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Questions tagged [idioms]

Idioms are a group of words established by usage as having a meaning not deducible from those of the individual words. Use [idiom-requests] if you are searching for an idiom with a particular meaning.

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Re: Omitting articles and prepositions (“the” and “by”). Idiomatic or colloquial, slang, etc.?

Even though ASL was my first language, I generally don't omit articles, except in certain cases: Girl said she was going to call me...sigh. This example needs no explanation (locally, that ...
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I would be pleased if somebody checked my “weather idioms cringy essay” in case of grammar. thank you :)

The Weatherman -Danny, look! Look, who is coming! -Mommy, it's the Santa Claus! The door's opened, a little bit of draught's came in, because grandpa's forgot to close the window in the kitchen. And ...
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1answer
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A phrase used to describe solving a problem by using a convenient solution that does something broad that also resolves the problem

Things I'm trying to convey The solution is something simple and convenient (i.e. doesn't require a lot of effort, hence not "overkill" or "overengineering") The solution does something that has an ...
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25 views

Meaning of an idiom

Nerves fit for sliding panels or tapestry - I came across in Northanger Abbey. I can understand what it means, but would like to know why sliding
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What is the idiom, expression or phrase for when you as a student are asked to check your own answers or grade yourself?

This idiom, expression or phrase would usually be used in a sarcastic manner. Consider the following exchange: Lazy art teacher: Students, have you completed the painting test? Students: Yes, ...
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1answer
24 views

Meaning of “along with” here?

Along with many of his contemporaries, the great philosopher and mathematician G.W. Leibniz (1646–1716) proposed the idea of a ‘universal character’. Does it mean that Leibniz proposed that idea in ...
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1answer
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What is the origin of “cut rate”?

I saw this drug store sign from 1929. Does the term "cut rate" have a pharmaceutical origin or does this just refer to "low cost"? This in a low income area, but I know pharmacies "cut" drugs with ...
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Choosing the most idiomatic sentence

Which one is more idiomatic? My greatest achievement is the first prize in a modeling competition. OR My greatest achievement is winning the first prize in a modeling competition.
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A more serious version of 'no-holds-barred'

The phrase 'no-holds-barred' implies a fight, conflict or battle without any rules, but is relatively modern and comes from wrestling, giving it a friendly feel. What is the name for a fight where ...
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2answers
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A noble/attractive suggestion that is uncomfortable to argue against but is ultimately wasteful

I am looking for a phrase to describe the title. For example; higher water purity when the purity is sufficiently high. Even with an arbitrarily high purity, it would be uncomfortable to argue that "...
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Resource to search for missing words in common (short) expressions and idioms

Sometimes I have a partial expression that's stuck in my head and I have a really hard time trying to figure out what the missing portion of it is. For example, today I woke up with the expression "[...
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Wish you had woken me up

Is the following common in conversation: I wish you had woken me up. It sounds a bit stilted. Is there a common/idiomatic expression for this? Thanks
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44 views

Term of art with racist origin

In the field of probability, there is a fundamental theorem called "The Dutch Book Theorem." Regardless of your original language, this theorem will be known to you if you work with probability with ...
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Usage of “to double down” in British and American English

The idiom "to double to on sth" in the sense of "continuing to do something in an even more determined way than before" is mentioned in the Cambridge Dictionary. However, personally, I've heard this ...
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What does “have no upper lip” means?

This appears in a quote from the movie "The Meyerowitz stories new and selected": "I spoke to Dr. diebert, the neurologist, who seems very knowledgeable but has no upper lip to speak of".
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what is the meaning of the following please? [closed]

Someone said me a text saying "I bet you not to involve my personal ludwig." I am not sure what does that mean. I am not native english speaker, thought some kind of folk idiom. I asked her for ...
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1answer
64 views

what's the expression for people who give moralistic lectures, but often are guilty of the same “sin”?

People who give bible-thumping/koran-thumping moralizing lectures about various "sins", but often indulge in the very same sins they lecture against. For example, many anti-gay preachers often turn ...
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1answer
72 views

Origin of “my dog ate my homework”?

Is there a specifc incident or origin story for the common joke/comedic phrase "my dog ate my homework"? I always wondered whether there was a student who became notorious for not turning in their ...
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2answers
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Proverb/phrase for using a tool/process not intended for its purpose

I couldn't come up with a better title. So I have one of my colleague using a wrong tool/process to achieve something that this tool/process is not intended for. So basically its going to be ...
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3answers
61 views

How do you describe waking up in the morning brain functioning slowly?

Is there an adjective describing waking up in the morning and feeling slow, not able to remember stuff and think slowly?
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2answers
44 views

What is the phrase for the management's ideology in which staffs are told to perform other's responsibilities?

It happens in lot of organization. Its a management habit in some organization who think of cutting corners , that they are saving money. These management people tend to overlap responsibilities. ...
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A donkey does not know what kind of fruit persimmon is

The above-mentioned idiom comes from my native language. We use it when we are referring to a person ( often tasteless and unsophisticated one ) who finds it hard to appreciate a good thing or does ...
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On the hoof expression

A friend has asked me if they can say: I said those words on the hoof. It doesn’t sound right to me as I’m used to hearing it with eating: I had to grab lunch on the hoof. Is it correct, and if so, ...
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The meaning of the expression “Never laugh at live dragons”

I'm a big Tolkien fan and have read LOTR and The Hobbit many times. However, there's one quote from The Hobbit that I've never fully understood, and that is the phrase, "Never laugh at live dragons". ...
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4answers
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Idiom Request: being overworked, burned out, having too much work

I'm an illustrator and need some idiom help (obviously visualizing but using existing idioms or metaphors can help). The article I'm illustrating for is about teachers quitting their jobs within 5 ...
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1answer
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Idiom about something being very different

I need an idiom for two things being very different in amount (price) for negotiating. I’m trying to remember something along the lines of moon and ground/sky and ground, but I can’t remember the ...
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1answer
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“If I knew something about [X], I couldn't tell you what it is!”

Someone has told me that, because I asked about X. I know that the person has confidentiality concerns about the X-related issues. Now I'm wondering: does that statement imply anything specific? ...
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2answers
135 views

“Tinkle contest with a skunk”

What does the following idiom mean: "Tinkle contest with a skunk". And where was this idiom first used ? Does anybody know the origin?? Example: Yesterday, in an unsuccessful attempt to discuss ...
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1answer
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Which is correct — as much as … or as many as … used with a percentage?

I’m unsure which is correct to use in the following sentence — “as much as” or “as many as”? Here’s the sentence: As ___ as 88% of all real estate transactions come from repeat and referral ...
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What is a good metaphor/analogy/idiom espousing the virtues of “developing something gradually over time”? [closed]

My question specifically relates to learning a new skill. Which could be used in the following example: An aspiring athlete trains for an hour each day without feeling like she is making much ...
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Correct usage of “trading/exchanging one thing for another”

I want to state that "Some people trade/exchange X for Y", with the implication that it would be more advantageous to keep Y, but that they foolishly give Y away to gain X, which is less advantageous. ...
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“Beck and call” after “to be” only?

Can the phrase "at one's beck and call" only be used after "to be?" For example, I can definitely say "her daughter was at her beck and call," but I am unsure if I can use it adverbially i.e. "her ...
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“Cheaper by the dozen” phrase origin?

Over on Politics.Meta.SE a comment by user Guest271314 asserts a repugnant etymology: ...You cannot expect readers to parse when you are engaging in direct communication or "colloquially" speaking. ...
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Why Third 'Reich'? Why is 'reich' not translated when 'third' is? What is the English synonym of reich?

Why is Nazi-Germany commonly referred to as "The Third Reich" in English? Why is reich not translated when Dritten ("third") is? And what is the English synonym of reich? Realm? Austria (Republik ...
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Is “fight windmills” idiom common in modern spoken English?

Is "fight windmills" ( In meaning of fighting imaginary enemies) idiom common in modern spoken English? And what is the modern equivalent for the idiom if not.
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1answer
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What's the origin of “it's the same banana”?

I've come across the phrase in sources translated into English from Tagalog, and am wondering if it originated in the Philippines and passed into American English during the U.S. colonial period? A ...
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Structured pursuit of an aim

Is there an English word that denotes the structured and deliberate pursuit of a course of action in order to achieve a goal?
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when can you use cut your teeth on something from the first person perspective?

I was helping a friend to proof read and found this sentence very cringey. 'Also, Chambers that give their pupil first-hand experience which they can cut their teeth on their legal careers in the long ...
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How do you correct this sentence to a right one?

I want to travel to Tokyo. If you go, let's travel with Kamakura! -> I want to travel to Tokyo. If you are traveling, let’s do it with Kamakura? can someone help? i corrected the original sentence ...
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Is “paper fiction” a set phrase?

" the rock and the ocean are revealed to be mere paper fictions" - On Evil, Terry Eagleton The text refers to the book 'Pincher Martin'. The rock and the ocean turn out to be quite literally made ...
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Is there an idiom for, “ Making decision all by yourself without involving or consulting others and expect them to accept it”?

I know there are some idioms meaning that you do a job alone or sth. But what I'm looking for is the one in which a person is supposed to consult with others before making final decision but he just ...
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4answers
103 views

“Catch a distant trumpet”

What is the proper interpretation of "catch a distant trumpet of an entirely new point of view"? (I only know that an American artist wrote this and that she was in England at the time.) January 19:...
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'Dose of one's own medicine'?

So, I know 'dose of your own medicine' is an older version of 'taste of your own medicine'; but which one is widely used nowadays? Are both of them correct, or did people stop saying 'dose of your own ...
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“Man of the Earth”, is it an idiom?

And this guy was a man of the earth, so to speak. What does it mean to say someone is "a man of the earth"? This is said by Martin Scorsese in an biography book called "Conversations with Scorsese" ...
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Why can 'X as well as Y' be written as 'as well X as Y'?

Prof. Brooks Landon, U. Iowa, Ph.D., U. Texas at Austin, Building Great Sentences: How to Write the Kinds of Sentences You Love to Read (Great Courses), 2013, p 193:         ...
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What' s the meaning of 'mole trap'?

sorry if my English is not good . in season 1-episode 3 of "killing Eve", there a conversation about a murder between Eve and Jin. Jin want to give something Secretly to Eve. Eve : What is that? ...
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Is there an idiom or expression for that “squeezing sensation you feel in your chest” when you contemplate one you love

There is little doubt that strong emotions can provoke specific sensations in the rest of the body, not just mind (whatever that is...) Emotions coordinate our behavior and physiological states ...
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English equivalent proverb/idiom for this saying

In Tamil language, there is a proverb for a particular sequence of actions performed. The proverb is, "Pillaiya killi vittu, thottila aatradhu", meaning, "Pinching a child and then oscillating the ...
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Use of “Well…” instead of “What?” in response to being summoned [duplicate]

In the 1940s and 1950s, if Mother were to call for one, "Oh, Jamieeee?", one was to respond "Well, Mother..." and never "What, Mother...?", the latter being considered vulgar and ill-spoken. Locale ...
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Is “dance around” a valid phrasal verb?

I think the idiomatic expresssion “dance around” a subject, an issue meaning, avoid addressing a subject or an issue, is a common metaphor as in: When it comes to money, however, we find lots of ...