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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Meaning of “Mind mice at crossroads”

What does mean: She said her landlord was so mean that she would mind mice at crossroads ?
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Can “the chickens have come home to roost” have positive as well as negative connotations?

In answering a recent EL&U question (Idiom for the phrase "someone who gets what he deserved"), I cited the phrase "The chickens have come home to roost," and said that it "applies ...
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Idiomatic expression for a difficult choice

This has cropped up several times in the past couple of months, and I've been struggling to find a fitting word to describe this phenomenon. I'll describe it: You have two choices(no, it's not ...
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What is the English idiom for Russian “режет глаз” which literally translated as “hurts the eye”?

What is the English idiom for Russian "режет глаз" which literally can be translated as "hurts the eye"? In Russian, it is used when there is something, a thing, which does not fit ...
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What is the idiom “…and roses”

What is the idiom meaning not everything will be perfect, which ends "it's not all....and roses" ?
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Idiom similar to “if the shoe fits”

I'm looking for an idiom that describes when people get huffy and defensive about a topic even though it wasn't directed at them, similar to if the shoe fits. but not quite. A prominent example is ...
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3answers
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Etymology of “the fix is in”

The common phrase “the fix is in” means that the outcome of an event or process has been covertly manipulated to ensure a result that would otherwise be determined by chance or a fair test of some ...
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Looking for a correct word / idiom

Here is a scenario: Suppose X, Y, and Z live together. X and Z had a fight and X decided they did not wish to live with Z any more. Seeing this, Y decided to help X to force Z out. But then X and Z ...
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What's the origin of “strike a chord with…”

People use the phrase "x strikes a chord with me" to address enthusiasm or personal movement. I know there is another question that addresses what this idiomatic phrase means, but I'm very curious as ...
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What is the origin of “crash at someone’s place”?

I know it’s slang. But help me to find origin of crash at someone’s place
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cut/cut down when referring to price

"The supermarket cut the price." sounds correct to me. "The supermarket cut down the price." seems a bit redundant. Is my interpretation correct or are both acceptable?
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The meaning of “They know who they are”

I'm reading a programming book and in it it is said, of a subset of engineers, "Electrical engineers and systems designers who create computer motherboards and other hardware systems ...
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Meaning of the phrase “squeeze water from a stone”

What does the phrase "(to) squeeze water from a stone" mean? Have you ever squeezed water from a stone?
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Programmer slang expression for “We'll cross the bridge when we get there”

What is the software industry word/term/phrase for the saying "We'll cross the bridge when we will get there"? I need to refer to a feature that can be deferred until its time comes. For ...
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What's with the third degree?

Where did the phrase "third degree" (referring to intense interrogation) originate? Additionally, how did "grill" come to have its related meaning?
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Idioms/expression that means something can bring great benefit if used correctly?

I was writing a conclusion and I'm in need of using an idiom with this meaning. I remember there is one (but might be confused with other language's idioms, if so pls correct me) but it seems to have ...
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What is different? [the something of one's choice & the choice of one's something.]

I have read two links gotten some feedback from another forum. https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/the-something-of-your-choice https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/...
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What's the meaning of 'out' when it comes after a verb ?

What's the difference between a verb like read and read out or shout and shout out and so on? How does "out" change the meaning of verbs?
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Where does the idiom “Queen Anne is dead!” come from?

Looking through the dictionary, I chanced upon an idiom which attracted my attention: "Queen Anne is dead!" The dictionary says that it means something about "The thing you've just said is well-known,...
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Which idiom is correct “draw on” or “draw from”?

Is there any difference in meaning between those two: Gulf Racing draws on this history... Gulf Racing draws from this history... Are they both grammatically correct?
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What is going on grammatically when we speak of a “happy day”? [duplicate]

Ordinarily in English, adjectives directly describe the noun being modified; thus an adjective indicating an emotion attributes that emotion to the noun - "I am happy" means that I am the ...
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What would be the word that is used to describe a person that uses dysphemisms a lot?

dys·phe·mism /ˈdisfəˌmizəm/ a derogatory or unpleasant term used instead of a pleasant or neutral one, such as “loony bin” for “mental hospital.”. (Lexico)
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Origin of “Around the clock” or “Round the clock”? [closed]

From a Google search it seems the origin is unidentifiable? Does anyone have any ideas on plausible origins?
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Origin/first known use of the phrase 'I've got some good news and some bad news'

When was the idiom, "I've got some good news and some bad news" first used, or when did it become a common joke?
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What is a word to describe something that belongs exclusively to or is used only by one person or a group of people?

I'm trying to find a word (or idiom or phrase) that describes something which is perceived as belonging to one person or group of people only. To contextualise this question I'll provide the paragraph ...
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Where does 'po-faced' come from etymologically, geographically, and chronologically?

The entry for po-faced in Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary (2003) reads as follows: po-faced adj {perh. fr. po chamber pot, toilet, fr. F pot pot} (1934) Brit : having an assumed ...
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Origin of idiom “full of hot air”

Does anyone know the origin of idiom full of hot air. Was it created by Kipling in 19th century? I need it for 6th grade assignment.
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Etymology of “walking around hot porridge” [closed]

Here's what the idiom means - To speak vaguely or euphemistically so as to avoid talking directly about an unpleasant or sensitive topic. TheFreeDictionary It seems to be the Czech equivalent of &...
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Idiom or Synonym for Someone who looks/feels like you could trust them, like they are someone reliable?

I'm writing a character description, and the person I'm describing looks and/or feels like someone you can trust, like someone who would be honest with you, someone innocent, maybe even pure. Even if ...
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Is there a word I can use to replace textual “finger quotes” instead of 'per se'?

When it comes to writing, I don't like to use the phrase per se, as it's hard to fit into what I'm trying to explain sometimes, but I don't like using quotes to mean per se (what I'm referring to as ...
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English equivalent of the Malayalam saying “don't stab/poke the dead body”?

ശവത്തിൽ കുത്തരുത് (śavattil kuttarut) is a Malayalam saying that in literal translation means "Don't stab/poke the dead body". The meaning would be something like: don't humiliate a person when he is ...
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Denotation of the phrase, “Choose and lose”

"choose and lose" Contextually, I have seen it used to chastise someone who has chosen a life of drugs and drifting instead of providing for his children. However, a word-by-word analysis implies ...
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Etymology of “Horsengoggle”

(Note to the dyslexic: be sure NOT to confuse this with “Google”.) Horse and goggle --> Horse 'n' goggle --> Horsengoggle There is a Wikipedia entry for this hand game: a kind of rock-paper-scissors,...
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English equivalent of the Greek “When Muhammad does not go to the mountain…”?

In Greek, there is an expression which translates literally to When Muhammad does not go to the mountain, the mountain goes to Muhammad. The expression is used when the speaker believes that they ...
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What does this phrase mean: “they just can't keep their hands off the cookie jar”?

What does the following sentence mean? They just can’t keep their hands off the cookie jar I came across this sentence in a movie. It explores racial tensions in the American society, discriminated ...
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difference between “have for dinner” and “have at dinner” [closed]

Which is the difference between: "I'm having an old friend for dinner" "I'm having an old friend at dinner" "Having anyone for dinner" means you're meeting someone, ...
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Is there an idiom or expression for that “squeezing sensation you feel in your chest” when you contemplate one you love

There is little doubt that strong emotions can provoke specific sensations in the rest of the body, not just mind (whatever that is...) Emotions coordinate our behavior and physiological states ...
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Idiom/phrase for rolling rotation

I am looking for idiom or a phrase I can use to describe rotational support process. The process explained as follows: Week 1: team member A and team member B are in charge of supporting group 1. ...
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What is the most idiomatic verb to use with ‘reading’?

In the following sentence, by ‘reading’ I mean ‘study’ or ‘research’. What is the best verb to use with it? I —————— an ecological reading of the Japanese literary tradition. Do, conduct, carry out, ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “grease the skids”?

What is the origin or derivation of the phrase "greasing the skids?" The phrase connotes preparation, in such a way as to make the subsequent activities easier. Definitions are available various ...
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Idiom / expression for someone who forgets their roots on achieving success

I am having difficulty finding an English idiom / expression to describe these situations: A person who was previously poor then becomes arrogant because she/he is rich now. A person who has been ...
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1answer
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variations on overview: from fifty thousand feet?

To follow-up on an excellent related question, what are the varying distinctions between: From x feet x foot view where x is commonly and variously between ten and fifty thousand.
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Specific meaning of term “nail-biters” in context of mid-1970s America

The phrase in question revolves around a rather odious quote, so I beseech all reading to please suppress your political leanings and focus instead on the meanings of the phrases employed. In around ...
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Why do people who find it hard to hear say they are “hard of hearing”?

"I am hard of seeing" or "I am hard of walking" are just never used. How did people come to call semi-deafness "hard of hearing"? Especially, why is "hard of" used? I could understand "weak of ...
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Is “stepmother treatment” Indian English?

When I googled stepmother treatment, I found that it was mainly used in India to refer to neglect, disregard or inattention. Most of the other non-Indian links talked about the literal treatment by ...
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Lose the thread [closed]

I just found out that the idiom “to lose the thread” exists in English. This surprised me a bit because I read a lot in English (both fiction and non-fiction, old and modern) but I've never ...
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Other ways of saying “set up shop”?

I'm looking for different ways of saying "set up shop" in the sense of "to stay unwanted in a location for a prolonged period of time", "to occupy or takeover a space [in a ...
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What does the idiom ‘I don’t want to be the Babylonian messenger‘ mean?

Is it related to the idiom ‘don’t shoot the messenger’?

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