Questions tagged [popular-refrains]

A saying is something that is said, notable in one respect or another, to be "a pithy expression of wisdom or truth."

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19
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4answers
3k views

You have the watches, but we have the time

This quote is associated with the Taliban in reference to the US occupation of Afghanistan. I understand the metaphorical meaning of the quote — i.e. the point that it makes. But I am intrigued by the ...
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3answers
54 views

Is “green ones” not slang for money? [closed]

I wish I could bring in some green ones. I cannot bring in the green ones. I'm making tons of the green ones. Are these proper English/American English sentences? Can you use "green ones" ...
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15answers
2k views

A saying similar to “playing whack-a-mole”

My wife is looking for a phrase or saying in English that is similar to... Lo urgente no deja tiempo para lo importante ...which means "Urgent matters do not leave time for what is really ...
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3answers
54 views

Does “don't cry over lost Bitcoins” really work? [closed]

There's the old saying: Don't cry over spilled milk! Its meaning, AFAIK, is that you should not cry/be sad/get hung up over losing something trivial which can easily be replaced. If you spill some ...
-1
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1answer
158 views

What is the original version of these two popular idioms? [duplicate]

When I was but a young lad, I often heard the following saying; If “ifs”and “ands” were pots and pans, we would never do the dishes. There is also another similar saying; If ‘ifs” and “buts” were ...
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1answer
133 views

What does the saying, “I don't like to eat what I can't swallow” mean?

My friend said this to me in regards to his girlfriend being older than he is. I don't understand what the saying means.
3
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2answers
86 views

Does English have a version of “pouring water on a goose”?

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/verkan Det där har lika mycket verkan som att hälla vatten på en gås. That has as much effect as pouring water on a goose. It means that something is futile or ...
0
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1answer
52 views

Idioms: Exploiting/Taking Advantage of Others (negative connotation) [duplicate]

Could you please give me an idiom, proverb, or saying that describes someone who exploits and take advantage of others? An idiomatic expression that has a negative connotation. Or maybe to say that ...
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3answers
958 views

Which phrase attributed to the “cat-o'-nine tails” is the most credible?

In one of many online articles professing the origin of well-known and popular English sayings, I was particularly struck by the one related to "Cat got your tongue". The author writes ...
4
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1answer
880 views

“Everything's coming up X”?

I've heard several Americans say "everything's coming up X". Sometimes, it's a person's name, and sometimes, it can be anything. Example: https://youtu.be/ivW7z3wGAl8?t=175 Everything was ...
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2answers
265 views

What is the meaning of the “narrow” road/path metaphor?

All my life, I've regularly heard phrases such as: Walk on the narrow road, never steering off into Hell! Don't listen to the Devil trying to lure you into his dark path! This, to me, metaphorically ...
2
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1answer
384 views

A literary idiom/expression that means someone is worthless or express about this imagery ( he is not equal to stitch on the sole)

I have to translate a poem from Arabic into English, so I need an equivalent expression to Arabic imagery.
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0answers
123 views

What is origin of the phrase “as gay as cheese”?

A little while back, I was trying to find an old Hitchcock anthology story that turned out to be Joan Aiken's "As Gay as Cheese" where the eponymous phrase is one of many that the main ...
0
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1answer
55 views

fantasy and reality sayings

You should never act out a fantasy because the reality never matches up. Is this a famous saying (especially about sexual fantasies)? Or is there any sayings or quotes similar to this? I read this in ...
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4answers
100 views

Looking for a descriptive word(s)) to describe digest/summation/pocket culture

I am looking for a generic word(s) to describe summary digest cultural of modern society. (or a Neologism) A word(s) for culture that describes "Take what is useful, discard what is useless" ...
0
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1answer
238 views

What should I use when I want to say “without further ado”

I have just read another post on here which taught me that the phrase "without further ado" is misused often. Most of the time, I suspect people say it (including me, before now) to mean "without ...
0
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1answer
89 views

Origin of saying 'Thank Buddha it's Tuesday'

What is the origin of the saying 'Thank Buddha it's Tuesday.'?
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0answers
65 views

When was the term “All lives matter” first used and what was it meant?

These days these two terms "Black lives matter" and "All lives matter" are in the centre of the discussion. Although, it is understood what "All lives matter" in context of "black lives matter", Can ...
6
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1answer
1k views

Origin of the saying “God must love the poor because he made so many of them”

The saying "God must love the poor [or the common people or the plain people] because he made so many of them" falls somewhere between a proverb and a famous quotation, but its origins are rather ...
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5answers
1k views

Word for when something makes something else seems smaller in a relative manner

I'm trying to think of a word that is somehow alluding me. Imagine two people are speaking loudly, but then a third person begins shouting even louder. The third persons voice has made the other two ...
0
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0answers
27 views

How to say grief delayed for good cause?

What words, or phrases, are related to grieving having been deferred, but not disparaged, for a worthy reason? Bonus points for folklore references. === I was thinking of something along the lines ...
0
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0answers
182 views

What does “run for the hills” really refer to?

I know that it means "run for your lives", but why would running to the hills be a good idea to hide? Aren't the hills the easiest place for the enemy to spot the peasants/people who "run for the ...
0
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4answers
1k views

Quote similar to “the pen is mightier than the sword”

I'm looking for a quote that is similar to "the pen is mightier than the sword", which is commonly credited to Edward George Bulwer-Lytton. The quote should state the same thing, namely, that words ...
2
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0answers
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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9answers
3k views

What's an idiom to express the idea “the correcter stands corrected”

I'm quite confident there is a short and to-the-point idiom to express the idea of someone who is an 'expert' in his field, suddenly is found in a situation where he is ignorant. Something that would ...
0
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1answer
478 views

The old-money rich “don't buy their own furniture?”

I've heard it said of the old-money wealthy that they "don't buy their own furniture." Is the implication that the family has so many heirlooms, and perhaps of superior quality to modern goods, that ...
0
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1answer
249 views

Where does the concept of “big brother sees you” come from? [closed]

I don't mean the metaphor "big brother" or "Big Brother" as in the government or other powerful entity. I mean the original meaning of "big brother sees you". I am a big brother. Or was. I never ...
0
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1answer
88 views

How can “running down the plane” be interpreted in this SOAD song? [closed]

In the lyrics of a System Of A Down song called Roulette the following part can be found: Left a message, but it ain't a bit of use I have some pictures, the wild might be the deuce Today you ...
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0answers
676 views

Is “making a hen out of a feather” really not an English expression?

Today, after learning English for decades, I learned that the expression "to make a hen out of a feather" apparently is Swedish-only, and that nobody outside Sweden would understand this (other than ...
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8answers
12k views

A term for “it's raining while the sun is shining”

Most languages have a popular term or a traditional saying for the occurrence of rain while the sun is shining (a sunshower). Most of these expressions have been handed down from generation to ...
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8answers
7k views

Translate the French quote “Il n’y a pas d'amour, il n’y a que des preuves d’amour” to English?

I’d like to translate a quote from Pierre Reverdy (or Jean Cocteau, this is an open question apparently). The quote is: Il n’y a pas d’amour, il n’y a que des preuves d’amour. For some context in ...
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3answers
1k views

Origin of “in your corner”?

I just wrote an email to a new friend and colleague from Rwanda, whom I am helping to find work in translation and interpreting. And I signed my email, “In your corner,” only later realizing she might ...
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5answers
430 views

An epigram for when one bad thing happens, it causes a chain reaction of bad things [duplicate]

I'm not talking about Domino Effect or Murphy's Law, it's something else. I used to know it, but for the life of me, I can't seem to remember. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I think it was "...
4
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1answer
223 views

Origin of the saying 'It's a soda'?

We say that something is easy (in Australia at least) by saying that 'it's a soda?' What is the origin of this please? Why soda?
5
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3answers
7k views

Those who speak do not know, those who know do not speak

We have this idiom-like saying in Turkish. The idea is that there are certain things, topics, etc., if one talks about it, it strongly suggests that he has no idea what he is talking about, else he ...
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3answers
71 views

Looking for a well-known refrain or proverb indicating that some big trouble has just started

I am translating into English a famous refrain from Spanish, Ahí fue Troya. That means something like Then a big trouble started. I am looking for some correspondingly recognizable refrain I can ...
3
votes
1answer
445 views

What does it mean “to queer the pudding”?

In today's Observer, columnist Jonathan Bouquet mentions Jon Snow on Channel 4 News while interviewing Jacob Rees Mogg, having used the expression to queer the pudding. Bouquet refers to it as a "new ...
1
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3answers
924 views

Where is the saying “A for away” from? [closed]

I have recently picked up the saying "A for away" (meaning, we are good to go/ready to go). I am English but live in South Africa and watch American TV, so I have no idea where this saying is from. Is ...
3
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2answers
153 views

Concise way to express the Spanish saying “it is preferable to be the head of a mouse than the tail of a lion”

I came across this vivid Spanish expression today and have been wondering how it might best be said in English: "Más vale ser cabeza de ratón, que cola de león" which, literally, means that it is ...
1
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2answers
134 views

Is there an English metaphor/saying for this expression?

I'm translating a book and the author has written down a saying that can be translated literally as "If you want to hit a dog you can easily/quickly find a stick" Like, if I wanted to hit a dog, ...
1
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1answer
11k views

“Last days of Rome” phrase, meaning with examples

I would be interested to know the origin and evolution of meaning, along with example usage, for the phrase "last days of Rome".
1
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0answers
848 views

…Your baby gonna come out naked

I heard this in a casual how-to video. It seemed random and not associated with anything they were doing. Someone said, "My favorite one is... your baby is going to come out naked. If you keep working ...
1
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0answers
37 views

Is there an old saying/joke about “Where would I go if I were a [name of lost object]?”

In the 1950s my mother used to say, if I lost (for example) a glove, "Where would you go if you were a glove?" More recently I read this in a novel by my father from the mid-1960s: "... the old gag ...
2
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7answers
983 views

What is the saying for when “early adaptors (first timers) always takes the hit” which is opposite of “early bird catches the worm”

While we say "early bird catches the worm" which means whoever arrives first has the best chance of success; some opportunities are only available to the first competitors. On the opposite end, what ...
1
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3answers
200 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
377 views

Origin of the saying “you can't put a price on sanity”?

This is something my mother used to say on a daily basis, and I grew up thinking it was a common saying. Today it occurred to me that I've never heard anyone else say it, and when I googled it, no ...
26
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5answers
10k views

What does “stay in vegetables” mean?

The quote says "Don't do school, eat your drugs, stay in vegetables". I realize the last part does not mean something like "remain in the box with potatoes" literally, so what does it mean?
4
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1answer
9k views

Origin of “Don't ask the question if you're not prepared to hear the answer”?

It is a saying, or life advice perhaps. Not everyone is taught it. Where did it come from? The Bible? A philosopher? Literature? Does it have a canonical name?
6
votes
1answer
106 views

Looking for an English idiom

In Russian language we have this joke: -- Is this a taxi? -- Yes -- Why isn't the car yellow then? -- Do you want a yellow car or do you need a ride? We often use the last phrase of the joke as an ...
3
votes
1answer
61 views

Proper spelling/saying

My 90 year old father has a saying, "I've been dragged through an auger hole and beat with a sut rake." It means you're worn out or have been treated badly. "Sut" pronounced almost like "soot." Not ...

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