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187 votes
Accepted

A fun, catchy way to say the opposite of a 'no-brainer'?

Head-scratcher 2 Informal (originally US). A perplexing problem or question; something which causes bafflement or puzzlement. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/us/head-scratcher ...
GeoffAtkins's user avatar
  • 2,478
166 votes

Phrase for a small, legitimate fix for part of a system so broken the fix is unimportant

Rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic — Wiktionary To do something pointless or insignificant that will soon be overtaken by events, or that contributes nothing to the solution of a ...
NVZ's user avatar
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151 votes
Accepted

Is there an English equivalent for the expression "Playing the flute to a buffalo"?

Cast pearls before swine It was first used in the Bible (Matthew 7:6), so it originally had religious overtones, but you can use it in the secular sense too: (idiomatic) To give things of value ...
Gary's user avatar
  • 9,703
143 votes

How to degender "separate the men from the boys"?

In addition to Jacinto's answer, you can also avoid the human element altogether and use a phrase like: Math teacher: "The ability to do proofs of this type is what separates the wheat from the ...
TheIronCheek's user avatar
134 votes
Accepted

Word(s) to say if someone doesn't want one thing they surely don't want some second thing

Let alone Dad I don't want to get out of bed, let alone go to school. According to Cambridge Dictionary, let alone do something means: and to an even greater degree do something Example by ...
JJJ's user avatar
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130 votes
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Equivalent English phrase for "don't roll around where you've fallen"

When you're in a hole, stop digging. Michael Josephson has this to say: Most of us have lied to get out of trouble. From childhood denials (“It wasn’t me!”) to adult fabrications (“The check is ...
Edwin Ashworth's user avatar
128 votes

Is there an idiom or typical expression for an unfunny joke?

A common expression for this is to fall flat (from the "idioms" section of thefreedictionary.com): fall flat if an entertainment or a joke falls flat, people do not enjoy it and do not ...
terdon's user avatar
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122 votes

What's a good idiom or saying to say "don't leave your current job before getting another"?

"A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," It's better to have a lesser but certain advantage than the possibility of a greater one that may come to nothing. This 16th century proverb ...
mahmud k pukayoor's user avatar
121 votes
Accepted

English equivalent of Polish saying "A yokel can leave a village, but village will never leave yokel"

The Polish phrase itself is actually fairly well known, albeit slight re-worded. I've heard it for various regions: "You can take a man out of the [south|north|country|city], but you can't take the [...
Bob's user avatar
  • 2,440
118 votes

Is there an idiom available, that is exactly opposite to "Cake walk" or "Child's play"?

You could say, "It was no small feat," and mean that it was actually a very great or difficult feat. [Wiktionary] This understated way of emphasizing something is called litotes. A herculean task is ...
Qaz's user avatar
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106 votes
Accepted

Is there an idiom for "winning a contest because you were the only participant"?

Winner by default. This is a common expression in America for one-on-one sports like wrestling and tennis, especially when part of a larger tournament. Suzanne won her match by default when the ...
Stu W's user avatar
  • 7,174
104 votes
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Is there an expression to indicate the strategy of wearing someone down with numerous small irritations?

Lately a favorite of mine while describing the amount of small finishing work left on our house is Death of/by a thousand cuts (UsingEnglish.com) If something is suffering the death of a thousand ...
vynsane's user avatar
  • 4,045
95 votes

English equivalent of "brain turned into yogurt"

The idiom "brain turned into/to mush" seems to fit the bill. From Merriam-Webster: Definition of one's brain turns into/to mush —used to say that one is unable to think clearly or well I ...
typesanitizer's user avatar
94 votes
Accepted

Idiom for 'person who gets violent when drunk"

A "mean" drunk ...describes someone who gets aggressive when drink taken. Why People Get Mean When They're Drunk, According to LiveScience.com: There may be a mean drunk inside every man — ...
Cascabel_StandWithUkraine_'s user avatar
94 votes
Accepted

English equivalent of Vietnamese "Rather kill mistakenly than to miss an enemy."

Another English expression that may be on point here is shoot first; ask questions later. Martin Manser, The Facts on File Dictionary of Proverbs (2002) explains the sense of this proverb (which it ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 164k
94 votes

Is there any idiom meaning "do as you wish, but I warned you"?

The phrase "Don't say I didn't warn you" means exactly that, with all its implications.
DJClayworth's user avatar
93 votes

Word(s) to say if someone doesn't want one thing they surely don't want some second thing

The phrase I have typically seen used there is much less. I don't want to get out of bed, much less go to school. m-w.com says this phrase is: used especially in negative contexts to add to one ...
spoko's user avatar
  • 1,142
88 votes
Accepted

A person who has a hard time throwing away unnecessary things

The common term for this sort hoarder, one who hoards. Per the Oxford Dictionaries: hoard VERB [WITH OBJECT] Accumulate (money or valued objects) and hide or store away. ‘thousands of antiques ...
Roger Sinasohn's user avatar
86 votes

Term for Gift that Turns out to be a Burden

In fact, the English expression for a burdensome gift is literally white elephant: a thing that is useless and no longer needed, although it may have cost a lot of money [OALD] So-called white ...
choster's user avatar
  • 43.4k
84 votes

What is the equivalent of Persian idiom "When the reed blooms"?

When hell freezes over is one option, refering to the assumption that hell is an eternally hot and burning place.
Stephie's user avatar
  • 1,682
80 votes
Accepted

Is there any idiom meaning "do as you wish, but I warned you"?

Fairly informal, and rather cutting is That's/It's your funeral! something that you say that means that if someone suffers bad results from their actions, it will be that person's fault, not yours [...
Edwin Ashworth's user avatar
78 votes

Is there an English equivalent for the Persian proverb "to play with the tail of a lion"?

Playing with fire is similar. However, it implies only that the activity is highly dangerous (or foolish), but not necessary lethal. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/play_with_fire ...
ArchContrarian's user avatar
77 votes

How to degender "separate the men from the boys"?

I like the pair grown ups/kids or grown ups/children. Here’s an example from Oxford Learner’s Dictionary (go to “noun” and click on “More examples sentences”; emphasis mine): ‘In a festival where ...
Jacinto's user avatar
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77 votes

English equivalent for Polish phrase meaning doing something fast and poor quality

quick and dirty ADJECTIVE US informal Makeshift; done or produced hastily. ‘a quick and dirty synopsis of their work’ oxforddictionaries.com
GEdgar's user avatar
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76 votes
Accepted

Is there a widely-accepted opposite of "as the crow flies"?

By road would be a natural choice, as opposed to "in the air" implied by the crow. It even has a dictionary entry and example: by road In or on a road vehicle. Lying just inside the ...
Andrew Leach's user avatar
  • 102k
72 votes

Term for a type of relationship that two parties benefit from

A symbiotic relationship is one where each party provides benefits to the other that they cannot get on their own: b : characterized by or being a close, cooperative, or interdependent relationship ...
Hellion's user avatar
  • 59.4k
70 votes

Word(s) to say if someone doesn't want one thing they surely don't want some second thing

You can alternatively use the term never mind. According to Merriam-Webster never mind is defined as: used especially in negative contexts to add to one term another denoting something less likely; ...
Bensstats's user avatar
  • 1,047
69 votes

English equivalent for the Persian idiom "send someone out in pursuit of black chickpeas"

Wild Goose Chase a search that is completely unsuccessful and a waste of time because the person or thing being searched for does not exist or is somewhere else: Further reading: The first recorded ...
Skooba's user avatar
  • 3,907

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