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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1answer
33 views

Why is “No” used here and not “doesn't”? [closed]

In this video, He says "My butt no butt". From what i understand, he's saying that his 'butt' doesn't meddle in other people's problems (Doesn't butt). I have seen "No" followed by ...
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1answer
56 views

Need an alternate idiom for 'no big deal'

I'm currently writing a short story. I've written the following sentence in it: "He hated going to school anyway, so it was no big deal to quit it altogether." I think the phrase/idiom 'no ...
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9answers
2k views

Is there a phrase for expressing something is 'very red'? [closed]

My native language is Dutch, and in my language you can say something like: "Ik kom uit een bloedrode familie" which then literally translates to "I am from a blood red family". ...
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2answers
178 views

can chug be used with food, like chugging down my lunch

Everywhere I've looked, it seems chugging down has to be followed by a drink. But can I use it with food as well? Like "I was doing something (say, walking) while chugging down my lunch". Is ...
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1answer
5k views

Dead as a doorknob: idiom changes due to misuse

Most (if not all) of us have likely heard the phrase "dead as a door-nail." However, I have noticed that a large portion (ok, all) of my American university students of the last 5 years ...
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5answers
387 views

Polite form of “red herring” or a word or phrase meaning unintentional distraction

In another life I posted a comment calling someone's answer a "red herring" because I felt that it was distracting from the true problem: D3 is a red herring here. Your solution works because you ...
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0answers
58 views

What is the best idiomatic phrase for 'This is not going to happen'? [closed]

English is not my first language, but I do communicate a lot in non formal setting with UK born and bred very nice people. From where I come there a plenty of ways to say "This is not going to ...
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6answers
33k views

Meaning of “harsh mistress”

What does harsh mistress mean in this sentence? Nostalgia can be a harsh mistress.
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2answers
8k views

The exact sense and origin of “to stick it to someone”

From a blogpost at BBC, Did internet kill the radio star? David Lowery, lead singer for the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven, tells the BBC that illegal sharing of music files is sticking ...
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0answers
21 views

How to say that I will work on some action item after meeting? [closed]

I am looking for a phrase that I can utilize to say that the item being discussed during the meeting can be assigned to me and I will work on it offline. Can I say " I will take that point away&...
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1answer
160k views

“By the end of today” or “By the end of the day” [closed]

Which is the correct (or more correct) expression: By the end of today By the end of the day My context is a promise to send an email today (i.e., before tomorrow).
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0answers
197 views

Word, Idiom, or other Fixed Expression for “Stopping someone from doing something”

In my office I had stopped one of my colleagues from working on a project. And I had to inform someone about it. And using sentence I had stopped him from working on it. shows some disrespect for ...
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4answers
15k views

In the phrase “the scales have fallen from my eyes” why did they use the word “scales”?

It's an odd word there. I've never thought that I had "scales" on my eyes when I couldn't see. Why didn't they use something like "darkness" or "clouds"? When I think of scales I think of Lady ...
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2answers
168 views

delutherer, deluderer

My dad (who is Irish) has been using the word "delutherer" since I was tiny. It derives from "to delude" and is used to affectionately/teasingly denote someone who is trying to trick you or cajole you ...
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4answers
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What does the phrase “taking a bath with the crowd” mean?

I recently heard the phrase "taking a bath with the crowd" and that apparently it's a common idiom in many European languages. I found several results for the phrase on Google, but none that explain ...
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3answers
3k views

The meaning of “takes two to know”

I know lyrics meaning is not a kind of a thing English SE is supposed to specialize in, but before looking for possible figurative meanings of the song excerpt that I put below I just want to reassure ...
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0answers
46 views

Using both A User An User? [closed]

I was struggling for years finding how to use an and a. Still today I don't know the whole grammar of it. Sincerely could anyone explain to me since this is the most correct? A User But I believe it ...
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4answers
37k views

The whys and the hows

Are apostrophes needed in this phrase? The whys and the hows I searched for duplicate questions, but the closest I found was in regard to words inside quotes.
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1answer
52 views

Idiom on a person who sleeps late at night and wake up early in the morning [duplicate]

We use the "night owl" idiom for a person who go to sleep late at night, and the "early bird" for those who wake up early in the morning. Is there any idiom for a person who goes ...
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1answer
59 views

What is the subtle difference between “and so on” and “and so forth”?

Kurt Vonnegut uses "and so on" a good deal to end his sentences in Breakfast of Champions. In some places people would actually try to eat mud or such on gravel while babies were being born ...
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1answer
29 views

Can I say 'right up' as a request to have a ship righted? [closed]

According to Merriam Webster, the word 'right' can be used as a verb meaning "to make a ship upright". Could it be combined with the word 'up' to make it more clear? Like: Sailor: The barge ...
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3answers
17k views

Origin of “Butter wouldn't melt in his/her mouth.”

This phrase means that someone is being prim and proper with a cool kind of demeanour. But from what event or phenomenon or occurrence was this idiom derived from, and when?
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1answer
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Have someone/ something do something (not the usual meaning)

Have someone do something usually means asking a subordinate or a qualified worker etc to do something. But I keep coming across this construction, only with what seems to be a different meaning. I'd ...
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2answers
166 views

Is there an idiom for “looking for something in the wrong place”? [duplicate]

I want to express how someone might have an unfulfilled social need and seek to satisfy it in the wrong place. For example: someone has a romantic social need yet seeks for it to be satisfied from a ...
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2answers
411 views

Any idiom or phrase for “refusing to admit one's mistake or one's own lack of knowledge, abilities or achievements”?

Is there any idiom or phrase for "refusing to admit one's mistake or one's own lack of knowledge, abilities or achievements"? For example, You ask your friend a simple question, but he doesn't have a ...
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5answers
3k views

You have the watches, but we have the time

This quote is associated with the Taliban in reference to the US occupation of Afghanistan. I understand the metaphorical meaning of the quote — i.e. the point that it makes. But I am intrigued by the ...
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4answers
125 views

Synonyms for “passing the buck”?

What would be a better replacement for the informal phrase “passing the buck” (ie. shift responsibility for something to someone else)? I am in need of a single-word verb that captures the all-too-...
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3answers
104 views

Give or Take - Which is Give and Which is Take

I was recently asked for a rough estimate on how long a small project will take. I figured it would be a couple weeks, most likely a bit less, but could also be a bit more depending on a few unknowns, ...
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What happened to the missing object or objects in “for us to define as we see fit”? [migrated]

Reading through this paragraph, I wonder why the object to see is missing from as we see fit, even though the interpretation remains natural and smooth without it: In 1783, Goethe wrote, “Nature is ...
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3answers
71 views

Term to define the phenomenon of explaining poorly by assuming your audience is more knowledgeable than it is on a subject [duplicate]

Before I get started, I am not looking for "layman's terms". That involves "dumbing down" concepts to make them simple to understand, but often result in the analogies and ...
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2answers
252 views

Phrase, idiom, expression suited for putting one's own requirement saying that it is instruction coming from someone else

Context My boss one day called me in his office and said that now i have to include tasks 3,5,6 to complete the entire assignment. Traditionally, the usual sequence of task was from 1 through 10, but ...
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5answers
44k views

What is the origin of the phrase “'til the cows come home”?

What is the origin of the term 'til the cows come home? While discussing this with friends tonight, the group had two possible explanations: Cows return to their barn for milking at a given time late ...
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3answers
736 views

Have…going for one/oneself

There's this expression shown in Oxford: have — going for one Used to indicate how much someone has in their favour or to their advantage. Why did she do it? She had so much going for her In this ...
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6answers
56k views

What does “pave the path for” mean? [closed]

what does "pave the path for sth/sb" actually means? and if possible, please provide some alternatives with the same meaning as well.
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0answers
39 views

What is the grammar on Your honor/My lord? [duplicate]

Your honor, My lord, Your highness, My lady all refer to another person. What are the rules behind that? The striked-out questions are answered by Why is it "your Majesty", but "my Lord&...
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1answer
92 views

The “few would argue” idiomatic phrase

Taken literally from a modern US English viewpoint, the phrase "few would argue that" would mean that the statement the phrase appears before is widely held to be false. The specific wording ...
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1answer
37 views

(Not) do subtle

DO1 (v.tr.) 1c. To perform the tasks or behaviors typically associated with (something), especially as part of one's character or normal duties: That talk show host just doesn't do subtle. https://www....
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3answers
52 views

take the bite out of something / someone [closed]

Question about the expression: "You should take the bite out of him by telling him...." meaning you should subdue him. Does anyone know the origin of this expression? I am especially ...
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3answers
115 views

A metaphor for people living up or down to their reputation

I have been asked to improve my question. Can anyone help with the full quote and derivation thereof for a metaphor that begins “give a dog a bad name and hear (or see) him bark”? My understanding is ...
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1answer
67 views

Does the idiom/phrase “place is your swamp” exist or is it worded differently?

So I was talking a bit with a person and a joke came up about collecting treasure in the desert and how there's only sand, and so I stated "I mean, if your into collecting sand then the desert is ...
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5answers
12k views

How does “A hit dog will holler” work as a metaphor?

Background: I, an Australian, once had a co-worker in North Carolina who would often use Southern-US idioms that confused me. I spent an evening panicked about how to handle "This dog will hunt" as ...
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5answers
692k views

“Thank you very much” vs. “Thank you so much”

Some people used to say: Thank you very much. Where others say: Thank you so much. Could anybody please explain what differences there may be between those, whether of correctness or ...
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1answer
121 views

Origin of “race to the bottom”

The idiomatic expression “race to the bottom”, generally used in economic and financial contexts, refers to: A situation in which striving to have the lowest possible prices in order to attract the ...
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3answers
948 views

Another phrase for “unsung hero”?

I'm sure there must be another phrase but I just can't seem to find it. I'm not looking for a word to replace "unsung", I prefer a completely new phrase/idiom that expresses the same meaning. Thank ...
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1answer
52 views

Where did the phrase “jump to conclusions” come from? [closed]

I've been looking for the origin of the phrase "jump to conclusions." I found nothing more than this: The term began to appear in the early 1700s in prints. The Idioms And how different ...
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1answer
48 views

Did the UN make a grammar error here? [closed]

I was reading about some of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). While researching their goal to end poverty on this site, https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal1, I came across this odd ...
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3answers
2k views

The expression,“You lie like a dog in straw”

My father was originally a country boy, born in Australia at the beginning of the 20th century. He had a number of typically Australian expressions (e.g. "stone the crows"), but the one I ...
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10answers
5k views

If I cannot win, then I will make it impossible for you to win

We have a joke about a foreigner that went to a wet market in zone 1 and saw a farmer selling live frogs in an open basket. As we all know, frogs jump. Actually, they jump about quite a bit when in a ...
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2answers
1k views

Idiom that means 'to present one thing in many different ways'

I am translating something from Spanish and there is an expression that literally says (about a teacher driving home a single idea by repeating it, but presenting it in many different ways each time) "...
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1answer
107 views

Reference Request on Preposition Fronting

Currently reading "A Student's Introduction to English Grammar" by Geoffrey K. Pullum and Rodney Huddleston. Consider the following contrast between the phrasal verbs ask for and come across....

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