Questions tagged [idiom-meaning]

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

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50
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9answers
23k views

Meaning of the phrase “womp womp” in American English?

I'm British, I'd like some assistance understanding the meaning of the American idiom "womp womp" in this context: PETKANAS: “I read today about a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who ...
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7answers
207k views

Original Meaning of Blood is thicker than water, is it real?

I recently read that the phrase "Blood is thicker than water" originally derived from the phrase "the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb", implying that the ordinary meaning ...
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2answers
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What does 'Big Hand, Small Map' mean?

I heard someone saying that a few days ago, but provided the context, I still couldn't grasp what he meant with that. By the way, I didn't find it on the internet either.
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8answers
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What is the meaning of the idiom “cat's in the cradle”?

I heard the expression "cat's in the cradle" for the first time in the song by the band Ugly Kid Joe, I though at first that it was just something they came up with and I did not think there was any ...
20
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9answers
7k views

Washing the skin of a dead rat

There is an idiom in Indian languages : There is no use washing the skin of a dead rat for even a year The idiom means a foolish person or thing can not become useful even if ...
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4answers
9k views

What is the origin of the idiom “To Stand Someone Up”?

I was curious as to if anyone knew of the origins of the idiom "to stand someone up" in the sense of: My date stood me up. Do you think he'll stand us up again? She stood me up last night. ...
16
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4answers
9k views

Using “put hair on your chest” for women

The idiom put hair(s) on someone's chest means: Fig. to do or take something to invigorate or energize someone, always a male, except in jest: Here, have a drink of this stuff! It'll put hair on ...
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4answers
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Meaning and origin of “bite the bullet”

I just learnt about the expression "to bite the bullet", meaning Accept the inevitable impending hardship and endure the resulting pain with fortitude (as seen in its article in phrases.org). I have ...
15
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1answer
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To whose 'salt' is the idiom, “worth one's salt” referring to?

Worth one's salt- worth one's pay; something or someone that deserves respect and support. Mark: That journalist is biased. I don't like the way she interrogates our mayor. Dale: Every journalist ...
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5answers
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What does “I have eaten myself stupid” mean?

Jenson Button has said that he expects the 2016 Abu Dhabi grand prix to be his last, despite him having a contract as a reserve driver in 2017 and potentially full-time driver in 2018. When asked why ...
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1answer
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Meaning of “two days either side of a dash” (from a motivational speech) [closed]

There is a motivational speech which I'm having trouble understanding. Here's the phrase: There are two days either side of a dash, make sure that dash is not empty. What's the meaning of it?
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4answers
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What is the origin of the phrase “playing hooky”?

What does the word "hooky" mean in the phrase "play hooky" (skipping class/truancy) and where did it come from?
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4answers
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What does the slang “in my arrogant opinion” convey?

I have seen it on the Internet as follows (abbreviated as IMAO): Only the Muggles will find it offensive IMAO. I know it's contrasted with the common phrase "in my humble opinion," but I still don'...
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4answers
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What does “If wishes were fishes we'd all swim in riches” mean?

What does "If wishes were fishes we'd all swim in riches" mean? This phrase doesn't make any sense to me, though I do understand the point it's making. But by the logic of the phrase, if a wish ...
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5answers
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Meaning and origin of “put a wrinkle on one's horn”

While investigating a recent EL&U question (What does "throw a wrinkle" mean?), I came across the unusual expression “put a wrinkle on [or in] one’s horn [or horns].” I have three ...
11
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3answers
954 views

Why is a “Mystery in the Alley” a side of hash?

American 'Diner Lingo' seems to consist largely of humorous crossword-style references (Noah's boy = Slice of Ham, Mother and child reunion = chicken and egg sandwich, Dog soup = water, etc). Most ...
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1answer
6k views

Where did we get “buster” as in “Look here, buster”?

Americans, at least, have for some time used buster in speech or dialogue as a generic form of address. It has a range of tonalities, from light to affectionate to grimly confrontational. Listen, ...
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9answers
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What does “box-ticker” mean when applied to a person?

I've come across this phrase in the following context: ... such cultures bring up people to be box-tickers.
10
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1answer
4k views

What does it mean to be “sixty-fortied”?

I came across this on an episode of Gilmore Girls (2.16 - There's the Rub), where Emily Gilmore says "I can't believe you let me get sixty-fortied!" (60-40d) I can't find much reference to this ...
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2answers
32k views

What does “why yes” mean?

In this chat on github I found: A. I made some changes. Please review. B. Awesome, thanks! A. Why yes, of course What A means in his last sentence? In general, is "why yes" a stronger "yes"?
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4answers
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Meaning of “blue bag”

In Cakes and Ale, Maughm writes, She was a pattern of propriety and she would never have women in her house, you never knew what they were up to ("It's men, men, men all the time with them, and ...
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2answers
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What is a “kitchen sink approach”?

What does "kitchen sink approach" mean in this context? Where some startups focus on the minimum viable product, (name of startup) has gone for a kitchen sink approach that approximates the ...
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4answers
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What does “third leg of the stool” mean?

What is the meaning of this idiom? At price points for a cluster that start below $45,000, a VxRail appliance is the third leg of the stool.
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2answers
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What does “apple of my eye” even mean?

I do not understand how the phrase "apple of my eye" connotes affection. Where and how did this phrase originate and how can it refer to something dear?
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2answers
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Origin of “I'm gonna tan your hide”

If I were to take this literally, I might think this meant that someone was going to strip me naked and tie me to to a palm tree on a sunny day. I also understand that tanning refers to the process by ...
8
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2answers
69k views

Does “little did he know” mean he “knew nothing at all”?

Does the phrase “little does/did (s)he know” mean the person knew nothing at all? Or does it literally mean that there was some (little) knowledge? I started pondering the specific meaning when I ...
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2answers
948 views

Meaning of “murder to resist” in the expression “Power can be murder to resist”?

Power can be murder to resist. This is the tagline of the novel and film The Firm. What does it mean for something to "be murder to resist"?
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5answers
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Is ‘Everybody’s cup of tea’ a well-used English idiom?

I found the headline,‘Facebook friendships are not everybody’s cup of tea,’ in 'Ask Amy' of the Lifestyle section of today’s Washington Post (August 9). Without special needs for taking bother of ...
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2answers
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Meaning of phrase “Early/late in the piece”

I've heard people say "this early in the piece" or "this late in the piece". It seems to be spoken as a kind of idiomatic expression, but I'm not sure what it really means. What is the meaning of the ...
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3answers
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Positive connotation of “fluke”?

Many sources (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, for a start) suggest the word "fluke" has mostly positive connotations when used in the sense of "accident." That is, "a fluke" properly describes a lucky accident, not ...
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3answers
4k views

Origin, meaning, and historical change (if any) of the idiom 'stem the tide'

Christine Ammer, The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms, second edition (2013) has this entry for the idiom "stem the tide": stem the tide Stop the course of a trend or tendency, as in It is ...
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1answer
928 views

To let some of my cats on the table

While reading J.L. Austin's book How to do things with words I found this (to me) curious sentence: ... and here I must let some of my cats on the table... The context seems to imply that the ...
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4answers
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What does “red chair” imply?

At a meeting in an international corporation, a Canadian speaker mentioned having a "red chair" culture and later continued to talk about their "red chair" learnings. I'm not sure what that implies. ...
6
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2answers
790 views

What does “If you are playing the Yankees, you don’t want the umpires to show up wearing pinstripes” mean? [closed]

The sentence goes: A good judge, like a good umpire, cannot act as a partisan... If you are playing the Yankees, you don’t want the umpires to show up wearing pinstripes. I cannot understand the ...
6
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3answers
11k views

Is the phrase “make waves” used with the sense “create a snowball effect”?

I was writing a post for my company's blog talking about Open source, and wanted to wrap it up with Let's make waves. I was pretty sure that the expression meant something like Let's replicate this, ...
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1answer
16k views

Why the “give” in “I don't give a flying f***”?

I’m not a native speaker. I know that I don't give a flying fuck means "I don’t care", but how did it come to mean that? Specifically, why does the verb give mean "don’t care" here?
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2answers
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“I hope she hangs the moon”

I am always on the watch out for new unfamiliar idioms, especially in American English, and today I found one “to hang the moon”. "And so she's now talked about a lot," McCaskill added. "I'm not ...
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2answers
8k views

What does “Somebody is too much in one’s head” mean in contrast to “Somebody is in over one’s head”?

There was the article titled “Thunder Road” in New York Times’ (January 11) that began with the following sentence “I have learned two things covering politics. One, first impressions are often right....
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4answers
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Meaning of “And the day came when … ”

I saw some sentences that start with this phrase: "And the day came when ... " For example, the following sentence form The Garden Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield At last the day ...
5
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2answers
7k views

What does the phrase “it is up to us to flesh it out” mean?

What does the phrase "it is up to us to flesh it out" mean? Can you suggest any synonyms?
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5answers
3k views

Has “call on someone” meaning “pay a short visit” fallen out of usage?

It would appear that the usage of call on someone meaning to visit someone, usually for a short time, as in “We could call on my parents if we have time” has become somewhat obsolete according to ...
5
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1answer
4k views

Cut my legs out from under me?

I would like to know the exact meaning of this phrase (cut my legs out from under me,) because I've been searching for it everywhere, but 'till now I've only come across the definition of "cut the ...
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5answers
5k views

Is it common anywhere to say “scat” when one sneezes?

I use the phrase "SCAT" when I sneeze, and sometimes when someone in my presence sneezes. I have lived in different parts of the US and don't know where I picked up this expression. Has anyone heard ...
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4answers
369 views

What does “extend a finger” mean exactly? Is it a commonly spoken phrase?

I came across the phrase “They’ve extended a finger” in the article that came under the headline “Mazie Hirono’s blunt style makes her a favorite of liberal looking for fighter” in Washington Post ...
5
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1answer
4k views

Meaning and etymology of the “Rhodesia Solution” [closed]

An example of the term "Rhodesia solution" being used is in The whisky Priest, an episode from the BBC comedy series Yes Minister, which follows a government minister and some of his closest staff ...
5
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1answer
9k views

“No less than” idiom root

I know that "No less than somebody/something" means that this somebody/something is important. What I don't understand is why this idiom means so!! What I literally understand is that "No less than" ...
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2answers
3k views

Buckley's Chance

In Australian parlance we have the expression "He's got Buckley's chance" or "You've got two chances - Yours and Buckley's". Meaning - he o you have no chance at all. Who was Buckley?
5
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1answer
207 views

Can “much less” be used in affirmative manner?

There was the following paragraph in Washington Post (March 26) article under the headline, “The 5-minutes fix: What to make of Stormy Daniels. “Daniels is openly profiting from her newfound fame ...
5
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1answer
16k views

Why does “keep tabs on” mean what it means

Keep tabs on sth/sb means "to ​watch something or someone ​carefully". Why is that? Can somebody analyze and explain this idiom, please? What does "tabs" mean here, and how does the whole phrase ...
5
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2answers
677 views

What is the meaning of the phrase “cut five sides in [something]”?

I was browsing the Elvis Presley page on Wikipedia when I read a strange sentence: During a two-week leave in early June, Presley cut five sides in Nashville. I've never heard this phrase before. ...

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