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In Russian language we have an idiom

слетелись как мухи на говно (fly on it like a fly on sh…)

It’s about something that attracts big crowds, like sales or something. People “fly” there like flies on ****. Well, you get it. So I was wondering if there is some English analogue for this idiom and perhaps something softer and less disgusting.

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In English there is a similar idiom "like flies to manure". Apparently use of the word "sh..." is frowned upon as slang, but I have heard it said both ways. Yes, the image rendered is disgusting and the idiom has negative connotations.

You could use something related to bees instead of flies like "make a beeline" to something. I have also seen "like bees to honey" but it is not referenced as much.

And, I do have to add the idiomatic usages of "flock" and "swarm". People can and will flock or swarm to an attraction or other events. "Every tourist season they just swarm in to town".

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/like+flies+to+manure

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/beeline

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/flock

Otherwise it is hard to include the idiomatic property of "flying" to something, but perhaps you could use the word "magnet" to describe where people would be forcefully drawn to (fly toward) a thing or event. Similarly, if something is a "center of attraction" it implies powerful drawing properties that could attract a mob. This also has the same relationship that "sh..." has to flies.

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/magnet

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/center+of+attraction

  • 2
    It's 'Like bees to a honey pot' – Kate Bunting Oct 12 '18 at 13:10
  • Are the passages in quote markup actually quotes from one or two of your sources? If so, which one(s)? – 1006a Oct 12 '18 at 20:32
  • No. Just to offset the word or phrase - sometimes. My eyes are getting old. Sometimes I use bold, italics, and parentheses too. Sometimes I use all four liberally. I must use quote markup differently from you. Thanks for the input. I will try to limit use of quote markup - It doesn't mean a literal quote. – user22542 Oct 12 '18 at 20:57
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Well, there is actually a less disgusting, less colorful and more literal (actually too literal) idiom: crowd-puller

TFD(idioms):

crowd-puller
Something or someone that is popular and attracts a large audience. Primarily heard in UK, Australia.

The critics are saying that this film is going to be a real crowd-puller, so we should buy our tickets before they sell out!

Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved

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I think the term you are looking for is "Draw". This goes to the term 'Drawing flies'. It would not need a qualifier being innately positive.

"The band is very good and has always been a draw wherever they appear."

Using what you have stated the band is also an 'Attraction', successful or not does need a qualifier.

  • Thanks for your first post. I would guess that the asker requested a English idiom. Could you identify what part of this matches that, perhaps with an example that uses the idiom you are identifying. – Keeta Oct 12 '18 at 18:56
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Consider, drawing card.

A feature or event that attracts a large audience. 

For example, This Italian tenor is always a good drawing card

Card in this idiom refers to a large poster containing an advertisement for something, often some sort of entertainment.  [Late 1800s]

Source: The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary

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