Questions tagged [idioms]

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
16 views

Proper use of “would rather… than” in this sentence

I want to use "would rather... than" to show a comparison like this: I'd rather buy Phone-1 than buy Phone-2. I learned about it from Oxford Dictionary: would rather… (than) - (usually ...
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1answer
19 views

“He was swindled with the promise of…”

Let's say someone took someone's money or property promising them something in return, but they swindled them. What is the correct collocation to use with "swindle" if we want to say what ...
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1answer
39 views

What does 'to come over one's hoot' mean?

I came across the phrase 'to come over one's hoot' several times while watching a British TV series and I can't get the meaning of it from any definition of 'hoot'. The context was like this: A and B ...
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2answers
214 views

To pick at the scab - Is this a proper idiom

I couldn't find this particular idiom "to pick at the scab" in any of the famous dictionaries online like Cambridge or Macmillan. I could only find it on Urban Dictionary That makes me ...
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1answer
22 views

Incorrect usage of “projecting guilt”

Trump projected his guilt onto Hillary Clinton because he knew he committed a crime. John projected his guilt and accused Janet of having committed the crime he committed. You can't project guilt ...
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0answers
25 views

An app for learning phrases and idioms [migrated]

Does anyone know a tool that will help you learn English phrases and idioms using the following techniques: The phrases/idioms should be ordered by how frequently they're used in speech or writing - ...
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1answer
51 views

What is the plural of “hell of a *”?

I can't find any reference to a plural form of "hell of a *". Some say this does not exist because "hell of A " means "A remarkable x among all x" But what if the noun is ...
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3answers
58 views

Does the sentence “They will work just fine” means that things will work “good enough” or “perfectly well”?

I'm not a native speaker. A customer asked me whether a product would work for her, and I answered that it would work just fine. I was trying to say that the product would work perfectly well for her, ...
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1answer
28 views

Usage of compound adjectives with past participles

I often see native English speakers using compound adjectives with past participles to describe traits of animals in books and journal articles. For example: 1.1: Reptiles are cold-blooded creatures. ...
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1answer
23 views

Keep someone hanging

I know that the proper idiom is 'to leave someone hanging' but can one use 'to keep someone hanging' in certain contexts. Like, does this example sound correct- "You've kept us hanging for a ...
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1answer
48 views

Meaning of “having a high game” [closed]

I know that there is an idiom "being at the top of their game". I wanted to know if this sentence makes any sense-Everybody here has a high emoji game. It's referring to people on a certain ...
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2answers
26 views

What does “to have cowslips between ears”? mean?

The story is simple - girls are trying to pair her friend Isabel with a handsome lord. Isabel is not so happy about that. But what does it mean "have cowslips between their ears"? Suppose, ...
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0answers
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<take medication/ a medication/medications> and <take medicine/a medicine/medicines>

I am wondering if all of the phrases below can be used depending on the context. "take medication/medicine" sounds more natural to me. I am not sure if the others can be idiomatic. take ...
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0answers
21 views

How to use let alone?

This is what I've got from Oxford dictionary: let alone used after a statement to emphasize that because the first thing is not true or possible, the next thing cannot be true or possible either Let'...
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1answer
9 views

By the way (can be) = By any chance?

According to this site, by any chance is usually used in a question, whereas by the way is usually used to start a casual conversation, but there's an example shows it can be used in a question. About ...
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1answer
24 views

Does this phrase makes sense? 'makes my day complete'

This made my day complete. I want to say that something was the highlight of my day. Do native speakers use this phrase? is it good English? I know they use another phrase which is 'You made my day' ...
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1answer
10 views

“Make a contact with” and “make a call to”

Between Make a contact with... and make a call to..., is there a difference? Suppose I want to phone my friend (Lisa). Are these sentences below correct? I want to make a contact with Lisa. I want to ...
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1answer
25 views

Is it “I was assigned to a task” or “the task was assigned to me”?

Which of the following is correct and why? I was assigned the task I was assigned to the task The task was assigned to me I hope the first and the third ones are correct but I'm doubtful about 2. Is ...
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2answers
90 views

what does “painted” mean in these contexts, exactly?

Aren't you bitter about Amy? I thought she was the one who ditched you. All women are painted satans. So why should I even care? What does "painted" mean in this context? Is the speaker ...
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1answer
29 views

dumb down - “to lower the general level of intelligence in”?

I looked up an idiom in Merriam-webster. But I couldn't understand why the sentence ends without anything after a preposition "in". Doesn't it need "something" after "in"?...
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0answers
16 views

not the least of sth (is this a widely used expression or idiom? not the least of sth?

This is true for several reasons , not the least of which is the fact that Massachusetts had the highest ratio of bodily injury claims to the number of accidents in the United States. 'not the least ...
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1answer
90 views

Idiom request for help

What Idiom can we use in this circumstance? I ask someone for a little help but I get more than what I anticipate. Thanks
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1answer
11 views

(Feel / send) (shivers / a shiver) down one's spine

According to the Cambridge Dictionary definition the phrase "shiver down your spine means: a frightened or excited feeling: At its most terrifying, his writing sends shivers down my spine. ...
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1answer
15 views

What is it about

What is it about people who want to clone dogs? (Reference) I'd like to know if "What is it about" is an idiom. I can't understand what "it" refers to.
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2answers
53 views

“Sacred cow” idiom explanation

There's an idiom in the English language called "Sacred cow" which means 'immunity from criticism or opposition'. I am not sure about the proper use of it in the contexts like these: "...
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23 views

The meaning of idiom: to hay with them

I find this sentence on a mobile game Kids, we need to talk. Never mind my childhood memories, to hay with them. But all of this is going to lose us money! What's the meaning of "to hay with ...
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0answers
21 views

take too nicely with

Squidward doesn't take too nicely with SpongeBob until he tells Squidward of the millions of tiny TV people watching. https://blaze-and-the-monster-machines.fandom.com/wiki/User_blog:Puppylove1257/...
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1answer
37 views

Columnists sometimes lay an egg, but Martin has laid an ostrich omelette. (why means 'fail'?)

Columnists sometimes lay an egg, but Martin has laid an ostrich omelette. Q1. why 'lay an egg' means 'fail'? Q2. what's the meaning of 'lay an ostrich omelette'?
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1answer
35 views

What does the phrase “flipping a bucket over” mean here?

Please help me figure out the meaning of the phrase "flipping a bucket over" in the following sentence from the description (not available online) of the game Taiko no Tatsujin Pop Tap Beat: ...
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2answers
97 views

What happened to the missing object or objects in “for us to define as we see fit”?

Reading through this paragraph, I wonder why the object to see is missing from as we see fit, even though the interpretation remains natural and smooth without it: In 1783, Goethe wrote, “Nature is ...
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12answers
2k views

Idiom that means “to do something that yields no result” [closed]

Is there an idiom that means “to do something that yields no result?” I don’t know if the idiom “to carry water to fill up a dry well” exists in English.
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1answer
17 views

"hit the big time” vs “make the big time”

Are there any differences in the meaning of or when we use the idioms 'hit the big time' and 'make the big time'? The definitions in the Cambridge Dictionary are: She finally hit the big time (= ...
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8answers
3k views

English equivalent of the Russian idiom “притянуть за уши” + opposite of “to abbreviate”

I have encountered a couple of problems regarding the proper translation from the Russian language into English. Here are 2 cases: There's an idiom that literally translates as "pull the ears&...
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1answer
18 views

run/go hell for leather (informal not polite to run as fast as possible)

run/go hell for leather informal not polite to run as fast as possible https://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/run-go-hell-for-leather Any people know why 'leather' stands here? run(we know it's action ...
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1answer
31 views

What does the phrase “play a bluff” mean here?

Please help me figure out the meaning of the phrase "play a bluff" in the following sentence from the description of the game Golazo: You can play a bluff to deceive your opponent and show ...
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2answers
28 views

Is this expression natural in self-introduction?

I found this English example conversation in a textbook for Japanese learners of English: A: Hi, my name is xxx. What’s yours? B: Mine is xxx... I’m okay with “What’s yours?”, but in this situation,...
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22 views

Squeeze something out of a state

He squeezed it out of its inflated form by squeezing the balloon too hard. Is this idiomatic? I couldn't find any similar sentence, so I have no idea if this is a good usage, or if there's a better ...
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1answer
15 views

What does the phrase “flip out” mean here?

I am wondering if the phrase "flip out" is used in an idiomatic sense in the following sentence (used as a title) from the description of the game Infinity Pinball: Flip out and go retro In ...
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1answer
68 views

A humorous response to a 'good old days' sentiment

If someone paints an excessively rosy picture of the past, what are some possible sarcastic or humorous responses in English? In my native language I could say something like 'sure, and the grass ...
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1answer
58 views

Uncountable nouns and pronouns

I'd like ask you about uncountable nouns and their pronouns. ①When we refer to two uncountable nouns as pronouns, can we use "them"? ②If so, why is "it" used in this second ...
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0answers
23 views

burn the midnight oil [doing something entertaining]

Can we burn the midnight oil doing something entertaining? Is the following natural? John is burning the midnight oil playing video games.
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1answer
13 views

Meaning of Off The Heels Of

The following sentence is a news report of the Hill. Greene is facing blowback from Democrats off the heels of a Washington Post report that she harassed Ocasio-Cortez on Wednesday and shouted at her ...
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2answers
24 views

broke at the seams?

Does broke at the seams means destroy completely? I couldn't find a definition for it, so I was hoping someone would enlighten me. He broke his hope at the seams and now he's a desperate man.
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2answers
28 views

“A person who always pays their debts late” VS “Someone who always pays their debts on time”

I was wondering if there is any word / idiom / expression to define someone who borrows money from relatives and friends and pays them always late. I know the words: Deadbeat Welcher But they tend ...
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1answer
35 views

“Occupy one's mind” vs “Preoccupy someone” vs “Prey on one's mind”

Imagine something gets so important to you that takes up your mind and occupies your thoughts in the manner that you constantly think about it. A) Ana, what James told me at the party last night has .....
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2answers
162 views

Is “bleed in a red” idiomatic?

Is "bleed in a red" idiomatic? His body bled in a bright red before losing consciousness due to blood loss. I almost find no instance of such a usage. Is this unidiomatic? I am pretty sure ...
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1answer
24 views

Using “in” in “Follow in someone's footsteps”

Is it necessary to use "in" in this idiom? Follow in someone's footsteps.
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2answers
36 views

“What goes around comes around” and its phrasal verbs

The phrase What goes around comes around means the someone's behaviour towards other people will amount to their behavior towards this man or woman (akin to the Karma principle or the Bible you reap ...
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1answer
28 views

What's the meaning of this Idiom? “Slippery Slope” [closed]

She realized he was on the slippery slope towards a life of crime. Help me to figure out the meaning of that Idiom. Some other example can help me most.
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2answers
60 views

What is the meaning of “on the cusp of being under 30”?

I came across this dialogue between two members on here: A: Are you under 30? [...] B: I'm just on the cusp of being under 30 so [...] This got me confused because it's unclear if the person is ...

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