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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14answers
12k 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
37
votes
10answers
10k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

“Some champagne for my real friends, some real pain for my sham friends.”

Some champagne for my real friend, some real pain for my sham friends." Is there a name for this kind of sentence? Note: I'm not sure the origin of this, but it is a line in Spike Lee's movie, ...
10
votes
9answers
53k 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?
5
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3answers
27k views

“Tit for tat”—Where does this come from?

I always ask myself where this saying originates. I only know the individual words, tit and tat, but why is this a saying?
45
votes
21answers
8k views

Is there a saying or proverb for a situation where the weakest party will always lose?

Context - One might use it in the following situations: "An employee has an argument with her boss and a dispute follows." (she gets fired a few weeks later) "A student having an argument with his ...
21
votes
12answers
5k 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 ...
8
votes
5answers
6k 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?
7
votes
4answers
35k 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
14k 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?
5
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2answers
2k 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". ...
9
votes
2answers
13k 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?
7
votes
3answers
12k views

Origin of “spill the beans”

I believe this phrase means "to betray information". Could someone please explain its origin?
1
vote
4answers
132k 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 ...
25
votes
7answers
189k 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?
31
votes
5answers
9k views

I don't have a ___ in this ___ (saying)

Earlier this evening, I was trying to tell someone, "I don't care who wins the Superbowl this year. I don't have a-" I could't remember how to complete this saying (to mean I don't have a personal ...
22
votes
8answers
1k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
2k views

A term describing the replacement of a specific word in a saying with one that ryhmes

I understand this is quite a complicated title, however I have failed to discover a word (or a few words) to adequately describe the creative language used when changing a saying (or well-known ...
16
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11answers
5k 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
54k views

How do you like them apples?

What exactly does this phrase mean and in which situations is it used?
8
votes
5answers
15k 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 ...
22
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
562 views

“The whole nine yards”

What is the origin of the phrase "the whole nine yards"? Is it a reference to some game of sports I am not familiar with (as a continental European)?
16
votes
5answers
5k 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?
11
votes
1answer
466 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

Meaning and origin of “put a wrinkle on one's horn”

While investigating a recent EL&U question (What does "throw a wrinkle" mean?), I came across the unusual expression “put a wrinkle on [or in] one’s horn [or horns].” I have three ...
7
votes
7answers
41k 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 ...
4
votes
6answers
925 views

What do call individuals who express their opinions as if they were facts?

We all know some individuals who don’t express their opinions as: I think this is going to happen... Instead, they express it as if it were fact or news, e.g.: Next month the price of ...
4
votes
5answers
1k views

What does Pope Francis’s remark, “You can always add more water to the beans,” mean?

In connection with my question about Pope Francis’s remark I posted today, there was the following statement in the same article of New York Times (July 29): “In contrast, Francis spoke on the ...
4
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
33k views

More idioms like “needle in a haystack” relevant to hidden/hard to find items? [closed]

Are there more idioms, sayings or phrases similar to "needle in a haystack" that are relevant to hidden objects, or difficult to find items? Also interested in similar nouns relevant to the somewhat ...
2
votes
8answers
373 views

Maxims that have to do with persistence? [closed]

I am looking for idiomatic expressions that convey the value of persistence, such as a long, drawn-out battle where the victor is necessarily the person who simply outlasted the other. I know there is ...
2
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
2
votes
10answers
9k 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
10k views

Good Things Come In Threes - has a definite positive connotation.

From fairytales to hollywood blockbusters, “the rule of three” (Latin-"omne trium perfectum") principle suggests things that come in threes are inherently more humorous, satisfying and effective ...
0
votes
4answers
521 views

What is the saying or idiom or word that means when “friends” don’t need you anymore it seems like they don’t know you anymore

there are some people who are your friend in the time of need,and they ignore you the other times,so what do you call them? a poet calls them "flies around a sweetmeat".