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Say I want to find an idiom that means wasting time/effort, now if I were to search Google or a dictionary with the query

An idiom that means wasting time/effort

I would get idioms that actually contain the words "wasting", "time" or "effort" in them, but may or may not (often not) mean wasting time/effort.

Thesaurus or search engine, they wouldn't return the idiom "flog a dead horse" which could be the correct answer to my query "An idiom that means wasting time/effort".

So, is there a way to search by meaning?

  • Welcome to EL&U! I'm afraid we can't help you with that for two reasons: 1. We don't know which 'search' you are referring to, and 2. this is a support question for the appropriate site. It has little to do with grammar, word usage or similar topic that are discussed here on EL&U. – A Lambent Eye Dec 20 '18 at 13:57
  • @ALambentEye 1. As in google and online dictionary search 2. I thought this would fall under linguistics; I see your point. So do you know the appropriate site for this question? – Derp Dec 20 '18 at 15:02
  • I see, so you are looking for a search engine for idioms, is that correct? Please adjust your question to improve it's clarity for future readers. – A Lambent Eye Dec 20 '18 at 15:03
  • Not just a search engine for idioms. Mind you, there are tons of them if you know exactly which idiom you are searching for. If you know the idiom all you need to do is type in a keyword in any search engine. My problem is that I don't know the idiom, I know the concept(meaning), and I have to search by that. I think I've expressed this in my question, but if any part of it is still unclear, please point out. – Derp Dec 20 '18 at 15:14
  • I've voted to move your question to our Meta site, as resource requests are more on-topic there. (I suspect what you actually need is a curated reference work, rather than a search engine search, but either way this question fits better on Meta.) – 1006a Dec 20 '18 at 20:26
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I would suggest using a thesaurus and looking at the synonyms.

In particular I would recommend thesaurus.com for their wide range of phrases.

Another one I use would be Merriam-Webster (select the "Thesaurus" tab under the search field).

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    Please refrain from posting should-be comments as answers. I know it's off topic.... but can you come to the chat room? – Lordology Dec 20 '18 at 15:45
  • If you mean finding the synonyms of the meaning and searching by them I've already done that, but all it gives is more idioms with the words I've searched in them that are completely unrelated to the meaning from which the synonyms were obtained. – Derp Dec 20 '18 at 19:37
  • What I meant is searching for the idiom, then looking at the list of synonyms. – A Lambent Eye Dec 20 '18 at 20:32
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    @ALambentEye Well I've provided an example in my question, but if that's not clear enough I'll do so again. Say I want to find an idiom that means wasting time/effort, now if I were to search with the query "An idiom that means wasting time/effort" I would get idioms that actually contain the words "wasting", "time" or "effort" in them, but may or may not (often not) mean wasting time/effort. Thesaurus or search engine, they wouldn't return the idiom "flog a dead horse" which would be the correct answer to my query "An idiom that means wasting time/effort".... – Derp Dec 21 '18 at 12:57
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    That would be because "flog a dead horse" is "an idiom that means wasting time/effort", BUT does not contain the words "wasting", "time" or "effort", and that is exactly why such websites are useless in my case.If you look up the word "idiom" in a dictionary it says something like "A group of words whose meaning is different from the meanings of the individual words" (from OALD), I need to search by the meaning of the group of words and not by the individual ones. This'll be my last comment here because a warning stating not to have extended discussions in the comment section has appeared – Derp Dec 21 '18 at 13:26

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