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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21 views

Why do we use "than" when we are saying an amount desired is greater or lesser such as in "more than" or "less than"? [closed]

Why do we use "than" when saying an amount is greater or lesser amount desired such as in the phrase "more than" or "less than" when there is no comparison? is it an ...
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What is the English equivalent for "向...交代“ (meaning how am I supposed to face someone if I fail to keep the promise I made)?

This is usually used in family-related settings. The audience is usually some family member of the person with whom you made a promise. I'll give you a typical example. Tom is dying, so he asks his ...
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3answers
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What is a saying for "a bookish inexperience preaching the experienced"

Like Preaching to the choir means to speak for or against something to people who already agree with one's opinions. What is saying when an idealist, bookish inexperience, fresh-out-of-college ...
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Looking for a term or phrase to describe a discussion where there is no one right answer [duplicate]

I am looking for a term or phrase to describe a discussion where there is no one right answer (e.g., tabs versus spaces). Both sides could be equally right, and the arguments are made mostly from ...
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283 views

The idiomatic way of saying stealing time

What is the idiomatic way of saying 'stealing time', if someone is so busy and he wants to work on something by sneaking to it?
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English equivalent of "To those you try to help, he says I am only right." [closed]

There is an old Indian Marathi saying (Mhan in marathi) Jyacha karava bhala to mhanato majhach khara (Pronunciation: Jya-ch K-ra-v Bh-l, To Mh-n-to Ma-zch Kh-r) It means Those you try to help say ...
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4answers
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Looking for an appropriate idiomatic phrase "the joy in competing" or similar

I'm looking for an idiomatic phrase that lies between "the thrill of victory" and "the agony of defeat", in the competition itself, enjoying it for its own sake -- something like &...
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29 views

“from now” vs “from now on”

In scientific writing, I sometimes introduce variables in the introduction section as follows: The number of gizmos is expoinential in the number of hickeys (for which we write ℎ from now on). […] We ...
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Why ships and countries are 'her' in the old texts but not 'it'?

I have read both of these two good questions and answers and I got the answer of my question, that in the modern English "it" is used more than "her" while referring to a ship or ...
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exponential blow-up in 𝑛 or exponential blow-up with 𝑛?

Continuing http://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/123509/exponential-in-terms-of and How to indicate that a function is exponential? (nonetheless different from them), let us speak about a particular ...
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Any similar idioms to "Don't blow your own horn/trumpet"? [closed]

I am looking for idioms in English which convey a message that a person should not testify about his own character. Any ideas?
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What is the origin of "don't punch a gift horse in the mouth"?

I had always thought that the phrase was "don't look...", but my friend insists that it is "don't punch..." and there are a non-zero number of web search results showing usage of ...
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Is there a term describing a saying or idiom where you can swap one word and it means the same thing?

I think I've seen this before.. often there are sayings where people substitute one word for another one that sounds similar, however, this doesn't end up changing the overall meaning of the idiom. ...
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7answers
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What is a phrase for being stuck at a job because of unwillingness to take a risk?

As a sample sentence I realize that I have <insert phrase> for too long. I need to quit this job and take my chances.
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"At the latest": No sooner, at the earliest

Latest is defined as "1. most recent; current", so could at the latest be a contranym, with at the earliest as one of its synonyms?
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Passive voice non-existent in the active

III. Passive, to be concerned. This occurs in some senses which are non-existent or obsolete in the active; in other senses it is much more used than the active. https://www.oed.com/oed2/00046215 Are ...
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Antonym of "Crying Wolf too much"

Not sure if "The Boy who cried wolf" is idiom/phrase/something-else, so that is another question in itself as if the antonym is the correct operator for this context (and that could be ...
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Synonyms for "as the saying goes"

When writing where I want to present quotes, I've used the phrase "as the saying goes...". Is there any other phrase that can be used to present a quote or proverb ?
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Correct use of "to be far from doing something"

Actually I have two questions: 1 - Is this expression very common in a native environment ( AmE or BrE )? 2 - Are these examples correct ? I am so far from who i was yesterday I am far from being ...
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is "make love not violence" grammatically correct or not?

There's a center in Russia that helps victims of sexual assault, and I bought a t-shirt from them with the slogan "make love not violence" but as I started to think about this phrase, it ...
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1answer
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How may one opt? [closed]

I would like to write that one should opt for one version over another. May I do so, while writing good English, or are there important cautions?
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2answers
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What words in English sound aggressive to native speakers(not a semantically, but phonetically/ associatively) and why? [closed]

What words in English sound aggressive to native (not a semantically, but phonetically/ associatively) and why? it can be not a "bunch of examples" only, but a generalized rule, if you can, ...
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"Get" and "Take" used in idioms [closed]

What's different between get and take used in idioms? one example: A- Got my 10 in my hand and a gleam in my eye The Truth of idiom used in A is: take (something) into one's (own) hands is The Idiom ...
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Is there an idiom or expression in English for the following situation? [closed]

You scold or tell off someone (or say anything to someone, doesn't have to be negative necessarily) but your true intention is for someone else to hear/see it, and you're just using the first person ...
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He had his ears bored

I’m reading The Underground Railroad by Coleson Whitehead. Early in the first chapter he writes: “Her last husband had his ears bored for stealing honey. The wounds gave up pus until he wasted away.” ...
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Rebuttal to the solution of "An Idiom to describe the action of botching a job when it is almost complete" [duplicate]

I asked this question a few days back and found that my question has been closed. I am reposting it as I think there are some subtle differences between the idiom/phrase I am looking for and the ...
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An Idiom to describe the action of botching a job when it is almost complete [duplicate]

I am looking for an idiom/phrase which is used to describe the action of botching up a job when it is almost complete. A similar idiom in another foreign language is "to drown/wreck a boat when ...
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52 views

What do you call a client who is one of the most important for your business? [closed]

We are a small company and we treat this as an advantage. We work with a very limited number of clients, so each and every one of them is super important for us. We can't afford to screw anything up ...
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1answer
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What does the word buck means in 'the buck stops here'? [closed]

I know that the meaning of the idiom 'the buck stops here' is to accept responsibility. For example, The buck stops here with me. I take the blame for the team's performance. There are multiple ...
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1answer
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Put two and two together idiom [closed]

Can we use the "put two and two together" idiom in the general meaning of being good at solving problems? Example: At work, I put two and two together connecting questions and answers with ...
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What licenses the omission of an article in a countable or singular noun phrase?

Specifically, the term market in the following sentence is often referred to as "the market". But here the article has been omitted. What licenses such usage? The difference between prices ...
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Are there any shorter idioms that summarize "just because you don't see it, doesn't mean it does not exist"? [closed]

Or perhaps any words that perfectly encapsulate the meaning of that phrase?
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What is the reason for this saying? [closed]

Fences make good neighbors. Being a recent purchaser of a new plot and home, I have heard this phrase more than a few times when I spoke of getting a fence. To me, there is something antisocial and ...
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4answers
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What are alternative phrases or idioms to "only one part of the equation"?

I am writing an article and trying to explain that people search for solutions on the wrong track. Instead, they have to see the whole story to the topic. My idea was to say something like "... ...
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1answer
85 views

What is the meaning of 'too fond of fast horses'?

In this sentence (from Noli Me Tangere by Jose P. Rizal), The governor left his post; his successor had a reputation for justice, but, alas, did not stay in office for more than a few months; and his ...
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118 views

"Do you want to...." as an idiom for "Can you please do this?"

My husband and I disagree over my use of the phrase "Do you want to ..." when I'm asking him to please do something for me, for example "Do you want to sweep the floor while I do the ...
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1answer
263 views

What is the origin of 'riding a gravy train' idiom?

'Riding a gravy train' idiom means getting a job or other source of income that generates abundant money with little effort. However, what is the origin of this phrase and why it makes sense at all? ...
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2answers
71 views

Idiom for addressing the most important point

What's an idiom for getting right to the most important point? Someone clever/wise always gets right to the heart of the matter. An educator who understands their audience perfectly and always says ...
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5answers
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Word or idiom for something that can either be helpful or harmful, depending on how it's used [duplicate]

For example, consider the following: Knives are a [blank], because they can either be used as a tool or a weapon. I don't think "double-edged sword" is appropriate in this context because ...
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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
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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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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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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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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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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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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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4answers
155 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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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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3answers
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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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1answer
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(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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