Questions tagged [idiom-meaning]

An idiom's figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning.

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The meaning of "Your self worth down"? [migrated]

Would you please tell me what does "your self worth down" mean? Here's part of the context you know what we have created a void inside our mind, the dog big space, which we constantly try ...
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Does "dodging a silver bullet" convey the meaning [closed]

Assuming a dialogue like this - (Bob) How is the meeting going? - (Alice) Dodging a silver bullet. The idea that Alice is trying to express is that the customer is looking for a metaphorical "...
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What’s the meaning of “or near enough as makes no matter” [closed]

I’ve seen people hinted that “makes no matter” means “it doesn’t matter”, but the whole phrase still doesn’t make much sense to me. Here are some of the examples I found. Like most of you (I gather), ...
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Meaning of add texture to something (a plan, discussion, etc.)

I was having a conversation with a senior executive about launching a new initiative. He said he would like to get behind it, but I need to add a bit more texture to the whole proposal. What does ...
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Is there more to “A hell of a …” than mere interjection or expletive?

Previous examination of “A hell of a …” on this site focussed on emphasis, interjection or expletive usage. As examples we have: (What is the meaning of "a hell of a lot"?) a great deal or ...
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Meaning of 'hunt-the-fish'

In one of the late columnist A A Gill's columns collected in The Best of A A Gill, there is a paragraph where he is giving both sincere and ironic praise to a traditional pub lunch he had after ...
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Meaning difference between "to be an expatriate was fashionable" and "it was fashionable to be an expatriate"?

In the following sentences, do the two have same meaning or is there a difference? If so, it would helpful to have certain examples through which I can understand those nuances that make these ...
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Meaning of "thread the needle through" and "beat the devil's tattoo"?

Lyrics from the song, Beat the Devil's Tattoo: I thread the needle through, you beat the devil's tattoo. Does anyone know the meaning of "thread the needle through" and "beat the ...
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What is the meaning of "out of your own hides"?

Van de Ven & Poole (1990) use the expression "out of their own hides" when discussing research funding. A google search only returns two results. Is this expression idiomatic? What does ...
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18 votes
5 answers
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Meaning of "tapped on the shoulder"

I am a native French speaker and I do work as a translator in the legal field, and literature (mainly fantasy). I need an explanation for ‘tapped on the shoulder’: As for full-time appointments, the ...
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Looking for the phrase or idiom that means if you think or act in a certain way it often happens to come out that way [duplicate]

It's a well-known phrase or idiom (in the 20th Century...not sure about now, but it is still used sometimes) that means one's fearful (or can be pleasant too, sometimes) thoughts or actions actually ...
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What is the classification for a rote saying like "there but for the grace of God.."? [duplicate]

I'm not after the proverbial or apotropaic aspects of this, or chant or mantra. Just the "event-centric common utterance" aspects. "Knock on wood" is similar I guess. There's a ...
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"He was overcome by a sudden surge of fear" or "A sudden surge of fear overcame him" - Which is more correct?

"He was overcome by a sudden surge of fear" or "A sudden surge of fear overcame him" - Which is more correct? Is the latter one not idiomatic?
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Idiom: bed of roses

Does anyone know why this idiom came into existence ? On this website it says: “A bed of roses” as an idiom originated in England and is quite an old expression. One of the earliest examples can be ...
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What is the meaning of the phrase "slam home"?

I can't find a definition or any synonyms for the phrase "slam home" in cases like: It slams home a sense of what the wars were like. or To slam home the point, a guy from the State ...
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What does it mean that something has a hard edge to it?

I'm reading an article in the New York Times (the author recently had a daughter) and it talks about being an Asian person in America today. It reads: But now, while my wife slept at night, I would ...
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Get one's hands on Scabbers [closed]

Are you trying to say you broke out of Azkaban just to get your hands on Scabbers? My question pertains to the use of the idiom "get one's hands on". It means to get or find something. ...
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The idiomatic way of saying stealing time

What is the idiomatic way of saying 'stealing time', if someone is so busy and he wants to work on something by sneaking to it?
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Interpretation of the idiom "hold our own" in a speech to Congress in the 19th century

The Nez Perce was a Native American tribe living in Oregon. They engaged in a war with the United States in 1877 and were defeated. The surviving members of the tribe were relocated to Idaho. In less ...
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What is the idiom to criticize someone's speech, especially when they a make a lot of repetition? [closed]

What is the idiom to describe unreasonable repetition in someone's speaking or writing? For example,if someone says, wet water or salt is salty.
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4 votes
3 answers
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How did having too much on one's plate become an idiom for burdens?

To have too much on one's plate and to have a lot on one's plate are well established idioms for having too many things to do, i.e. for something burdensome. But what one normally has on one's plate, ...
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To take something off someone's plate

Today while scrolling, I found somebody tweeted this text that confused me. As retweets and sharing are allowed I will just copy and paste that tweet here, in order to keep the context. Yesterday, I ...
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What does the word buck means in 'the buck stops here'? [closed]

I know that the meaning of the idiom 'the buck stops here' is to accept responsibility. For example, The buck stops here with me. I take the blame for the team's performance. There are multiple ...
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1 answer
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"Hook it home" meaning

I stumbled upon the idiom "hooking it home" in some of Bukowski's lines. Namely, the whores are there for young boys and old men; to the young boys they say, "don't be frightened, ...
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What is the origin of 'riding a gravy train' idiom?

'Riding a gravy train' idiom means getting a job or other source of income that generates abundant money with little effort. However, what is the origin of this phrase and why it makes sense at all? ...
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6 votes
4 answers
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What's the English equivalent to "svära i kyrkan" in Swedish?

"Svära i kyrkan" literally means to swear in church, and to my understanding the figurative meaning is when someone says or does something that questions/defies a social norm in a softer ...
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meaning of "giddy-up"

I'm reading The Sellout by Paul Beatty. It says: "All I know is that I’m pre-black. Dickens born and raised. Homo sapiens OG Crip from the goddamn primordial giddy-up, nigger." What does &...
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What are the idiomatic meaning(s) of "roll/rolling" as used in sea shanties?

Having been caught up in the recent resurgence of interest in sea shanties, I've noticed frequent--and apparently idiomatic--usage of the verb "roll/rolling" in their lyrics. It appears in ...
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What does "tender of the tree" mean?

I was watching a TV Show named "The 100" and in the episode 4, season 1, at 24:06 min the character Nygel said the following line. I remember when you were the tender of the tree. You were ...
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5 answers
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What is the meaning of the phrase to "wake up dead"

There are two examples I can think of, both music related. The first is "Is anybody going to San Antone" by Charley Pride: Sleepin' under a table in a roadside park, a man could wake up ...
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"All the way back" vs "All the way in the back"

Are "All the way back" vs "All the way in the back" the same ? I found the explain for "All the way" phrase in here: https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Is "from the freezer to the foil" an idiom?

In the song "Steam" by Peter Gabriel, there is a line of lyrics: Stir-crazy from the freezer to the foil Is this an idiom I have never heard before, or just a bit of nonsense he strung ...
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As guilty as a louse [closed]

I could not understand this sentence and could not find the meaning. Is it an idiom? I damn well hope they hang him. I think he’s as guilty as a louse.
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Why do we hang on "like grim death"?

The idiom to "like grim death" is widely understood to mean something such as: like grim death = With great determination. Oxford Lexico ‘we had to hold on like grim death’ Hence we find: ...
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Idiomatic meaning or allusion of "twirl a mustache" [duplicate]

“I have a mustache but I have not started to twirl it yet” What is the implication of having a mustache, but not yet twirling it?
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Red-eyed anarchy

https://www.google.com/search?q=%22red-eyed+anarchy%22 "the world still went wondering why red-eyed anarchy...", and "listening to the exposition of red-eyed anarchy", and "...
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What does the idiom ‘I don’t want to be the Babylonian messenger‘ mean?

Is it related to the idiom ‘don’t shoot the messenger’?
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What does the word 'operator' mean in here?

What does the word 'operators' mean in here? Does it actually mean technical operator or is it an idiom of some sort? I noticed a connection between the barn-burning section of The Moon and ...
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Meaning of "Guess what ? Corgi butt"

It seems the sentence "Guess what ? Corgi butt" is quite popular: a web search provides a wealth of stickers, mugs and T-shirts with the same exact wording (and many cute corgis in different ...
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What does the idiom "Yellow streak" mean? [closed]

My question is and I would like to know that at one time frequently used the idiom "YELLOW STREAK" now rarely used. The Idiom is used regarding, CHINESE PEOPLE".What does the Idiom mean?...
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1 answer
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Usage of the idiom you cant squeeze blood out of a turnip

Does the idiom you cant squeeze blood out of a turnip only refer to money or financial-related situation? Or could it be used for any other instances i.e. evidence. For example, would it be correct to ...
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'Mortgage One's Future' Meaning [closed]

What does 'mortgage one's future' mean? It's in this presidential address. I think it's used figuratively and means 'to put something at risk/endanger'. Am I right? What synonyms would you suggest?
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Is “Go down like a shot dog” a well-received turn of phrase?

I came across the phrase “It would go down like a shot dog” in the Hill’s article (December 30th), which comes under the headline, “Hawley (Josh Hawley -R-Mo) to challenge Electoral College result in ...
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4 votes
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"conquer by flood and by field"

While reading an English poem from Robert M. M'Cheyne (1813–1843), Jehovah Tsidkenu (= Jehovah our Righteousness) there is one stanza that reads Jehovah Tsidkenu! my treasure and boast, Jehovah ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Can "to close one's eyes" mean "to die"?

I am proofreading a translation and I came across this sentence: Man’s entire life, from the moment he first sees the light of day until he closes his eyes, does not suffice to fully understand the ...
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Is there a word for the process of giving a name or label for a concept?

I'm looking to know if there is a word for naming things like in the examples below: Instead of saying "the tendency of people to accept evidence to their ideas and disregard the ones that ...
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1 answer
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Meaning of some words

The closing decades of an artist’s life do not generally make the biographer’s heart beat faster, but Claude Monet is one of a handful of painters who bucks the pattern of an irrelevant old age. While ...
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What does the word "than" mean in the idiom "more often than not"?

What does the word "than" mean in the idiom "more often than not"? It's not sensible for me. Thanks a lot 🌹
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I need an English expression ( preferably slang ) to express my willingness and commitment to do something [duplicate]

I need an English expression ( preferably slang ) to express my willingness and commitment to do something ( e.g I will put my heart and soul into it )
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Meaning of "at an arm's length"

I am uncertain as for meaning of at an arm's length in the following sentence. I have taken this example from an online philosophical magazine. The answer seems clear at an arm's length, but let us ...
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