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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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2answers
49 views

A word, expression or idiom to describe a problem that is not obvious but can potentially be very destructive

I am looking for a word, expression or idiom to describe a problem that is not obvious but can potentially be very destructive. Thank you!
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1answer
77 views

What kind of literary device is “the speed of light?” #idioms [closed]

He flew at the speed of light or the speed of sound.
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1answer
54 views

“Brush oneself up” is a common phrase?

I once watched some American TV show, and there was a guy, who just woke up, and he said: "I need to brush myself up". It was clear that he was going to go to the bathroom to take a shower and etc., ...
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3answers
114 views

Idiom for the phrase “getting a good result from a bad situation or with a bad condition”?

Is there an idiom which expresses the idea of "getting a good result from a bad situation or with a bad condition"? Thanks!
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1answer
50 views

Is “Cotton Industry” the proper term for an industry build around something more successful?

Over the course of my life, I heard people use the term "cotton industry" to derogatorily refer to a group of people that make money based on something more successful. For example: On YouTube, an ...
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39 views

Idiom or proverbs for the word “not pleasant” [closed]

Furthermore, the toilets should be more clean because some toilets are _________ to go into. What is the idiom or proverb that could be used for the word "not pleasant"?
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110 views

Metaphor or idiom?

My partner and I were discussing rearranging our bedroom. He said that moving the bed would be "a big lift". The conversation continued and he referred to "a big lift" as an idiom. I replied that ...
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4answers
83 views

What is a slang-like phrase to use to describe someone constantly asking (in a formal or informal way) you to do something?

Somehow in my mind I had this very vague impression there is a phrase of form "xxx on" with xxx being a verb that does this. Two examples, My wife has been [phrase] on me to fix a broken sprinkler. ...
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45 views

Older equivalent to “concrete thought” metaphor?

What came first, concrete as a way to express a solid thought, or concrete as a solid building material? And what I am really getting at is, prior to the invention of concrete as a building material, ...
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11answers
572 views

Word/phrase/idiom for 'taking flak' (any kind to any degree) from people who can't handle part of a task (a basic detail)

Sometimes, people are not up for the task to which they've committed themselves. That is, they have a problem handling a part of it, for whatever reason. Instead of admitting that, they respond by ...
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0answers
34 views

An idiom on idioms [closed]

Is there an idiom which conveys that there is an idiom for everything? (or for anything, or for every conceivable topic)
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1answer
82 views

What is the etymology behind the euphemism “The Troubles”? [closed]

What is the etymology or history behind the euphemism "The Troubles" for the unrest/civil war in Northern Ireland?
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25 views

Is ‘a dog which is barking’ synonymous with ‘a barking dog’?

I am wondering whether a barking dog means the same as a dog which is barking. Here is the saying a barking dog does not bite. Does a barking dog herein mean a dog which tends to bark in face of ...
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1answer
155 views

Out on a tear last night - meaning?

I've bumped into a great pun from the Marx Brothers' Night at the Opera (transcript) I didn't get the reference/joke/idiom on "out on a tear last night". Fiorello: No, that's no good, too. (they ...
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2answers
72 views

Other ways to say “living in the gray” [closed]

Life is not black and white. There seldom is a definitive right or wrong. We need to learn to live in the gray. We need to consider and take aspects from each side in order to make practical life ...
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3answers
131 views

What is a adjective to describe a champion who eventually wins after many setbacks?

friends, I am very glad to be on this forum! Here I am sending you greetings! :) Would you please share with me what adjective would you suggest describing a winner, a champion, who will win the ...
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1answer
6k views

What is the meaning of “You've never met a graph you didn't like?”

From an article that recommends things to read to help students too focused on exams and disconnected from the rest of the world.
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2answers
105 views

A phrase used to describe solving a problem by using a convenient solution that does something broad that also resolves the problem

Things I'm trying to convey The solution is something simple and convenient (i.e. doesn't require a lot of effort, hence not "overkill" or "overengineering") The solution does something that has an ...
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1answer
49 views

What is the origin of “cut rate”? [closed]

I saw this drug store sign from 1929. Does the term "cut rate" have a pharmaceutical origin or does this just refer to "low cost"? This in a low income area, but I know pharmacies "cut" drugs with ...
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1answer
32 views

Choosing the most idiomatic sentence

Which one is more idiomatic? My greatest achievement is the first prize in a modeling competition. OR My greatest achievement is winning the first prize in a modeling competition.
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3answers
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A more serious version of 'no-holds-barred'

The phrase 'no-holds-barred' implies a fight, conflict or battle without any rules, but is relatively modern and comes from wrestling, giving it a friendly feel. What is the name for a fight where ...
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2answers
48 views

A noble/attractive suggestion that is uncomfortable to argue against but is ultimately wasteful

I am looking for a phrase to describe the title. For example; higher water purity when the purity is sufficiently high. Even with an arbitrarily high purity, it would be uncomfortable to argue that "...
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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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1answer
86 views

Usage of “to double down” in British and American English

The idiom "to double to on sth" in the sense of "continuing to do something in an even more determined way than before" is mentioned in the Cambridge Dictionary. However, personally, I've heard this ...
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1answer
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what's the expression for people who give moralistic lectures, but often are guilty of the same “sin”? [closed]

People who give bible-thumping/koran-thumping moralizing lectures about various "sins", but often indulge in the very same sins they lecture against. For example, many anti-gay preachers often turn ...
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1answer
145 views

Origin of “my dog ate my homework”?

Is there a specifc incident or origin story for the common joke/comedic phrase "my dog ate my homework"? I always wondered whether there was a student who became notorious for not turning in their ...
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2answers
193 views

Proverb/phrase for using a tool/process not intended for its purpose

I couldn't come up with a better title. So I have one of my colleague using a wrong tool/process to achieve something that this tool/process is not intended for. So basically its going to be ...
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3answers
213 views

How do you describe waking up in the morning brain functioning slowly?

Is there an adjective describing waking up in the morning and feeling slow, not able to remember stuff and think slowly?
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3answers
254 views

A donkey does not know what kind of fruit persimmon is

The above-mentioned idiom comes from my native language. We use it when we are referring to a person ( often tasteless and unsophisticated one ) who finds it hard to appreciate a good thing or does ...
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2answers
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On the hoof expression

A friend has asked me if they can say: I said those words on the hoof. It doesn’t sound right to me as I’m used to hearing it with eating: I had to grab lunch on the hoof. Is it correct, and if so, ...
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The meaning of the expression “Never laugh at live dragons”

I'm a big Tolkien fan and have read LOTR and The Hobbit many times. However, there's one quote from The Hobbit that I've never fully understood, and that is the phrase, "Never laugh at live dragons". ...
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4answers
209 views

Idiom Request: being overworked, burned out, having too much work

I'm an illustrator and need some idiom help (obviously visualizing but using existing idioms or metaphors can help). The article I'm illustrating for is about teachers quitting their jobs within 5 ...
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1answer
723 views

Idiom about something being very different

I need an idiom for two things being very different in amount (price) for negotiating. I’m trying to remember something along the lines of moon and ground/sky and ground, but I can’t remember the ...
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1answer
51 views

“If I knew something about [X], I couldn't tell you what it is!”

Someone has told me that, because I asked about X. I know that the person has confidentiality concerns about the X-related issues. Now I'm wondering: does that statement imply anything specific? ...
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2answers
347 views

“Tinkle contest with a skunk”

What does the following idiom mean: "Tinkle contest with a skunk". And where was this idiom first used ? Does anybody know the origin?? Example: Yesterday, in an unsuccessful attempt to discuss ...
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1answer
224 views

Which is correct — as much as … or as many as … used with a percentage?

I’m unsure which is correct to use in the following sentence — “as much as” or “as many as”? Here’s the sentence: As ___ as 88% of all real estate transactions come from repeat and referral ...
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3answers
103 views

What is a good metaphor/analogy/idiom espousing the virtues of “developing something gradually over time”? [closed]

My question specifically relates to learning a new skill. Which could be used in the following example: An aspiring athlete trains for an hour each day without feeling like she is making much ...
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2answers
61 views

“Beck and call” after “to be” only?

Can the phrase "at one's beck and call" only be used after "to be?" For example, I can definitely say "her daughter was at her beck and call," but I am unsure if I can use it adverbially i.e. "her ...
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5answers
5k views

“Cheaper by the dozen” phrase origin?

Over on Politics.Meta.SE a comment by user Guest271314 asserts a repugnant etymology: ...You cannot expect readers to parse when you are engaging in direct communication or "colloquially" speaking. ...
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9answers
25k views

Why Third 'Reich'? Why is 'reich' not translated when 'third' is? What is the English synonym of reich?

Why is Nazi-Germany commonly referred to as "The Third Reich" in English? Why is reich not translated when Dritten ("third") is? And what is the English synonym of reich? Realm? Austria (Republik ...
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2answers
3k views

Is “fight windmills” idiom common in modern spoken English?

Is "fight windmills" ( In meaning of fighting imaginary enemies) idiom common in modern spoken English? And what is the modern equivalent for the idiom if not.
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0answers
375 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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2answers
58 views

Structured pursuit of an aim

Is there an English word that denotes the structured and deliberate pursuit of a course of action in order to achieve a goal?
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1answer
387 views

when can you use cut your teeth on something from the first person perspective?

I was helping a friend to proof read and found this sentence very cringey. 'Also, Chambers that give their pupil first-hand experience which they can cut their teeth on their legal careers in the long ...
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How do you correct this sentence to a right one?

I want to travel to Tokyo. If you go, let's travel with Kamakura! -> I want to travel to Tokyo. If you are traveling, let’s do it with Kamakura? can someone help? i corrected the original sentence ...
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1answer
73 views

Is “paper fiction” a set phrase?

" the rock and the ocean are revealed to be mere paper fictions" - On Evil, Terry Eagleton The text refers to the book 'Pincher Martin'. The rock and the ocean turn out to be quite literally made ...
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4answers
300 views

Is there an idiom for, “ Making decision all by yourself without involving or consulting others and expect them to accept it”?

I know there are some idioms meaning that you do a job alone or sth. But what I'm looking for is the one in which a person is supposed to consult with others before making final decision but he just ...
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4answers
116 views

“Catch a distant trumpet” [closed]

What is the proper interpretation of "catch a distant trumpet of an entirely new point of view"? (I only know that an American artist wrote this and that she was in England at the time.) January 19:...
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1answer
38 views

'Dose of one's own medicine'?

So, I know 'dose of your own medicine' is an older version of 'taste of your own medicine'; but which one is widely used nowadays? Are both of them correct, or did people stop saying 'dose of your own ...
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2answers
333 views

“Man of the Earth”, is it an idiom?

And this guy was a man of the earth, so to speak. What does it mean to say someone is "a man of the earth"? This is said by Martin Scorsese in an biography book called "Conversations with Scorsese" ...