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

Idiom's tense when writing a novel in past tense

If the novel is written in past tense, what tense should the idioms be when they are used by the narrator? For example, consider the following passage: The fight was over. John stood over the ...
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1answer
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general questions version of “no such thing as”

The phrase "no such thing as" can be used to emphasize that something does not exist or is not possible. In contrast, the expression "very much so" is an emphatic way of answering '...
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Idiomatic American English resources [migrated]

I'd like to improve my spoken English and thought maybe it was a good start to learn how to have a proper conversation, or order a meal in a restaurant, or going into a shop and ask for help for ...
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1answer
42 views

Is “in her pride she sat” grammatical and idiomatic?

Is "in her pride she sat" grammatical and idiomatic? In her pride, she sat quietly and observed the loudmouths around her. She stood there quietly in her pride. She isolated herself from ...
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3answers
50 views

American Equivalent for “roll on something”

Roll on something As you perhaps know, Britons tend to use this term to imply how much they like something happen and when they wish a specific time or event would come more quickly. Example: ...
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1answer
20 views

When the speaker's voice keeps connection and disconnecting on a phone call

I was wondering whether the bold phrase below sounds idiomatic in English. If not, please let me know whether there is any fixed phrase / expression to substitute for the that: A) Do you hear me? B) ...
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1answer
16 views

How to express “a(n) option/solution/way when there's no option/solution/way”?

Chinese "不是 办法 的 办法" or "没有 办法 的 办法" (they're totally interchangeable) are commonly used oxymoron. How to express this meaning properly even rhetorically in English? 不是= not, be ...
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1answer
38 views

Understanding sentences from The Ferryman

I'm having trouble understanding of this passage from The Ferryman (Jez Butterworth) What are the meanings of these sentences according to the passage: "get a bead on", "I’m a ways past ...
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1answer
63 views

The meaning of “within view of”

I have always understood "with view of someone" to mean can be seen by someone. But I have seen several sentences where the phrase seemingly means can see something from a vantage point, e.g.: The ...
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1answer
22 views

“Come out of the closet” in a non-standard way?

These anonymous posters should come out of the closet and reveal their public identities. I am wondering if it's acceptable to use the expression without making any sexual implications, or if that ...
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9answers
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What's the English saying for “That the ancestors are successful is inferior to that the descendants are successful”?

There goes a Chinese maxim "前人 强 不如 后人 强". 前人= former generation, ancestor; 后人= later generation, descendant; 强= strong, powerful; 不如= not as good/well as, inferior to, less desirable than. ...
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How to express “favorable presumption”?

I remember there's an English idiom, but I can't recall it clearly. That idiom says if you feel uncertain about whether someone's performance is good or lousy, you might as well give him/her more ...
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1answer
1k views

Is there any idiom for requesting?

In our language we use an idiom If we want to request someone for doing something. And literal translation of that idiom into English would be "Put your hands together before someone"(put hands ...
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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/...
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1answer
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“Learn the ropes” when do we use this idiom?

Can I use this idiom when I talk about “studying”? For example: I’m going to Canada to study and learn the ropes of English. It doesn’t seem right to me, but I don't know.
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When do we say “move it” and When do we say “move out of the way”?

This was the context I saw. A kid has been attending in an English speaking school in Vietnam (a non-English country) since the 1st grade. I am pretty sure that he can speak Vietnamese very well. His ...
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2answers
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“Pull someone's leg” Vs “Put someone on”

I was wondering if there is any difference between the idiom "pull someone's leg" and the phrasal verb "put somebody on". The Cambridge Dictionary says to put someone on means: To try to persuade ...
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1answer
18 views

Either look or looking

Is the following sentence wrong? He had lost a ring in the sand and I help him search for it but it was like a look for a needle in a haystack. To me it sounds very awkward, though "look" means "...
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How do I ask for the buzzer code when I move to a new apartment

I am moving to a new apartment this weekend and I need to go to a person who mostly likely is sitting in the lobby of the apartment and works for the apartment for the buzzer code that can connect to ...
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0answers
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What are some common expressions with brick Lego when talking to a child, e.g, “to put a pyramid together”, “to take the pyramid apart”?

What are some common expressions with brick Lego when talking to a child? For example, Can we say "to put a pyramid together", "to take the pyramid apart", and "to build / make a pyramid with ...
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Come to think of it vs Now that I think about it

Are 'now that I think about it' and 'come to think of it' used in the same way. According to a dictionary: 1) Come to think of it is used for adding something that you have just remembered about a ...
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1answer
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What's the meaning of “On a hot skillet with beans”?

Shang Tsung: Would you consider serving a sorcerer? Erron Black: On a hot skillet with beans, maybe. Shang Tsung: I will not extend the offer twice. resouce: https://mortalkombat.fandom.com/wiki/...
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2answers
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What does “I am who I am” mean?

You may or may not know about Family Guy. But in this youtube video of Family guy animated series, around 3:30, Stewie [son] was accidentally beaten by his father, Peter. Then he yell his father like ...
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Meaning of “broken shell of a man”

Rachel: So, got any advice? Y'know, as someone who's recently been- dumped? Ross: Well, you may wanna steer clear of the word 'dumped'. Chances are he's gonna be this, this broken shell of a man
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Can these be used interchangeably?

I would like to know if the following expressions can be used interchangeably. just in case/out of caution/for caution’s sake/for the sake of caution/ err on the side of caution. a. I took an ...
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Your child's shorts are sagging. Do you say “Your shorts are coming out. Fix them!” or “Your shorts are coming off. Fix them!”?

We say "You put the shorts on" & "You take the shorts off"? I am not sure if we can replace "put" & "take" with other verbs such as "slide", "come", etc. For example, Your child's shorts are ...
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Metaphorical reference to someone bad to doing good and being praised more than a good person

I'd like to point out the following phenomenon that frequently occurs in the daily life. Take a mischief, culprit, someone unreliable and well-known to be a lousy piece of manure. Basically a bad ...
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1answer
1k views

“Be accustomed to” Vs “Get used to”

I need to discover the semantic nuance between the phrasal verb "be accustomed to" and the idiom "get used to"! E.g. please let me know how do the following examples differ in meaning: We've ...
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3answers
11k views

Idiom like “catch on fast”

I'm looking for idiom like "catch on fast". How else can you say a quick learner and a short learning curve?
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1answer
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“See (someone) back” is idiom?

Well, I guess you might think that, but when I saw it back then it was anything but boring! Am I right that "saw (someone) back" is idiom? Why is but used before boring? Maybe, it should be ...
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1answer
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What does “on the clock” mean/imply here and why?

I have checked the dictionary, "on the clock" means : 1) Working or getting paid 2) Of a taxi (and by extension, its driver), currently engaged to carry a passenger and having an active meter. 3) ...
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1answer
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“Rip-off central” or?

I wonder what I should call a (market / bazar / shopping center, etc) where things are sold much more expensive than they worth and usually salespeople rip off whoever wants to purchase something ...
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3answers
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“stretch something to its limit” meaning

I have encountered this sentence: Science can explain how gravity works between two objects, but why should it be based on the exact equations we find rather than others? In fact, why should ...
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3answers
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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
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“Deep down inside” Vs “In one's stomach”

I am going to imply that I have a feeling which doesn't let me believe something can be absolutely true (I have some doubts in my mind whether it is true or still I should not believe it completely.) ...
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2answers
1k views

Phrases about changing schools

I want to talk about changing schools someday and I want to ask which phrase is the commonest. change schools transfer to another school go to another school move to another school If anything ...
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1answer
32 views

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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1answer
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“Get an eye for somebody” VS “Eyeing someone”

1) Lucas is totally into you. Whenever a guy buys something so expensive it means he .......... 2) We are just friends Nancy. Why are you looking at me that way?! 1) Me and you both know the ...
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0answers
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Is saying “she was but 15 years old” grammatically correct and idiomatic?

She was but 15 years of age. Is this grammatically correct? For more context: Lavitsia sighed. As diligent as she was, she was but 15 years of age and attending to his maladies had become more ...
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2answers
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Meaning of “C’mon that segue tho.”

I am translating a Youtube video to Spanish; I am fairly comfortable with standard English but I have found an expression that I am not sure how to understand. Of course, I do not want the translation ...
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3answers
6k views

pouring down snow sounds wrong

Is it correct to say "it is pouring down snow". Usually one says pouring down rain,conjuring an image of rain being poured out of buckets. However, this doesn't seem right to use the idiom when ...
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0answers
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Does the following sound natural: “Please hold the bottle upright! Don't tip it upside down as you might spill water in the stroller”?

A child's sitting in a stroller holding a bottle of water without a cap. Is it natural to say to the child: "Please hold the bottle upright! Don't tip it upside down as you might spill water in ...
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7answers
69k views

Different idiom to “there are two sides to every coin”

There was a similar question posted a couple of months ago, but the details of what that person was looking for are a bit different from mine. I am looking for another saying that describes you being ...
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1answer
38 views

Does being ''carried away'' mean to do something unintentional?

Does it mean that you've lost control of yourself that you'II do things you didn't mean to do?
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3answers
18k views

What's the meaning of “punch to the gut”?

Could you please what the meaning of "punch to the gut" is? The text is here: Two hours later Dad had blocked off half the kitchen with plywood sheets. The owl convalesced there for several ...
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0answers
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What's the alternative to “laugh track” for particular phrases?

What's the alternative to "laugh track" for particular phrases? For example: He repeatedly played "I choose you Pikachu" track on his laptop, which annoyed me. It doesn't sound right, but I am ...
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1answer
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Idiom for from difficult situation to worse situation

Is there an idiom that we can refer to say " going through from tough times to tougher(worst) times" My own creation: From boiling oil to fire. Something like this.
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1answer
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“Moral person” Vs “Someone who lives a moral life”

I was wondering how these two are different from the meaning viewpoint? He / she is a moral person. He / she lives a moral life. Do they exactly mean the same? If not, how they differ? P.S. I have ...
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1answer
26 views

special meaning of ramp

I read an article recently online that is about the effect of coronavirus pandemic. One of men said in an interview that "As restaurants come back online, we're anxious to see what that ramp is," "You ...
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1answer
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A better way to say “at the infringement of which”?

Require users to get a proper permit at the infringement of which they will be put into prison. I am pretty sure it's not grammatical, or is it? Anyway, is there a better way to say this? I can't ...

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