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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-1 votes
1 answer
23 views

Idiom for spending too much time on a single topic? [closed]

Is there an idiom (or just an adjective) for spending too much time on a topic? What about saying the same thing over and over again in different ways?
2 votes
6 answers
9k 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, ...
-2 votes
0 answers
34 views

Is it "deary me" or "dreary me", or both? [closed]

Is the English idiom "deary me" or "dreary me", or both?
13 votes
6 answers
19k views

The "wrought /wreaked havoc" misunderstanding

According to the American Heritage Dictionary: the past tense and past participle of the verb to wreak is wreaked, not wrought, which is an alternative past tense and past participle of work. ...
0 votes
1 answer
29 views

Word/phrase/idiom/expression for "keep in the back of my mind"(essentially, some idea/concept kept as secondary/ something to be aware off?

I'm trying to find a Word/phrase/idiom/expression for "keep in the back of my mind"(essentially, some idea/concept kept as secondary/ something to be aware off. ) To elaborate, Let me ...
8 votes
2 answers
11k views

Origin of "tan someone's hide" as in "I'm gonna tan your hide"

If I were to take this literally, I might think this meant that someone was going to strip me naked and tie me to to a palm tree on a sunny day. I also understand that tanning refers to the process by ...
0 votes
0 answers
34 views

Meaning of "press the TV viewers' personal buttons"

In his book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan wrote the following item in a list of ideas about how to put more science on television: Regular exposés of pernicious ...
-1 votes
1 answer
26 views

What literary device is the following? [closed]

the “The shadow swallows them up” is that personification or is it an idiom because i’m very confused the sentence before says “I try to warn them, but my voice doesn’t work”
1 vote
4 answers
3k views

Short word (thesaurus) for "remaining time before death"

Is there any short word(s) for "remaining time before death"? something like "remaining lifespan" or something shorter than "lifetime left" or something like "lifespan minus age" or "deadline minus ...
3 votes
3 answers
19k views

"Take your ball and go home" - meaning of this phrase?

On a business website regarding the takeover of a radio station, I noticed this unusual phrase: Can't really see Orion Media changing Gold much, unless Global take their ball home and say that if ...
11 votes
6 answers
2k views

What is the meaning of "paying in buttons"?

From Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage by Rachel E. Gross: As a child, Miriam dreamed of becoming a doctor like her father, Dr. Friedman, who had practiced medicine in Chedrin, Latvia. 'A real ...
9 votes
8 answers
24k views

Is "walk on foot" acceptable?

I understand that we can say "walk on a hurt foot", but can we simply say "walk on foot" to mean go somewhere on foot? Isn't that a redundancy? For example, is this sentence ...
0 votes
5 answers
89 views

Is there a word for when others find a view or thing pretty/breathtaking but you feel nothing?

Is there a word or idiom for when a view or object/thing others find breathtaking or pretty makes you feel nothing? Edit: Ideally an adjective describing the idea of not seeing beauty in something ...
4 votes
1 answer
115 views

"Gentle confines"

Where does this phrase come from? It's something I use (usually ironically) and something that's "just there" in my lexicon like "fit as a fiddle". However when I Google it, no origin pops up. It ...
0 votes
0 answers
5 views

Is it correct to say "our plan to go public" vs "to be out for public"? [migrated]

I am writing an email about my team's plan. We were working internally (within the company) and now we are in the progress to provide our services externally. My question is which is correct? "...
-4 votes
2 answers
568 views

Does using an adverb three times almost always imply the opposite?

Dana is very, very, very nice. A real housewife of Beverly Hills It seems that almost exclusively, the reiteration of a such a clarifier - very in this case - ends up actually meaning the exact ...
0 votes
1 answer
129 views

What idiom describes someone who is confident on the outside but not confident on the inside?

I am wondering what words are for this because I need to describe a person for a school essay and this is their personality.
12 votes
12 answers
4k views

What's another word for agreeing with another person just for the sake of it?

Let's assume two people A and B are in an argument, when A accuses B of some wrongdoing, which B denies. A while after, B, for the sake of pretending to have a moral high ground (for thinking of ...
2 votes
1 answer
55 views

Grammar and use of 'as we know it'

In my understanding, 'as we know it' usually follows a noun phrase and means like The building as we know it = the version/condition of the building we know now. First, I'm not sure about its ...
11 votes
5 answers
1k views

Term for "[Idiom], [Rhyme]" like "See you later, alligator."

Browsing the web, I came across this image of the cast of the television show Community using a type of structure familiar to me, and I wondered if there's a name for it. The most familiar instance ...
4 votes
5 answers
4k views

Where does the expression "A little birdie told me" come from?

I see and hear this over and over again, and I have not the slightest idea where it comes from.
0 votes
3 answers
59 views

What is a phrase for “abruptly changing the topic or action?”

There is only one example I can think of, but I am looking for an alternative. Scene is a character deciding that a discussion isn’t going towards the conclusion he is looking for, so he suddenly ...
2 votes
1 answer
192 views

A drug on the market is not what it seems?

A “drug on the market” is something in such great supply relative to demand that its price is very low, or it is unsaleable. See for example: Free Dictionary drug on the market A commodity whose ...
0 votes
1 answer
61 views

The Wednesday afternoon train to Crewe will now run on Thursday mornings and will not stop at Crewe

In the House of Lords debate on the Schools Bill on Monday 18th July 2022, the Labour Party peer Lord Grocott mocked the fact that the first 18 clauses of the Bill have been withdrawn. He said to the ...
0 votes
4 answers
172 views

Origin and usage of “sail off into the sunset.”

The AmE idiomatic expression “sail into the sunset” meaning to resolve or conclude things in a neat, happy, and satisfactory fashion. (The Free Dictionary) appears to be used mainly in a sarcastic, ...
0 votes
1 answer
157 views

Idioms or expressions defining either getting paid fully or being appreciated

I am looking for a common English expression/idiom that defines a situation below: I have done some work for someone, and in return, they are not going to pay me the full payment. Then I will tell ...
2 votes
2 answers
246 views

History of "tough as nails"

I would like to know the history of this idiom because I have heard it so many times throughout the year, especially in movies. I understand the meaning of it as "very tough". However, I am ...
44 votes
2 answers
32k views

What does the phrase "Begging the question" mean?

What does the phrase "begging the question" really mean? And does it even matter if I use it correctly? Almost everyone just uses it as a synonym for "posing the question" these days.
46 votes
2 answers
313k views

"As a side note" vs. "on a side note"

What is the difference between as a side note and on a side note? Are they interchangeable? Which one is preferred?
4 votes
4 answers
23k views

Idioms for people who are tight with money

Is there an idiom which describes a person who is tight with his/her money, never wants to chip in or treat themselves or others and worries too much about money.
3 votes
7 answers
16k views

Pessimism idiom - opposite of rose-tinted glasses?

In Hebrew, we say "pink glasses" to mean optimistic observation, and "black glasses" for pessimism. I was trying to figure out how popular the literal translations are in English. I found "rose-tinted ...
18 votes
7 answers
5k views

Meaning of "tapped on the shoulder"

I am a native French speaker and I do work as a translator in the legal field, and literature (mainly fantasy). I need an explanation for ‘tapped on the shoulder’: As for full-time appointments, the ...
3 votes
2 answers
101 views

Is there any expression for 'things that are innocent but appear or look bad'?

Is there any phrase or expression or idiom for a situation where things are actually innocent but appear bad. Example: A young girl is not supposed to go to a boy´s home if his parents are not there. ...
4 votes
2 answers
4k views

Synonyms for "speak of the devil [and he doth/shall appear]"

Specifically, I'm looking for something that would fit in the same situation, but I need a less negative connotation. Saying that when my Dad, for instance, walks into the room while I'm talking about ...
0 votes
0 answers
23 views

Searching for info on an idiom for expressing extent [duplicate]

I have the impression of an idiom used to express the exaggerated extent of something that follows the pattern "It was (some measure) if it was (other measure)". For example, to express the ...
0 votes
3 answers
74 views

When can we use "This/That is how we/you do it"?

I found a restaurant review while searching for google maps, and this is an excerpt from it. This is how you do it. Delicious with a very nice outdoor space. Parking on the street was very vacant. We ...
10 votes
4 answers
8k views

Is the expression "showed it what for" or "showed it one for"?

For some reason I thought the expression was "showed him one for" but someone I know just said "showed it what for". Which is it? I have also heard the idiom as "give it what/one for". If anyone has ...
0 votes
1 answer
105 views

Jolt to one's senses (shock/make someone sensible)

Context- Black has been trying to convince Harry that he is guilty that Harry doubt. These words jolted Harry to his senses. Even after that, he still questions Black. So I am confused if it means &...
1 vote
3 answers
9k views

What does "throw a wrinkle" mean?

What does "throw a wrinkle" mean? Example: I’ve got a conversation with Jacob later today that may throw a wrinkle in…
0 votes
4 answers
56 views

Idioms indicating symbiosis rather than conflict

In order to explain a situation in which it's better to compromise and set differences aside, I'm looking for an idiom. In fact, I want to say, despite the huge and critical differences and problems (...
5 votes
6 answers
1k views

Pending tasks and goals

I am trying to communicate that I wish I could have done something. That "something" would be a ____________ for me. Since I speak Spanish as a first language, I am biased to think of the ...
1 vote
0 answers
73 views

Usage of the term "good egg" [closed]

I came across the informal idiom good egg which means a likeable or pleasant person. The idiom seems somewhat old-fashioned. My question is: How common is this idiom inside and outside the USA ? And ...
4 votes
1 answer
205 views

Idiom for tinkering and then returning to what you had at first?

I'm trying to think of a good idiom/phrase for the process of questioning what you have, tinkering with it and finally returning to what you had at first. Specifically returning accidentally, then ...
8 votes
6 answers
50k views

The meaning of the English idiom "pot calling the kettle black"

I would like to know something more about this idiom and how North American or English speaking people use it. Is the idiom considered outdated or offensive by young people? When is "pot calling the ...
-1 votes
1 answer
59 views

To remove someone's sins

Is there a phrasal verb or an idiom that people use, especially in religious contexts, to wish that God would remove someone's sins? Something like: Hassan used to rape girls, but he repented of his ...
1 vote
1 answer
69 views

Origin of “Peace Through Superior Firepower”

(I’m not sure if this is a valid question here†, as the phrase is arguably not common enough to be classed as a fixed expression.) Is there an ascertainable origin of Peace Through Superior Firepower? ...
-1 votes
1 answer
38 views

Meaning of sentences begining with "such is..." [closed]

I was reading a Cambridge English book and I ran into a sentence like this: "such is our dependence on fossil fuels and such is the volume of carbon dioxide already releases into the atmosphere.....
7 votes
4 answers
4k views

Why do we talk of 'spoiling for a fight'?

According to the OED the sense of spoiling for a fight/argument etc is of US origin. Does anyone know the provenance of this use? OED to be spoiling for (a fight, etc.), to long for, to desire ...
4 votes
2 answers
157 views

What is the origin of the idiom "get/be shot of"?

Definition Get/be shot of someone/something slang To get rid of. — Collins Examples He didn't want to be seen near me and couldn't wait to get shot of me. City experts still reckon the company ...
1 vote
1 answer
79 views

Does the idiom "dotting your Is and crossing your Ts" have a negative connotation?

I have heard this idiom being used in the negative sense on TV to express annoyance when someone is too meticulous. However, from what I remember, it is a positive trait to have, i.e., to be thorough ...

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