Questions tagged [idiom-requests]

This tag is for questions seeking an idiom that fits a meaning. If you're also seeking a phrase, see the "phrase-requests" tag too.

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29 votes
19 answers
10k views

What is the problem that gets worse after you try to solve it?

Example sentence - This problem is a _____ which gets complicated every time you try to solve it. Is there such a word that represents a problem which will become worse if/when one tries to solve it?...
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21 votes
11 answers
10k views

What do you call an 'unselfish' action made with a selfish reason?

There are many examples of this, and I'd like to give a few: A person who puts a lot of effort to help the community and earns reputation points. But that reputation is the motivation behind helping ...
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  • 3,046
9 votes
10 answers
4k views

What are "good men that do nothing" called?

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke Is there an idiom, phrase or preferably a single word that we can call people that could have helped ...
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  • 8,764
136 votes
17 answers
107k views

Is there an English idiom for trying to do two things at the same time and failing at both of them due to splitting your effort?

I'm basically searching for the opposite of putting all your eggs in one basket, where the risk is total failure because you did not hedge your efforts. I'm searching for a phrase that encompasses ...
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82 votes
25 answers
45k views

What is deliberately using complex sentences to confuse people called?

I'm wondering if there's a word, phrase, or idiom to describe the action of deliberately confusing people by using complex sentences. For example, some politicians will throw out some big words and ...
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  • 1,622
22 votes
13 answers
9k 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 ...
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  • 5,339
14 votes
9 answers
12k views

"Teaching fish to swim"

Imagine one has to give a presentation to explain something to an audience which already knows very much about that topic. Is that correct to say in such a situation that one is teaching fish to ...
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  • 423
28 votes
13 answers
11k views

Is there a word/idiom for someone who thinks long and hard before spending money?

My colleague and I were discussing about certain types of customers in the IT industry. You have to work extremely hard to convince them so that they think about opening their wallets . However, they ...
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  • 13.3k
7 votes
15 answers
51k views

Is there an idiom for people who boast too much?

I am looking for idioms or informal/slang/colloquial expression for some people that make you think that they are able of building a skyscraper, constructing a spaceship, playing the piano better than ...
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17 votes
11 answers
4k views

More formal word for "know-it-all"

We are in an impartial hearing to get special education for our son. The school social worker testified a tremendous load of lies, distortions and nonsense. She (having set herself up as an armchair ...
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  • 21.2k
84 votes
28 answers
142k views

Idiom or word for a very crowded place

There is a popular idiom in Russian for describing a really crowded place: "(there's) no room for an apple to fall" ("яблоку негде упасть"). I struggle to think of anything similar in English, and ...
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  • 95.8k
50 votes
17 answers
9k 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,...
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22 votes
33 answers
12k views

What's the English idiom/phrase for insisting on/talking about/bringing up the same subject (equivalent of "drilling one's head")?

In Arabic (Specifically, north-western Levantine), there's a saying that goes like He drilled my head about/with that lunch meeting (بخشلي راسي باجتماع الغدا) Which means something along the lines ...
41 votes
15 answers
7k 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 ...
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  • 849
26 votes
17 answers
17k views

Alternative idiom to "phone it in"

I like to use the idiom 'phone it in' in the sense described by Wiktionary: To fulfill a responsibility with a minimum effort rather than the appropriate level of effort. For example: 'He used to ...
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12 votes
11 answers
74k views

Is there an expression that means something bad as a precursor to something good?

If someone is the bearer of bad news you might say, Don't shoot the messenger. If you have something that seems unfortunate at first but ends out wonderful you might say it's a blessing in disguise. ...
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8 votes
12 answers
55k views

Idiom for the phrase "someone who gets what he deserved"

Is there an idiom for someone who gets what he deserved? Like someone receiving punishment for his evil deeds or someone getting awarded for his good deeds?
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  • 121
61 votes
11 answers
7k views

English proverb for "They danced, but didn't take a bow", as for failing good work on a final step

There is proverb in Ukrainian, "They danced and danced, but didn't take a bow" (Танцювали, танцювали, та не вклонилися). It is used to point out that someone has put a significant amount of time and ...
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  • 1,643
67 votes
22 answers
40k views

Is there an idiom or typical expression for an unfunny joke? [closed]

Could you tell me some suitable idioms to express this situation: A guy told you a joke, but it's not funny at all. In Japanese, we say "He slipped" or "His joke was so cold that the air got ...
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  • 939
17 votes
17 answers
19k views

Idiom that means trying to save something that is beyond saving

It's on the tip of my tongue. Example: "Replacing the hard drive of this computer would be [idiom]. It's going to fail completely soon enough."
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  • 273
26 votes
15 answers
56k views

Idioms that mean making decision between two good options

I am looking for expressions that mean "to decide between two good options." For example, you have to choose between getting a car that you like or a super car that's very expensive but you are not ...
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  • 3,026
4 votes
2 answers
6k views

Idiom for explaining something to someone who clearly knows the topic (probably better than you) [duplicate]

I am looking for an idiom/phrase which would mean that someone is trying to explain something to someone who obviously knows how it's done. It would be like a maths student trying to teach/explain to ...
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  • 143
13 votes
14 answers
6k views

Word for "when someone does something good for you and then mentions it persistently afterwards"

Say your friend A bought you a present on your birthday. Then long after the birthday, you gathered with your friends including A and were talking casually and A mentions the gift they had bought for ...
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5 votes
2 answers
2k views

Word for the situation of being unable to pass opposing pedestrian, as you both start to step same direction

Is there a word or expression in English, which describes the situation, when you can't pass a stranger, who is walking towards you on the street, because you both start to step the same direction? ...
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  • 1,643
4 votes
8 answers
1k views

In my native language, we have a saying - a stone will get a wretched person, going uphill

Is there a similar saying or idiomatic expression in English, which would correlate with the above-mentioned one, implying that misfortune will befall even on those ones, already in trouble ?
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  • 1,164
4 votes
12 answers
30k views

Idiom for being stubborn about an opinion

Is there an idiom for the action when someone holds tightly onto his opinion? Like you keep to try convincing that person again and again but he keeps that opinion?
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  • 197
100 votes
23 answers
26k views

Idiom for someone who buys all the best gear to do something before they even have a basic proficiency?

I'm looking for an idiom to describe someone who decides to take up a new hobby, then buys an excessive amount of gear before they've even started. Perhaps they believe they need this gear to master ...
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31 votes
29 answers
13k views

Is there an idiom available, that is exactly opposite to "Cake walk" or "Child's play"? [closed]

Is there an idiom available, that is exactly opposite to "Cake walk" or "Child's play"? I am looking for something exactly synonymous with "Very difficult" or "strenuous". Example Sentence: This ...
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  • 553
46 votes
25 answers
10k views

Is there a similar English phrase for this Tamil proverb - "Lavish outside home yet starving inside of it"?

In Tamil, a south Indian language, there is a saying which roughly translates into English as: Lavish outside home, starving inside of it. Background : This proverb has a mocking tone and indicates ...
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  • 13.3k
38 votes
14 answers
28k views

Is there a word or an idiom for people who only spend their families' money and fool around?

Is there a word or an idiom for rich people who spend only their families' money and do not bother to work, just fool around?
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  • 1,056
51 votes
16 answers
18k 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 ...
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  • 9,187
35 votes
7 answers
14k views

An English idiom for "solve a problem that has been solved"?

In Polish, and I believe in a number of other European languages, there is an idiomatic expression which translates to "to force a door which is already open". It is used to describe a situation when ...
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18 votes
8 answers
8k views

Is there an English idiom for Bengali idiom "সবজান্তা গামছাওয়ালা"(wise towelsman)?

In the Bengali language there is an idiom, "sobjanta gamchawala" (wise towelsman), meaning a man whose occupation is merely to sell towels, but claims to know everything and gives valuable advice on ...
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22 votes
8 answers
4k views

Gender-neutral equivalent for "Take it like a man"

I'd like to find some gender-neutral equivalents of the phrase Take it like a man I'm not looking only for existing phrases -- any interesting ideas for expressing the sentiment "be tough", ...
13 votes
9 answers
3k views

American Equivalent of "Bog Standard"

I'm searching for an American English phrase that is the most readily equivalent to the British expression bog standard (which means, as I understand, plain, ordinary or unremarkable). I'm tempted to ...
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9 votes
14 answers
33k views

Idiom or phrase about a situation in which a person has little hope

Is there an idiom or phrase associated with a time when a person has little hope and has to choose between bad and worse options?
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  • 660
7 votes
10 answers
7k views

Word for "blissfully oblivious"? [closed]

Is there an English word or idiom that describes a person who's blissfully unaware or oblivious to their surroundings? I always thought this word was "aloof," but "aloof" seems to hold a rather ...
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  • 1,335
9 votes
11 answers
2k views

Idiom for a speech with redundant information [closed]

What idiom can be used to name an action when a person tells a lot of redundant information? EDIT: To be more precise I am trying to describe an action when a person speaks about the subject but ...
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8 votes
8 answers
28k views

expression or idiom for a person who knows every detail about something

I was wondering if there's an idiom or expression for a person who knows everything there is to know about his field of interest or expertise, practically no detail is unknown to them. I thought of ...
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  • 201
5 votes
1 answer
606 views

When 'we' refers only to other people

'The Royal We' is the use of 'we' to refer only to the user. I had thought until I looked it up that 'Royal We' referred to the use of 'we' with the inference (whether obvious or subtle) that the ...
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5 votes
6 answers
11k views

What is the idiom for "as anyone can see" or "clearly"?

I keep wanting to say "the handwriting on the wall," but that's not correct. The place I'm trying to use it is, "Alice likes Bob, Carol likes Bob, Alice thinks Bob likes her, but Bob dates Carol, and ...
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  • 1,261
4 votes
14 answers
36k views

What is the opposite of "preaching to the choir"?

I have found "Whistling into the wind" online but I do not think it fits because it seems to mean that your words are not heard, whereas the opposite should mean that you're being informed by someone ...
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  • 249
2 votes
4 answers
30k views

A word or phrase to describe someone who is obsessed with words?

I want to be able to describe the love for, or obsession with, words. It may also be a condition from other's perspective. It maybe because he is a lunatic who wants to aggrandize his vocabulary, a ...
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  • 14.7k
0 votes
4 answers
32k views

Idiom or phrase associated with a person who blame others for his or her fault?

Is there an idiom or phrase associated with a person who can't do some work or something but he or she blames something or somebody else?
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  • 660
34 votes
13 answers
35k views

Idiom for "just because you give something a different name, it doesn't change what it is"

I'm looking for a way to idiomatically express the sentiment that just because you give something a different name, or precede it with a disclaimer, it doesn't change what it is, e.g.: "I mean this ...
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  • 1,058
46 votes
23 answers
50k views

What do you call the facial expression or the state just before bursting into tears?

What do you call this facial expression that forms just before bursting into tears? (Especially when a baby has been treated in a way he/she didn't expect and consider it unfair or feels neglected. Of ...
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  • 9,187
17 votes
9 answers
158k views

Another term/phrase for kill two birds with one stone

What is another phrase for kill two birds with one stone? Or another term that implies similar meaning?
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  • 293
57 votes
13 answers
8k 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 ...
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  • 9,187
29 votes
9 answers
38k 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 ...
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  • 9,187
21 votes
20 answers
21k views

What's an expression for a cunningly-fake friend?

I'd like to warn somebody of one of their harmful managers, or even a so-called fake friend, so I say it like this: Don't trust him! He is nothing but a cunning person who is trying to harm you/put ...
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  • 9,187

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