164 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 ...
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  • 22.4k
89 votes

Why is "You’ve brought a knife to a gun fight" considered to be a mixed metaphor?

It's not a 'mixed-metaphor'. The knife/gun example doesn't fit the definition. I believe the author is simply mistaken. A mixed metaphor, as defined by the Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Curent English (...
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76 votes
Accepted

Is there a word or phrase for something that one might wish exists, but most certainly doesn't?

It's just a... pipe dream - an unattainable or fanciful hope or scheme Example usage from oxforddictionaries: free trade in international aviation will remain a pipe dream Origin: Late 19th century: ...
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74 votes
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Why is "You’ve brought a knife to a gun fight" considered to be a mixed metaphor?

To understand the mixed metaphor in this case, I believe you need to expand the scope of the article you are interested in (emphasis mine): If anything, you are underthinking this, perhaps ...
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  • 772
68 votes
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What does ‘If she’s a feminist, then I’m a T. Rex’ mean?

All that that is saying is that she is no feminist whatsoever, being just as much of a feminist as the columnist is a giant extinct dinosaur. That is, not at all.
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  • 128k
44 votes

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

In software development, this is sometimes colloquially referred to a "turd polishing". Here's a definition from Urban Dictionary you might find appropriate to your situation: An engineering term ...
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42 votes

What does ‘If she’s a feminist, then I’m a T. Rex’ mean?

It's usually best not to read too much into "If X is a Y then I'm a Z." constructions. It's merely an emphatic and humorous way of saying "X is not a Y." The more ridiculous Z is, the more emphatic ...
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  • 2,228
42 votes
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An idiomatic phrase meaning that you are aware of a coming change based on minor signals you've observed over time

The (hand)writing is on the wall dictionary.com a premonition, portent, or clear indication, especially of failure or disaster: The company had ignored the handwriting on the wall and was plunged ...
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  • 4,055
42 votes
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You have the watches, but we have the time

Several sources I've checked attribute this quote to an Afghan proverb. The meaning of the second part is clear: time is on our side. But what does the "watches" in the first part refer to? ...
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  • 610
34 votes
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What's the meaning of "wooden loaf", the famous expression used by Gandhi to define the Independence of India?

This is not a one off, nor is the meaning so simple. But it looks like Gandhi himself clarified what he meant when he said it. The London Review has different wording, with ladoos, an Indian pastry: ...
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  • 58.7k
33 votes
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What metaphor or phrase can describe an object that is aesthetically pleasing yet totally useless?

I would simply go with the word ornament. Decorative and serving no real purpose otherwise.
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29 votes

An idiomatic phrase meaning that you are aware of a coming change based on minor signals you've observed over time

You often hear people say "There is something in the air". Sometimes, there has been something in the air. It is an allusion to a dog sniffing the air, detecting the smell of something far away.
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  • 12.9k
29 votes

Antonym for "thimbleful"

A possibility is truckful. It starts with a T, and it has a similarity in its ending sound (though not fully rhyming). informal a very large amount of something Example: I had a thimble of ...
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26 votes
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Meaning of "with a hose-pipe on him"

A hose pipe would be connected to a bilge pump to allow sea water to be removed from the bilges of a ship and ejected into the sea. Since ships' hulls were (and still are) not water-tight, this had to ...
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  • 9,297
26 votes

Antonym for "thimbleful"

"I had a thimble of patience and the task required a tun." tun (plural tuns) A large cask; an oblong vessel bulging in the middle, like a pipe or puncheon, and girt with hoops; a wine cask....
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25 votes

What is the English version of the Vietnamese idiom "như cá nằm trên thớt" - "like a fish on cutting board"

I would say like a lamb led to slaughter is the closest in meaning. The lamb is symbolic for its innocence. It will follow you happily, not knowing you are taking it to die. So this idiom implies a ...
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  • 259
25 votes

Is there a word or phrase for something that one might wish exists, but most certainly doesn't?

My favourite: Pie in the sky "...an idea, thought or dream that is extremely unrealistic, even to the point where it begins to seem ludicrous."
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  • 611
24 votes

Metaphors similar to "Trojan Horse"

Fifth column (Wikipedia) comes to mind. A fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group—such as a nation or a besieged city—from within. The activities of a fifth column can be ...
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  • 29.6k
23 votes
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What's the metaphorical meaning of "Tone-deaf"?

Just as a literally tone-deaf person is unable to comprehend the differences between musical notes, a metaphorically tone-deaf person is unable to comprehend the different facets/nuances of a given ...
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  • 20.8k
23 votes

Single word for "pleasant to look at"

You could call it captivating. Merriam-Webster defines captivate as "to attract and hold the attention of (someone) by being interesting, pretty, etc."
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  • 11.6k
22 votes

What metaphor or phrase can describe an object that is aesthetically pleasing yet totally useless?

Consider ornament, which principally means: (n) a thing used to make something look more attractive but usually having no practical purpose From: New Oxford American Dictionary An object that's ...
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  • 4,048
22 votes

Is there a word or phrase for something that one might wish exists, but most certainly doesn't?

Fantasy The faculty or activity of imagining things, especially things that are impossible or improbable. the product of imagining impossible or improbable things. a fanciful mental ...
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  • 634
22 votes

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

putting a bandaid on a broken leg Emphasizes that the effort is well-intentioned but ill-conceived, as requested by original poster. eg: https://www.allenandunwin.com/browse/books/general-books/...
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  • 1,229
20 votes

A metaphor for "ricochet back"

Consider backfire, backlash, kickback, and payback. backfire: a miscalculation that recoils on its maker backlash: a strong negative reaction, as to some social or political change kickback: a sharp ...
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  • 42.6k
20 votes

Single word for "pleasant to look at"

If you need a word, this adjective is archaic and it is: eyesome - (archaic, often poetic) visually attractive. (MW) There are also less-archaic terms: sightly - Pleasing to see; visually ...
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  • 13.6k
19 votes

Single word for "pleasant to look at"

comely - pleasing in appearance; attractive; fair
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19 votes

What is the English version of the Vietnamese idiom "như cá nằm trên thớt" - "like a fish on cutting board"

The closest expression I can think of is have/put your head on the (chopping) block That is 'to risk a bad thing happening to you by doing something or helping someone.' Other animal-based ...
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  • 2,451
19 votes

An idiomatic phrase meaning that you are aware of a coming change based on minor signals you've observed over time

Assuming OP specifically wants an expression relating to hearing ground tremors, the most relevant idiomatic expression I can think of is... picked up rumblings That's an estimated 126 written ...
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