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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18 views

brink of error vs brink of mistake

How to fill the gap "Musician should teeter on the brink of ___ while playing." error mistake failure Is any of these alternatives more "idiomatic" for the expression? The ...
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what does “make difficulty” mean?

What does "make difficulty" mean? in the following quote from Mansfield Park" by Jane Austen: If I had made any difficulty about fetching the key, there might have been some excuse, but ...
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24 views

What's an idiom for intentional misinterpretation (of an agreement etc.)?

In Swedish, we have the expression for intentional misinterpretation of the intended content. An example is we have between two and three million dollars and someone saying that two dollars isn't much....
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Meaning of: Make that leap

In the Dictator movie, Alaeddin says to his double: How would you even make that leap? Tamir to Dennis? What does make that leap mean? I can't understand based on the meaning of leap in dictionaries....
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How often is “best of a bad bunch” used in the Anglosphere?

I found this expression at the COBUILD Advanced Leraner's Dictionary which for the most part is a British English dictionary, and I wonder whether it is commonly used by English speakers all around ...
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Does “trap” make sense in this context?

The non native speaker does not want to fall into the trap of using a foreign strange word. Does the word trap in the above sentence make sense in context?
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What take a deep breath means? [closed]

Two best friend are arguing. They got a lot troubles and run out of time to get their job done in time. And then the third guy coming and interrupting while saying let's just take a deep breath. Ok? ...
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What does “I Know This Much Is True” mean?

There is a novel titled "I Know This Much Is True", and I find the title puzzling. I know this much is true. At first, I parsed it as I know this much it's true. where this much shows ...
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Is the phrase “Mary is a friend in need” confusing?

This is quite confusing. In the dictionary, they say a friend in need: someone who helps you when you need it Say, Tom was broke and he needed help and some financial support. Mary helped him while ...
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Meaning of: Walk round with (or walk around with)

Is walk round with an idiom? So we walk round with this fear that the other person isn’t going to be interested in talking to us The text is from BBC 6 minute English. It might be a typo and be Walk ...
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What does “It's all in where you are standing” mean?

I was reading the novel A Song of Ice and Fire and this phrase came up twice and I don't get what it means at all. “Winterfell’s not in the south,” Jon objected. “Yes it is. Everything below the Wall’...
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what does “ We have to flip the leadership playbook.” mean?

We have to flip the leadership playbook. ( From TED) What does this mean? To learn from the metaphorical playbook or to upend it?
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【Idioms】 get something over with = get something over and done with

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/ko/%EC%82%AC%EC%A0%84/%EC%98%81%EC%96%B4/get-something-over-with https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/get+(something)+over+and+done+with https://www.merriam-webster....
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Meaning of “who's who”

I was doing an English exercise and I read the following sentence: Ask Walter, he knows who's who. Here, what is the meaning of "who's who"?
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Meaning of “graced their sight with its presence”

What is the meaning of "graced their sight with its presence" in below sentence? One night when they stood at their respective balconies looking skyward at the starry night, a shooting star ...
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Can we “do up” or “button up” a single button?

I know we can "do up" or "button up" multiple buttons, but can we use these phrases when we talk about one single button as well? For example, is it correct to say, "One of ...
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Is it “I slipped through the cracks” or “I fell through the cracks”?

One of my friends said to me: "You have such a good job though." And I responded by saying: "I slipped through the cracks." I was trying to imply that my interviewers went easy ...
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I'm in a place where

The truth is that things have been a little difficult for me after my accident last year, but now I finally feel that I'm in a place where I can enjoy life again, so I'm great. Is "in a place&...
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<a colloquial expression> and all that / and (all) that / and all (that)

Happy New Year. Indeed, I have learned "and all that" / "and (all) that". <and all? or all but?> Well, the thing is he is really attractive and all but he is not funny. I ...
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Is the phrase “like a fish in water” a valid English phrase meaning feel comfortable in a certain place?

Could you tell me if the phrase like a fish in water is a valid English phrase meaning feel comfortable in a certain place? For example: Mike is like a fish in water when he is abroad. If it's not, ...
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Die a Noun: died a hero

I know the following form is possible. "He died a hero." = "He died the death of a hero." In light of this, can I also say something like these? "He died a poor man." &...
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Regard or consider?

Question 27 from the SAT Practice Test 3 – Writing and Language Test – from McGraw-Hill Education Eight SAT Practice Tests by Christopher Black and Mark Anestis, 2020 Edition. *We don’t regard our ...
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What does “return to the well” mean in these sentences?

Context 1: "I remember pa's hand in mine. Grasping and shaking for what felt like a thousand years...before he finally let go. His spirit released, allowing me brief communion before returning to ...
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Idiom: use of “all things X”

While understanding the general meaning of "all things X" ("All Things Electronic", for instance), I'm having some issue putting it into a sentence. Would you rather use (I can't ...
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Meaning of 'make hay' in this context

This is an article published in the Fox News: In raising the subject of Hunter Biden, the liberal comedian Colbert claimed to Joe Biden that "the people who want to make hay in Washington are ...
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“Be done with someone” VS “Be through with somebody”

I was wondering whether either one of the sentences below: a. I'm done with you. b. I'm through with you. can be used in AmE to imply: "our relationship is over" for the speaker. If no, ...
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When you “love somebody so much”

I am looking for some fixed American expressions / idiom to convey my love to someone in an exaggerated way! I was wondering whether the following structures can be used in this sense: a. I love you ...
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“Mum's the word” and “See no evil, hear no evil”

There is an eastern proverb (perhaps a Middle Eastern one, ) which is used to ask someone in a spoken manner to keep something as a secret and do not reveal that they have seen or heard anything. I ...
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When you “miss someone so much”

I was wondering how to say I miss you so much in an exaggerated way? I know the following structures: a. I miss you to pieces. b. I miss you to the moon and back. (I have my doubts whether this ...
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“The breadline” in AmE

As Cambridge dictionary clarifies, the term "the breadline" is a British one that means: the breadline The level of income someone has when they are very poor, with only just enough money ...
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A proverb to convey: “There is always someone better”

I am wondering whether there is any routine, English proverb which is used to imply there is always someone better; so you have to prevent from being too proud of yourself. I came across the ...
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How to evade answering “why” in AmE?

I'm eager to know whether there is any fixed expression in English to refuse answering the WH-question "why" when you are reluctant or somehow have some reasons that prevents you from ...
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“Turn somebody in” and Turn somebody over to somebody" . Is there a difference?

They turned him in to the police. They turned him over to the police. Are they exactly the same in meaning?
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When you have to chose one out of two ways

I am looking for an idiom / expression that can be used when you are at a point where you have to chose between two ways and have no idea which one is in your best interest! I know two idioms: a. I'...
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Blow someone off

The babysitter blew me off at the last minute, so I had to change my plans. Is "blew me off" a very natural expression to use like this? Will it be understood by all native speakers? Are ...
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When someone has not changed facially and you run into them suddenly

How to tell someone we haven't seen for a long time (say a couple of years) that they have not aged at all and look exactly the same as they looked back then. I have heard the following sentence: You ...
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How to say I need to smoke cigarette too much just because you have not smoked for a long time in AmE

I was writing a short story about an American in which the guy who has quit smoking, feels a strong craving for smoking after a couple of days that he has given up smoking. I wonder what is the casual ...
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Can “pinky” a verb as in “do you pinky swear”?

In Urban dictionary (a slang dictionary) They say pinky swear An eternally binding act of hooking pinky fingers together in an attempt to seal the deal of a promise that has been made. I promise to ...
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“Deserve” or “Serve someone right” or “ask for it”

Could anyone please let me know how should I imply that a negative happening has been what someone has deserved it? Mother: I'm sorry to have to punish you in this way, but...............! Bill: I ...
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42 views

Usage of the idiom “it never rains but it pours”

Is it possible to use the idiom it never rains but it pours in the context of the following sentence. Or is there any idiom better suited for this sentence. not only had the accident cost his son's ...
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Idiom to describe a poorly executed task

Are there any idioms to describe a situation where the task given was very poorly executed, nothing can be done to re-do the task, and the task ends up a failure.
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Alternatives to “hard cases make bad law”

Are there any alternative idioms or phrases in english, equivalent to the legal maxim "hard cases make bad law" best suiting the context of the following sentence? I deeply sympathise with ...
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Alternative to blow hot and cold

Is there any alternative to blow hot and cold , in a more sarcastic way, in the context of this sentence. He has been inconsistence in his view, blowing hot and cold and hence appears unconvincing
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Idiom or phrase to indicate celebration of unlawful activity

Are there any idioms or phrases to describe a celebration of an unlawful activity Sentence: His celebration for the crime was short-lived as he was captured by the police after the incident
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Idiom to indicate accepting culpability for an action

Is there any idiom which resembles similar meaning to as you make your bed so you must lie in it (one must accept the bad results of his action)
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28 views

Idiom or phrase to express too late to be remorseful

Are there any idioms or phrases to express a situation where it is too late to be remorseful. I am thinking of the ship has sailed or flogging up a dead horse or look before you leap. But, i dont ...
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and so on (and so forth) repeated in OALD

I was reading Idioms for the word "forth" on OALD (Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary) and I faced this: As you can see in the image They put phrases. first one is "and so forth"...
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Idiom to indicate detrimental effect of crime

Is there any english idiom to describe detrimental effect of crime to the accused Would crime does not pay suit that context? Or is there any other idiom suiting it best
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Find one's bearings

Find one's bearings: To recognize or determine one's orientation, position, or abilities relative to one's surroundings or situation: Example: It took me a little while to find my bearings in the ...
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“Meet” VS “Live up to”

I was wondering which choice is the correct one here and why? The movie didn't ............ my expectations. [connotation: the movie was not that satisfactory that I expected that to be.] a. meet b....

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