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62

To paraphrase Maslow's Law... Got a hammer, now everything looks like a nail! The "standard" version is usually given as If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, but in practice people often use it in contexts where said hammer has only recently been acquired.


29

Bats are known for their impressive hearing, so that could be an option, while owls also have excellent hearing ability. However, the animal with the best hearing is the Greater Wax Moth, which can hear sound frequencies of up to 300,000 Hz. In comparison, most humans can only hear up to 20,000 Hz. However, I don't think She has the ears of a greater ...


28

Overkill is originally a military analysis term from the Cold War, referring to the fact that the belligerents each had far more nuclear weapons than they would need to completely destroy the other. These days it's generally used metaphorically to mean precisely the sort of excessive effort or excessive means you talk of. Bring a gun to a knife-fight is ...


27

"The world is your oyster" is a quote from Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor: Falstaff: I will not lend thee a penny. Pistol: Why then the world's mine oyster, Which I with sword will open. Falstaff: Not a penny. The original implication of the phrase is that Pistol is going to use violent means (sword) to steal his fortune (the ...


25

Try this: The straw that broke the camel’s back. This write-up traces the saying’s history back to long ago, noting that Seneca once wrote in “On Despising Death” (Letter XXIV): Counting even yesterday, all past time is lost time; the very day which we are now spending is shared between ourselves and death. It is not the last drop that empties the ...


23

The proper use of the phrase "speak of the devil" is not in the context of remembering something or one thing reminding you of something else. That kind of context is where you might say "speaking of groceries" as in your example. The proper use of "speak of the devil" is when you are speaking about someone - usually having something bad to say or some ...


21

There's a famous quote of Gimli (LOTR): I have the eyes of a hawk and the ears of a fox Google returns about 500k results for "ears of a hawk" and 250k results for "ears of a fox" so it's quite popular, and should be quite well understood, because our 4-legged hairy friends, as well as their wild cousins, are known for their excellent hearing.


19

The correct form of the idiom is: first things first Things is plural here. You could imagine having a put before the idiom: put first things first let's put first things first you should put first things first This clarifies the plurality of things. So, her thinking is actually fact!


18

Looks like a chiasmus or an antimetabole to me, with a pun thrown in for good measure. In rhetoric, chiasmus (from the Greek: χιάζω, chiázō, "to shape like the letter Χ") is the figure of speech in which two or more clauses are related to each other through a reversal of structures in order to make a larger point; that is, the clauses display inverted ...


18

There's a bunch of things you need to know to understand this expression. The first is that "colder than a witch's tit" is an idiom for saying that something is really cold in temperature. The second is that out cold means unconscious (it can be used for people who are asleep, are drunk, or have taken a blow to the head). The third is that there's a ...


17

A fairly idiomatic way to express this is to say that "you're treating the symptom." You need to stop treating the symptoms, and resolve the root causes, or you're just going to keep getting more symptoms popping up endlessly. It's like taking cough medicine because your pneumonia has given you a nasty cough; you may stop coughing, but you'll still have ...


17

There's That's the pot calling the kettle black, ...which indicates that a pot hanging over the fire will be just as black (that is, in the same state) as a kettle. There are a number of variations on that saying; it's so well-known that generally it suffices simply to mention "pot" and "kettle" in the same sentence. And the Bible has something to say ...


16

Robusto's answer does a good job explaining the meaning of the sentence, but for the sake of completeness, here's the origin of the phrase. Apparently during the first World War, the Allies had an anti-tank grenade which was colloquially referred to as a "toffee apple" thanks to the appearance of its bulb: In the John Wayne movie "Rio Bravo", one of the ...


16

In the software company I work for, we call that: "paving the cow path" That's when a client wants to use the software but doesn't want to change any of their old, established practices that the software may streamline for them because they or their staff are resistant to change. On the website AgileConnection.com, Jim Highsmith offers this ...


15

It is used as an expression of gloating when someone turns the tables on someone else. There is a good example in the movie Good Will Hunting, where Matt Damon's character (Will Hunting) gets a girl's phone number in a Harvard bar where he, coming from working-class South Boston, is, despite his extraordinary intellect, socio-economically out of his league ...


15

I wanted to find out what it exactly means in Italian and what I found out is that it really seems that google translate does an excellent job: ho un debole per le ragazze svedesi gives I have a soft spot for Swedish girls although it does know that debole is weakness. You can also say I have a weakness for Swedish girls


15

The original form of the phrase appears to be "a hard row to hoe". Now, "tough row to hoe" is found at least as far back as 1890: She's got a tough row to hoe, Dilly Gage has. She used to try to keep folks from knowin' how cantankerous he was, but she couldn't. while 1963 seems to be the earliest occurrence of "tough road to hold", and it is noted as ...


15

Two idioms would be: To crack a nut with a sledgehammer. To break a (butter)fly on the wheel. The wheel in question being a device for capital punishment of humans. So using it on a tiny fly would, quite literally, be overkill and it is also not clear if you would actually hit the fly at all or if it would be able to get away swiftly — a ...


14

Say "Your question is based on a false premise." From Wikipedia: A false premise is an incorrect proposition that forms the basis of a logical syllogism. Since the premise (proposition, or assumption) is not correct, the conclusion drawn may be in error. However, the logical validity of an argument is a function of its internal consistency, not ...


14

The best term I've heard used for that situation is "Cargo Cult". The term cargo cult, as an idiom, originally referred to aboriginal religions which grew up in the South Pacific after World War II. The practices of these groups centered on building elaborate mock-ups of airplanes and military landing strips in the hope of summoning the god-like ...


13

It's not yet a saying per se, but the so-called butterfly effect is a modern theme popular in certain circles and commonly referred to in modern speech. So, people sometimes say things like “the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil might set off a tornado in Texas”


13

If this is for a rebellious teenager's shirt, You can't make me would probably be the most defiant (and still family-friendly) version of "I don't have to do anything." Alternatively, you could expand the phrase to I don't have to do anything I don't want to do, but it seems a bit unwieldy for a shirt. (Maybe just saying I don't have to would be sufficient ...


13

The allusion is to the proverb when Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug of war, which means that a battle-royal can be expected between two adversaries of equal strength and determination. So far as I can tell from your snippet, the author means that having set up such an encounter, she is now going to see the results.


12

It is from the writings of St. Augustine: His Letter 211 (c. 424) contains the phrase Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum, which translates roughly to "With love for mankind and hatred of sins." The phrase has become more famous as "love the sinner but hate the sin" or "hate the sin and not the sinner" (the latter form appearing in Mohandas Gandhi’s ...


12

I'm reminded of the old cartoon, Marshall BraveStarr; "Eyes of the Hawk, Ears of the Wolf". The premise being that the titular character had these qualities, including the "strength of the Bear", and "speed of the Puma". He also had a robot horse and was a Wild West-era cowboy sheriff in space, so this might not be relevant.


11

Tit and tat are used here to mean striking a light blow, so the phrase has exactly the same meaning as blow for blow. They were used as both nouns and verbs, as a sixteenth-century rhyme shows: Come tit me, come tat me, come throw a kiss at me. (Source; An earlier variation has halter instead of kiss.) I always thought it was a cute mispronunciation ...


10

The original is "Now You're Cooking With Gas", supposedly part of an ad campaign from the era when gas stoves first started replacing wood stoves for cooking in the home. The Wikitionary entry cooking with gas offers some insight, but I couldn't locate a specific ad campaign, or any other corroborating materials. This article suggests that this would have ...


10

It's an English adaptation of a Latin saying: De gustibus non est disputandum. Meaning literally regarding taste, there is no dispute. The phrase seems to be of medieval origin. The origin is accepted as Scholastic writings because of the grammar, which is atypical. A more faithful Latin rendering of the phrase might be: De gustatibus non ...


10

It simply means the ordinary man on the street. It was introduced as an example in a trial in Britain in 1933 - although the phrase is older. Presumably though only dating back to the introduction of the Clapham bus service! It does now have a definite legal meaning. You might for example have a contract with a supplier which is allowed to have more ...



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