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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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It got too much for him

"He tried to be supportive, but it got too much for him." I was generating phrases using ChatGPT and it generated a phrase that doesn't sound idiomatic. When I questioned about this odd ...
Sayaman's user avatar
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5 votes
5 answers
2k views

Does the proverb "having your cake and eating it too" imply hypocrisy?

Does the phrase/proverb "having your cake and eating it too" imply hypocrisy? Does it have the same connotation as "Rules for thee, not for me"?
Max's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
68 views

'fight tooth and nail' - Can it be used for peaceful struggles?

According to Cambridge dictionary - fight tooth and nail: to try very hard to get something you want: Does this idiom suggest that there is violence (biting, scratching)? Can this expression be ...
James Mathai's user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
30 views

Is "fall by the wayside" a common idiom among native speakers? Do I use it correctly in the sentence below?

I've learned the idiom "fall by the wayside" and its meaning is useful. However, there are a lot of idioms that have useful meanings but fell by the wayside tens of years ago. English ...
An IELTS Learner's user avatar
-2 votes
1 answer
90 views

What is the history of "break a leg", why It is used in English?

I've heard a lot this idiom in movies. Why they use it or what is the history of using it. Break a leg
Helix Nebula's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
30 views

Why is there no 'that' before 'meets' in 'more than meets the eye'?

Like, it seems to be more grammatical to say, There's more to his personality than that meets the eye. By the way, since we see it with both our eyes, why is 'eye' in its singular form in the ...
Michael's user avatar
  • 3,488
0 votes
2 answers
50 views

Can I use "I'm on the clock" if I'm self-employed?

As I've checked from some sources, "on the clock" means "working" but some also added "getting paid for the amount of time they work." But I'm running my own business and ...
Phoebe's user avatar
  • 1,133
1 vote
0 answers
28 views

They may well regret the decision in years to come

They may well regret the decision in years to come. 'may well' could be replaced with 'may very well' in the sentence above? I see a lot 'may well' but don't see 'may very well'
gomadeng's user avatar
  • 4,602
1 vote
3 answers
67 views

What is the difference between ''on the loose'' and at large?

The reason why I am asking is that I did some research on the difference and what I found were two explanations that just don't tie in with one another. According to one school of thought, both idioms ...
Idk29's user avatar
  • 371
0 votes
0 answers
32 views

Have I used ''spin your wheels'' correctly?

When learning a language, language learners often feel like they are spinning their wheels as progress is so gradual that many think they are stuck and aren't improving at all. Is that a correct use ...
Idk29's user avatar
  • 371
2 votes
1 answer
49 views

What is "real men"?

Here is the quote from "A more beautiful question" by Warren Berger The genesis of many great start-ups is the simple question "Wouldn’t it be cool if?" W. helps you understand ...
leminh81's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
31 views

Meaning of "Would never have thought"

The Englishman had been profoundly impressed by the story. But he would never have thought it more than just a myth.. I could not understand what "would never have thought" means here. Is ...
cetinkaya's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
69 views

". . . the smile splitting her face"

(From A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe, Part II Cambridge Choir, chapter 17) (William's mother Evelyn is visiting her son, a chorister probationer, for the first time. They are having lunch in ...
philphil's user avatar
  • 1,511
-1 votes
4 answers
63 views

What is the meaning of "in the knee of somewhere"? Is it a common phrase in English?

I'm reading an article on Wikipedia and saw a sentence "Martigny-Ville in the knee of Valais". I understand every single word in this sentence, but just can't understand the whole sentence. ...
Columbia Rover's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
65 views

Difference between "play in defense", "play on defense" and "play defense"

two sentences from oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com: (1) (BrE): She plays in defence. (2) (AmE): She plays on defense. As far as I understood, (1) = (2). the explanation of "to play defense" ...
Loviii's user avatar
  • 4,953
3 votes
1 answer
412 views

"A pebble of disappointment plummets the length of him" [closed]

(From A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe, Part II Cambridge Choir, chapter 14) 'Where are we going?' 'Song room,' says Martin 'Not the chapel?' 'Choristers go there for evening practice and then ...
philphil's user avatar
  • 1,511
0 votes
1 answer
29 views

Why can't I find references to the idiom "silky drawers" online?

I am aware of the idiom Silk(y) drawers. Afaik it describes the place where someone keeps their underwear, describing a personal space. As an example, it is references on the Grease Soundtrack in the ...
user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
51 views

How does "head over heels" mean upside down?

How does "head over heels" mean upside down? I can't find its etymology in https://www.etymonline.com/word/head%20over%20heels. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heels%20over%20head ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 4,051
1 vote
0 answers
19 views

Is it okay not to use infinitive when referring to an idiom (or some other pharse)?

I saw a sentence in my textbook: I think the moral of the story is let the buyer beware. "Let the buyer beware" is an idiom, I wonder is it okay to insert it directly into the sentence ...
Nekomiya Kasane's user avatar
0 votes
2 answers
72 views

Globus or globus sensation vs. feeling a big throat

(From A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe, Part I, Aberfan, chapter 5) He fights the instinct to crumple the shirt in one fist behind his back . . . Everything he must do this day is about these ...
philphil's user avatar
  • 1,511
0 votes
1 answer
105 views

In for a penny, in for a pound

I don't get to understand the following expression "in for a penny, in for a pound" that appears in the book "The spectacles, Simone Lee Green". This is the fragment of text: She ...
ben_mb's user avatar
  • 117
2 votes
1 answer
104 views

What does "Spin away" mean?

I was reading High Fidelity by Nick Hornby when I came across this: "What sort of time, after all, could make a thirteen-year-old boy spin away from a girl and toward a playground," I can't ...
sina's user avatar
  • 25
2 votes
1 answer
59 views

Should you say "mistake a deer as a horse" or "mistake a deer for a horse"?

That is to say, somebody saw a deer and thought it was a horse, as in the phrase "horse deer" in Japanese: 馬鹿, ばか to mean a fool or idiot: The complete usage is: It is "horse" vs &...
Stefanie Gauss's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
52 views

Could you give some examples where the part following "nothing but" is omitted?

M-W says anything but idiom : not at all He looked anything but happy. **Though he said he was happy, he looked anything but.** This problem is anything but new. Is the highlighted example actually ...
Tim's user avatar
  • 4,051
2 votes
1 answer
130 views

What does it mean "to have your feet on backwards"?

I came across the following saying: The people who use this tool have their feet on backwards. That way they think they are walking forward, but are really walking backward. What is the meaning of &...
Vitalizzare's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
52 views

Difference between "at the drop of a hat" and "in no time"

Are there any differences in the meaning of or when we use the idioms 'at the drop of a hat' and 'in no time'? The definitions in the Collins Dictionary are: at the drop of a hat: If you say that you ...
Mohamad Mohseni Ahuii's user avatar
-2 votes
1 answer
102 views

What does "I think the night hits in the post" mean? [closed]

I think the knight hits in the post Link (last sentence of the video)
Kaveh Behnia 's user avatar
20 votes
3 answers
4k views

Why "having something UP one's sleeve," not "having something IN one's sleeve"?

I learned a new idiom: "having something up one's sleeve," which means to have secret plans or ideas. This idiom is from the practice of magicians hiding tricks or gimmicks IN the sleeve, ...
rei727's user avatar
  • 313
0 votes
2 answers
70 views

"I've been to see the manager" -- meaning of "been to see"

What does "been to see" in this excerpt from a listening test mean? Tutor: Hello Sam, come in and sit down ... Sam: Thanks. Tutor: You’re here to discuss your company-based IT project aren’...
hhhh's user avatar
  • 196
3 votes
3 answers
2k views

Allow troops to "shoot the hostages free"?

I get stuck (and shocked) by the expression 'shoot the hostages free', in the following context from Never Split the Difference: But until the Nixon administration, hostage negotiating as a process ...
Lerner Zhang's user avatar
  • 3,581
-1 votes
1 answer
62 views

What is the exact meaning of "cut into" in "I just cut into him" from the movie Sting?

What is the exact meaning of "cut into" in "I just cut into him" from the movie Sting? Here is the excerpt. Luther. Good God! We're millionaires. Jesus! Did you know he was that ...
user1026669's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
101 views

What is the meaning of 'run with' in "I wouldn't run with that nickname."?

I am watching the "Emily in Paris" Season 3, Episode 7. What is the meaning of 'run with' in "I wouldn't run with that nickname."? The following is an excerpt. Gabriel: Bonjour, ...
user1026669's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
18 views

"Have those off you" in context of an item/sale - does it imply free or purchased?

I was having a discussion with my wife, and I mentioned "X has already stated he will have X off us", in context of a batch purchase/subscription purchase. I have grown up used to that ...
user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
4k views

What Does 'It's on' Mean When Used in Anger?

I often hear the phrase "It's on" in conversations, particularly in situations filled with anger or confrontation. Could someone explain what this phrase means in such contexts? Is it always ...
Iman Mohammadi's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
903 views

Her memory is like an elephant's (memory)

A grammar book for Japanese high school students gives the following example sentence: Her memory is like an elephant's (memory). Question: Is "Somebody's memory is like an elephant's" an ...
Kaguyahime's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
45 views

The workers balloted for a strike

The workers balloted for a strike. Does thhis sentence mean The workers — balloted to decide on whether to go on a strike or not, balloted and the result was to go on a strike (approved of a strike)...
gomadeng's user avatar
  • 4,602
0 votes
2 answers
70 views

Why does "depth" have to be in its plural form in these sentences?

Why is there an "s" after the word "depth" in these sentences? Is it grammatically wrong if I remove the "s"? Alvin can dive to ocean depths of 20,000 feet. (For ...
hhhh's user avatar
  • 196
1 vote
2 answers
575 views

Climbing without moving, how do you say that?

Climbing without moving, how do you say that? Running without moving on a treadmil would be running in place, but climbing on a sort of treadmill would be climbing in place? Is that an idiom, or there'...
Sayaman's user avatar
  • 13.6k
1 vote
2 answers
118 views

What's meant by ". . . he went the pace extraordinary"? (go the pace ?)

(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter XX, published 1892) Passage 319 But before he was out of long clothes, the cloven foot began to show; he proved to be no ...
philphil's user avatar
  • 1,511
1 vote
2 answers
190 views

Politicians talk too much

There's this sentence : "some people think Chicago's nickname is from politicians who talk too much I need to know what is the meaning of politicians talk too much And why politicians?
Afaq Nafar's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
56 views

What does "You need to keep your brain at the top of its game" mean?

When you’re on a complex task, keep your brain at the top of its game: dump all important stuff on paper. I don't know what it means (I searched in many different english dictionaries). Translator ...
Тимофей Главицкий's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
210 views

How does it really feel when people say "thank you for your patience" to their clients in English? [closed]

Yesterday I invited a client twice. For the first appointment I made, the client met with me but we could not complete our task due to lack of preparation. So the client left and I made the second ...
Stats Cruncher's user avatar
-2 votes
1 answer
98 views

pinch out vs. peter out [closed]

I would like to know what phrasing is the correct geological technical term for a lode or ore vein that grows narrower and narrower till it narrows down to nothing - is it pinch out or peter out? (...
philphil's user avatar
  • 1,511
1 vote
1 answer
105 views

The lead has pinched right out

(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter XVI, published 1892) Passage 251 “This is the end of me commercially. I give up; my nerve is gone. I suppose I ought to be glad;...
philphil's user avatar
  • 1,511
6 votes
4 answers
1k views

Meaning of "That was a home word of Pinkerton's"

(From The Wrecker by Robert Louis Stevenson and Lloyd Osbourne, Chapter XV, published 1892) Passage 232 THE CARGO OF THE “FLYING SCUD.” In my early days I was a man, the most wedded to his idols of ...
philphil's user avatar
  • 1,511
0 votes
1 answer
39 views

Does "race against" mean "sail"?

High clouds raced against the sky American chapters, The storm, Greta Gorsuch Does "race against" mean "sail" in this context?
ben_mb's user avatar
  • 117
-2 votes
1 answer
85 views

What does "rogue for faith" mean?

It's definitely some kind of an idiom. But i haven't clue what does "rogue for faith" mean. Sry for the lack of additional information. Yes it's from Barry Lyndon. And it was pronounced ...
Strider1996's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
74 views

What does "pleasant rattle of a man" mean?

I've just watched Barry Lyndon. At the beginning Barry asked Nora if she was obliged to dance with another man and she responded: "He dances prettily, to be sure, and is a pleasant rattle of a ...
Strider1996's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
66 views

Does "on" mean "ready"?

Cecilia cut it into small, soft pieces. She piled the chicken onto the sandwiches and then put the sandwiches on the plates. Andrew Jr. called out, "Lunch is on!"
ben_mb's user avatar
  • 117
1 vote
1 answer
58 views

Meaning of the phrase "strike a bonanza"

Just as a tribe might occasionally strike a bonanza in the game of primitive warfare, sometimes a state might do the same, given the opportunities offered an Alexander the Great or a Hernan Cortes. ...
Dmitry's user avatar
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