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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28
votes
19answers
9k 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?...
9
votes
10answers
3k 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 ...
81
votes
25answers
37k 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 ...
133
votes
17answers
87k 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 ...
22
votes
13answers
8k 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 ...
21
votes
11answers
9k 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 ...
28
votes
13answers
10k 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 ...
7
votes
15answers
43k 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 ...
82
votes
28answers
118k 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 ...
48
votes
17answers
8k 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,...
12
votes
11answers
70k 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. ...
16
votes
11answers
3k 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 ...
8
votes
12answers
48k 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?
33
votes
13answers
30k 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 ...
67
votes
22answers
29k 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 ...
26
votes
17answers
16k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
4k 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
1k 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? ...
96
votes
23answers
22k 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 ...
31
votes
30answers
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 ...
46
votes
25answers
9k 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 ...
34
votes
7answers
12k 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 ...
18
votes
8answers
7k 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 ...
50
votes
18answers
14k 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 ...
40
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 ...
25
votes
15answers
45k 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 ...
22
votes
8answers
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
9answers
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 ...
7
votes
10answers
5k 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 ...
6
votes
7answers
21k 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
5k views

Is there a proverb for “if there's a simple solution for solving a problem don't choose a more complicated one”? [duplicate]

Is there an idiom/ phrase/ expression or proverb that conveys this meaning: "As long as there is a more simple solution for solving a problem don't choose a more complicated one." or: "when you can ...
5
votes
6answers
10k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
531 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
24k 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 ...
0
votes
4answers
25k 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?
45
votes
23answers
37k 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 ...
56
votes
13answers
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 ...
12
votes
9answers
118k 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?
28
votes
9answers
28k 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 ...
21
votes
20answers
18k 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 ...
17
votes
17answers
16k 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."
34
votes
13answers
69k views

Is there a slang word or idiom for someone who borrows money from friends or relatives and never (or rarely) pays them back?

Edit - My question doesn't refer to bank loans or credit card accounts. Nor does it refer to getting things out of other people's generosity. It is specifically about money and the putative duplicate ...
28
votes
12answers
8k views

Idiom for a person who is above any question

I read somewhere a sentence which said about a political leader that he is the "holy something" whose actions cannot be questioned. The context was to describe that even though this man does bad ...
18
votes
23answers
21k 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 ...
17
votes
14answers
4k views

Idiom for someone “not from this world”?

Are there idioms (or single words) in English for people who behave like they have come from another world where everything is perfect and know nothing about the reality? They usually come up with ...
17
votes
6answers
4k views

English equivalent to the Bengali Idiom “ bamon hoye chand dhorar shokh” which means wish of a lowly person to become equal to aristocratic people

A poor boy wishing if he could have dinner in a five star restaurant, a beggar wishing if he could travel in a BMW - all these are example of the Bengali idiom which if translated literally means, a ...
40
votes
6answers
9k views

Term for Gift that Turns out to be a Burden

What is the English term for when someone thinks they are doing something nice for you but it ends up making things worse. EX: Someone buys you an elephant -- nice gesture and cool! But now you have ...
24
votes
9answers
8k views

A modern equivalent for “at the coalface”

I let you believe that I am one of the nation's top geneticists, when actually I am a moderately successful scientist who is now coasting on past research, doing the odd bit of examining or ...
18
votes
11answers
5k views

How do you say to someone that you will reuse a sentence you've just heard from them?

How do you say to someone that you will reuse a sentence (or a joke) you've just heard from them, as-is, because you liked it a lot ? In Italian we say "Questa me la rivendo", that translated is "I'...
17
votes
7answers
9k views

A wife who knows and accepts her husband's infidelity

What do you call a wife or woman who knows their spouse or partner is unfaithful but pretends either to (1) not care or (2) to not know? In this scenario it's important that the cheating spouse or ...