The Stack Overflow podcast is back! Listen to an interview with our new CEO.

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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
0
votes
1answer
133 views

A similar English proverb to Hindi/Urdu [duplicate]

We all have heard this proverb in Urdu and Hindi धोबी का कुत्ता न घर का न घाट का Literal translation The dog of the washerman belongs to neither the riverbank nor the house An alternative: ...
4
votes
1answer
83 views

“Call” as a noun that is not for naming or ringing up

Although I now know the meaning of "call" in these examples: You need to make a judgement call Not this time sorry, though it was a close call What do we do now? Your call — they were quite ...
0
votes
5answers
147 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
35 views

Idiom or expression for no-one wants to help do a task, but everyone is ready to criticise after the task is completed

I'm looking for an idiom or expression that means "no-one wants to help do a task, but everyone is ready to criticise after the task is completed" There are plenty of expressions that capture the ...
9
votes
2answers
193 views

Grammatical/Semantic basis for the phrase “what with”

Example: We are changing all the vehicles in the fleet, what with the new regulations and all... How did that what sneak in there? What is it doing? (*) Edit: will award bounty to Talies after ...
2
votes
5answers
162 views

Word or a short phrase to describe a person who is socially responsible

I’m looking for a single catchy word or a short phrase to describe a person who is socially responsible. The “responsibility” meaning seems to be too official and not catchy enough. I’m looking for a ...
1
vote
3answers
67 views

Idiom/phrase for “example picked purposefully”

For example, when one is talking about a chemistry equation and they use values one wouldn't see in real life to illustrate a point better, or give a specific example that requires extra steps that ...
19
votes
10answers
4k views

The deliberate use of misleading terminology [duplicate]

Is there a word or phrase which describes "choice of misleading words", or the negation: "choice of non-misleading words"? The nearest phrases I can think of are linguistic deception, or controlled ...
1
vote
1answer
60 views

Is there a more modern version of the idiom “as the crow flies”?

"As the crow flies" or "as the bird flies" means the most direct path between two points, not accounting for streets and obstacles one on the ground would have to account for. The idiom feels dated. ...
1
vote
1answer
33 views

Turn and Talk Meaning [closed]

What is the idiomatic meaning of turn and talk? For example: I turn and talk like a man leaving charges before a journey.
2
votes
2answers
77 views

Why does the word “shop” behave like a non-count noun in phrases like “set up shop”?

The word "shop" seems to behave like a non-count noun in phrases like "set up shop", "shut up shop" and "close up shop". There's no article ("a"), no plural ending ("-s"). Dictionaries, such as Oxford ...
-2
votes
1answer
64 views

Top dog v Dark horse meaning difference [closed]

Could someone explain the difference between these 2 above please? Upon its win does a dark horse then become a top dog? Would a dark horse be more similar to an underdog?
7
votes
2answers
836 views

Meaning of “half-crown enclosure”

In the novel "Brighton Rock", Graham Greene refers to a "half-crown enclosure" in the context of horse racing. My guess is that it may refer to a type of horse race where half-crown refers to a ...
6
votes
4answers
166 views

looking for an English idiom to describe specialist employment

There's a French phrase "Mais il faut recruter à l’extérieur : on ne peut pas faire des pâtissiers avec des maçons" Translates as "However, we have to recruit outside: we cannot make confectionery ...
2
votes
2answers
212 views

Where did the idiom of 'That's gas' originate?

I often say 'That's gas' to refer to something that I found humorous. I have looked to find how it originated but could not locate. Anybody aware of it's history?
0
votes
3answers
87 views

What is an idiom for saying that someone/something is as bad as someone/something else? [closed]

What is an idiom for saying that someone/something is as bad as someone/something else? For example, when someone praises a particular system but condemns the other, we may say that they are both bad ...
1
vote
1answer
61 views

Is there a more confrontational idiom for 'laying [or not laying]' your cards on the table'?

The context is Enlightenment thinkers wishing to embrace the pagan writer Celsus. Celsus's Platonism was not popular in the Enlightenment, since the Platonists were considered too mystical and ...
0
votes
1answer
127 views

Indiana Jones - The explorer [closed]

I am looking for a word that describes an explorer who travels the world in search of rare items. I'm thinking Indiana Jones, going to far off places in search of magical things... Any help will be ...
0
votes
2answers
39 views

right off the shelf

"From Burgin, where lanes of traffic in each direction are separated by a median, motorists will be able to make a right turn onto the bridge, and a right off the bridge." Having a look in the above ...
1
vote
1answer
95 views

How do I express 'pen to paper' in relation to a computer?

I wrote an email to someone this morning and said that I had not yet 'put pen to paper' and then I attempted to express that in modern terms. But I stumbled to express 'paper', uncertain what '...
2
votes
3answers
136 views

What does “separating spin from facts” mean? [closed]

What does it mean exactly? Now that China has paused to reflect and reset, and despite the problems facing Arjun, India is in fact the world’s fastestgrowing big economy. Its GDP, the nation’s ...
21
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is “breaking the mould” positively connoted?

I'm not a native speaker so this may be obvious to some of you. I've come across the figure of speech "to break the mould", basically meaning to do your own thing and not adhere to traditions or rules,...
-1
votes
3answers
182 views

Need less offensive way to say “he doesn't know the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground.”

I'm writing something in a tone that is just a little too formal for "he doesn't know the difference between his ass and a hole in the ground" or "he doesn't know dipshit." I need something that ...
0
votes
1answer
122 views

Why is there a US idiom of using China to mean far away?

I live in the UK, and a lot of US culture reaches us in the form of film and TV. There seems to be a trope of referring to something as being in China to mean it's a long way away. Things like: "I'...
1
vote
3answers
61 views

is “Lighting the spark for XYZ” a meaningful phrase in english? [closed]

I am trying to translate or rather come up with an English expression for the German "den Funken überspringen lassen" for a title of an academic paper. My best solution so far is "Lighting the spark ...
0
votes
1answer
35 views

Why is the word 'appetite' appropriate in this context?

In his book about Bill Clinton, Christopher Hitchens describes how, in a 1992 speech on an event hosted by Jesse Jackson, Clinton "ambushed" Jackson by picking a fight with certain anti-White rap ...
0
votes
1answer
64 views

Meaning of phrase “knock against sth.” [closed]

I have encountered the phrase "... the knock against [sth.]" from this reddit comment. Does this mean that the person has concerns or problem with [sth.]? Is this expression used commonly? The full ...
57
votes
12answers
13k views

“Whatever a Russian does, they end up making the Kalashnikov gun”? Are there any similar proverbs in English?

I'm translating a Russian blog post into English and got stuck with the proverb, "Whatever a Russian does, they end up making the Kalashnikov gun." (Humorously meaning it's hard or even impossible to ...
0
votes
2answers
260 views

Is “do one’s diligence and err on the side of caution” an idiom?

Today’s Washington Post (April 24) carries an article titled Trump wants to push Iran to the point of no return, quoting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's warning to other nations. It reads: Now, it’...
1
vote
1answer
42 views

The construction of “verb1 or verb2” as in “win or lose”

When 'verb1' and 'verb2' are opposite in meaning, can you freely use the construction "verb1 or verb2" to mean "whether + subject + verb1 or verb2", if the meaning of "whether + subject" is ...
1
vote
0answers
98 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 ...
2
votes
0answers
64 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
214 views

What is an idiom for a person who likes himself too much? [closed]

I want to ask you about an idiom in Arabic, especially used in Iraq. It is about the groundnut plant which has a different colors before it blooms; however, we use this idiom for a person who likes ...
0
votes
1answer
20 views

Expression with “starring” [closed]

I'd like to compose a phrase with a movie title, a lead actor and 'starring'. For example the title is "Top Gun", a lead actor Tom Cruise. In this case, which is/are correct and the most popular? ...
0
votes
1answer
66 views

What does 'shrink' mean in this sentence: “I don't talk about me like a TV show character would to his shrink” [duplicate]

"I don't talk about me like a TV show character would to his shrink" I've heard this alternate usage very rarely, so I couldn't understand what the person means when he/she says it. I guess this is ...
0
votes
1answer
28 views

What does “strident note” mean? [closed]

so I'm translating an RPG book from English to Brazilian Portuguese and stumbled upon (for the first time) with the expression "strident note". I'm not familiar with it, and although I can sort of ...
3
votes
1answer
156 views

Etymology of “take to the cleaners.”

I heard the following statement in the success story of Philip Armour, the captain of American meatpacking industry, which was broadcasted on radio by Success Journal on April 15th, and was ...
0
votes
2answers
105 views

What’s a catchy phrase that means get the most out of your dollar? [closed]

I’m trying to finish a speech, and I was thinking of a catchy last idiom to wrap it up. It was on the tip of my tongue and it I think it mean get the most out of your dollar or something like that.... ...
1
vote
1answer
48 views

Can one say “I am burning with questions about [a topic]”?

I am burning with questions about XYZ topic. To mean: I have a lot of questions about XYZ topic. Possibly: I have a lot of burning questions about XYZ topic. Is this something others will ...
-1
votes
1answer
77 views

Origin of kangaroo court [closed]

How did the expression kangaroo court arise? Is there an Australian connection?
2
votes
3answers
73 views

“His songs fly away in quotations” (Russian expression, looking for an English alternative)

Он является одним из главных исполнителей российской сцены и настоящим народным артистом, песни которого разлетаются на цитаты. He is one of the most well-known Russian entertainers and a true ...
0
votes
0answers
23 views

Is there a phrase like “preaching to the choir” but with the opposite meaning? [duplicate]

"Preaching to the choir" means you're making a point to a group of people who all already agree with you. Is there a similar phrase, meaning you're making a point/argument to a group of people who ...
3
votes
2answers
149 views

Why do we use “in” in the phrase “in front of”?

I just realized I can't quite make out why we use the word "in." The meaning of front is generally a surface, a side - not a space you can be "in," so how did that happen? Is it an artifact of an ...
1
vote
2answers
70 views

Blustery old bird idiom [closed]

There is an idiom/euphemism for a person who angers, puffs up, blustery. I am searching for the name of that bird. Or maybe a term for this behavior?
3
votes
1answer
165 views

Burning the candle at the other end

I came across this while reading "Along came a spider" by James Patterson. Chapter 48 begins with the sentence: The rest of that day, I burned the candle at the other end. Followed by: It ...
0
votes
2answers
300 views

Does groping in the dark have negative (sexual) connotations?

I am writing a blog tentatively titled "Particle Filters: Groping in the Dark for Robots". It struck me that groping has a strong sexual connotation too, so I researched if the idiom groping in the ...
2
votes
2answers
91 views

“Bash her up” – offensive or just an idiom?

My girlfriend and I were having an argument over something that her female friend had said about me, which I found rude and displeasing. My girlfriend responded to my complaint by saying "What do you ...
2
votes
3answers
267 views

Expression for indirectly asking someone to do something

Could there be an English expression (a verb or an idiom) for indirectly asking someone to do something that you want them to do that you find it awkward to ask them to do? For example, let's say you'...
0
votes
1answer
95 views

Meaning of “Real knicker-rotter” [closed]

I've just finished to read the book "Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death" and there is one sentence I don't really understand... What does "Real knicker-rotter" mean? Is there any word going instead ...
0
votes
1answer
94 views

Idiom “strike me peculiar”?

I've always used the phrasing It strikes me as peculiar that .... But I've come across an example which reads It strikes me peculiar that .... It could be a typo but this comes from a text ...