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.

162 questions with no upvoted or accepted answers
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Long (Pole/Poll/Pull)?

When you're indicating that something is the critical path that causes the whole project to take a long time, which one is it? Long Pole Long Poll Long Pull I actually find various sources when I ...
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1answer
63 views

Biding their time to reveal their hidden depths

Is there a phrase for what a person is or is doing who is underrated by people but then shows themselves to contain hidden depths? Not quite a diamond in the rough. Sort of like dark horse. Hmm? Not ...
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59 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 ...
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399 views

What is the origin of the phrase “(play) out of [their] skin”?

The phrase "play out of their skin" is frequently used in sports commentary, and to a lesser extent in describing exceptional performance in other areas, especially where physical exertion and/or some ...
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2k views

What's the origin of “it's the same banana”?

I've come across the phrase in sources translated into English from Tagalog, and am wondering if it originated in the Philippines and passed into American English during the U.S. colonial period? A ...
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959 views

Working vs walking on both sides of the street

Dictionary.com renders "work both sides of the street" as: To take two contrary positions at once; have it both ways Similarly, idiom.thefreedictionary.com has "work both sides of the street" as: ...
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3k views

“These kids I tell you” or “kids I tell you” expression meaning

I have read them in few disconnected articles and in conversations but could not understand them completely. "These kids I tell you" or "kids I tell you" expression meaning. What do they mean ?
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4k views

What's the meaning of the idiom “to lie flat” when applied to a document or project?

I'm encountering this idiom in a government/business context. For example, someone will say that changes to Document A affect Person X's workload, so we'd like to get that document "lying flat" for a ...
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1answer
192 views

Words/phrases like “kindred spirit” that refer to both the speaker and the subject of the sentence

The google definition of kindred spirit is "a person whose interests or attitudes are similar to one's own." That means that if I were to say to someone "You are a kindred spirit", I am describing ...
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1answer
65 views

Metaphors for Computation: Usage of “Before” and “Below”

Are "before" and "below" interchangeable? In context, the example is medical expenses before the AGI floor when the intended meaning apparently is medical expenses below the AGI floor The ...
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62 views

Words or idioms to describe burden of knowledge but not doing or caring about it

I want to capture the pain which comes from having knowledge that will improve the situation or make the world a better place but being apathetic towards it. They care, but not enough. They can act ...
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141 views

What does the phrase “utterly McKinley” mean?

In a spoken introduction from a live recoding made in Pasadena, CA, in 1956, on the album Round About Midnight by Miles Davis, the MC Gene Norman is heard saying: A little bit unlikely that so much ...
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63 views

What does “to skin your eyes for sth” mean?

The expression in question occurs in the following passage from Moby-Dick “It’s a white whale, I say,” resumed Ahab, as he threw down the topmaul: “a white whale. Skin your eyes for him, men; look ...
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30 views

Gramatically understand “make more and more of an impression on..”

The case I want to understand is "Japanese musician YOSHIKI is making more and more of an impression on the British royal family". As I understand it, it says YOSHIKI is impressing the ...
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61 views

What is the meaning or origin of the idiom “a Shakespeare and a Scott”?

I came across this idiom, "a Shakespeare and a Scott," which I have found in several different writings, and haven't been able to ascertain its origin, meaning, or an appropriate synonym. &...
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65 views

Do most native speakers understand most idioms?

I wrote to a friend, who is a native speaker of English about visiting her father. I wrote Should I give him a ring before visiting? Here giving someone a ring is an English idiom which means ...
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51 views

Why Are Baseball Metaphors Popular for Corporate Jargon?

Why are sports metaphors (football, baseball) so popular in western corporate cultures? I find that sports metaphors are frequently used as popular jargon there. It seems like they're less used in ...
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85 views

“Fools that they are”

I have a question about the interposition “fools that they are” in the following: “Fools that they are, they never knew thy guiltless pride, thy true spirit.” Using Google’s Ngram Viewer, I found ...
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“It's not a lottery ticket I'd like to buy.” - idiom or metaphor?

Is "It's not a lottery ticket I'd like to buy" an example of an idiom or a metaphor in this extract? Or could it be something different altogether? Context: Despite the chance that people ...
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322 views

Down-to-earth origin/ Etymology

I wonder why we say "down to earth" when referring to someone who is not deceitful. What's the logic behind it? I searched its origin but I didn't get much information. The origin only gives this: ...
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42 views

Idiom for Change in Game-plan or strategy

In light of the coronavirus, I am making a professional presentation about how my company can change its strategy to suit the new situation. Is there a fun idiom or phrase I can use to title this ...
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42 views

Is there a word for when you tell show something and it doesn't work?

E.g. "This hasn't been working all day", and then when you show it, it works
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38 views

You should swallow all the class material

In my language, when someone studies and learns something in a perfect way, we say something that literally translates to, "she has swallowed all the material I have taught her". It means she has ...
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slang for black market food in WWII

In researching a story set in the U.S.A. during World War II, I came across a slang term for food procured through the black market (not rationing stamps). Now I can’t find where I read it. In the ...
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56 views

Idioms for when doing something needless when you really have many important things to do first

Are there English idioms for voicing the needlessness of engaging in a particular, low or no priority action when you already have a number of high priority tasks on your hands?
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163 views

What does the exact phrase “on part with” mean?

I encountered that phrase in the following context. The first numbered item in an unofficial translation of the "Casablanca Protocol"of 1965 says: "(1) Whilst retaining their Palestinian nationality, ...
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Confused of “beat around the bush”

I have searched "beat around the bush" but it seems that it has two meanings based on my understanding. First is it's like you're insinuating or implying a topic/question to someone so it is not ...
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119 views

What does slipped over sausage mean?

I was watching "Dad's army" trailer/teaser and at 0:58 one of the actresses says something like I saw that you just slipped over sausage(s) What actually this means? Is it like other "slipped over"...
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182 views

Meaning of “bear and forbear”

It's a idiom and i couldn't find the definition. It isn't even in a sentence so i'm really confused now..
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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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1answer
2k views

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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1answer
94 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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38 views

Can “raise a point” and “make a point” mean the same thing generally?

I personally think "to raise a point" means "to mention some point of interest" while "to make a point" means "to state or demonstrate something of particular ...
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proverbial idiom that fits the point that “Main contractor asking (polite forcing) subcontractor to spoon feed his own duty in its entirety”

In business, a main contractor is the one who takes up the responsibility of the whole project which he understands he can undertake in its entirety, some without and part with help of a subcontractor....
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76 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 ...
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40 views

“Set in stone in 1979…” or “Carved in stone in 1979” at beginning of sentence?

If I start a sentence with "Set in stone in 1979, the government ban on so-and-so..." or "Carved in stone in 1979, the government ban on so-and-so...", are both of these examples correct in grammar? ...
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What does „stocks of things, recent stuff” mean?

My friend has a problem with the phrase in the title. We’re both non-natives of English and despite my advanced level I’ve never seen such a phrase. It was said by a bilingual child while telling ...
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42 views

Is there a term to describe a word or idiom that translates literally as one thing, but is actually a specific word?

Is there a term to describe a word or idiom that translates literally as one thing, but is actually a specific word in the translated language? My best example would be 'pomme de terre' from French ...
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67 views

Is there a term for hyperbolic words or expressions that are no longer used for exaggeration?

I recently encountered two instances of apparently hyperbolic terms that were used without any realisation that the traditional implications were far more serious / demanding / extreme. Someone said ...
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Is there any idiom or expression for someone who gets something without any kind of effort?

Is there any idiom or expression for someone who gets something without any effort? like a guy got a job without doing anything.. I want a idiom by which i can mock him
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144 views

I have problems with some Irish slang

I am translating a text set in Ireland and there are some Irish phrases that I do not understand. 1- Bartley Butt-end-of-the-village: I could only find one reference in the internet. Does this mean a ...
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45 views

Word for participating in solving a puzzle?

Is there a word or short phrase for collaboratively solving a puzzle, or to describe the individual's role in that collaboration? Looking for something specific to solving something, ideally puzzles, ...
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2answers
8k views

Is the phrase “fitting (someone) in (to a schedule)” alright to use or is there a better way to say this?

fit (someone) in (to a schedule) Is this phrase useful for scheduling meetings and appointments. When you're talking to someone with a busy schedule, you may have to ask them to "fit you in". "...
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1answer
530 views

“laying it out there”

"The child is not mine. I found out through one of her friends." "Why hasn't she told you?" "I don't know. I guess she just felt more comfortable not laying it out there." "You must be angry." "I ...
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439 views

Explanation of idiom “Can't sit on one's hair”

Reading a book by Salman Rushdie ("Shame") and there's such an expression, I guess it should be an idiom, but I can't find its explanation. So, the author describes his younger sister. ...Who is ...
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97 views

Resource to search for missing words in common (short) expressions and idioms

Sometimes I have a partial expression that's stuck in my head and I have a really hard time trying to figure out what the missing portion of it is. For example, today I woke up with the expression "[...
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39 views

About the usage of “had” in this sentence?

Epistemologically speaking, it is facts about the relationship had with the trusted that determines the justification of trust, it is not the mere absence of defeating reasons. (Source) It seems to ...
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1answer
89 views

Meaning of “to live one's own bit”

Speaking of Richard Henry Dana, at the end of his study, D. H. Lawrence states: Dana lived his bit in two years, and drummed out the rest. Could we say that "lived his bit" is akin to "sow (one's) ...
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2answers
2k views

What’s another phrase for…pushed to the limits? going through great adversity?

i want to say “the protagonist of movie X goes through so much, i love movies where the protagonist is......” there’s a phrase that i had forgotten that was on the top of my tongue, no it’s not “...
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89 views

Idiom for meeting one's match

I'm translating a comic book, and I got stumped on a certain idiom, not sure what I could use in its place in the English translation. The Polish "Trafiła kosa na kamień" (lit: the scythe hit a rock)...