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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21
votes
7answers
5k views

Is there any phrase, proverb or idiom that convey “the turtle quarreled with the lake”?

There is a proverb in Arabic that literally means: "the turtle quarreled with the lake" It is used when "A" rejects a favor from "B" to hide his dependence on it, as a turtle's life depends on the ...
21
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13answers
4k views

Idiom or expression request that would convey same meaning as this Persian set phrase “ simple yet impossible to imitate”

In Persian poetry there is a style which literally means: "simple yet impossible" It implies that the poems have been told using simple words and in a seemingly simple way, yet cannot be imitated ...
21
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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 ...
21
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9answers
2k views

Name for the difficulty of finding information you have no knowledge of

Example 1: Anecdote (couldn't find reference online) Designers of astronaut suits struggled with knee/elbow joints... until someone ELSE told them of the armor of (I think) Henry VIII. Example 2: An ...
20
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16answers
9k views

Opposite of “Squeaky wheel gets the grease”

I want a fun and playful retort to use against someone who says "The squeaky wheel gets the grease", which, according to the so-named Wikipedia1 article means: The squeaky wheel gets the grease is ...
20
votes
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 ...
20
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11answers
5k views

Phrase to mean one is described by his name [duplicate]

I found in some other languages such as Chinese an interesting idiom which describes some people; for example, when you see a person is named "Smart" and he/she is really smart, one would say: "a name ...
20
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6answers
6k views

What's the English for “chiodo scaccia chiodo”?

I'm looking for a BrE or AmE saying that conveys the idea of the Italian saying "chiodo scaccia chiodo", that is "one nail drives out another". The only suggestion I could find is "one problem drives ...
19
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11answers
11k views

Is there an idiom/phrase which contains the word “head” to mean “thinking hard to solve a problem”?

I am looking for an idiom or phrase that means "thinking hard by myself to solve a problem". I hope the idiom or phrase has the word "head" in it. Example: I have been ____ head ______ for the last 5 ...
19
votes
7answers
12k views

Term for a type of relationship that two parties benefit from

Looking for a term, phrase or idiom that best describes a special type of relationship between two parties, not necessarily humans, in which both gain unprecedented benefits. However, such advantages ...
19
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15answers
5k views

Someone whose aspirations exceed abilities or means

What would be a clear and concise way to describe someone whose ambitions or aspirations far exceed his means or abilities?
18
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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 ...
18
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15answers
9k views

What is it called when someone attacks a person and the offender gets an even worse reputation?

What is it called when you defame someone and you happen to lose respect for doing that. For example, "George is verbally attacking John, by doing that George is losing people's respect" Thus: ...
18
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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'...
18
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8answers
4k views

Spoken word equivalent for “paper does not refuse ink”

This phrase advises a healthy skepticism of the written word. Is there a similar idiom that advises skepticism of the spoken word?
18
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10answers
3k views

What is a synonym for “superstition” but without the negative connotation?

In my native language (Latvian) there is a word that denotes a superstition, but in a more positive way, somehow. It’s hard to explain, so let me give some examples: If you swing on the swings a ...
18
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11answers
4k views

Is there an English equivalent for this Tamil proverb - “A painting of a bottle gourd is worthless while preparing stew”?

This is an interesting expression that I came across very recently while reading a Tamil magazine. The literal meaning is that you can't cook the stew by just having a painting of a bottle gourd. ...
18
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12answers
5k views

Is there a phrase that means “thinking out loud”, but on paper? [closed]

"Thinking out loud" in itself seems to imply literally speaking it with your voice, whereas I'm trying to describe "thinking out loud" silently by writing out thoughts on paper to work through a ...
18
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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 ...
18
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2answers
1k views

Term for Only “Unbelieved Warner”

I'm looking for a word, phrase, or idiom to describe a person or fictional device. In stories, especially horror and fantasy, there can be a character who is dismissed when they try to tell others ...
18
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10answers
4k views

Is there an English equivalant to the Russian saying “the baker never buys his bread”?

I heard a good Russian(?) saying that I like, which is, "the baker never buys his bread," as in, "bakers aren't wealthy people, but at least they always have bread." Kind of like if you were a shop ...
18
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7answers
2k views

Is there an idiom for “making a puerile excuse”?

In Italian there is a juicy idiom when somebody gives a risible explanation: knowing that children can delude themselves and try to deceive others when playing hide-and-seek, they say: "... ...
17
votes
15answers
8k views

An idiom for “striking unnecessarily hard when the opponent is already weakened”

In Assamese there is an idiom that means 'striking unnecessarily hard when the opponent is already weakened'. Is there any such idiom in English that could mean the same?
17
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11answers
7k views

What is the phrase or idiom for older people who still can function properly

Sentence: Although he is 90 this year, he still _____: he can still walk, eat on his own.
17
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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."
17
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13answers
8k views

What is the expression to describe that you are surrounded and have few ways to act?

Something like "circle is narrow" (just total random)? For example I'm trapped by circumstances and don't know how to get away with that. Because every way of acting seems not to be good. Thank you ...
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
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12answers
20k views

Idiom request for wasting time or money

I am looking for an idiomatic expression that expresses the idea of the negative consequences for having wasted your time or your money for instance, and now that you really need them you don't have ...
17
votes
10answers
7k views

Idiom/expression that means “to suddenly tell some news” to someone?

These were the first ones that popped up in my mind (disclaimer: I'm not a native English speaker): He threw me the news a month ago. He flung the news at me a month ago. He dropped the news on me a ...
17
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21answers
41k views

Idiom for doing something intentionally despite knowing the outcome might be bad

Is there any idiom for doing something intentionally despite knowing the outcome might be bad, or an expression for a person who does such a thing? For example, I know that if I ask someone a ...
17
votes
6answers
6k views

What do you call this problem in the knee area of the jeans?

What do you call this problem when your pants, especially jeans, look like sticking out in the front and look as if there is a pillow on their knee part? (As if it has taken the shape of the knee.) I ...
17
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5answers
3k views

What is the word for individuals who unwittingly post very similar questions asking for the same words, without doing any previous research?

Many newcomers on EL&U post very similar single-word-requests, all asking for more or less the same words. The two main categories appear to be asking about verbosity and thriftiness. What is ...
17
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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 ...
17
votes
8answers
29k views

What are the polite and neutral versions of “cut the bull*’?

I was wondering what are the polite and neutral versions of cut the bullshit? Suppose one calls his mobile customer service for signal problem, but the representative endlessly tries to promote ...
17
votes
2answers
1k views

Word/term for persistence in incorrect pronunciation

Is there a word or idiom for persistence in pronouncing words incorrectly, even after being corrected? Specifically, this question has arisen from a teenage debate over the correct pronunciation of "...
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 ...
16
votes
19answers
27k views

Chasing something that doesn't exist

I'm trying to find a word or short phrase that would describe chasing something that doesn't exist. My restriction is that it can't be referencing something that would only make sense in our world (...
16
votes
18answers
4k views

Formal or polite alternative for “f***ing around” [closed]

I want to tell my uncle that I am "f***ing around" but I certainly can't use the F word. I googled it but I didn't find the phrase/word I am looking for. I am wasting my time doing silly things and I ...
16
votes
18answers
6k views

Any English equivalent for the Persian idiom “to play dead like a mouse”?

I'm looking for an idiom or expression for describing someone who fools or manipulates other people by pretending to be poor/ weak or incapacitated/ ill (=unwell)/ inoffensive / innocent as a tactic ...
16
votes
11answers
7k views

Equivalent of “teri lal” a Hindi phrase which means “you are right” said sarcastically (but not actually meant) [closed]

There is a saying in Hindi in India "teri lal" which translates "yours is red" which means "Whatever the case may be you are right" as in "you are always right". It is a sarcastic way of telling (...
16
votes
16answers
4k views

Is there an idiom to express “You couldn't get anything better”?

Is there an idiom or expression meaning "what you've been offered is the best thing I could offer you, and you won't get anything better" when someone refuses your offer in a rather rude way? As in: ...
16
votes
3answers
6k views

A word for a period covering two years

Specifically the phrase "two years". Just like how you can say two moons for “two months”. I've thought of: "two periods" but that doesn't seem right, and "two seasons" but not quite sure if it is ...
16
votes
19answers
12k views

Word/Idiom/Phrase to describe a stage in a project's life-cycle when you are stuck and thus no progress is happening?

Sometimes while working on a project, we get stuck. We run into a problem which we are not able to solve despite of trying for some time (a few days or weeks). Sometimes we don't even know what is ...
16
votes
10answers
3k views

A picturesque equivalent for German “Beutelschneiderei”, i.e. what cut-purses and fraudsters do

In German there is a term Beutelschneiderei which in all dictionaries I have currently access to is being translated as "daylight robbery". However, Beutelschneiderei in German is a very picturesque ...
16
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8answers
5k views

What do you call a frustrating and inexplicable ending?

I used to be a fan of the TV show Dexter, I say “used to be”, because until the last season it was a thoroughly enjoyable (and) guilty pleasure of mine. However, season 8 ruined it for me. The twists ...
16
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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 ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

Word or phrase for “using excessive amount of technology to solve a low-tech task” [duplicate]

If you look at this gif of a drone replacing a lightbulb, you'll understand what concept I'm trying to find a word for. Using dynamite for fishing would be another example. I'm looking for a word ...
15
votes
7answers
4k views

What do you call a question that is meant to make you look bad? [closed]

What is it called when you are asked a question that has nothing to do with the subject at hand and is sometimes meant to make you look bad? I think it is a legal term used in a court setting.
15
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9answers
13k views

More up-to-date alternative for “avoiding something like the plague”?

In Europe, the last Plague pandemic took place quite some time ago, so, personally, I have never had to avoid the plague. Yet we still say, "avoiding something like the plague". Is there an ...
15
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12answers
5k views

Idiom for a situation or event that makes one poor or even poorer?

Is there any idiom or expression in the English language that describes a situation in which the budget goes tight(er) and one becomes poor? In my mother tongue, they say "X happened and their bread ...

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