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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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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 ...
0 votes
1 answer
44 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 ...
-1 votes
4 answers
59 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. ...
2 votes
1 answer
57 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" ...
3 votes
1 answer
401 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 ...
1 vote
3 answers
757 views

I'm having a hard time understanding the idiom 'to say nothing of'

One idiom that's been confusing me for some days is 'to say nothing of'. The Free Dictionary gives entries such as 'not to mention someone or something' and 'not even considering or mentioning the ...
0 votes
1 answer
23 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 ...
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3 votes
1 answer
870 views

'In a hurry', why is this used with the infinite article 'a'?

I was so confused with this. So I look up the word 'hurry' in the Oxford dictionary and I found that it is an uncountable noun. Is it possible to use 'a' before 'hurry'? Why is it possible? Do I ...
0 votes
2 answers
41 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 ...
0 votes
2 answers
104 views

What does "Bankroll someone's rage" mean?

During an episode of The Practice, the context can be understood from the actor's whole line. Ellenor: Now, I suppose it is politically incorrect to call cancer victims a bunch of whiners, but let'...
1 vote
0 answers
16 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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
45 views

What's the difference between these two "Get to" vs "Arrive at" in terms of meaning?

What would be your reaction or answer to these declarative statements? I arrived at the hotel. I got to the hotel.
0 votes
2 answers
70 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 ...
0 votes
1 answer
72 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 ...
2 votes
1 answer
75 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 ...
3 votes
2 answers
5k views

What does "golden fingers" mean?

I've come across the term "golden fingers" in a book, in the following context: Timing recovery has long been perceived as a field in which 'golden fingers' and intimate familiarity with ...
0 votes
2 answers
143 views

On/Off His Routine

I have a question about the usages of "on" and "off" with "routine": He was on his routine. He was off his routine. The above usages could be found on the web, but not in ...
2 votes
0 answers
30 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 &...
1 vote
1 answer
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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 ...
0 votes
1 answer
894 views

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 ...
0 votes
2 answers
827 views

The meaning and the usage of the expression "Don't you dare"

To me, "Don't you dare!" is an expression that communicates a warning to someone. For instance: Don't you dare talk to me like that! Don't you dare follow me! (ete...) But I wonder if you ...
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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
61 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!"
2 votes
1 answer
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Is 'puts it on speaker' the most natural way to expess when...?

Jeff's phone rings. It's Billy. He doesn't pick the phone up, just answers, and puts it on speaker. Jeff: Hi, Billy. Is 'puts it on speaker' the most natural way to express this? And is it enough ...
3 votes
5 answers
24k views

Is there any phrase or idiom meaning "I wish you were there too" or "it was good if you were there also"?

In Persian we have an idiom literally meaning "I wish you were there too" or "it was good if you were there also". For example, if you had been in party and a friend had not been there you may say ...
0 votes
1 answer
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After he became manager, people were suddenly falling over themselves to help him

After he became manager, people were suddenly falling over themselves to help him. What's the literal meaning of 'fall over oneself'?
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0 answers
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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 &...
0 votes
1 answer
4k views

Work on (doing) something and work at (doing) something

What's the difference between work on and work at, and what's the right way to use them? We're working on/ at our relationship. I need to work on/at my German- it's getting rusty. We're working on/...
-2 votes
1 answer
96 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)
5 votes
1 answer
33k views

What does "[take a] hard pass" mean?

"You want to go to the party with me?" "No, I'll take a hard pass." What does hard pass mean here? If the person said "No. I'll take a pass on that." I looked up some ...
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, ...
4 votes
2 answers
407 views

Is it correct to write "I saw her hang her head crying"

I came across a video about Gif with sound on YouTube. I had not seen any videos of this kind before. But the video was very interesting and I learned a new idiom from an embedded song from Scissor ...
-1 votes
1 answer
59 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 ...
0 votes
2 answers
63 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’...
0 votes
2 answers
369 views

Expressions for live alone

I believe there are some other ways to say "I live alone". Can you provide me with some expression explaining its formality? What about these: be on (oneself). (?) live with (oneself) (?) Do these ...
0 votes
1 answer
115 views

Chase for/after x

He played basketball alone in the park to chase after new friendship. He played basketball alone in the park to chase for new friendship. None of them sound particularly correct, but I can't think of ...
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 ...
0 votes
2 answers
2k views

Do "l know something like the back of my hand" and "I know something like the palm of my hand" mean the exact same thing?

Having heard both of these idioms I would like to know if they have the same meaning? I know something/somebody like the back of my hand. I know something/somebody like the palm of my hand.
1 vote
1 answer
87 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, ...
1 vote
1 answer
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"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 ...
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8 votes
3 answers
34k views

What does the phrase, "Money talks, BS walks" mean?

What does the phrase, "Money talks, BS walks" mean? I replaced a bad word with "BS". I've googled it, and I've found several conflicting meanings. For instance, this Reddit thread has several ...
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 ...
5 votes
3 answers
873 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 ...
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)...
1 vote
2 answers
111 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 ...
0 votes
2 answers
63 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 ...
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'...
2 votes
1 answer
14k views

How to use "make" and/or "make for" in this sense?

Which of the following sentences are grammatically correct? Which ones are formal, idiomatic and proper to use in writing an essay? What makes for a good job? What makes a good job? What does make a ...
1 vote
2 answers
187 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?
2 votes
2 answers
1k views

Meaning of "little more o’er the merry-o"

In the lyrics of a song, the text goes swing a little more, little more o’er the merry-o I know the proverb "the more the merrier", but o'er is apparently an archaic form of over, which confuses ...

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