A metaphor is a literary figure of speech that uses an image, story or tangible object to represent a less tangible object or some intangible quality or idea; e.g., "Her eyes were glistening jewels."

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Phrase for overusing just-learned skills?

Is there a saying or word for indicating the overuse of something you just newly learned? Say you were happy with a hammer and a nail and then somebody taught you the virtues of a screw and ...
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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 ...
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Ripe with Opportunity? Or Rife?

The Grammarist says I should use rife with rather than ripe with. So far so good and I agree. But is there an exception for ripe with opportunity? Googlefight overwhelmingly prefers ripe, and I like ...
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13answers
4k views

What metaphor or phrase can describe an object that is aesthetically pleasing yet totally useless?

Is there a conventional metaphor or phrase that just hits this meaning:good-looking yet useless?
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How did kool-aid come to be the drink of fanboys?

Why does Kool-Aid relate to being something's fanboy/fangirl?
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“Let's burn that bridge when we come to it” – is this sort of idiom mixing considered a pun, and if so, does it have a specific name?

I couldn't come up with a short title, but the upside is that there is not much needed to be said in the body of the question! For @dmr (and others), it mixes “let's cross that bridge when we come ...
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Why can humour be dry but not wet?

Humour that is presented in a matter of fact way, as it weren't even an attempt to be funny, can be described as dry. And any sort of writing or information can be dry if it's overly factual in ...
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“Pandora's Box” metaphors

The majority of definitions give the same meaning - "Pandora's box" is a synonym for "a source of extensive but unforeseen troubles or problems." Are there any other metaphors with the same meaning?
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Origin and exact meaning of “taken to the cleaners”

I know the meaning of this phrase by context, but the German analogs are no literal translations of this phrase and very dissimilar metaphors, meaning roughly: being tricked into something being ...
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1answer
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Similes and Metaphors - are similes a subset of metaphors?

I've always been taught that metaphors and similes both draw a parallel between two disparate ideas/thoughts/objects, but that a simile is a more explicit comparison using the word "like" or "is", ...
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The difference between an analogy and a metaphor?

Many a time I've asked what the difference is between an analogy and a metaphor. I've asked it to my teacher, on internet sites, to my parents, so on and so forth. I got a different answer every time, ...
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What does a “meteoric rise” imply?

Does the phrase "meteoric rise" connote that the rise is short-lived? Particularly bright? Generally lateral? It just seems like a meteor is not the best metaphor for a triumphant and lasting ...
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Metaphors similar to “Trojan Horse”

I'm looking for metaphors (non-jocular) with the same meaning as "Trojan Horse" - "A person or thing intended to undermine or destroy from within."
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2answers
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Roy Hodgson's “Church in the centre of the village” expression

Listening to the current England football manager, Roy Hodgson, speaking on the radio, he used a very curious expression while speaking about his team: "We have to try to get back to putting the ...
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What does “sock puppeting” mean?

I found a Meta Stack Overflow post in whose answer Servy says: it's sock puppeting and is a very serious violation "Sock puppeting" is a picture. But why a sock? Is it like playing with your own ...
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1answer
271 views

What's “nutty” about fruit and cake?

Funnily enough, food is often used metaphorically to describe someone's eccentricity or level of sanity. We have nuts Slang. a foolish, silly, or eccentric person. an insane person; ...
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What is the best way to describe someone who is very social in a party?

If a person is very social in a party, striking up conversations with different people from one end of the hall to the other end, are there some good expressions to describe this person? In Chinese, ...
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10answers
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Something of value that is worthless in the current context?

Is there a word/metaphor/idiom for something that has value, but is worthless (or even harmful) in the current situation? To use a couple of monetary examples: A check for $1,000,000 has potential ...
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2answers
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“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns"

“Thought is a thread, and the raconteur is a spinner of yarns" What does this metaphor mean and what is the origin? I know it is an ancient one, but couldn't find anything else! Is it obsolete ...
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6answers
573 views

Finding a suitable English translation of “An old donkey pulls all the weight all alone”

A Hungarian colleague of mine just impressed upon me the idiom An old donkey pulls all the weight all alone. The phrase itself isn't a common English idiom (not to my knowledge, anyway). I think ...
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2answers
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Origin of “to have a cow”

The phrase "to have a cow" is defined as "to be very worried, upset, or angry about something" in Free Dictionary Online. Other sources also define it to mean to react very strongly and emotionally. ...
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13answers
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Historical or literary examples of misguided or botched attempts to help that end up causing harm [duplicate]

I'm looking for examples from history, folklore, literature, movies, or pop culture, of situations in which a person or group attempted to do something helpful but, due to their own poor judgment, ...
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6answers
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What is the metaphoric meaning of silo?

Process-oriented organizations break down the barriers of structural departments and try to avoid functional silos. I was wondering what silo means here? Is it a metaphor?
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771 views

What does “Sautéed” mean in “Someone who has not sautéed in a subject”?

Maureen Dowd article titled, “Neocons Slither Back” in September 15 New York Times begins with the following sentence: “Paul Ryan has not sautéed in foreign policy in his years on Capitol Hill. ...
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Understand the meaning of “tall order”

I was wondering why a "tall order" means a formidable task or requirement? Is it a metaphor? If so, how shall I understand it?
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What's the metaphorical meaning of “Tone-deaf”?

I understand the literal meaning of "Tone-deaf". As Wiktionary puts it: Unable to clearly distinguish the difference in pitch between different notes. But what's the metaphorical meaning? As ...
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Short phrase for “things I did (wrote, drew, created, etc) when I was younger”?

What's a one or two word phrase that conveys the meaning "These are some things that I did when I was younger."? The context is a blog that features Writings, Photography, and Artwork. The short ...
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2answers
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What does “piracy pirates” mean?

What does the following phrase mean? In Soviet Russia, piracy pirates YOU. What is implied by "piracy pirates YOU" and what by "IN Soviet Russia"? Update 1: My difficulty was because the term ...
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3answers
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What is a Metaphor for “Being Thrown Into a Completely New Environment” [closed]

I am trying to convey how I was thrown into a completely new environment in my essay. What would be a good metaphorical representation of that?
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9answers
860 views

What is the metaphoric antonym to “paycheck to paycheck living?”

Is there any metaphoric antonym to “pay check to paycheck living”? In Japanese we have the word, ‘Kirigirisu zoku’ – people who live like a grasshopper who squanders money and not prepare for winter ...
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3answers
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What is the origin and meaning of “coyote ugly”?

I overheard two scoundrels discussing one of their dates as being "coyote ugly".
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Is there a fine line between symbolism and metaphors in literature?

Assume we have a literary masterpiece that is abundant in symbolism and metaphors. Within this masterpiece, the author uses a brook running through a glade of trees to represent a couple of things ...
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Use of American-Indian “How” in British English

These are excerpts from Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: Jerry Westerby screwed up his face in perplexity. 'That's what the boy wanted to tell me, you see, George. That's what he was ...
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Is the “Beltway Stop" a popular metaphor meaning a concurrence of events or things?

I'm interested in the phrase, “Beltway Stop in the Oscar Race” which is the title of an article appearing in December 21 New York Times. It comments on the concurrence of movies focused on the ...
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2answers
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Why do so many groups of people (marketers, UX, finance) use a 'funnel' as a metaphor [closed]

The concept of a funnel is invariably used as an explanation of a flow where you start with a large base group of something (usually customers) and end up at the end with a much smaller subset that is ...
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5answers
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Baseball metaphor, equivalent to 'lay your body on the line'

The English expression 'you need to be prepared to lay your body on the line' is a football metaphor, referring to the potentially painful act of lying down on the goal line to prevent a goal being ...
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1answer
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Has a dead metaphor ceased to be a metaphor?

In its simplest sense, a metaphor is a figure of speech where, essentially, a simile is ellipted to what is apparently a false statement, but as the intention is to emphasise the similarity rather ...
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1answer
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Metaphoric meaning of “racket”

How does the original meaning of racket lead to the following metaphoric meanings? an illegal or dishonest scheme for obtaining money a person’s line of business or way of life
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Analogy for arising difficulties

I'm looking for a metaphor or analogy for experiencing more and more difficulties (after getting more familiar with a certain teaching or art). I think I have seen a few in the past but I can't think ...
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What does “Eat our peas” mean - where does it come from?

In a recent speech about the national debt, Obama said it's time to "Eat our peas". What does it mean - where does it come from?
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What's the corresponding term for the mouth?

To wear blinkers or blinders is used metaphorically to mean choosing deliberately not to see or ignore the truth; to wear ear plugs refers to one voluntarily choosing not to listen. How about the ...
4
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1answer
204 views

We haven't been able to use the fan for a fortnight

In a John Clarke and Brian Dawe interview, the phrase,"we haven't been able to use the fan for nearly a fortnight." What metaphoric expression was this phrase actually referring to? I've googled for ...
4
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2answers
202 views

What does “sheafs” mean in “The rays cut straight sheafs”?

This sentence is from Atlas Shrugged, depicting rays of light running through coils of steam enveloping a building: The rays of a few strong lights cut straight sheafs through the coils. Could ...
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Phrase for something that is always out or reach/you almost have but never can get

I believe there is a two-word phrase for something that is always just out of reach for you and which you cannot ever seem to get. (It is not Tantalus or anything having to do with Tantalus, please). ...
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2answers
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How different is “he is a voice of reason awakening the public” from “he has a voice of reason awakening the public”?

In association with the question on Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Senator Rand Paul in the Time Magazine article “2013 Time 100” that I posted earlier today, I have an additional question about the ...
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4answers
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Another way to say “fulfill your dream”

What's another phrase or metaphor that means "to fulfill your dream" or "make your dreams a reality?"
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Does “with the descriptive noun of other noun” count as a simile?

In school, we're taught that similes are analogies using "like" or "as". This is clearly just a mnemonic for a comparison between two distinct objects. Metaphors on the other hand combine the two ...
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What is the part of the iceberg that is not the tip called?

I was explaining that something is the "tip of the iceberg". I then wanted to explain what the other bit of the iceberg consisted of. What's the bit of the iceberg that is not the tip? Or should I ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “another string to your bow”

Specifically - what kind of bow? I assume it refers to an archer's bow, but I guess it could relate to a bow used to play a stringed instrument (like a violin). Also, I've heard it used in the sense ...
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1answer
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What is the origin & meaning of “It used to drive me spare”? [duplicate]

While watching the eponymous documentary on Stephen Hawking, his wife described her husband's behaviour when he was deep in thought. She said he could be surrounded by children and not even notice ...