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Use the idiom tag for questions which a dictionary cannot answer about set phrases with unusual meanings that can't be properly understood just from the separate words in them.

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1answer
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stick it up your a**

Is there a reason why, we use "up" and not "in". I always thought it wasn't intuitive to use "up", is there a semantic reason, or is it "cultural" or "historical"? Can someone explain, so that a non-...
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1answer
32 views

What does but mean in the phrase “If they but knew it”

Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see ...
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13answers
2k views

How to idiomatically suggest someone should live the day and forget about tomorrow?

In Arabic, we literally say: Give me life today, and kill me tomorrow. We use it to say we should only care about the present time and forget about the future. For example, when my mother advises ...
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2answers
98 views

Correct use of “kick [some/ somebody's] ass” [closed]

Construction of sentences with the usage of the idiom may appear to be vulgar. To punish or defeat somebody IS to kick some or somebody's 'ass. Can the idiom be used to express punishment for any ...
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0answers
33 views

What is the meaning of “can't helpful wondering about” clearly?

I have came across with the following marked sentence and couldn't understand clearly. Is it correct sentence? Could you interpret it? Its meaning is able to be "ı can't hold myself"? ~ ...
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2answers
32 views

“Call on somebody” vs “call out on somebody”

Are the two different? Example sentence: Mary cheated on her exam. If her teachers called (out) on her, she'd just deny everything. Note: I found the usage in some dictionaries: https://idioms....
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1answer
27 views

“back me up on it” or “back me up this”?

Tell me please which word it is correct to use in the following sentence and why. I think we should watch that movie, and I hope you back me up on it/this.
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1answer
32 views

Poor aesthetic judgement

Is there a way to say that someone has a very poor aesthetic judgement? For example, you go to a house and you think everything is tacky or just ugly. How can you call the owner of the house? I tend ...
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1answer
22 views

A specific way of asking for a meeting?

Can one say "... if you(I) could see me(you) on Friday..." while requesting a meeting?
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1answer
55 views

When we can say “I am begin” [closed]

It's known that we can't say "I am begin" in English because it's gramitically wrong but someone told me that there are some cases where we can use it can anyone tell me what is this cases?
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1answer
32 views

Euphemism/idiom for “… and his friends”

In Spanish, you can say: "Pedro y compañía" (Pedro and company). Which is the same as saying "Pedro and his friends (who always hang out with him)." Is there something similar in English? Note: I ...
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2answers
40 views

Usage of “Go back on your words”

Student to his teacher: "I want to re-test the Maths exam !" Teacher whispered to the Student: " I advise you to go back on your words." Np. Actually the Student got full mark in the Exam. ( ...
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1answer
41 views

“Take more, throw further” - an idiom about a dumb work

There is a saying in Russian, which could be translated as: Take more, throw further, take a rest while it flies Initially, it was applied to a manual digging with a shovel to demonstrate that ...
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1answer
32 views

Life is a healthy respect for mother nature laced with greed

I read such a quote from command line utility fortune $ fortune Life is a healthy respect for mother nature laced with greed. Does that sentence mean that we are greedy to live long?
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1answer
24 views

meaning of 'eat your way to health' [closed]

I read the phrase 'you should be able to eat your way to a healthy hearth' and I don't get the meaning of this. What is the meaning of 'eat your way to health'?
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3answers
24 views

Phrase that means: “it's very [someone] style”?

Example sentence: She suggested we go to an underground rock bar. That __ her. I few options I can think of: "... very becoming of her" and "... was very her." Are these valid options? Or there's ...
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1answer
35 views

“people who puts … their mouth is” vs “people who put … their mouths are”

So you'd say you’re one of those people who puts their money where their mouth is? (http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/language/theenglishwespeak/2012/06/...
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0answers
33 views

If it's ''not your cup of tea'' it's not your cup of tea(idioms usage if can be adjusted)

I've learned from native speakers that you have to pay close attention to how idioms are constructed, meaning they are fixed and one shouldn't change it especially articles and so on. Furthermore, ...
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1answer
27 views

What does 'common twitch' stand for in this statement?

I would like to get to know what the meaning of common twitch is here? Because giving into old temptation is like that common twitch.
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0answers
24 views

On the contract of something

Here is the sentence : The Set interface places additional stipulations, beyond those inherited from the Collection interface, on the contracts of all constructors and on the contracts of the add, ...
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2answers
107 views

to judge something on its own merits

I have looked it up but I am confused because I couldn't discern its meaning. For example Longman Dictionary says : to judge something only on what you see when you look at it rather than on what ...
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1answer
63 views

Meaning of “that's track”

Someone asked a guy about something and I think the answer would be true or false, or yes or no, but the guy said, "That's track." What does it mean?
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1answer
47 views

Idiom for needing to focus on something

Is there an idiom or a phrase people use at work one needs to fully focus on a specific task? Thought I've heard it at work before, but can't think of it right this second..
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1answer
27 views

Idioms- can the one in concern have a literal meaning?

I took a fall and injured myself. Can the phrase ever be used to describe literal falls? I know it has a meaning in boxing, but what I'm asking is if you fell and..let's say you broke your knee, ...
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2answers
24 views

one who says whatever men does is right / men can do this but not women

Similar to Male chauvinist (one who thinks men is superior), what is the word for a person who says, "Men can do this but not women" or "whatever a male does is correct"
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1answer
30 views

Sweep, sweep up, sweep out

Can you sweep up only objects or places too? And what about sweep out- what's the difference between sweep out and sweep up? Somebody's going to have to sweep up (/out?) all these shards here ...
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1answer
55 views

What does it mean by “reach for a banana”?

In this video one of the panel said "he is reaching for a banana" after seeing the robot got down on the desk. I thought this would be an idiom or some phrase that would be found in the urban ...
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1answer
47 views

Exceptions to the fixed word order in some idiomatic pairs

As I was taught, the word order in idiomatic pairs is fixed and should be remembered once and for all. So, the position of the words in an idiom pair can't be reversed, and you cannot say (and a ...
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3answers
113 views

Bring forward vs. put forward a proposal

As for the topic of proposal, what is the difference between United Nations must bring forward a proposal to denuclearize South Korea to secure World peace. and United Nations must put forward ...
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1answer
77 views

What does “I'm not sure if I agree.” mean?

I, as a non-native speaker, used the sentence "I'm not sure if I agree." thinking it means that I have a level of uncertainty about where I stand, and apart from that I can lean anywhere, I can even ...
0
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1answer
206 views

meaning of “I won't let you down” in songs [closed]

I want to know the meaning and also the feeling that is transmitted by the sentence "I won't let you down" in songs. thank you in anticipation
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2answers
38 views

Looking for an expression or idiom for a weak person who can be easily bullied or intimidated

In my native language we have this expression for a weak person - " a low fence " implying that anybody can jump over it. Is there a similar expression or idiom in meaning in English for this type of ...
4
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1answer
52 views

Can 'fair enough' be used in the literal sense?

I checked similar questions regarding 'fair enough' phrase, it appears that the most frequently used meaning is an agreement with possible reluctance, this corresponds to my understanding of it. In ...
4
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2answers
190 views

Idioms with pull [closed]

When I read definition of 3 idioms with word pull they seem similar to me. The idioms are: pull someone’s leg, pull a fast one, pull the wool over your eyes. What is the difference in meaning ...
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2answers
57 views

“… he wouldn't come close.” What does it mean?

I feel resentful, especially since it's the man who bring in the money; and even if Bill were the school principal, he wouldn't come close. ● Read more here: I found this via Glenn Sacks. (June 17, ...
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1answer
70 views

Pulling teeth vs Pulling nails

So, my friend said "getting a compliment out of X is like pulling teeth". Somehow I always remembered that expression as "pulling nails with a plier". He pointed that the expression doesn't exists. So ...
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1answer
26 views

“Hold accountable” or “Be charged”?

Can I use the idiom "Hold accountable" without putting someone's name as is required before the word accountable, like instead of this: hold someone accountable (for something), it would be like this: ...
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1answer
36 views

What's the meaning of “what a shock that must have been to her”?

If so, what a shock that must have been to her. "What a/an X" is an exclamation. "must" refers to a necessity. But what's the meaning of the sentence(like sentence above) that combines them together?...
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1answer
37 views

That speaks volumes to me

What does That speaks volumes to me mean? Could you elaborate it in terms of feelings please? For example in a context: This quote speaks volumes to me My guesses are the following but I am ...
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1answer
171 views

from both ends of the spectrum

Let's say you have a girlfriend. As the saying goes, opposites attract, and you want to use this idiom regarding your huge difference from each other: "We are like from both ends of the spectrum, ...
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1answer
32 views

A phrase for “using a word repeatedly”

We all have some phrases which we repeat too much in our conversations. What do we call it when someone uses a word or a sentence again and again?
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1answer
2k views

Going up in smoke vs. going up in flames

The idioms "to go up in smoke" and "to go up in flames" are very similar. They both mean burning and getting destroyed by fire. But if we use them to talk about failure, aren't there any nuances to ...
0
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1answer
47 views

“Where can I download music for free?” Is “for” a preposition or idiom there?

I read on newspaper. In this sentence: "Where can I download music for free?" is "for" a preposition? If "for" is a preposition, "free" couldn't be a adverb or adjective.
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1answer
40 views

Can “faze out” mean “lose focus”?

Yesterday I was playing a board game with a friend and got lost in thought so much I didn't notice it was my turn. "Sorry, I fazed out", I mumbled, and moved my piece. Did I use "phaze out" in the ...
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1answer
28 views

Is “the tough get going” grammatically wrong?

I see an idiom: “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Is there a reason why get in “the tough get going” doesn’t have s?
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0answers
22 views

Replacing the noun in a fixed phrase for it/ the

I need a help with my poor translation of a quote from my native tongue: Instead of keeping both feet on the ground you can sometimes lie down on the ground. I can't stand the word ground ...
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2answers
83 views

What is “fatal facility”?

In this short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald there is a sentence: It was like in the beginning fifteen years ago when they said he had "fatal facility", and he labored like a slave over every ...
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1answer
42 views

I'm all in to <verb> vs. I'm all in ~ing

I know there is an idiom 'be in' to describe someone is totally immersed in something, but I've never seen the usage where that 'something' is described along with the idiom 'be in'. For example, is ...
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8answers
1k views

Idiom - eliminating criminal's associates

Imagine the following situation. A criminal committed a crime (for example a robbery) with several associates. Then he found out that his associates may have been investigated and arrested and they ...
0
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1answer
95 views

What does “silent rights” and “sound rights” mean?

Scott Fizgerald's short story "Afternoon of an Author" mentions "silent rights" and "sound rights" in regards to copyright. Anyhow he had no more equity in that property — he had sold the silent ...