom in a title, in association with a noun: [noun of a product category] — The need of the hour What does this mean?
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1answer
46 views

Why does “to wire” mean to trick?

A Collection of College Words & Customs written by Benjamin Homer Hall in 1856 defines a "wire" as a trick and I'm curious to know if it is of any relation to a magician using invisible wire to ...
9
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10answers
25k views

“The point is moot”

I was recently called out for using the phrase "the point is moot" incorrectly. My intent was to indicate that I felt that the point wasn't really worth debating or discussing. I was then shown that ...
6
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8answers
319 views

Is there an English (British or American) expression or idiom that refers to a recluse finally socializing

In Icelandic, there is an expression "að viðra sig", using the analogy of clothes that smell of closet and the act of taking them outside to get some of that old smell out of them, that is used to ...
7
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2answers
366 views

He remained cool as a cucumber

Why do we use cucumber to describe the attitude of a person who is able to control his/her temper in front of a difficult event?
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5answers
9k views

“hypothetically speaking” vs “theoretically speaking”

What is the difference between the phrases "hypothetically speaking" and "theoretically speaking"? If one wants to make a point using an example that would likely never happen, which phrase would be ...
2
votes
1answer
163 views

Is the idiom 'keeping well' recognized only in British English?

I've seen the idiom 'keeping well' being used to mean 'in good health' in some contexts where British English is expected. But Americans seem surprised by it. Is that idiom uncommon in American ...
4
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2answers
926 views

*Getting on one's nerves*, *last nerve* or *third nerve*?

I'm quite familiar with the idiomatic phrase of getting on one's nerves, but less so with getting on one's last nerve, though I had a friend who used a variation: getting on one's third nerve. Is one ...
2
votes
2answers
100 views

Idioms or phrases for “Be it good or bad”

Can you suggest some idioms or phrases for Be it good or bad? For example: Be it good or bad, television has become an indispensable part of our lives.
2
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1answer
29 views

Meaning of “affectionate abandon”

You should treat your book with affectionate abandon. In this sentence what does affectionate abandon mean? Is there an abandon that is affectionate?
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2answers
132 views

Meaning of “welcome distraction”

I want to know the meaning of a welcome distraction. It has no meaning when someone reads it first. I want to know the exact meaning. Is there a distraction that we can welcome?!
3
votes
3answers
76 views

One donkey at a time?

Has anyone heard this expression? If so, what does it mean? I use it to mean that one person should speak at a time, but there is no material whatsoever on the internet. I was trying to find its ...
3
votes
1answer
200 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" ...
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0answers
31 views

Is the use of alliteration formal or informal?

Is it informal or formal to use alliterations? I've heard couple of them lately. "right as rain" or "sure as shooting"
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0answers
30 views

“One for,” or “one to,” or perhaps something else

Say I am a die-hard communist (I am NOT!) and I want to grudgingly admit that there's this one thing capitalists are right about. I believe I could say something like "now that's one for Adam Smith" ...
9
votes
7answers
57k views

Don't look a gift-horse in the mouth

Don't look a gift-horse in the mouth. What is a gift-horse? Why shouldn't you look in its mouth? What does this idiom actually mean and how is it used?
0
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2answers
8k views

“Wear off” or “ware off”

Iv'e seen both spellings of the phrase. Is one correct and the other incorrect or are they both acceptable? Does one belong to British English?
18
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5answers
848 views

Etymology of “nick” in, in the nick of time?

We have the nick meaning prison, as in "he served time in the nick", then we have the verb to nick, meaning to steal; but if the police catch you red-handed, then "you've been nicked". And if you led ...
0
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1answer
32 views

Seem out to do something - meaning

Source: http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-04-04/putin-s-rejection-of-the-west-in-writing?cmpid=yhoo In fact, after Moscow's Crimean adventure, the West seems out to prove this point of ...
0
votes
1answer
44 views

against all odds

What is a simple definition or phrase to replace this idiom, "against all odds"? I could use despite all difficulties but it's too difficult for my 5-6 year old kids to understand. My sentence is as ...
1
vote
1answer
52 views

Is an excessively shy person a “gussie”?

I'm sure most of us are familiar with a shrinking violet as being an excessively shy person; however, while reading from Flappers to Rappers: History of American Youth Slang Dr. Dalzell defines a ...
11
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2answers
5k views

Origin of “the nature of the beast”

The nature of the beast is a well-known phrase or saying which means something like an essential property of the thing, particularly when the property is a vexatious one. For example: I don't like ...
4
votes
2answers
81 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
91 views

What does “wishy-washy” mean?

Question: What does it mean when something is "wishy-washy"? Is it informal? Is it American English, British English or both?
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3answers
95 views

Bike Race question - Loser gets to be the girl [closed]

I don't remember which movie it was in, but there were two men (filled with testosterone), and they had this bet that the loser would be the girl. It was never specified what ''gets to be the girl'' ...
1
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2answers
173 views

If you say in English: wear the pants in a relationship, then can you also say wear the skirt in a relationship?

What I mean is: if the person wearing the pants assumes a masculine/dominant role, then can we say someone assumes a feminine/submissive role by saying they wear a skirt in a relationship? Especially ...
6
votes
2answers
19k views

“Intents and purposes” versus “intensive purposes”

I know that "for all intents and purposes" is the correct saying, but I often hear/see people say/write "for all intensive purposes". I was under the impression that the latter is completely ...
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7answers
171 views
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3answers
1k views

Use of “them” as an article, not a pronoun

I've seen a lot of times the pronoun them used like an article. For example, in the title of the Delta Rhythm Boys Them bones, or in the first sentence of "Money for nothing": Now look at them ...