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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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14 views

Any suggestions for a good boutique name? [on hold]

I am looking for a good catchy store name for a new clothing business. Any suggestions for a good boutique name?
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1answer
47 views

Does “throw a leg over” means “riding a horse” or “sexual intercourse”?

Now anyone reading this article - http://mentalfloss.com/article/31841/why-new-york-city-called-big-apple and especially this line from that: "The Big Apple. The dream of every lad that ever threw a ...
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6answers
3k views

Don't pin me down on that! No warranty!

In German, there's an idiom that goes like "Nagel mich nicht darauf fest" (literally, "don't nail me down on that!") usually followed my some kind of information that is given without complete ...
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4answers
4k views

Why does the idiom “Jig is up” mean “discovered in the act of dishonesty”?

I was reading a manga on Mangarock in English when I saw this idiom. Can you explain to me why the meaning of the idiom "jig is up" is "discovered in the act of dishonesty"?
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2answers
30 views

Term/idiom/phrase for braggart [on hold]

I am pretty sure I have heard of this term before but I do not remember it. What is a term for someone who brags about something that indirectly affects them (or is not related to them)? For example ...
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0answers
36 views

What is a reasonable time lapse for the word 'soon'? [on hold]

My friend asked me: "Want to meet soon?", to which I said "All right". Four hours later, I called him up and asked him: "I thought you wanted to meet soon", to which he replied: "Soon as in 'some day ...
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3answers
62 views

Is there an idiom for when the source is “clean” but the product isn't?

I was thinking of having a sentence that goes like: This situation presents the paradox of ________. Basically, I want to say that it's ironic that the worst human rights abuses can be traced back ...
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1answer
28 views

What does it mean by “wasn’t everybody saying”? [on hold]

"As Mr Trump’s opponents called this a disaster, his supporters lambasted their criticism as hysterical—wasn’t everybody saying a year ago that it was sinister to have so many generals in the cabinet?"...
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0answers
36 views

use of “Well” in response to being summoned [closed]

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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2answers
68 views

Meaning of “like a bump on a log?” [closed]

"Like a bump on a log". What does it even mean? It's so hard to understand what it means. I've looked it up everywhere and can't find it.
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1answer
48 views

Verb (or expression) referring to something that happens suddenly and unexpectedly, and upsets you

I’m trying to find a verb or idiomatic expression to refer to something that happens suddenly and unexpectedly, upsets and overwhelms you like a bolt from the blue. For example, a shocking event in ...
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1answer
42 views

“He is the sinner of the main creation of the despute” [closed]

It sounds off and slightly wrong to my ears. Is it grammatically correct? Ryan is the sinner of the creation of the third dispute. Ryan is the sinner of the creation's third dispute. I am ...
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0answers
40 views

“At a time like that” [closed]

What does "at a time like that" mean in the following paragraph? I thought about it for a entire month, but I couldn't decide on anything. And at a time like that... My editor saw my mention on ...
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5answers
2k views

Usage of the phrase “I clutched my pearls”, esp. for males?

I came across with a phrase, “clutch one’s pearls” in the headline of the Hill (January 6). It reads : “Dem lawmaker: ‘Kind of odd’ for GOP to be ‘clutching their pearls’ over profane call to ...
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1answer
66 views

What does “like an elephant's eye” mean?

What does “like an elephant's eye” mean from "We seldom ever have an argument, but if it is, it's about something like an elephant's eye"? The sentence is from an interview, an old couple talks about ...
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1answer
61 views

I am fine, or I am well, or I am good? [on hold]

In grade school, eons ago, I was taught to say "I am fine." Today, most people say, "I am good." Recently, I received scorn for an old man saying, "I am fine," as it was argued that "fine" would ...
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0answers
40 views

What Does “Pop” And “We'll Get Her Right Between The Curl” Mean In This Sentence?

Cleaver.Cleaver.Chop.Chop First The Mom Then The Pop.Then We'll Get The Pretty Girl.We'll Get Her Right Between The Curl. This is from the poster of an movie I am about watch just for its ...
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1answer
30 views

Word or phrase for a commonly-used clause at the beginning of a sentence, such as “It's almost as if”

I've been seeing a lot of tweets/comments/posts with the following structure: "It's almost as if [obvious observation]". Ignoring how terrible this trend is, what is an appropriate word or phrase for ...
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2answers
47 views

What is the difference between “degree of damage” and “extent of damage”?

I am doing multiple-choice tests and this is the exercise I am facing at the moment: I can see that there is some rot in the wood, but I need to remove the plaster to check the A) rank B) ...
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1answer
24 views

use of the idiom “in earnest” [closed]

Can I use the idiom "in earnest" as follows: "I strongly believe that XX program will offer me the perfect chance for my specialisation in XX to begin in earnest.
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2answers
174 views

A twist of fate

I’ve spent the last few days savouring the phrase “A twist of fate”, either there isn’t much written about, or it is swamped by other people using it. From what seen on the internet it seems to be ...
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5answers
69 views

What's the idiomatic word for something that keeps you sane/grounded?

There's a word for something, that when remembered--or a person that when spoken to--brings you back to reality and the knowledge that you're not insane. I keep wanting to say "touchstone", but I don'...
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1answer
43 views

“Standing on your dignity” meaning

Good day, I found an old Melbourne, AU tram ticket from sixties. On the back of it there is a writing "Standing on your dignity is a very insecure footing". Trying to decipher the phrase, I fail to ...
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1answer
27 views

One who tries out various jobs [closed]

I am thinking of when some tries out various jobs till they find their place. A greenhorn who changes work field often like every two week or month and changes to a new type of job.
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2answers
162 views

“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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0answers
17 views

every other vs all other

Which of the following sentences are grammatically correct? If they both are, which one is more idiomatic? It has been my dream to be able to use machine learning to bring what allowed me to succeed—...
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1answer
50 views

What does “the latter third of the year” mean?

I was reading a blog post on Rust's 2018 roadmap (Rust is one of programming languages), and saw a sentence like below. We will continue to publish releases every six weeks as usual. But we will ...
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2answers
106 views

What is the difference in meaning between “get back to him” and “get back at him”? [closed]

And you were afraid that if you started asking questions, it would get back to him From The Outsider by Stephen King I know that to “get back at someone” is similar to humiliate or to wreak revenge....
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3answers
77 views

Is there an idiom for the phrase 'that's not what I meant'? [closed]

I'm looking for an idiom for the phrase 'that's not what I meant' and Google seems to be of no help whatsoever.
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1answer
54 views

What does “We have the needle in this state, and we use it” mean? [closed]

In the Stephen King novel, so the cop says to the guy who is yet proven to be guilty: "Right now you're going to jail. And guess what? We have the needle in this state, and we use it." Could you ...
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0answers
28 views

About the usage of “had” in this sentence?

Epistemologically speaking, it is facts about the relationship had with the trusted that determines the justification of trust, it is not the mere absence of defeating reasons. (Source) It seems to ...
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1answer
49 views

Is there a strategy for searching for idioms by meaning rather than by words?

Say I want to find an idiom that means wasting time/effort, now if I were to search Google or a dictionary with the query An idiom that means wasting time/effort I would get idioms that actually ...
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2answers
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Yeah, but HOW MANY out-of-state plates?

He said, “I saw two men runnin’ out, they looked like middleweights / They jumped into a white car with out-of-state plates” - Hurricane, by Bob Dylan and Jacques Levy It seems like we always say "...
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6answers
129 views

Antonym to “Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch”

There is an idiom, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch." Meaning, don't assume the optimistic scenario will happen before it does. Is there a similarly pithy idiom meaning the opposite? As ...
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6answers
130 views

Is there an idiom that means “a project that has destroyed the career of anyone who has tried it”?

In context: Film adaptations of The Nutcracker have destroyed the careers of anyone who has tried to make one. They’re Hollywood’s biggest ___________ Not “white whale” or “holy grail,” I don’t think....
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0answers
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Word or expression for someone who creates job security through complexity

I'm specifically looking for an idiom about a person who creates job security for himself or herself by unwittingly complicating things for his or her company. This would be someone who creates more ...
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4answers
559 views

Synonym for “in the blink of an eye”

I am translating from Middle Egyptian to English. For those who are curious, here is the hieroglyphic inscription: However, this is not a question about Middle Egyptian, but rather English. The ...
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9answers
5k views

PETA wants workers to “bring home the bagels”

On December 4, the animal rights organization, PETA, asked anglophone speakers (in the US) to quit using anti-animal idioms cold turkey. In a Tweet they proselytized: Words matter, and as our ...
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2answers
2k views

The Etymology of “husband’s tea”

I am an English teacher. While teaching my students l am often asked about English idioms and their etymologies and meanings. As a rule, I can find the answers to their questions. But there's an idiom ...
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2answers
76 views

A word that means “presenting something without context”

I think there is a word that means something is presented or said without context, like a statement that appears random. "Leftfield statement" comes close, but I think there's something more concise. ...
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2answers
63 views

Is this a saying? “I am here to [show/tell/…] you …”

I am not a native English speaker, but I translate English texts into my native language, Danish. I sometimes come across phrases like "Many believe that (x) but I am here to show you that (y)." I ...
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2answers
131 views

A less morbid equivalent of the idiom “Giving someone enough rope to hang himself”

What may be a less morbid equivalent of the idiom "Giving someone enough rope to hang himself"? In other words, an idiom for empowering someone with a capability that they might, through ignorance, ...
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3answers
53 views

English idiom or proverb equivalent for “saying something, and doing the opposite”

Could somebody please help me by giving an English idiom or proverb used for the people who say something and do exactly opposite
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3answers
41 views

What does 'charge about' mean?

For example: "Me sitting here on the landing,too nervous to go downstairs ?" "And me charging about." I can't find 'charge about' on dictionaries.
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2answers
96 views

Does “everywhere and nowhere” mean “irrelevant”?

An Italian student, a young man of twenty, came to me today with a bunch of papers in his bag. It was the questions and answers to a multiple choice English quiz. We're talking hundreds of questions. ...
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0answers
325 views

What is the meaning of an expression “Tufted titmouse”?

I watch the show "The Good Doctor". It was used in season 2 episode 4. In flashbacks, Shawn had with his mother/caregiver (couldn't quite figure it out), she was dying and he had to move. They used it ...
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2answers
84 views

When and where did “bad boy” start being used to mean something impressive, e.g. “Let's take this bad boy out for a spin!”

The term "bad boy" literally means a boy who is bad. Those of us who were boys and grew up speaking English are likely to have heard it applied to us, either as a description or a warning. Somewhere ...
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1answer
50 views

Aim at verb+ING vs Aim to verb

In a book about the philosopher Collingwood, I have found the following statement about logic. At first glance, it seems to me that the change from aim to to aim at is merely stylistic, but I think ...
3
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1answer
77 views

Why is “as fit as a fiddle” about being fit and well?

This article is on the origin of the idiom as fit as a fiddle. It is said that of course the 'fiddle' here is the colloquial name for violin. 'Fit' didn't originally mean healthy and energetic, ...
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1answer
43 views

Does this sentence sound weird in English? [closed]

"Neptune’s natural light coming in through the top windows washed the station in baby blue hues." I am alluding to the "washed with light" part. Does it sound like a legitimate literary expression or ...