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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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 ...
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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?
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6answers
862 views

Saying that refers to not going overboard in solving a problem when a simple solution exists

So I know I've heard this saying in American English before but I just can't quite find the original. I have come up with several made up variations like: I don't send the Navy (or whole army, or a ...
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9answers
526 views

What's the English idiom/saying to describe that the chosen word is not correct?

I mean that the word used is too light or too subtle to describe the gravity of the situation? For example (an artificial example): the tsunami starts, the incredibly big waves are coming to the ...
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3answers
67 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?
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4answers
23k views

How do you like them apples?

What exactly does this phrase mean and in which situations is it used?
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2answers
42 views

Looking for a folk saying or proverb that reflects “the closer, higher the competition”

I am looking for an American or UK folk saying or proverb that reflects the following idea: the closer are the players, the higher is the competition or the more level the playing field, the more ...
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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?
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3answers
1k views

Is there an idiom beginning “when a dog is cornered”?

Is there any saying in a complete sentence including “a dog which is cornered”? I have tried to find a complete one, but there seems to be no one. Actually, what I want to know is how to explain the ...
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0answers
36 views

What’s the original version of “I see, said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw”? [duplicate]

What is the original saying of I see said the blind man as he picked up his hammer and saw.
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2answers
68 views

What is a proper response to a joke about visiting dentist at 2:30/tooth hurty?

I advised my client that I would be unavailable on a particular day because I have an appointment with the dentist to remove a tooth. The client responded What time is the appointment? 2:30? The ...
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4answers
4k views

What's the origin of the saying “know your onions”?

In French, there's the expression occupez-vous de vos oignons which means "mind your own business" in English but can be literally translated as "take care of your onions". Know your onions however ...
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9answers
27k views

Is it 'Close to the chest' or 'Close to the vest'?

Apologies if this is a duplicate, I am just curious. Are they both valid? Which originated first?
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12answers
4k views

An expression or saying meaning “don't celebrate too early”

I am looking for a saying or common expression to say that it is not advisable to anticipate or celebrate something before you know the actual outcome. I am thinking about political elections or ...
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11answers
4k views

Is it correct to say “You are a path shower” [closed]

First of all, I am not a native English speaker and not very good in English too. I had a technical problem in my software project and thus took help of somebody. She helped me to find the right way ...
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vote
5answers
267 views

What is the English equivalent for the Spanish saying “God gives bread to those who have no teeth”?

There is an interesting popular saying in southern European countries, that in Spanish, for instance, says: "Dios da pan a quien no tiene dientes". Literally, "God gives bread to those who have no ...
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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 ...
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3answers
75 views

Saying for having an argument in public that should be private

Isn't their a saying when a couple fights where everyone can hear and they say things like nobody can hear? Something like, "Arguing behind a screen door" or "fighting with the screen door open."
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12answers
4k views

Are there English equivalents to the Japanese saying, “There’s a god who puts you down as well as a god who picks you up”?

There is an old Japanese saying, “捨てる神あれば、拾う神あり-Suterukami areba hirou kami ari,” meaning “There’s a god who puts you down as well as a god who picks up you.” In other words, “In this world, some ...
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2answers
4k views

Why does this “Ladies First” saying exist?

I've been wondering. Where did the saying "Ladies first" originate? Did it originally appeared in English countries, or? And is this always expressed in a positive/polite tune of meaning? I mean, I ...
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6answers
2k views

Phrase: “Colder than a witch’s kiss!”

The following was used in a radio broadcast (The Adventures of Harry Lime, 14th December 1951, episode 20 “An Old Moorish Custom”) as Harry was hit on the back of his head with a rifle butt by a giant ...
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3answers
40k views

Why is karma a bitch?

I came across this saying "karma is a bitch" a few times while reading some comments online recently. I understand karma as a religious concept to mean "what goes around, comes around". I also ...
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11answers
2k views

It never rains but it pours

This popular saying meaning: When troubles come they come together, (especially if you are unfortunate). has a clear negative connotation. I am looking for a saying or expression that convey just ...
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1answer
178 views

No sex please, we are British!

This well-renowned saying was celebrated in the 70's and 80's in London West End. But what is its origin? What roots in popular culture has this phrase?
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33answers
4k views

What's the English equivalent of “Drilling one's head”?

In Arabic (Specifically, north-western Levantine), there's a saying that goes like He drilled my head about/with that lunch meeting (بخشلي راسي باجتماع الغدا) Which means something along the ...
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5answers
1k views

A word that represents a group of people working to achieve a common goal or dream

I am working on a project that involves bringing people together who share common goals or dreams. Is there a word or phrase to describe groups of people who are working together to accomplish these ...
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7answers
90k views

What is the meaning and origin of the common phrase “the world is your oyster”?

What does the world is your oyster mean, and where does it come from?
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11answers
2k views

[S]he has the ears of a …?

Often, when overheard from far away, I find myself saying/thinking: [S]he has the ears of a hawk! Which doesn't really make sense as hawks aren't particularly well known for their sense of ...
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3answers
353 views

Is there a similar proverb in English as of malayalam

In Malayalam, there is a proverb "Either the leaf falls on a thorn or a thorn on a leaf, it harms the leaf." Can you suggest an English saying similar to this?
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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?
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1answer
123 views

What does “to be the lowest common denominator” mean? [duplicate]

I'm not English and I never encountered this saying: In almost all cases, it is possible and within reason to write completely portable code. In practice, this means that you shouldn’t ...
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5answers
4k views

“They know not of what they speak.”

Is this phrase wrong? Shouldn't it be, they know naught of what they speak?
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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 ...
15
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1answer
11k 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 ...
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2answers
109 views

Saying for not doing something because it is futile [duplicate]

Is there such a saying? Futile may be either because it will fail or because it is unnecessary / already taken care of. I considered: too many chefs spoil the broth and It's like carrying coals to ...
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0answers
147 views

Meaning of the saying “Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.” [closed]

Please, I would like the explation of the saying: Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence. I translated it to my native language, but ...
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vote
2answers
90 views

The penny dropped slowly

In Germany we have the saying "der Groschen ist gefallen", which exists in the English language, too: The penny dropped. But there is also a variation for slower thinking, "der Groschen fällt ...
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6answers
20k views

What is the origin of the saying, “faint heart never won fair lady”?

Having heard the phrase, "faint heart never won fair lady" for the third time in very short span, I'm determined to find out its origin. Unfortunately, when I Google, I'm getting a bunch of ...
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4answers
712 views

Is there an English equivalent for the Swedish expression “the droplet that caused the beaker to overflow”?

In Swedish, the expression "det var droppen som fick bägaren att rinna över", directly translated to "the droplet that caused the beaker to overflow", is used to express that enough is enough. Is ...
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5answers
1k views

What is a more politically correct way to call something a “Red-Headed Step-Child”?

I can't use the phrase "second-class citizen" either. This is for a professional blog post, so I'd rather stay away from "red-headed step-child". I can't use "second-class citizen" because I'm ...
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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 ...
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3answers
2k views

What does “gleaning the cube” mean?

If you also know the origin, please, share.
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5answers
2k views

“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 ...
9
votes
1answer
221 views

“… gets my goat”. What's my goat and why does it get it?

To get someone's goat is make them annoyed or irritated. But what is the goat and why does getting it annoy them? When and where does the phrase come from? What's the first known use?
15
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14answers
870 views

An expression for trying to futilely apply old methods that once worked

We are looking for an expression that captures this idea: When someone tries to adapt an old way of doing something, holding on to the original core of their process, in a futile way, instead of ...
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13answers
2k views

Are there any English sayings to the effect that little changes may lead to big changes?

Can you think of any sayings about change, especially ones expressing how a big change must begin with a little change? how certain institutions, ideas, or God remain eternally unchanged? Note: ...
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1answer
1k views

Why do you say “square” in “Be there or be square”? [closed]

I've known the saying Be there or be square! for a long time, but never really understood - why "square"? Where does that come from? Why not Be there or be rectangular! :-)
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1answer
410 views

Flog meaning to sell in “Flogging a dead horse”

I saw an article recently where the author used the term "flogging a dead horse" where the term flogging was meant in the UK slang sense of "to sell".It was accompanied by a drawing of a stuffed horse ...
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1answer
144 views

Good expressions to signify extensive analysis

I am looking for a way to communicate in a business context that I am carrying out extensive analysis to get to the bottom of something by synthesizing info and insights from various sources to come ...
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3answers
516 views

Is there an English saying like “cut to the chase”, but with a negative connotation?

If I say: "You really cut to the chase there." I think it's not clear whether I'm expressing approval or disapproval. I'm wondering if there's a similar saying which would express the sentiment ...