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Questions tagged [idiom-meaning]

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

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Meaning of "no kitty killed"

In software engineering I often see the expression "no kitty killed". https://github.com/koreader/koreader/issues/4951 https://serverfault.com/questions/22414/how-can-i-run-debian-stable-...
Dan Jacobson's user avatar
11 votes
8 answers
5k views

“Out of the mouths of babes”: Is this idiom strictly used to refer to children?

According to Cambridge Dictionary, “out of the mouths of babes” is an idiom used when a child says something that is surprisingly wise. So, it is used to compliment the child for saying something that’...
hb20007's user avatar
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These stereocilia become progressively longer on the side of the hair cell away from the modiolus [closed]

Can someone paraphrase this for me? Does it mean the largest cilia is the nearest to the modiolus or it means the largest cilia is the farthest from the modiolus?
ahmad bastani's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
92 views

Do I get it right that "a flash in the pan" has two rather opposite meanings?

One is a complete failure, either apparent from the beginning or something that appears promising but turns out to be disappointing or worthless. A misfire, on a musket's priming pan. A fool's gold ...
Col. Shrapnel's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
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Is Weasel Poo on a Door Knob a Recognised Expression? [duplicate]

The heading says it all. I have seen the above expression (or a few variants) used to describe something smooth, whether a person, or a literal surface. An example, When it comes to women, Alex is ...
Della's user avatar
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1 answer
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Does "breathe in the light" have any colloquial meaning?

I have noticed that the phrase "breathe in the light" is used in several seemingly unrelated pieces of music, for instance, it is the name of a "Stellardrone" track, and in the ...
Daigaku no Baku's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
182 views

Origin of the idiom "a few trombones short of a marching band"

I've heard the following idiom being used a few times recently but am unsure where it's come from: He's a few trombones short of a marching band. I don't know exactly what it means and I can't find ...
user1598's user avatar
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with a conscience

(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter XVI, published 1892) Passage 252 Then I remembered that I had a friend on board, and stepped to the companion. “Gentlemen,” ...
philphil's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of "be just a little too smart by ninety-nine and three-quarters"

(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter XIV, published 1892) Passage 224 “Guess so,” he said. “You needn't fool with it. There's nothing else but a lead-pencil and a ...
philphil's user avatar
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2 answers
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Meaning of . . . “you just meet me on the ballast, and we'll make it a barquentine.”

(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter XI, published 1892) Passage 177 “I don't see it,” returned the captain drily. “One captain's enough for any ship that ever I ...
philphil's user avatar
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1 answer
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Meaning of . . . , "I'm laying a little dark"

(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter XI; published 1892) Passage 176 “Well,” returned Nares, with the same unamiable reserve, “for a reason, which I guess you know, ...
philphil's user avatar
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1 answer
104 views

Meaning of "get out" in "He gets out when he can" [closed]

In his famous hit Working Class Man, Jimmy Barnes sings: He believes in God and Elvis He gets out when he can He did his time in Vietnam Still mad at Uncle Sam I can't make sense of the second line. ...
Mitsuko's user avatar
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1 answer
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What is meant by "to take the offence" in Act I, scene 1 of "Two Noble Kinsmen"?

In act I, scene 1, of The Two Noble Kinsmen, the first queen says: 1. Queen. We are 3. Queenes, whose Soveraignes fel before The wrath of cruell Creon; who endured The Beakes of Ravens, Tallents of ...
John Smith's user avatar
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-2 votes
1 answer
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What's the meaning of "hardly seem more implausible"?

In the following text, what does "the latter scenario could hardly seem more implausible" mean? The result suggests one of two scenarios. One is that arctic foxes gave rise to swift foxes, ...
ebrahimi's user avatar
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-1 votes
1 answer
99 views

Meaning of a sentence in the passage discussing the word "run"

30 Days to a More Powerful Vocabulary_Dan Strutzel / Funk & Lewis contains The simple three-letter word “run”, up to this moment of writing has more than ninety dictionary definitions. There are ...
Cold Hand's user avatar
7 votes
3 answers
3k views

Does the idiom "step on a rake" mean making the same mistake twice?

Disclaimer: in my question I'm not asking for an idiom with a certain meaning; the other way around: I'm interested in a specific idiom and I'm asking whether native English speakers would understand ...
Dmitry Kuzminov's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
50 views

Contextual meaning of 'sought to legitimize the city's social strivings by evoking a history the city did not truly posses' [closed]

This sentence below was a GRE question and the two italics and bold words are the actual answers to the text completion. Still, I do not understand what the sentence is trying to say. My understanding ...
Mohammad Nadeem's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
79 views

Meaning of 'it does not deny ambiguity', 'truth may bear all lights', 'of divine ends'? [closed]

From the passage: Great comic art is never otherworldly, it does not seek to mystify us, and it does not deny ambiguity by branding as evil whatever differs from good. Great comic artists assume that ...
Mohammad Nadeem's user avatar
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2 answers
66 views

What do ‘some boastful bass’ and ‘had got him hard and fast’ mean in Dickens?

This passage is from chapter 32 of Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens, with the phrases I’m curious about set in bold: Occasionally, a vocal strain more sonorous than the generality informed the ...
anjan 's user avatar
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1 answer
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When did the expression "cat's breakfast" come in to usage as an example of a hodgepodge collection, assuming it ever did?

In CNN's January 8, 2023 video Retired general calls new armored vehicles US is sending Ukraine 'significant' after about 04:40 US Retired Major General (and analyst for CNN) James "Spider" ...
uhoh's user avatar
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0 votes
2 answers
2k views

"Used to play" or "was used to playing"? [closed]

In the answer he says 'used to play' means I played something in the past but not anymore, yet 'was used to playing' means a habitual activity but had changed some way. For me, as a non-native English ...
stackedbook's user avatar
13 votes
10 answers
4k views

Alternative idiom to "ploughing through something" that's more sad and struggling

I thought that "to plough through" something means that you're going through a difficult time, feel down, but do your best to keep going. But when I looked it up, I find definitions like: ...
omwow's user avatar
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1 vote
3 answers
157 views

"..., as it were, ..."

The phrase "as it were" can mean figuratively, or indicate a non-literal sense. Cambridge Dictionary defines: sometimes said after a figurative (= not meaning exactly what it appears to ...
Berry Guo's user avatar
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1 vote
3 answers
614 views

Why does "we have been over this" mean something different from "we are over this"?

The whole sentence is: We’ve been over this a thousand times. The data is irrefutable! What does it mean to "have been over this" here in this context? How does this meaning differ here ...
dae's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
123 views

Etymology of the idiom "what with"

I'm curious about the etymology of the idiom what with. How did it come to mean Taking into consideration; because of? You say what with in order to introduce the reasons for a particular situation, ...
user405662's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
80 views

Meaning of "after the pips"

For 100 years, the BBC has parceled up disaster and defeat, then distributed them, after the pips and before the weather forecast, to the British. "After the pips" should be something ...
user330039's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
240 views

"Under the glass" means "not in public"?

I heard a woman who is a native English speaker saying "someone will say something like that in public or under the glass." I've not heard of the idiom, "under the glass", but ...
EPRAIT's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
199 views

What is the meaning of "As bare as a bird’s tail?"

I initially found it in a 17th century English-Dutch Dictionary, page 37 I then found it in https://www.bartleby.com/ As bare as a bird’s tail. 1361 Twelve Mery Gestys of the Widow Edyth, 1525, by ...
Bob516's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
215 views

"starched collar on loan" meaning

Yet the new king does not have to be a statesman to succeed. And that is the second reason Britain’s constitutional monarchy has thrived. His powers will be as circumscribed as a starched collar on ...
user330039's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
11k views

What's the meaning of "this side of Albania"?

In this diary excerpt, Alan Rickman wrote: "Emma [Watson]’s diction is this side of Albania at times." I understand the general meaning of the idiom (What is the meaning of the phrase "...
Libavi's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
46 views

So nearly so as to

While reading the book Introduction to Mathematical Logic by Alonso Church, I have met with the idiom 'so nearly so as to' of which meaning I hardly grasp from context: Again the sentence "Sir ...
Norbert Barankai's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
138 views

"The crowd chooses Barabbas" meaning?

What is the meaning of the expression "the crowd chooses Barabbas"? I'm very familiar with the account where the crowds chose to spare Barabbas instead of Jesus, but I'm not sure of the ...
Aaron Ullal's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
71 views

What's the Meaning of the Aphorism "Contemporaries live from second hand to mouth"?

What's the meaning of the following aphorism by Karl Kraus: Contemporaries live from second hand to mouth. Source: Half-Truths and One-and-a-Half Truths Just to clarify, I know the meaning of "...
Tayyab's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
2k views

Meaning of the phrase “not this little black duck”?

What does the phrase “not this little black duck” mean? I know it’s common among Australian people but I am not sure what does it mean.
user463286's user avatar
-1 votes
2 answers
58 views

Meaning of the idiom "To leave the friendship of men"

I found the saying in a 17th century English-Dutch dictionary, Is there a figurative meaning to the phrase beyond the literal meaning of the words?
Bob516's user avatar
  • 642
-1 votes
1 answer
357 views

What is the meaning of “down to the fact”? [closed]

What does it mean in this sentence? This comes down to the fact that boys like toys.
Md Kawshar Ahmed's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
63 views

Too many engineers in the caboose

One of my bosses mentioned this phrase the other day: Too many engineers in the caboose I discovered the meaning of caboose today (Fourgon-frein), but for some reason searching for the phrase on ...
malat's user avatar
  • 103
1 vote
1 answer
108 views

Expressing the idea of killing, finishing/knocking someone off with the phrasal verb "to blip off"

Somehow I was in the knowledge of the fact that the phrasal verb "to blip off" could be used to convey the idea of "to bump off", "to kill", "to knock off" and ...
Eugene's user avatar
  • 235
19 votes
3 answers
3k views

What does the social idiom "not received" mean in 19th century America?

I am struggling with a use of the word "received" that I have never seen before, in conjunction with a social status in 19th century America. Specifically, in Margaret Mitchell's Gone With ...
Vogon Poet's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
66 views

What is the meaning of the idiom, "limbing forth to the life"?

I've come across what appears to be an idiom that I'm at a loss as to the meaning, and searched online to no avail. The text is Dæmonologie and Theologie by Nathanael Homes, published in 1650. …a ...
reformed's user avatar
  • 203
13 votes
2 answers
4k views

What is the meaning of Terry Pratchett's idiom/pun "coming and going"?

I have encountered a pun in a novel by Terry Pratchett that I cannot wrap my head around. I'm not a native English speaker, and any assistance with this would be highly appreciated. The pun seems to ...
Dirk101's user avatar
  • 131
7 votes
2 answers
256 views

Is ‘just’ an adjective in ‘just anyone’?

Given this sentence: Nina wouldn’t give her phone number to just anyone. I’ve checked several dictionaries (Oxford, Longman, Cambridge, Macmillan) for the word just from the example above. It looks ...
Lone's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
87 views

Meaning of "Get a purge for your brain. It will do better than for your stomach." [closed]

I read the following quote today from a book about productivity: Get a purge for your brain. It will do better than for your stomach. I know that the first sentence talks about noting down all the ...
Lone Learner's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
184 views

Meaning of "he'd been had" in this song [duplicate]

There is a song which starts with Juno was mad, he knew he'd been had So he shot at the sun with a gun ... But I'm having trouble trying to understand the expression "he knew he'd been had"...
ABR's user avatar
  • 13
2 votes
1 answer
326 views

Idiom/Phrase to fight someone else's war?

Like, people made to fight for a war that was not needed. But they are made to do it under someone else's influence. *Edit Apologies for not being more specific. Yes, I would say being used as canon ...
Shad's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
41 views

Is it correct to say “things are looking up for my travel plans” [closed]

Is it correct to say “things are looking up for my travel plans” to indicate that I am ready to start planning my travel after so many problems.
daffodil lavendar's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
127 views

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 "...
peterrogov's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
266 views

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), ...
hb12ah's user avatar
  • 103
3 votes
1 answer
339 views

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 ...
ahron's user avatar
  • 147
5 votes
1 answer
271 views

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 ...
Anton's user avatar
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