A saying is something that is said, notable in one respect or another, to be "a pithy expression of wisdom or truth."

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5answers
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“Best is enemy of the good” (Russian idiom/saying)

What are English equivalents for following Russian idiom: "best is enemy of the good"? In Russian it means that if you are going too much after perfection you may make things even worse instead of ...
11
votes
1answer
294 views

Meaning of “match Greek with Greek”

From Christmas Storms and Sunshine by Elizabeth Gaskell (4th paragraph): Jenkins had his wife too. Wives were wanting to finish the completeness of the quarrel, which existed one memorable ...
36
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10answers
4k views

“To shoot out of cannon into sparrows”

In Russian we have idiom/saying "To shoot out of cannon into sparrows" (literal translation) which is used to convey an idea of applying too drastic measures to small problems. I believe there should ...
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8answers
240 views

Non-offensive equivalent to KISS [closed]

Is there a non-offensive way to tell someone: is better to (k)eep (i)t (s)imple, (s)... Update Let's say someone came with his part of the homework done, then it turns out to be a rather ...
1
vote
1answer
525 views

Origin of the phrase “That is how it is” [closed]

Where does this come from? That is how it is.
1
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4answers
231 views

Is there a saying like “Plum trees bloom most beautifully as they stand and overcome the cold severe winter.”? [closed]

Is there a saying like "Plum trees bloom most beautifully as they stand and overcome the cold severe winter."? It is a part of Japanese poem translated into English. It basically means a great ...
3
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4answers
13k views

What is the origin of “wake up and smell the roses”

Where did this saying come from, and what is its true meaning?
9
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5answers
5k views

Is there a saying like 'those who find faults with other people tend to be blind to their own faults'?

Is there a saying that could be explained as 'those who find faults with other people tend to be blind to their own faults?' As with people who are picky; their criticism of others often applies to ...
1
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2answers
979 views

Expression for “someone who's clueless of their surroundings”?

What is an expression or saying you could use to describe someone that is totally clueless of their surroundings?
15
votes
1answer
10k views

I'm British, so should I take a rain cheque?

I want to write the phrase "take a rain cheque" and am British. Should I therefore use the British spelling of the word cheque, or respect the baseball origin of the phrase "rain check" and use the ...
-1
votes
3answers
3k views

Lost in the Midst vs Mists of Time [closed]

Which of the following is more correct, and why? My attempts at Googling haven't produced a definitive answer, and all seem as sensible as each other going from base definitions. Lost in the mists ...
1
vote
4answers
1k views

What does “When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth” mean? [closed]

I found this quote by George Bernard Shaw: When a thing is funny, search it carefully for a hidden truth. Can anyone please explain the meaning of this sentence?
0
votes
2answers
1k views

How long is “in a second”? [closed]

When someone says "give me a second", or "one second please", how long do they actually mean? Do they mean "will give you a response as soon as I can", or "in a short time, around 5 minutes"
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2answers
454 views

How to pronounce 3:1 ratio? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do I pronounce “ratio 1:1”? What is the correct pronunciation of 3:1 (as a ratio)? I know this might be simple enough to be answered by any native ...
4
votes
4answers
15k views

What is the origin of the phrase “two nations divided by a common language”?

What is the origin of the phrase "two nations divided by a common language"? I have seen it attributed to Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and even Winston Churchill. The most likely looking source ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

What does “I'll kill that cat” in the play Dinner for One mean?

In the play Dinner for One, James the butler says, "I'll kill that cat," at time 14:05. What does this mean? Is he referring to the tiger rug which keeps tripping him, or is it a saying or ...
13
votes
5answers
13k views

Is it “a tough row to hoe?”, or “a tough road to hold?”

Is it an old farming metaphor, or a military saying? Where did this(these) saying(s) originate?
5
votes
2answers
7k views

What is the origin of “A cat in hell's chance”

What is the origin of the phrase: "A cat in hell's chance"? I understand it to mean "not a chance", but it seems a very curious saying and I wonder how it originated. e.g. Bob: Do you ...
1
vote
6answers
534 views

A phrase for ignoring the disparity at a low level, while seeking commonality at a high level

I'm having a hard time describing the phrase I'm looking for, so I think the best way to ask the question is to simply present the problem. At work I've been tasked with merging the guidelines (the ...
4
votes
2answers
8k views

Why is the term “double-edged sword” used for something that can be favorable and unfavorable?

When something can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences, the term double-edged sword is often used to describe it. Why? Does a double-edged sword have unfavorable consequences? Are ...
1
vote
1answer
267 views

Is the [blank] worth the shake? [closed]

I remember someone once telling me a saying in the form: "Is the [blank] worth the shake?" The meaning was similar to the saying, "Is the end worth the means?" I can't remember what the [blank] word ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

“Strike gold” but without the implication of searching?

Whenever I hear the phrase I struck gold the fact the person had to have done a certain search is implied to me. Is this correct? For example, if I say: Janet loves sex so much! I've struck gold ...
47
votes
4answers
3k views

Why “Speak of the devil”?

Why is the expression "Speak of the devil" and not "Speaking of the devil"? For me, the -ing would make more sense because you're currently talking about someone, when he/she appears. For example, if ...
0
votes
6answers
590 views

“Through difficult to defeat” [closed]

There is a saying that when translated from my language is Through difficult to defeat. Is it correct to say it this way? I know that the correct saying is To stars through difficulties. It is very ...
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votes
2answers
927 views

What does “USA intellectualism: a mile wide, an inch deep” mean? [closed]

I read "USA intellectualism: a mile wide, an inch deep", what's the meaning?
5
votes
2answers
5k views

Meaning of “take the lead out”

What is the meaning of the saying take the lead out? I ask because I was watching this video from the 1960's show What's My Line and Groucho Marx writes this on a blackboard (where he's supposed to ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

A saying indicating how some professionals don't apply their skills for themselves

Some made-up examples: Architect's house is always crooked. Mechanic's car is leaking Chef's breakfast is as plain as boiled eggs Is there an established saying for these situations?
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2answers
5k views

“What to do when you live in a shoe”

Where does the phrase "what to do when you live in a shoe" come from? I was asked today why I use slow internet and responded, "What to do when you live in a shoe" as though my internet limitation(s) ...
4
votes
6answers
443 views

How to say “I must nothing” on a t-shirt

My son has a t-shirt that says, in Polish, "Nic nie muszę". It translates literally as "Nothing (I do) not must", meaning something like I do not have to do anything. How would you express this in ...
2
votes
2answers
258 views

looking for a certain quote/saying about winning, luck and practicing

I'm not sure if this the correct forum, but I can't seem to be able to google it so you guys are my only hope. I know there is a saying that means something like "you have to be lucky to win, but ...
21
votes
8answers
954 views

What is a better way to name “The Wrong Question”?

On StackOverflow.com I often find that people ask questions about problems that arise due to poor design choices (typically due to a lack of knowledge about the particular programming language). For ...
6
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3answers
6k views

Talking out of the side of your mouth

Talking out of the side of your mouth This means one is lying, right? Or something else?
13
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14answers
5k views

Phrase for focusing on unimportant details

I'm looking for an idiom or saying that I could use when people are focusing too much on small details and not seeing the big picture. A couple that come to mind are "being penny-wise and pound ...
5
votes
2answers
728 views

“A wrong answer” vs “the wrong answer”

In English, when presented with a list (real or imagined) or answers that could be given to a question, and the correct one is not given, we will say that somebody has given "the wrong answer". ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Meaning and origin of “belt and braces” [closed]

What does the phrase belt and braces mean and where did it come from? I have a rough idea but would like to see if anyone has a proper definition for this phrase.
4
votes
5answers
332 views

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 ...
1
vote
2answers
225 views

Meaning of a saying about the difference between L.A. and New York [closed]

What is the meaning of the following? The difference between L.A. and New York is that in New York when you get robbed, you see the gun... UPD: Below is a part of the original discussion: ...
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votes
3answers
2k views

Sayings similar to “a picture is worth a thousand words”

I' m looking for a common saying or catchphrase that has the same meaning as "a picture is worth a thousand words". I need this as a title for an article that illustrates that point in a specific ...
0
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4answers
988 views

What is the meaning of “Set us up the [noun]”?

Why would someone frequently say "Someone set us up the (thing)" when referring to things done to or for them. For example: "Someone set us up the breakfast." "Someone set us up the ...
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2answers
2k views

“The crying baby gets the milk”

Where does the saying "The crying baby gets the milk" come from? I don't think it's from English.
5
votes
2answers
2k views

How do I explain “The man on the Clapham omnibus” to the man on the Clapham omnibus?

I have found that I had to explain what "the man on the Clapham omnibus" means to someone. I had taken it for granted that the phase was in standard usage, as my parents used it when I was a child. ...
8
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8answers
5k views

To “have someone's number”

Where does the saying I've got your number come from?
8
votes
2answers
8k views

What's the origin of the saying, “There's no accounting for taste”?

I hear it all the time in arguments over subjective judgements: There's no accounting for taste. Where does this saying come from? Is it a quote or old proverb?
15
votes
13answers
2k views

What is an expression for something you particularly like?

I'm not a native English speaker. I want to find the English equivalent of ho un debole per le ragazze svedesi that, in Italian, basically means "I particularly like Swedish girls." (It's just ...
2
votes
1answer
833 views

Idiomatic expression related to “cat-putting” [closed]

I lived in a scholarship house for all of one year when I was in college (in the US). At the end of every year, they held an event that they called "The Cat-Putting" in which a few residents would ...
2
votes
10answers
4k views

What are some old-world alternatives or precursors to 'WTF' (expressions of frustration or surprise)? [closed]

Such as 'what on Earth' or 'what in the world', etc. I'm trying to come up with a list of witty alternatives. Note: I'm not looking for alternatives to the letters W, T, and F. I'm looking for ...
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3answers
5k views

Origin of “spill the beans”

I believe this phrase means "to betray information". Could someone please explain its origin?
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Dropped the pen and threw up the sponge

This was said by one of my mates while retelling a story. The story runs that there was a court being held, and there was a recording-clerk as well. But this was a humor story, and the story continued ...
2
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3answers
2k views

What does “gleaning the cube” mean?

If you also know the origin, please, share.
3
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2answers
444 views

What is “dook dook” called in English?

I've noticed that there are some sounds like: Animal sounds nature sounds e.g. raining sound what are these called in English?