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I'm looking for a creative and relatively familiar idiom to describe something that needs to be handled a specific way because an activity comes in waves.

Specifically I'm looking to describe experience with business where sometimes many contracts will come at the same time and other times there will be no money.

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    You yourself have answered your question! All-or-nothing is an idiomatic expression in itself. See this page – BiscuitBoy Jan 28 '16 at 5:51
  • Thanks folks, Thanks Elliott._Feast or Famine_ will work. However, I recall my boss using one which I feel generated more creative less extreme imagery, so I still welcome additional responses. – Stu Jan 28 '16 at 6:35
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    Maybe: they come in waves. I'm not sure how idiomatic that is, though. – Yay Jan 28 '16 at 9:14
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    There's always "all or nothing". – Hot Licks Jan 28 '16 at 13:07
  • @NVZ - It's impolite to call someone an Amirite. – Hot Licks Jan 28 '16 at 13:08
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Specifically I'm looking to describe experience with business where sometimes many contracts will come at the same time and other times there will be no money.

An idiom that seems to fit is feast or famine; Wiktionary gives

(idiomatic) A situation in which something is always either extremely abundant or in extremely short supply

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Take it or leave it:

  • There are no other choices.; It is this or nothing. This is what you get for the money. Take it or leave it.

(The Free Dictionary)

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"All or nothing" is a perfectly valid phrase (as in, "the arrival of these contracts is a bit all or nothing").

In British English, we have a specific idiom - "coming like buses". The idea behind this is the tragic human struggle of 'waiting an hour for a bus, and then two turn up at once'.

So you could say "these contracts are coming like buses!" - but I don't know how well this is understood outside the UK.

  • TY, this is excellent – Stu Oct 14 '16 at 22:15

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