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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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? ...
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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.....
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10 votes
5 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 ...
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Usage of the term "good egg"

I came across the informal idiom "good egg" in the Merriam Webster Dictionary, meaning a likeable person. I've known Jim for years. He's a good egg. My question is: How common is this ...
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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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-1 votes
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Which is correct: 'helping make friends' or 'helping to make friends'? [duplicate]

In the sentence below, Economic reforms, including price and currency liberalisation, are also helping the country make friends. is the phrase "helping the country make friends" correct? I ...
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4 votes
2 answers
126 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 ...
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What is a phrase or analogy for something that has both fixed and customizable parts?

I am looking for a way to describe to my students that some of their courses must be taken at a certain time while others can be taken whenever. Therefore, I am trying to give an example or phrase ...
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2 votes
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Can a single word be an idiom or an expression?

Can a single word be considered an idiom or an expression? If so, how does one tell the difference? For instance, words like, "dope!", "lit!", "sick!". These words mean ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Is Einstein's geodesic a metaphor or an idiom? [closed]

Is Einstein's geodesic a metaphor or an idiom? I am applying semantic theory to physical theory to bridge the two realities and have found the discussion on metaphor and odium illuminates this purpose....
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0 votes
1 answer
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Phrase for getting distracted by other things and turning away from the true purpose [duplicate]

I apologise in advance for the rather confusing title as I’m having a hard time wording it. I’m looking for an idiom which suits the statement below The public has been focused on pressuring the ...
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1 answer
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What's the idiom for doing something in vain [closed]

I'm looking for an idiom to describe a task where you put in a lot of effort but in vain.
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Which one is correct/idiomatic? [closed]

Which one of the following is the best choice? The fact that only now I can see clearly was that … The fact that I can only now see clearly was that … The fact that I can see clearly only now was ...
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3 answers
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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 ...
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-1 votes
0 answers
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What style, term, or phenomenon is this phrase is an example of?

The following phrase is an example of which grammatical, literary, or linguistic style, term, or phenomenon? Good times; have them. or Good times: feel them. For context, I was browsing Wikipedia ...
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get up and running with something

The Cambridge Dictionary defines up and running in the following way: If something, especially a system or a machine, is up and running it is operating And gives an example: The engineer soon got the ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Idiom/Phrase to fight someone else's war?

Like, people made to fight for a war that was not needed. But they are made to do it under someone else's influence. *Edit Apologies for not being more specific. Yes, I would say being used as canon ...
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Is it correct to say “things are looking up for my travel plans” [closed]

Is it correct to say “things are looking up for my travel plans” to indicate that I am ready to start planning my travel after so many problems.
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1 vote
1 answer
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What's the meaning of "to keep the plumbing going?" [closed]

The following excerpt is from "Measure What Matters" by John Doerr. Could you please help me find out what "to keep the plumbing going" means in this context. Is it an idiomatic ...
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10 votes
7 answers
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Is there any difference between the idioms "pull the rug from under" and "leave in the lurch"?

Is there any distinction between "pull from under the rug" and "leave in the lurch"? What separates them? I've scoured some online dictionaries, but I fail to see the difference. ...
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0 votes
0 answers
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Words and expressions request for order

My mom bought home some fruit last week and before we are able to finish them all she got some more today so she told me, translated to English from my first language, that I should eat the fruit that ...
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2 votes
7 answers
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What does the idiomatic phrase "err on the side of" mean?

I've looked through several online dictionaries to ferret out the meaning of "err on the side of" ("err on the side of", what I mean is I'm more concerned with the underlying ...
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-1 votes
1 answer
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What is the idiomatic translation of the russian phrase "дело ясное что дело темное"?

The literal translation is "it is clear that the case is dark", however, this translation does not do any good to the original. The word "дело" appears twice in the phrase, but it ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Does "dodging a silver bullet" convey the meaning [closed]

Assuming a dialogue like this - (Bob) How is the meeting going? - (Alice) Dodging a silver bullet. The idea that Alice is trying to express is that the customer is looking for a metaphorical "...
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1 vote
1 answer
157 views

What is the definition of the phrase "unto itself"?

I've looked through several online dictionaries to discover the meaning of the phrase "unto itself" ("unto itself" in the sense of the phrase having no qualifying objects, people, ...
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3 votes
5 answers
128 views

Idiom for gift or gesture that isn't good enough

I'm looking for a term used when a gift/gesture/allowance of some sort isn't anywhere near good enough, and was done largely for the sake of appearance. Often used in a political context. For example,...
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1 vote
0 answers
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I need an idiom that means "be cool"/relax [closed]

I just need something that connotes calming down from an exaggerated state. The next line afterwards is "I am cool" so I don't want the preceding line to be "be cool" but I want to ...
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2 answers
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What is the meaning of "He scowled ahead of him"?

Reading Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, I just found the expression “He scowled ahead of him” and it struck me as something I'd never heard or read before. The context is that this guy is sitting ...
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1 answer
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Closest equivalent of "bless you" for coughing [closed]

There is no English equivalent of "bless you" for coughing. Some friends and I would like to use a phrase for "bless you" for coughing amongst ourselves. What would an appropriate ...
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0 votes
3 answers
78 views

English equivalent for the Chinese idiom 执迷不悟, to obstinately persist in going about things the wrong way [duplicate]

This means something along the lines of: To obstinately persist in going about things the wrong way. This could be translated as just being stubborn but I don't think that's as poetic. Is there a ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Fit verb followed by in preposition

I have a question regarding the usage of the verb "fit", especially when followed by the preposition "in". Now I am aware that there is a "fit in" (as in to become ...
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1 vote
4 answers
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What does "Chop chop man bun" mean?

I was watching Haikyuu dub episodes and in one episode, the coach tells Asahi (one of the players): "Chop chop man bun". What does this sentence mean? I understand the "man bun" ...
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0 votes
2 answers
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Is "cold minded" a phrase that would be readily understood?

Will it be correct to say "a cold minded person" when describing someone who acts out of pure logic and critical analysis? How would you interpret the meaning of such a description? Is it at ...
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0 votes
4 answers
96 views

Idiom for a person who gets involved in a situation that is completely irrelevant to them?

I am looking for an idiom which can be used in the following scenarios: To refer to a person who is involved in a discussion that does not concern him/her To refer to a person who goes somewhere they ...
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1 answer
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What is the meaning of "sweep overhead"?

Here again the formal-logical overstraining of a relative truth-factor leads to the theoretical and practical annihilation of the concept in question. For so rigid a formulation of responsibility is ...
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5 votes
1 answer
576 views

What does "careabouts" mean?

What does "careabouts" mean? I saw it in a LinkedIn video regarding jobs, workplace, etc. I searched all dictionaries but got nothing! I even got nothing on Google! Like such a thing doesn't ...
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2 answers
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How to refer to the celebration of the anniversary of the birth of someone who is deceased

I would like to translate an article title whose meaning is something along the lines: In Honor of XY on the Occasion of His Birthday/ A Tribute to XY on the Occasion of His 50th Birthday which he ...
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0 votes
3 answers
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"Last stretch" referring to several events?

Are you ready for the last stretch (of exams)? Can you use "last stretch" to refer to one final exam? I think the last stretch is used to refer to several events upcoming, but not a single ...
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12 votes
2 answers
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Does anyone know the expression "Aye Gannies" (or perhaps the spelling is "I gonees")

Growing up in the Missouri Ozarks we had a neighbor named Hicks who used this expression. One of Mr. Hick's frequent and unique expressions was, “I Gannies” (the “a” was short). The only other times ...
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0 votes
0 answers
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What's a phrase or idiom for when a person does a task already completed because they didn't know it was done? [duplicate]

Is there a phrase or idiom for "so we don't both do the same thing".
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0 votes
2 answers
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What's another way of saying "one step ahead"? [duplicate]

I'm looking for another way of saying "one step ahead". This phrase or idiom should be mainly used for describing someone that can think earlier than others, and can prepare in advance as ...
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1 answer
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What should I say instead of "you first"? [closed]

Are there any specific phrases for this situations below: When I am approaching to pickup something from a store shelf and somebody else is also doing same at the same time and I want to say: "...
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16 votes
1 answer
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Is Iroquoi the origin of American idiom “cuts no ice with me”?

In Patrick O'Brian's novel The Fortune of War, two of the characters are discussing American English and the following dialogue takes place: ‘Why, sure,’ said Evans, in his harsh nasal metallic bray, ...
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23 votes
2 answers
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What is the origin of "playing into someone's hands"?

Quote: “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” the US president said, as he urged democracies around the world to unite against the Russian president in a speech in Poland’s capital ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Meaning of "stay way in droves" [closed]

What does "stay way in droves" mean in the context of this passage? I cannot find a suitable definition from Oxford. GARY: I would welcome any comments either you or other participants have ...
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4 votes
2 answers
2k views

What does "a tall question" mean?

During a talk, I heard the expression "this is a tall question". May someone explain what does it mean?
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1 vote
2 answers
90 views

Is there a phrase for a person who supports something which is bad for them and is held up as proof that the bad policy is good?

Is there a phrase which describes the situation in which a person supports something that is detrimental for them, and then held out as evidence that the detrimental policy is correct? For example: ...
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0 answers
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What is the term for the 'bastardisation' of common phrases and idioms? [duplicate]

Recently, I have been analysing lyrics to songs. Frequently, the writer inverts and 'bastardises' common phrases and idioms to play off of the established meaning. I have been using the term '...
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3 votes
2 answers
65 views

English equivalent for the Aramaic idiom "eyes so jealous they cannot carry"

That isn't a literal translation, but it's essentially similar. When someone is jealous of you or your success and are resentful about it, in response we say "their eyes cannot carry"; Which ...
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3 votes
2 answers
119 views

English equivalent for the Chinese idiom "to pass off fish eyes for pearls"

Are there any (general) English equivalent for the Chinese idiom 鱼目混珠 (to pass off fish eyes for pearls) which basically means to pretend something fake is real? IE: To try and pretend to be someone ...
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