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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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175 views

A variation to the phrase “hanging over my shoulders”

I couldn't find the exact definition of "hanging over someone's shoulders" online. I am not referring to the literal meaning, when, for example, you feel there is a ghost hanging over your shoulders. ...
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3answers
24 views

Why people say ‘a racehorse’ and ‘a racing car’?

A horse bred and trained for taking part in racing is termed a racehorse, while a car made for taking part in racing is called a racing car. Could anyone figure out any reason for this apparent ...
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3answers
53 views

Is there an idiom for a situation in which you get all the closed windows of your mind open?

I am stuck to express my feelings. I watched a video about business ideas and the speaker presented it so beautifully that I got so energized and it opened up so many new ideas to me. I am looking for ...
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1answer
26 views

What does mean “to get {somebody} {something}”

Could you say if I'm correct translating the following sentence: And I'd like to see about getting Harry some contacts. like And I'd like to see about providing Harry with some contacts. I'm ...
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0answers
29 views

How to talk with your one-year-old baby? [on hold]

This question is about English language daily conversations. What are the phrases and sentences you would say to your one-year-old children, or any toddler? How would you tell him to come where you ...
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3answers
41 views

An idiom/ idioms for a person who spends too much time on the cellphone?

Do we have any idioms for a person who spends too much time on the cellphone? As we call a person who watches television a lot, a couch potato, or a person who spends large amounts of leisure or ...
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2answers
38 views

What does “tippy top” mean here?

And except for those at the tippy top, shareholder value isn’t a meaningful goal that excites and engages them. I searched online dictionaries but I didn't find a good definition for"tippy top" ...
2
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1answer
50 views

To come to him in a breeze

Acording to the The Free Dictionary, the phrase in a breeze has this meaning: Easily; handily; without much or any effort. I thought the phrase could be used as this: The answer came to him in ...
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2answers
40 views

Looking for an idiom for saying, when a powerful person/entity moves, the effects will be noticed even far away

When talking about the actions of a powerful entity, I need an idiom to convey that the effects will be profound. The only one that is close to this that I can think of is "When a big tree falls, ...
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1answer
20 views

Is “in the hopes of” synonymous to “in the hope of”?

Why do sometimes people put an s after hope in the idiom "in the hopes of"? Is there a reason for this, or is it just a matter of "dumb" preference? I am asking, because I saw the idiom with an s and ...
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1answer
20 views

on a daily line

I'm having trouble understanding the meaning of these words at the end of the second chapter of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The narrator reflects on what Tom Sawyer has learned in manipulating all ...
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3answers
41 views

Is “by a many” the same thing as “by many”?

I found this on a The Guardian article: John ClareJohn Clare was steeped in nature. There is no literary sightseeing here: he writes from inside the landscape. “Young Lambs” could almost be a ...
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0answers
12 views

Take sth into account vs. take into account sth

Regarding the idiom "take into account", when is it appropriate to put something between "take" and "into", and when is it best to place something at the end of the idiom? For example, consider these ...
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3answers
35 views

Is there an idiom that expresses the convenience of something you need to happen happening without the idea of luck?

Let's say that there's a 80% odd of something happening and it happened. Is there an idiom that expresses the general idea of convenience of such thing happening in your favor? I don't think "by a ...
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2answers
33 views

I have a bit of Englishman in me

You would say 'I have a bit of the English in me' to say 'I have a bit of English 'blood/heritage/temperament.' Would the following be also used? I have a bit of Englishman in me.
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5answers
542 views

“On one hand” vs “on the one hand.”

I'm confused because I've seen both mentioned in dictionaries. Example sentence (context: writing a story): On (the) one hand, I want to wrap up everything perfectly. On the other hand, I want to ...
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2answers
141 views

What's the meaning of “mellow mama”?

What's the meaning of "mellow mama" in this description? I found this expression in a recipe book, but I don't understand what it means: Pulling from the inspiration of a green goddess dressing, ...
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1answer
20 views

What does “be not for turning” mean?

It is from this article. "But what about the money?" I press on. "Going by your declaration, it's going to take 10 years for you to earn the registration fee - let alone to pay it back." Yuriy's ...
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3answers
183 views

What are some idioms that means something along the lines of “switching it up every day to not do the same thing over and over”?

It doesn't have to mean exactly that by the way, but it should be concise, because I don't want to use something that would be a mouthful.
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1answer
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“Tomorrow might be difficult.” -> Is this sentence is natural for real?

I wonder the sentence "Tomorrow might be difficult." is natural. For meaning like this context : A : how about having dinner with me tomorrow? B : Tomorrow might be difficult. I have to do work. ...
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2answers
26 views

What does 'Can you tell us about a time you had to close a particularly challenging deal' mean?

I can't understand the meaning of had to close a deal. Does 'time' has other meaning in this sentence?
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2answers
46 views

Any idioms about “You never wake a people who pretend to be sleeping”

I would like to know, when you ask someone for something, but he ignore it all the time, and pretend he didn't know your request. Any idioms I can use? Thank you in advance.
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1answer
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Take a Chance VS Grab a Chance

When I looked for the meaning of "take a chance", it seems like it involves risks. Macmillan says: to do something even though it involves risk So I think it's similar to take a risk. Then ...
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4answers
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What does “don't have a baby” imply or mean in this sentence?

This is really, really confusing as the literal meaning of "don't have a baby" — being pregnant or give birth to a child — does not fit the context at all. My guesses are: Don't act like a baby, be ...
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2answers
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What does “smell the glove” mean in this article?

https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2015/03/04/smell-the-glove Smell the Glove. Handshaking may be a chemical as well as a social greeting GRIP firmly, maintain eye contact. ...
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3answers
3k views

What does the expression “Happy is as happy does” mean?

I just read an article in The Economist's China section (2019/02/16) with the subtitle "Happy is as happy is told to". Feeling confused, I googled about this expression, only to find a quite similar ...
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1answer
34 views

What does “get your account of events out there” mean?

Reputation building involves telling and retelling your story to get your account of events out there and to explain your downfall. Be consistent. Could you tell me please what's the meaning of "...
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1answer
32 views

I'm having trouble understanding why “go pear shaped” has the negative meaning

"Go pear shaped" (The plan isn't working / plan is going wrong) Might I trouble you for helping me to understand why/how "go pear shaped" has the meaning like that? Could it be British people ...
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1answer
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What does “above the law” mean in this context?

If I want to say about some corruptionists that the are out of law, meaning that they are defended by the law. If I say that they are above the law, does it mean that the laws are not for those people?...
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3answers
41 views

Is “would I could” idiomatic?

This excerpt came from The Confidence-Man (1857) from Herman Melville: Oh, the cripple. Poor fellow. I know him well. They found me. I have said all I could for him. I think I abated their distrust....
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2answers
37 views

What does the phrase “be X to Y” mean?

This comes from The Company Man from Herman Melville: "Have you no charity, friend?" here in self-subdued tones, singularly contrasted with his unsubdued person, said a Methodist minister, ...
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8answers
1k views

Pouring from empty to empty

How to translate to english from a foreign language an idiom that uses two different words that have the same meaning “empty”, to say “pouring from empty to empty”, which means if you pour something ...
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2answers
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Is "in order for [someone] to [verb]

I've written the sentence The samples are sent to a laboratory in order for scientists to analyse them. However, my teacher told me that the phrase "in order for [someone] to [verb]" is incorrect....
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3answers
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What does it mean? “She is the last person who you would have down as a cheat.”

I have seen this sentence on a newspaper. It is about a case in which a husband is worried about his wife cheating on him...". Here is sentence: "...I love her so much. I honestly thought she was ...
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1answer
35 views

What's the difference between “we've been getting the ball rolling” and “we've got the ball rolling”

The only difference I see is that "we've been getting the ball rolling" means that it has happened for a continuous time in the past, and "we've got the ball rolling" mean that the ball has rolled, ...
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6answers
2k views

We're waiting in a BIG or LONG queue?

What's the idiomatic adjective for the noun "queue"? I waited there in a very long queue. or I waited there in a very big queue. Or maybe something else?
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4answers
1k views

Is “Not even an inch” considered a correct phrase?

I found the idiom "not move/budge/change an inch" used when talking about something that won't change as someone's stubborn opinion. Example from Cambridge Dictionary: She's definite that she ...
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1answer
64 views

Is “one too many” too formal or too “proverbial”?

Imagine I had 3 cups of coffee. 2 would have been ok, but 3 is too many. I want to be factual that I had too many, by exactly one. I want to say: I had one too many cup of coffee. But I feel like ...
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1answer
45 views

“very well” in “I can't very well talk to you and concentrate on sanding this at the same time.”

What is the effect of "very well" in the phrase I can't very well talk to you and concentrate on sanding this at the same time.
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1answer
30 views

I will give you that vs I have to hand it to you

In the last episode of the Vikings, one of the characters said: You are smart. I will give you that. But would it not be more suitable "I have to hand it to you"? I thought that "I will give you ...
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2answers
93 views

Definiteness in the {container} of {contents} construction

Let’s imagine the following situation: my friend gave me yesterday books. I put them into a box. Now, I have noticed that we should name the box as the box of books that my friend gave me not as ...
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2answers
53 views

What does “pulling out one's fingernails” mean?

What is the meaning of "pulling out one's fingernails" Is the meaning of the expression similar to "pull teeth" or does it have a different nuance? Here is a sample sentence; It took ...
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1answer
828 views

What do these phrases in the game of cricket mean?

I like watching cricket. I hear phrases like: He played a great innings and brought his team home. He remained there till the end to ensure he sees his team home. And: He is in the form of ...
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1answer
36 views

Does “go at each other” “have a go at each other” mean the same thing?

I thought "go at each other" meant fight each other, but I am not sure, and I have been wondering if it's synonymous to "have a go at each other". I haven't been able to find anything on ...
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1answer
42 views

Meaning of “Working to a brief”

What does the following sentence mean: "I like not working to a brief"?
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0answers
12 views

'Make amends to her' or 'Make her amends'

Is it grammatical to use 'make one's amends' as a synonym for 'make amends to one'? Is the phrase in question old-fashioned?
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1answer
135 views

What is the meaning of “we must have missed you”?

I was missed from agenda list of minutes of meeting, hence I requested for including my name in the list. But the chairperson of the meeting replied saying "we must have missed you". I am confused? ...
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2answers
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ask for help in finding an idiom or expression

have you ever faced with this situation? You suggest people to do something but they reject it! after a while the other people suggest the same thing and they accept! can you tell me any expression or ...
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1answer
45 views

What does “go down on the price” mean?

See this conversation: B: This t.v is $2500. A: You can't be serious. B: That's how much this t.v costs. A: That's too expensive for me. B: This television is of very high ...
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1answer
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`Get into a flap` - is it correct?

I've found a lot of examples of expression "Get in a flap" but in my coursebook the expression is said with "into" instead of "in". Are those prepositions interchangeable or is that an error in the ...