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Questions tagged [expression-requests]

for questions looking for a specific expression.

128
votes
8answers
22k views

What is it called when experts think they only know a small part of a topic and amateurs think they know almost all of a topic?

What is it called when experts think they only know a small part of a topic and amateurs think they know almost all of a topic?
68
votes
21answers
14k views

Idiom criticizing a person who has unsolved problems but tries to give someone advice about them

Is there an idiom or expression that refers to a person who has some unsolved problems and tries to give some pieces of advice to, or guide, others for solving the same problems? We Iranians have a ...
66
votes
26answers
46k views

Polite alternative for “none of your business”

It seems it's rude and impolite to say directly to someone "none of your business". So, what's the more gentle alternative(s) for situations in which we should say "hey, this is none of your business!...
61
votes
9answers
8k views

What do you call a minor flaw in a work that makes you realize how perfect/flawless it is otherwise?

For example, I was listening to an audio book the other day and the author mispronounced a word which got the audience laughing. Until that point, I didn't even know that there was an audience and ...
58
votes
15answers
36k views

What non-religious expressions can I use instead of “Thank God”? [closed]

I'll give an example to help: Someone suffered a car accident, but physically the person is OK. So I say, "Thank God, he/she is fine."
54
votes
13answers
7k views

English equivalent for the Persian idiom “send someone out in pursuit of black chickpeas”

"To send somebody out in pursuit of some black chickpeas" is a Persian idiom that implies 'to make or ask someone to run an errand so that you be able to have/ buy some time in order to deal with your ...
48
votes
18answers
12k views

English equivalent for the Persian proverb “The mountain just gave birth to a mouse”

I'm looking for an idiom or expression to describe a well-known person/ organization/ politician/ government whose achievements in a given situation are smaller than what they had claimed or promised ...
47
votes
17answers
7k views

Is there an expression to indicate the strategy of wearing someone down with numerous small irritations?

I would use rope-a-dope, but it's got connotations of pretending to lose that I don't need. I'm trying to describe the behavior of someone who sends twenty detailed emails a day about various projects,...
46
votes
11answers
9k views

Equivalent English phrase for “don't roll around where you've fallen”

In my language, we have a phrase which roughly translates to "don't roll around where you've fallen". It indicates that a person has said or done something stupid. Then when someone points this out, ...
44
votes
8answers
16k views

What informal English expression would you use to let a couple know that they are being too intimate in public?

I am looking for an expression used in the US or the UK for that situation, for example, where you are in a park where there are people of all ages, and a couple starts to be intense with the kissing ...
41
votes
19answers
6k views

Is there any equivalent for this Persian expression “____ is like an unopened watermelon”?

The Persian expression/ simile "____ is like an unopened (=uncut) watermelon" implies that you never know what the given (risky) issue/ choice will turn out to be until you proceed to experience or ...
38
votes
15answers
6k views

What is the equivalent of Persian idiom “When the reed blooms”?

In Persian, we say "When the reed blooms" when we want to express that an event: Never happens. (This is only the opinion of the speaker so it's not a fact) It's very unlikely to happen. It's going ...
34
votes
20answers
14k views

Is there an English equivalent for the Persian proverb “to play with tail of lion”

The Persian proverb to play with tail of lion is used informally. We use it to say that a certain situation is very dangerous. By saying it, we alert the the listener that the act which he or she is ...
32
votes
14answers
11k views

English equivalent for “Don't burn your house to smoke out a rat!” [duplicate]

In my language there's a saying which literally translates to Don't burn your house to smoke out a rat! It advises us to use solutions that are appropriate to the magnitude of the problem. Eliye ...
32
votes
17answers
7k views

What is the English verb/phrase/expression for cheating customers with an inaccurate scale?

In the town where I live, many street vendors actively cheat customers by using an inaccurate scale. As a result, people receive less than what they ought to. For example, if you buy five apples, ...
31
votes
16answers
4k views

Is there any equivalent to this Persian proverb? “A bad or faulty item should inevitably be kept by its owner”

We use a proverb that implies "A bad property (i.e., a thing belonging to someone) or item should inevitably be tolerated/kept by its owner" when we want to say "This bad item won't be accepted by ...
31
votes
12answers
6k views

Any equivalent to this Persian proverb “The yellow dog is the jackal's brother”?

Suppose you have a new boss and your former boss was a vicious and dictator one. Now you are visiting the new boss for the first time. He seems to be a nice person to you, but one of your colleagues ...
30
votes
12answers
4k views

English equivalent of the Portuguese phrase: “this person's mood changes according to the moon”

In Portuguese there is an expression that says: "Essa pessoa é de lua." Literally "this person's mood changes according to the moon", which means that nobody can predict that person's mood. Is ...
29
votes
27answers
24k views

Idiom or expression that would imply “someone is a habitual liar”

I'm looking for an idiom or expression for describing people who tell lies out of habit (so you cannot trust them at all). I know that these people are called "compulsive liars", but I'm not looking ...
29
votes
7answers
4k views

English equivalent to “a small fruit in an elephant's mouth”

In the Indian language of Malayalam, there's a saying "Aana vayil ambazhanga", which literally translates to: A small fruit in an elephant's mouth. It means: Having too small an amount for a ...
28
votes
21answers
60k views

Is there any idiom or expression that would mean “all my efforts wasted”?

I'm looking for an idiom or expression that would mean "all one's efforts wasted". I have found "to have one's cake dough". Can I use it for "all my efforts wasted" too? ( A non-native friend told me ...
28
votes
22answers
6k views

Is there any curse/ swear equivalent for this Persian curse? “ May your head be covered by soil!”

There is a curse/ swear in Persian that literally means " May your head be covered by soil" and implies that " you'd better die and be buried /be underground!"( you are not important). We use it in ...
28
votes
12answers
9k views

Is there a more general term for “googling” that doesn't imply a particular search engine?

Nowadays lots of people use the word "google" as a verb, past tense "googled", which generally means to search the web using Google's search engine. When used as a gerund the word of typically "...
27
votes
9answers
20k views

How do you describe these animals' action/ state before attacking their prey?

Some animals like tigers, lions, cats, etc do this action before attacking their prey suddenly and unexpectedly. In fact they seem waiting insidiously (?) until the appropriate moment for attacking ...
27
votes
8answers
6k views

A word for “the shelves of candies or mints next to the checkout desk of a supermarket”

I need a word or a fixed phrase, something short that describes the following: the shelves of candies or mints next to the checkout desk of a supermarket Is there a one-word name for it? I can't ...
26
votes
6answers
8k views

What do you call the gesture whereby you rest your palms on the side of your hips?

What do you call the gesture whereby you rest your palms, the front of your fist, or your wrist on the side of your hips? Kind of like these examples: Update: Guess I should've made it clear: I did ...
26
votes
14answers
8k views

Is there any equivalent for this Persian idiom: “Like a cow with a white forehead”?

The Persian idiom like a cow with a white forehead is used when one wants to characterize a person who is very well known in a crowd or even in a society. Although it has a negative meaning, it does ...
26
votes
12answers
7k views

What emotion is the 'Mad Scientist' showing when they say “I'll show them all!”

It's the old cliche of a mad scientist or super-villain; talking to themselves as they prepare their latest scheme they say something like, They all laughed at me...but I'LL SHOW THEM! I'LL SHOW ...
24
votes
12answers
9k views

A phrase that basically means 'change your mind a second time to go back to your original idea'

I am interested in knowing what words/phrase/idioms I can use to express a double reversal of decision. To illustrate that with an hypothetical example to clear any confusion that may have risen : ...
24
votes
14answers
5k views

An idiomatic phrase meaning that you are aware of a coming change based on minor signals you've observed over time

I feel like there's a phrase that people sometimes use in order to indicate that they have been aware of an impending change or event. The phrase draws on the metaphor of a soldier placing his ear to ...
24
votes
6answers
22k views

What do you call the university or school people graduated from in one word or phrase?

The alumni of a school, college, or university are the people who used to be students there. But what do you call the university or school one person graduated from in one word or one phrase?
23
votes
13answers
6k views

request: bragging & boasting but all made up of lies

This is a single word, idiom, phrase, expression request - so basically I'll take anything that fits the bill. Basically I'm trying to translate the Chinese word 吹牛 - which dictionaries will tell you ...
22
votes
6answers
2k views

English equivalent for “Worm that lives in poison.”

In Malayalam/Indian, there's a saying "Paashaanatthil krimi". It literally translates to Worm that lives in poison. It is used while judging people who keep bad company as being bad themselves. It ...
21
votes
14answers
4k views

Making a small 'optimization' which instead actually leads to disaster

Say you finish building a house. You think one of the nails isn't needed, so you pull it out. The house collapses. You took a huge risk for minor, trivial gains, and it didn't pay off. What is a way ...
21
votes
12answers
3k views

Idiom or expression request that would convey same meaning as this Persian set phrase “ simple yet impossible to imitate”

In Persian poetry there is a style which literally means: "simple yet impossible" It implies that the poems have been told using simple words and in a seemingly simple way, yet cannot be imitated ...
21
votes
11answers
5k views

Is there a word for turning something into a competition?

I'm looking for a word, expression, or more succinct phrase that captures the idea of taking something that did not start as or was not originally intended to be competitive, and making it into a ...
21
votes
8answers
37k views

A word for blowing air onto baby's tummy to make him (her) laugh

What do you call the action when you press your mouth against baby's tummy and blow air to make the baby laugh?
21
votes
7answers
1k views

Is there an English equivalent to “get rid of the goat”?

Danny was living in a small house with five other people, and the stress was getting to him. He went to the town elder to ask for advice. "Buy a goat", said the town elder, "and let it live in ...
20
votes
16answers
6k views

Opposite of “Squeaky wheel gets the grease”

I want a fun and playful retort to use against someone who says "The squeaky wheel gets the grease", which, according to the so-named Wikipedia1 article means: The squeaky wheel gets the grease is ...
20
votes
10answers
3k views

Describe that someone’s explanation matches your knowledge level

In German, in the context of knowledge transfer from one person to another (or to a group) you can say Du hast mich gut abgeholt. (literally translated You picked me up well) This sentence means ...
20
votes
2answers
3k views

What was a century called before it was called “century”?

The term century in the more common connotation that refers to a period of 100 years is relatively recent: The Modern English meaning is attested from 1650s, short for century of years (1620s). ...
19
votes
15answers
4k views

Someone whose aspirations exceed abilities or means

What would be a clear and concise way to describe someone whose ambitions or aspirations far exceed his means or abilities?
18
votes
23answers
16k views

Suitable saying for “different people like/dislike different things”?

Suppose I have some problem when someone takes an action 'X' on me which I find highly offensive and which makes me feel bad but it may/may not effect other individuals if used on them. A friend of ...
18
votes
8answers
2k views

Is there a word that describes this particular sneaky play on words?

I'm wondering if there's a word that describes this type of language sneakiness: I asked my boyfriend to stop talking to his ex-girlfriend, or I would break up with him. He agreed to stop talking ...
18
votes
6answers
9k views

Are there pangrams shorter than ‘the quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog’? [closed]

Do you know pangrams shorter than the traditional ‘the quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog’ ?
17
votes
3answers
4k views

What do you call this oriental building in English?

What do you call this oriental building in English? Gazebo or pavilion doesn't go with this building, I think...
16
votes
24answers
6k views

What is a term or idiom for “blah blah blah” talk?

I am looking for a term or and idiomatic expression to convey the concept of "empty, irrelevant" talk. I am thinking about those situations in which people want to express their ideas on facts about ...
16
votes
16answers
4k views

Is there an idiom to express “You couldn't get anything better”?

Is there an idiom or expression meaning "what you've been offered is the best thing I could offer you, and you won't get anything better" when someone refuses your offer in a rather rude way? As in: ...
16
votes
10answers
5k views

Idiom/expression that means “to suddenly tell some news” to someone?

These were the first ones that popped up in my mind (disclaimer: I'm not a native English speaker): He threw me the news a month ago. He flung the news at me a month ago. He dropped the ...
16
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the third option beside 'accept' and 'reject' on a ballot?

Members of Parliament (MPs) in most countries have three options while voting for a law proposal. The third option means neither 'accept' nor 'reject', but recorded for quorum. 'Accept' '...