65

A somewhat crude but memorable equivalent is: "You can't polish a turd." It also gives an idea of what the result would be if you could do it. "Lipstick on a pig." is a similar expression, but typically used in different situations, where you can do it. The "polish" idiom is usually said when someone suggests or is about to do something that will be ...


59

Womp womp is an onomatopaeic approximation of a brief, chromatically descending trombone phrase dating from the days of Vaudeville theater indicating either mock sympathy for the victim of a slapstick stunt or a joke or anecdote which the audience failed to find humorous: Sometimes referred to as “sad trombone,” “loser horns,” or, more technically, “...


44

A very old saying comes to mind: "you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear" meaning it's very difficult to make a fine article out of inadequate material, or it's impossible to train a very stupid person to become the owner of a brilliant mind. One cannot turn something inherently inferior into something of value. This proverbial metaphor dates ...


41

Big hands, small maps - that's the way to kill the chaps is a military saying. It is a saying which discourages having masses of resource but not enough fine detail about what to do with that resource; figuratively, from the idea of having maps too small to have sufficient resolution to see details of how the land lies. The 'chaps' being killed are one's ...


40

It's an allegorical reference to a tombstone inscription: Between the date of your birth and the date of your death is all the rest of your life, represented visually by the dash between the dates on the tombstone. It is encouraging you to "make your life matter". This phrase itself isn't an English idiom, per se, but the allegory is widely known in the ...


34

I may have been missing something here, but my interpretation was that the chorus (of the song Cat's in the Cradle) was referencing childrens stories. Presumably ones that the father in the story never had time to read to the child. The silver spoon is assumed to be the one the dish ran away with. Little Boy Blue was Published in L. Frank Baum's first ...


32

Dale: Every journalist worth his or her salt (worth paying to do his or her job) should ask probing and challenging questions. Dale is referring to the journalist. We used to pay people in salt. That's where the word salary comes from. If you're worth your salt you're worth your pay. Salary Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French salarie, from ...


22

The original term was "in my humble opinion", often abbreviated IMHO. I remember it appearing on the early Internet, especially in Usenet discussion groups. It often got used in flame wars to try to reduce the impact of dogmatic opinions. However it became obvious that the people using it were not being at all humble, and hence "in my arrogant opinion" (IMAO)...


20

"Murder to " do something means that it is very very hard. For example "That mountain is murder to climb", or "That course is murder to get an A in". In this case the tag is playing on the literal sense of murder also.


19

According to Collins, box-ticking means the process of satisfying bureaucratic administrative requirements rather than assessing the actual merit of something. So a box ticker should be a person who looks for bureaucratic administrative requirements rather than actual merit of something; i.e. he will routinely go through his instructions while ...


18

From the book Anesthesia in Cosmetic Surgery, edited by Barry Friedberg (Publisher: Cambridge University Press): Prior to the late 1800s, one could get drunk or literally bite the bullet, neither of which had any effect on pain. An interesting article appeared about a .50 caliber bullet found at the site of the Battle of Ox Hill. The 21st Massachusetts ...


18

snopes.com discusses an (obviously untrue) urban myth about cats smothering new born babies, so cat is in the cradle may be a reference to that old wives tale, with the implication that a cat in the cradle is dangerous and implies the baby is forgotten and neglected. CLAIM: Cats suck the breath from babies, sometimes killing them. FALSE. The idea ...


17

It means one time (at least) in a set of times or a period of time (a while). A while is an indefinite period of time. If the condition holds at even one moment during that period then the condition holds for once in a while. Update (as suggested by @Cerberos) from comments I wrote here: "Where is it said that once means 'at least one time'?" "Once" ...


17

The episode transcript earlier explains LORELAI: This isn’t a singles bar, Mom. It’s a sixty-forty bar. EMILY: A what? LORELAI: Sixty-year-old men hitting on forty-year-old women, divorcees mostly. When later the expression you mentioned comes up it refers to that: EMILY: Yes, by sitting me at a bar where you practically forced me to engage ...


17

The whole citation explain quite well what are the other legs (emphasis mine) of the metaphoric stool. The offer from the vendor is composed of three main lines of product, two of them seeming more traditionnal and more usual than this "new" offering. The last product is part of a range of products and makes the offer from the vendor complete and well-...


16

In American Major League Baseball, the New York Yankees traditionally wear pinstripes on their uniforms. https://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/04/yankees-pinstripes-origin-babe-ruth 1 Thus, for the umpires, who are supposed to be impartial judges, to "show up wearing pinstripes," would suggest they were, in fact, favoring the Yankees.


16

I would choose Flogging a dead horse "to waste effort on something when there is no chance of succeeding"


14

When I first read about the alleged joke, I charitably assumed that it meant, “What an embarrassing mistake by the agency. They sure failed this time.” While that is an alternative possible meaning of womp-womp, it is not, according to Lewandowski himself, what he meant. In his words, “I mocked a liberal who attempted to politicize children as opposed to ...


13

Your question is a misunderstanding of give. Give doesn't mean don't care. The don't is already in the phrase: I don't give a flying fuck. Give: to bestow, especially officially; confer. I don't give means: I don't bestow/confer/hand over/offer/impart, etc. What don't you give? Well, if you don't want to give anything of value, then you don't give ...


12

From etymonline.com: To bite the bullet is said to be 1700s military slang, from old medical custom of having the patient bite a lead bullet during an operation to divert attention from pain and reduce screaming. Figurative use from 1891; the custom itself attested from 1840s.


12

"Make waves" is a well-known English idiom, and it can have several meanings, but I don't think it fits the described context: make waves: to cause problems by making suggestions or criticisms (Macmillan English Dictionary) makes waves: to disturb the status quo (Webster's Unabridged) make waves: create a significant impression he has ...


12

Arthur is claiming (probably falsely) to be a top military pilot in reference to the old Tom Cruise movie Top Gun. He is attempting a put-down of Person A by making himself out to be more 'manly' than the V.P. It is also possible that he is using an obviously false claim to military prowess and daring to imply that Person A is exaggerating his importance.


10

"Blood is thicker than water" and its ilk can be traced back to twelfth-century writings, whereas the "blood of the covenant" interpretation is not more than twenty or thirty years old, as far as I can tell (and granted, Wikipedia has helped me greatly in this area). I think that's rather a shame, actually, as I personally prefer the "blood of the covenant" ...


10

Why here is an interjection, placed at the beginning of a sentence to express surprise: Is it nine o'clock already? Why, I must have fallen asleep! or opposition: Are you suggesting he stole the money? Why, I think that's impossible. or in you example, emphasis: B. Awesome, thanks! A. Why [would you think it would be any less than awesome?], ...


10

Consider a menu where you have a little box beside each item, such as the following: You place a tick (or check) in the boxes corresponding to the items you select. That's called "ticking boxes" in the literal sense. As the person doing the ticking, there's no need to think about what each item should be called. A box-ticker is then a derogatory term for ...


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