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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15 views

can we say “to wrestle/throw someone over”?

"To push/knock someone over" means "​to make somebody/something fall to the ground by pushing/hitting them" Sam pushed me over in the playground. Similarly, can we say "to wrestle/throw ...
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Is it idiomatic to say “the goal is to serve as”?

A post says The goal of this post is to serve as a nice introduction to ... which appears to use a pattern "the goal is to serve as". With the meaning of "an aim or purpose", Cambridge Dictionary ...
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What is the idiomatic way to express “The man is supporting himself by placing his palm against the wall”?

Look at this picture "The man is standing and supporting himself by placing his palm against the wall" Do we say "He is standing with his palm against the wall"? or is there any idiomatic way to say ...
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1answer
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¨be given out¨ meaning

The cricketer was given out leg before wicket. What is the meaning of the idiom ¨ be given out¨ in the sentence above?
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Using “It's about time” in Future

I've been trying to use the idiom "it's about time" followed by a situation that might occur in the future. For example, "It's about time my parents find out about my felonies and throw me out of the ...
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The American English learning counterpart of 'Cambridge English in Use'

I am seeking help on searching resources for learning American English collocations, phrasal verbs, idioms, and pronunciation skills. For work-related reasons I am seeking exclusively resources on ...
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1answer
23 views

A quiet man with quiet ways

could you, please, help me to understand what kind of person is "a quiet man with quiet ways"? May it be, that this man is quiet and self-collected? Here is the context: "A quiet man with quiet ...
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Meaning of “the awesome sweep of the scenery”?

What's the meaning of this statement: "the awesome sweep of the scenery"? I know meaning of awesome, sweep, scenery but I can't understand this sentence at all! Is it an idiom?
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1answer
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Is it appropriate to use “pre-covid” in a formal situation when talking about COVID-19?

I found people use "pre-covid" to refer to the days before COVID-19 spreads. Of course, it makes sense. The question is whether it is appropriate to use the term in a formal situation, something like ...
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Is it idiomatic to say “**nice** answer”?

In one of my posts (Are "found" and "discovered" interchangeable in context?) I said In my review queue, I received a nice answer I guess different people have different ...
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Do you have an idiom that is similar to this “You don't scare / cry if you don't see the coffin”

This is literally translated from Vietnamese "You don't scare / cry if you don't see the coffin" which roughly means you underestimate things that are actually dangerous. For example, young people ...
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What is the idiom in English which express “you only started to do things when it already happened, there was no preparation”?

What is the idiom in English which express "you only started to do things when it already happened, there was no preparation"? For example, America only started to make more masks and ventilators ...
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1answer
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How to learn to speak idiomatically?

As a non-native speaker, I struggle a lot to come up with quick responses that sound idiomatic. It sucks because it also means it's harder to express some thoughts in fast-paced situations like ...
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Is it idiomatic “She is sitting with her hand / hands under the chin / the temple / the cheek”, etc?

Look at these pictures & Is it idiomatic to say: 1- "She is sitting with her hand under the temple / chick" or "She is sitting with her temple / cheek on the hand" 2- "He is sitting with his ...
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1answer
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What does “wear a different aspect” mean?

Look at the following excerpt of THE DESCENT OF MAN by Charles Darwin: During many years I collected notes on the origin or descent of man, without any intention of publishing on the subject . ....
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How to express “Please don't put the clean stuff where the dirty stuff is put”?

I have a clothes rack that is used to hang dirty cleaning cloth (see the picture) Today my child hung my Tshirt on / from the rack (not sure "on or from"). What should I say to him? "Please don't ...
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What are the rules of “on me” in sentences like “You fell asleep on me?”

There are some phrases I have heard, such as "Don't sleep on him" meaning don't disregard/neglect him EX: Billy might have been the best kickball player last week, but don't sleep on Jimmy. (gives ...
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1answer
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Can “headfirst” be used in a positive sense?

Can I use head first, head-first or headfirst in a positive sense in a sentence like: He's not affraid of anything. He delved head first into his own bussiness. Thanks!
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Meaning of “Who should I say is calling?” + Grammar structure

I have problems with this sentence. First of all: What does "Who should I say is calling" mean? Does that mean: To whom should I say is calling? Or it means: Should I say who is calling? And ...
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“Bang on the hammer”?

It says, "The next day, Hem and Haw returned with tools. Hem held the chisel, while Haw banged on the hammer until they made a hole in the wall." I don't really get why it says "...Haw banged on the ...
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What does ’I’m told’ means as a complete sentence

I was watching MasterChef UK at https://youtu.be/8uuy_fPO2jg . If my explanation is not clear you could jump to 14.05 to find what I’m confused. At 14.05, there’s this conversation where A is a ...
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Is it idiomatic to say “could only be used”?

In my another post (What prepositions could be used to describe the position relevant to water?) I said "Under" could only be used with "water". I meant that other prepositions, such as "below, ...
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'be said to be' what does this mean?

Here goes example, "The earliest recorded use of "queer" as a form of homophobic abuse is said to be a 1984 letter by John Sholto Douglas, the Marquess of Queensberry."
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Is it idiomatic to use 'fall' to express 'happen', 'occur'?

I see an example somewhere A: Can you come out with me for dinner at 7 in the evening? B: What about my English class that falls on the same time? I guess 'fall' here means happen, occur. My ...
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What does “elaborate a point from one St. Patrick's day to the next” mean?

I am studying for the GRE, and this sentence came out: The professor's volubility knows no bounds; he could talk through a hurricane and elaborate a point from one St. Patrick's day to the next. I ...
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Confusion about articles and quantifiers: “a pair of scissors” vs “any scissors” vs “scissors”

Which of the following questions, if any, would work (or you would normally say) when asking a colleague or a class-mate? I am asking them for the purpose of using/borrowing the items if they have ...
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How to say “you don't own me” in a relationship context?

I am searching for the best way to answer my friend. He's always apologizing for everything, and I want him to realize that he don't own me anything, he's free to do whatever he wants. Do you know a (...
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What does fornicating the odds mean?

In this paragraph of Pulp novel of Charles Bukowski: I lit my cigarette, took a drag. Then I followed him. I have Red a goodbye nod, then stepped into the street. Just in time to see him get into ...
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What does “reach right out” mean?

Wish that I could reach right out and touch it. When you see this little fellow, you'll want to reach right out and hug him to death.
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Idiom- once (in) a blue moon

Opportunities like that come once a blue moon. Opportunities like that come once in blue moon. I did a little searching on the internet and found out the correct phrase/idiom is the second one, but ...
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1answer
35 views

What does “I could just spit” mean?

could you please help to decipher the meaning of the idiom "I could just spit"? I have a sentence: "I'm so sick of people I could just spit", but I've also found many examples in google, such as "I'...
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what's the meaning of “Am i on jerk'd?”“ in this context- 7th episode of ”Big Mouth" , an American adult animated sitcom

What the hell are you gonna jerk off to? - Nothing. I guess I'm not gonna jerk off. [BREATHLESS LAUGH.] Yeah, you're you're not gonna jerk off. All right, where are the cameras? [CHUCKLES.] Am I on ...
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to provide the means to

Is the phrase "to provide the means to" idiomatic in English? I often see the phrase in cases where, I think, "the means" are/is not definite. For example: 1) 'Lamp holder' or 'socket' means a ...
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What does “parts like the Red Sea” mean?

This video (https://youtu.be/_nRtCVJIToA?t=416) is saying "Make way" basically means move. "Make way". Okay? "I'm coming through, make way!" So I'm coming through a large crowd of people, and ...
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“To be on the same page”

As you are fully aware, the using this idiom within the construction below: I don't think we are on the same page. means: I don't think we understand each other. This idiom on the other hand has ...
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What does “the wrong side of the drop” mean in this context? (from the book, After You)

The narrator is a woman, half drunk and walking along the edge of parapet in the dark, and suddenly a stranger calls her behind her. 'I don't think you should stand there.' I half turn, and ...
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Go Along With The Ride?

I watched the interview with Alexander Wang on Youtube. In the video, he said 'The people in the industry are crazy enough to go along with the ride because they love it so much' I looked up the ...
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1answer
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What's the meaning of “keep your eyes trained on something”?

Here is the sentence: To be able to struggle against capitalism, which permanently revolutionizes all relations, every established Marxism must be periodically transgressed in favour of a theory-...
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Confusion about articles/quantifiers: “a Tesco” VS “any Tesco” VS “Tesco”

Which of these ques­tions, if any, would work when po­litely ask­ing a stranger? If more than one works, what if any dif­fer­ence is there be­tween them? Ex­cuse me, is there a Tesco over there? Ex­...
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What expression fits the best for the intended meaning?

I'm looking for an expression that would mean someone takes control over someone else, like in a bad relationship, when someone takes a dominant posture in spite of the other person. Google would ...
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1answer
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From-time-to-time vs. From time to time

I used to use from time to time but I got recently corrected to use from-time-to-time (actually it's from time-to-time but I think both are effectively the same). It seems like from-time-to-time is ...
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1answer
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Baby's name and as in someone/something

I'm watching the TV show Friends and in the second episode heroes discuss the baby's name and here's the dialog: - How's about the baby's name? - Marlon or Minnie if it's a girl. - As in mouse? - ...
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Meaning of the idiomatic “biscuits and gravy”

In the movie Line of Duty (about 45:30 in), a guy huge gets a weight thrown at him in a gym. Surprisingly not very bothered nor hurt, he says: "Biscuits and gravy, bitch!" and then starts to fight ...
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General term to refer to acquiring knowledge of news or an event

I am trying to find a way to refer to acquiring the knowledge of something new or to be aware of something that recently happened. Usually we can say, I heard on the news... I read on the ...
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Does the phrase “operate with a full deck” have the same meaning as “play with a full deck”?

D.Trump said that Nancy Pelosi was "not operating with a full deck". Does it mean the same as not play with a full deck? I searched in some dictionaries but didn't find the first phrase there.
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The most referring to the majority of people

Let's do what benefits the most. Is this correct usage of the most when the meaning is the following? Let's do what benefits the majority of the people.
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149 views

Sneak around with someone (meaning)

I came across this expression "sneak around with someone". What does it mean? Does it have to do with "date someone"? Here is an example: We all know that John has been sneaking around with ...
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36 views

Poison the well - well is poisoned

What does it mean when someone says: "You have to decide if the well is poisoned for you."
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holes-in-her-purse bail meaning

In Breaking bad, when Hank was up against Walt, after everyone else was "out" in the game, he said the following: When old holes-in-her-purse bails, you know you're in deep. I know of money ...
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“It was reported that..”, which is closer to this idiom: rumor or a fact?

I'm translating the 'Spectre (security vulnerability)' Wikipedia article to my mother tongue, and it contains a sentence like below; It was reported that Intel shared news of the Meltdown and ...

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