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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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Olympic basketball terms: what does “gutted on the glass and in the paint” mean?

The U.S. men’s basketball team has been “bullied” in the past because of the size of the players. Generally speaking, Coach Kerr played smaller lineups, and in losing three of their final four games ...
Xanne's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
92 views

Idiom for "different people know different things"

There is the common saying that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” to show that different things may have different value to different people. However, I teach a class of students and often ...
wjmccann's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
34 views

What does "snubbed out" mean? [duplicate]

I am confused by the meaning of the term "snubbed out." I will list some examples that I came across. I applied for the position of supervisor, but was quickly snubbed out when the HR ...
Micheal Gignac's user avatar
0 votes
3 answers
71 views

To do what it takes

I am interested in the idiom "do what it takes". Is it necessary for this idiom to include the goal? Can I say just "I will do what it takes.", when the goal is clear from context? ...
David Vonka's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
99 views

Would this be a metaphor?

So there is an incident where someone was vacationing in Scotland. This other person asks her if she is in Scotland. The one vacationing says "yes". The person's response is "Take as ...
Alyson's user avatar
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12 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the origin of the idiom "say the word"?

I am interested in the origin of the phrase "say the word" in the sense that you will do what is asked when needed. For example, "when you are ready for a second helping of dinner, just ...
dmkerr's user avatar
  • 175
4 votes
1 answer
374 views

Why do we say "he doesn't know him from Adam"?

I was told that when I say He doesn't know him from Adam, I mean He doesn't know him at all. But if I say He doesn't know him from his schooldays. It still means that he knows him!
J.Chuquet's user avatar
15 votes
4 answers
714 views

English equivalent of the Russian idiom "You are confusing sour with yellow"

There is an idiomatic expression in my native language: "You are confusing sour with yellow", which means something like that though lemons are sour and yellow, not every yellow thing is ...
jsx97's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
51 views

What is the Construction of the phrase "Stand and Deliver"? [closed]

Recently, I watched a historical drama set in the 18th century in England, and brigands, most notably the main character, often uses the phrase Stand and Deliver when conducting a highway robbery. ...
uberhaxed's user avatar
  • 171
11 votes
8 answers
5k views

“Out of the mouths of babes”: Is this idiom strictly used to refer to children?

According to Cambridge Dictionary, “out of the mouths of babes” is an idiom used when a child says something that is surprisingly wise. So, it is used to compliment the child for saying something that’...
hb20007's user avatar
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1 vote
0 answers
54 views

How to use " I have got to hand it to you " [closed]

I just want to know how to use this idiom as I came across it yesterday.
Henya's user avatar
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0 votes
0 answers
38 views

Off the top of your head, or heads? [duplicate]

When addressing a group of people, should the idiom 'off the top of one's head' be used with singular or plural forms? As in, Off the top/s of your head/s, is Kolkata more populous than Hyderabad?
Jonathan Y.'s user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
65 views

What is the term/phrase in academic English Literature given to idioms/figure-of-speech/proverbs/narratives that are oxymorons/self-contradictory? [closed]

Unless the employer stuffs my mouth with gold until I gag, I will Not work for them. What is the term/phrase in academic English Literature given to idioms/figure-of-speech/proverbs/narratives that ...
crazyTech's user avatar
  • 265
3 votes
1 answer
108 views

English equivalent to the Swedish idiom "Har man tagit fan i båten..." [duplicate]

The full idiom in swedish goes: Har man tagit fan i båten, får man ro honom i land. The literal translation would equal something along the lines of: If you bring the devil into the boat, you have to ...
Erik's user avatar
  • 351
0 votes
3 answers
176 views

What does phrase "he got hammered" mean? When is it appropriate to use?

This comes from the movie "Moneyball". General Manager is trying to sell baseball player Venafro to another baseball team Steve: "Is (baseball player) Venafro hurt?" Billy: "...
4orneMore's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
92 views

Do I get it right that "a flash in the pan" has two rather opposite meanings?

One is a complete failure, either apparent from the beginning or something that appears promising but turns out to be disappointing or worthless. A misfire, on a musket's priming pan. A fool's gold ...
Col. Shrapnel's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
42 views

What "On your approach" means in this context? [closed]

I've playing a game called gta san andreas and I've ran into this phrase Hey carl you gotta stay nice and low on your approach or you pop up on the radar And two questions crossed my mind that is: ...
curiousUser's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
89 views

Is Weasel Poo on a Door Knob a Recognised Expression? [duplicate]

The heading says it all. I have seen the above expression (or a few variants) used to describe something smooth, whether a person, or a literal surface. An example, When it comes to women, Alex is ...
Della's user avatar
  • 345
2 votes
2 answers
206 views

What is the "shorthand" (or colloquialism) to say "anything in order not to do something/this or that"?

Can't remember for the life of me rn and googling was of no help, can someone help me out?
D4RKS0UL's user avatar
  • 159
1 vote
2 answers
4k views

Meaning of "four into a ten stretch"?

There's a Netflix series called "The Gentlemen". The following dialogue takes place in it. Man: "So I hear your dad's caught a nasty cold. How long's he got left?" Woman: "He'...
Hemant Agarwal's user avatar
0 votes
3 answers
134 views

Idiom/phrase for; something so explosively life changing/profound that it leaves you speechless [duplicate]

I found a few that came kind of close but I'm looking for something tht essentially combines the definitions of Epochal Momentum, Red/Scarlett Letter, & Magnum Opus. But it has a lot more of a ...
user499481's user avatar
-1 votes
1 answer
51 views

Crust and crumb [closed]

" Crust and crumb " is the title of an 1895 picture " toy " book in the Montgomery Ward catalog. The title feels like an idiom. I welcome input.
Kathleen Tirpak's user avatar
1 vote
2 answers
111 views

What is the origin of "take one's medicine"? [closed]

I would really like to know where the idiom "take one's medicine" comes from. At first l thought it was another version of taste of their own medicine, but I found that these two have ...
Khayat's user avatar
  • 11
0 votes
1 answer
57 views

looking for a correct/ idiomatic phrase

Context: A recent meeting between Chinese and American Foreign affairs bosses in Munich. Original: 双方就开展人文交流,便利人员往来交换了意见。王毅敦促美方停止无端滋扰盘查中国公民,多做有利于增进两国人民相互了解的事情,并送美方一句古话:“勿以恶小而为之,勿以善小而不为。 During their ...
LetterQuest's user avatar
2 votes
5 answers
133 views

Idiom for model organism / prototypical example / "MNIST of X"

I'm looking for idioms or phrases conveying something similar to one of the following: a toy example on which practitioners of X usually test a new method first, as it's expected that if a method ...
Daniel Paleka's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
67 views

Let's assume X+into is a phrasal verb meaning A. X is also used with into again but with a different meaning (B) Can we count it as a phrasal verb?

Let's assume that we have 2 words: X and into. In dictionary the phrase X+into is accepted as a phrasal verb when it means A. We can also use X with the word into again, but then it literally means ...
Melis's user avatar
  • 1
0 votes
1 answer
42 views

What does this split subject phrase, "it might all have started", imply?

A well-known British writer has this: [to question] how it might all have started To my non-native English speaker ear this sounds a bit off; I'd have said [to question] how it all might have ...
mustaccio's user avatar
  • 326
1 vote
2 answers
102 views

What is a word/ expression for a cut down said with a grin?

When someone is grinning at you while cutting you down. A snide comment is the best I have found. Or cheshire cat grin. There has to be a better word for this common occurrence.
ParisMarina's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
96 views

Does "breathe in the light" have any colloquial meaning?

I have noticed that the phrase "breathe in the light" is used in several seemingly unrelated pieces of music, for instance, it is the name of a "Stellardrone" track, and in the ...
Daigaku no Baku's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
257 views

Current prevalence of idiom "pulling for you"

A prior question asks about the origin of the phrase "pulling for you," a phrase that conveys well-wishes and support (Merriam-Webster): US, informal : to say or show that one hopes (...
TaliesinMerlin's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
34 views

What is the origin of the idiom "get your shorts in a knot"? [duplicate]

I got this idiom from my English homework and still can't wrap my head around why this means "to become over upset over something, especially something unimportant." Does anyone know where ...
Thảo Phạm's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
218 views

Another word to substitute "Heck" or "Hell" in these kind of sentences

I have been thinking about sentences like, "That's not impressive; Heck, even I can do that!" and I was wondering if there was another word that I can use in place of "Heck" in ...
Cashier-Man's user avatar
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

Origin of "cut a voluntary" meaning "to fall from one's horse when hunting"

It is apparently hunting jargon term meaning to fall off of a horse. Definition below from Dictionary of Jargon (Routledge Revivals) By Jonathon Green: cut a voluntary v. [Hunting] to fall from one's ...
Spehro Pefhany's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
160 views

What is the technique that produces phrases like "Miss Anne Thrope" called and is there a master list of names?

Misanthrope, as a word, can be converted into the pseudonym "Miss Anne Thrope" (bonus points if the meaning reflects the writer's style). But what is this technique called and is there a ...
Beeflong's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
110 views

What does "it" refer to in "sweated it out"?

In the following sentence as an example : "He sweated it out until the lab report was back", What does "it" refer to in "sweated it out"? I have just seen the example &...
Nadirspam's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
64 views

What are the rules of inflection in making an idiom?

Although the following expressions may sound local or unnatural to some, these are examples of idiomatic expressions I hear in New York City. Does putting plural emphasis of a noun or comparative ...
wordsalad's user avatar
  • 415
1 vote
6 answers
627 views

A man of many talents/ the man of many talents

Can I use the article the with the idiom “man of many talents” if I want to emphasise that it refers to just a specific person and not speaking generally? For instance: “You’re the man of many talents”...
Tiziano De Masi's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
606 views

'My bad' vs 'My bag'

Over the years I've noticed a non-insignificant amount of people use the term 'My bag' to admit guilt when getting something wrong (i.e. 'Mea culpa'). For example: Happy Birthday! My birthday's not ...
Daniel's user avatar
  • 41
4 votes
1 answer
182 views

Origin of the idiom "a few trombones short of a marching band"

I've heard the following idiom being used a few times recently but am unsure where it's come from: He's a few trombones short of a marching band. I don't know exactly what it means and I can't find ...
user1598's user avatar
  • 141
7 votes
2 answers
167 views

Easier said than done vs. Easier to say than do

As a speaker of English as a second language, I've long been curious to know why English speakers would choose to say "Easier said than done" over "Easier to say than do". Why ...
Choe Guevara's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
39 views

What is a term for the evolution of idioms through error?

At my place of work the idiom bottom-up (as in bottom-up design) is often used and debated as a way of doing things. However over the last year or so it's increasingly being expressed as bottoms-up ...
Air's user avatar
  • 111
0 votes
0 answers
47 views

Idiomatic word or expression for a lazy and unmoral person who gets paid without working - Translation of Spanish ‘ñoqui’ [duplicate]

I'm not talking about the Italian dish. In Argentina, there's a well known expression for someone who doesn't go to work and only assists the last month's day to get paid: It's called a ñoqui. The ...
tac's user avatar
  • 474
-2 votes
1 answer
77 views

Origin of "turn the other cheek" [closed]

I’m wondering about the origin of “turn the other cheek”. I have heard it all my life.
Smythe's user avatar
  • 5
0 votes
0 answers
52 views

Idioms with prepositions and CMS Capitalization

I am finding the CMS instructions confusing on whether one should capitalize the word under in a title when it is used as an idiom. For example, A Park under Threat.
CEM's user avatar
  • 1
0 votes
0 answers
44 views

Was “who’s she, the cat’s grandmother” common in Scotland? [duplicate]

My mother’s retired Scottish nanny, who was born in 1888, and grew up near Ullapool, on Loch Broom, would say this. She also took care of me when I was a child. She would correct me when I spoke of ...
Sassy's user avatar
  • 1
1 vote
3 answers
530 views

"Out of sight" to refer to something that is very good — could it be based on German?

There is a word in German, ausgezeichnet which vaguely sounds like the English phrase "out of sight" but that is usually translated as "excellent". I could see some non-German ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 603
1 vote
2 answers
256 views

Is it idiomatic to say "call of the blood"?

I've been struggling with this one... I'm trying to figure out whether it's okay to use the expression "call of the blood" to describe the phenomenon of doing something naturally (or coming ...
Ley's user avatar
  • 11
0 votes
0 answers
72 views

Can I add some words into the idiom "last but not least"?

The phrase 'last but not least' is a well-established one, but I'm wondering whether I can split it and add a parenthetical bit into it: And finally, the last but definitely not the least geocache I ...
hideaway's user avatar
1 vote
5 answers
2k views

Idiom for unexpected solution?

Is there an idiom for an unexpected solution? For more specificity, I want to write about how if you're sincere enough, sometimes you can find a solution in unexpected places.
twilightstar's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
160 views

Idiomatic expressions for falsity pt. 2: the sophist falsity - Translation of Spanish: ‘versear’ or ‘chamuyar’

Introduction According to correspondence theory, if you say or think something that does not correspond to reality then you have said something that is false. While this is an obvious concept learned ...
tac's user avatar
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