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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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1answer
46 views

Is there a word or phrase when there occurs two sad events in tandem

Is there a word or phrase when there occurs two sad/traumatic events in tandem; Like Double whammy is when two-fold blow or setback. But I think i cannot use double whammy. Like in this example: ...
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7answers
2k views

Is there some idiom for telling someone specialised knowledge is not required to understand the situation? [closed]

I’m searching for an idiom that would mean the following: The situation is obvious to an untrained eye. For example, say someone looked unwell, perhaps with a cold and one person says to another ...
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2answers
168 views

Is “stew away” a valid English expression?

In a biographic interview with a person from the United States (New York resident and native US citizen) I hear the following: So, I decided I can either stew away and feel sorry for myself for ...
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3answers
158 views

Pejorative word for events like ribbon-cutting ceremony, Association party & fests which are counterproductive activities for an organization

Pejorative word for attending "ribbon cutting ceremonies, ribbon cutting ceremonies, Association parties and fests" by a country's missions post abroad who are meant to be engaged in welfare of ...
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4answers
184 views

Alternative to “winner takes it all” or “first-past-the-post”

Consider the scenario of two scientists independently and concurrently working on a problem. The first one to achieve the breakthrough and have his or her results published will eventually be the one ...
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2answers
204 views

What is the origin of the “once upon a time” idiom as the way to begin a fairy tale?

"Once upon a time" is the traditional way to start a fairy tale using the English language. But how traditional is it? I'm trying to find the first uses of this expression with this purpose. So far I ...
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1answer
41 views

Proper English for programmer-dependent

I'm Japanese and there is a JP word 'programmer-dependent' which means something relies on human, not the system. Does anybody know how to say that in English? e.g. Memory management of C is '...
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3answers
985 views

What is the origin of the phrase “join the club/welcome to the club”?

I recently was having a conversation with an acquaintance in Russian, and she used the phrase "welcome to the club" as it would literally translate into Russian. Confused, I asked, "This is surely an ...
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2answers
65 views

Idiom or phrase or proverb for When ever you need me you conveniently declare me the head of the department, other times i am no more than a nobody

Idiom or phrase or proverb for When ever you need me you conveniently declare me the head of the department (of course an acting head usually to throw me under the bus to deal/make difficult decisions ...
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3answers
841 views

Is “in the pipeline” an AmE idiom?

American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms defines "in the pipeline" as: In process, under way, as in The blueprints for the new machine are in the pipeline, but it will take months to get approval . ...
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10answers
3k views

“I’ll believe it when I see it” for things that aren’t supposed to be referred to visually? [closed]

I’m looking for an equivalent idiom that refers to actions that aren’t supposed to be referred to visually. Example: Person A owes person B money and day after day says he will pay person B back. ...
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2answers
2k views

Is there an English equal for hindi saying “Bandar ke Haath me ustra” or “Razor in hands of a monkey”

Is there a English equal for hindi saying Bandar ke Haath me ustra which literally means "Razor in Monkey's hand" as if Never give a risky job to a people who is like a monkey. If he has a razor ...
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4answers
221 views

Idiom for premonition

I am trying to remember an idiom that is used when someone has a premonition about something, often coincidentally i.e. I am thinking about someone and then they call me. I know there is the ...
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2answers
3k views

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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1answer
38 views

'She had begun by saying' = 'She had begun to say'?

"You should have a shop," she had begun by saying, loading Miss Bartlett's plate with scones and home-made ginger jam, "properly equipped and converted ..." [phrase ends after the direct speech] I do ...
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1answer
36 views

Word for working with two parallel work instruction system in a company

If living two lives, one for outside world and other in the closet is double life. What would you call preferably pejoratively for when employees are working with two procedures rule book & ...
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1answer
332 views

What is the meaning of “You're rolling one for two.” if the context is about someone who is running late to go somewhere

I don't really understand about it. Especially because there is "one for two" after "rolling". English isn’t my first language, so please excuse any mistakes and I'm sorry if the question is off-...
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3answers
200 views

Is there a proverb, idiom for “those only who in line of fire only understand the agony”?

Is there a proverb, idiom for Those who are in line of fire only understand the agony. For the freewheeling back-seaters it is far too easy to sit back and say "Why do you worry so much?" Example: ...
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3answers
134 views

Help recall the exact idiom “I'm against my brother, I'm with my brother against my cousin, I'm with my brother and cousing against everyone else”

There's a very interesting asian saying, describing dichotomy of a person's attitude towards others. My quote is probably incorrect, but it says roughy: "I'm against my brother, I'm with my ...
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1answer
782 views

Alternatives to the expression “double down on something”

In broadcast news, especially from the US, recently there is frequent use of the expression "double down on something", usually when public figures repeat some claim they previously made, and usually ...
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1answer
321 views

Usage of the idiom “to set the Thames on fire”

I wonder whether the idiom "to set the Thames on fire" is currently in use and universally understood. Will it be correctly understood outside the United Kingdom? Would it be correct to say "to set ...
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2answers
377 views

What is the meaning of “When the straight and narrow get a little too straight?” [closed]

I can't understand it. Please explain it in simple terms. Thank you.
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2answers
1k views

Is “one of the single greatest” grammatically correct?

The Massacre is one of the single greatest historical tragedies in the history of the empire. I understand "the single greatest" is common usage. But does adding "one of" before it make it illogical, ...
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2answers
559 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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2answers
55 views

I am looking for an expression, idiom or proverb for a Hindi saying “ulta karobar” which literally means “turtled business” or “upside-down acts”

I am looking for an expression, idiom or proverb for a Hindi saying "ulta karobar" which literally means "turtled business" or "upside-down business" and relates to the disorderly handling of an issue ...
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1answer
49 views

What is idiom suiting the statement “the office boy has more importance than the manager”

What is idiom, expression or proverb suiting the statement "the office boy/office peon has more importance than the manager, so you have to bend before them" As in it is far more important to be in ...
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1answer
66 views

difficult nautical dialect

In the short story "The Last Cruise of the Judas Iscariot", by Edward Page Mitchel, Captain Cram, a sailor of Main, who builds a schooner with three masts to be frowned upon by the people of the town ...
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3answers
408 views

responsible as to her keel

In the short story, The Last Cruise of the Judas Iscariot by Edward Page Mitchel, which tells the story of Captain Cram, a sailor in Main, who builds a schooner with three masts, which was considered ...
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1answer
101 views

What is a wash dish tongue?

In this article†, Edward Hibbert (who plays Gil Chesterton), describes his character: Gil’s effete and affected with a wash-dish tongue. What is meant by a "wash-dish tongue? Note: Googling "wash-...
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1answer
234 views

Is “equal to none” a fixed phrase?

I encountered this as a phrase in Trent Hawkins is a skilled pilot and war veteran, whose piloting skill are equal to none and it seems a bit strange. Is this an actual phrase or has the author of ...
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2answers
105 views

“sink my jig” in nautical dialect

In a short story by Edward Page Mitchel entitled The Last Cruise of the Judas Iscariot, captain Cram, a sailor from Main, tells the story of him building a schooner with three masts, which was frowned ...
0
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1answer
146 views

knocked clean out

In a short story entitled The Last Cruise of the Judas Iscariot by Edward Page Mitchel, Captain Cram, a sailor in Main, builds a schooner with three masts, which is considred by the town's people as a ...
0
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1answer
88 views

What is the idiom, proverb for “Little problems often become big problems if no one takes the initiative to correct them”

What is the idiom, proverb for "Little problems often become big problems if no one takes the initiative to correct them" Which means in an example that If the employees don’t bother to report a ...
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3answers
282 views

Is there an idiom about not listening? Or about being rude?

We have a foreign boss, he isn't very receptive if we broach subjects with him about his mannerisms. However he has been very interested in learning different colloquialisms or idioms. We have been ...
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8answers
6k views

What is the idiom, expression or proverb for 'If you let them use you once they will use you for life'?

What is the idiom, expression or proverb for If you bend once, they will bend you for life. In Indian culture in marathi language, we have a saying "Jithe oli/mau mathi, tithe atti" which ...
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1answer
66 views

Can a noun can be used as a verb for an idiom?

Is there really an idiom called "don't playground with us" which is similar to don't mess with us? I often found slang in movie/series that a noun can be used as verb also like "Let's chair him up" or ...
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3answers
349 views

What are alternatives or metaphors for the idiom of discovering a “gold mine”?

The context I am writing in is along the lines of: When we can identify and appreciate our emotions, we are able to carefully engage both emotion and cognition in the decision making process which ...
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1answer
414 views

To let some of my cats on the table

While reading J.L. Austin's book How to do things with words I found this (to me) curious sentence: ... and here I must let some of my cats on the table... The context seems to imply that the ...
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4answers
336 views

Idiom, proverb for “the closer the more expensive it is and the farther the cheaper it will be”

What is the idiom or proverb for what John is saying in the dialog below : Jim: The neighborhood garage estimated 200$ for the car's AC repair, so I went to the garage market's locality and found ...
2
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1answer
64 views

Is there any appropriate idiom for the expression “ its proved” or “ its established”? [closed]

Is there any appropriate idiom for the expression " its proved" or " its established" ? For example, its proved and established he's not a good person.
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1answer
102 views

Terminology for turning an idiom's meaning around

Just recently, I used the idiom comparing apples and oranges in an argument with someone when they compared two vastly different mathematical fields and claimed that, because deep learning neural ...
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11answers
6k views

What is the idiom for the situation “If people-in-authority don't follow their own set rules then what can one expect from rest of us” [closed]

What is the idiom for a situation that "If people-in-authority don't follow their own set rules, then what can one expect from rest of us" in similar examples given below in different settings: When ...
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2answers
320 views

An idiom describing the end of argument?

If some people arguing about something, a common rumor, for example which is not yet confirmed. But when the concerned party had said its word and ends the argument forever, and people stopped arguing ...
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0answers
64 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)...
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4answers
4k views

In the phrase “the scales have fallen from my eyes” why did they use the word “scales”?

It's an odd word there. I've never thought that I had "scales" on my eyes when I couldn't see. Why didn't they use something like "darkness" or "clouds"? When I think of scales I think of Lady ...
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1answer
56 views

Is this correct - “They'd very well not done it at all”?

Is this a correct tense of the idiom may very well? Can someone give me a breakdown of why this is correct grammar? It sounds right to me but I can't find any usage to check. (If this is totally ...
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1answer
2k views

Cut my legs out from under me?

I would like to know the exact meaning of this phrase (cut my legs out from under me,) because I've been searching for it everywhere, but 'till now I've only come across the definition of "cut the ...
1
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1answer
263 views

Idiom for something that appears innocuous but is actually deadly [closed]

I'm looking for an idiom that describes a completely veiled threat, like when someone says something that seems perfectly polite, but a person who is familiar with the situation would know that what ...
0
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1answer
181 views

Can the facts literally speak for themselves? [closed]

Can the facts literally speak for themselves, or is that phrase figurative? I'm unsure, because I'm not sure whether 'speak' or 'speak for' always involves speech. In the OED entry for 'speak' (...
1
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1answer
81 views

Idiom “not shot in the head” to indicate a lack of enthusiasm?

Background: Native English speaker here. I grew up in India, but have lived most of my life in the United States. My fellow Americans often comment upon "Britishisms" in my usage. For example, I tend ...