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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2
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3answers
3k views

“not to know A from B” VS “not to know a B from a bull's foot”?

I've been doing some research and I came across the idioms "not to know A from B" and "not to know a B from a bull's foot". As far as I know they seem to have the same meaning "to be ignorant" or "to ...
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1answer
69k views

‘Concern of’ vs. ‘concern about’

Commercial builders downplayed ______ a bust in the superheated housing market. 1) The concern of 2) Concerns about The answer is number 2, but why does number 1 not work?
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3answers
652 views

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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1answer
27 views

“So you could” or “for”

"I didn't raise you for 15 years so you could go to war". I found this frase and it didn't sound idiomatic to me. Is there another way of expressing the same idea in the following sentense? "I didn'...
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1answer
19 views

Is “have a lock on something” same as “having something on lock”?

And from what I understand they're informal; am I right?
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1answer
22 views

is it okay to say “Be careful, it may flip your face” or “Be careful, it may flip into your face” in this case?

flip [intransitive, transitive] to turn over into a different position with a sudden quick movement; to make something do this The plane flipped and crashed. (figurative) She felt her ...
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1answer
31 views

What is meant by “set bang”? [closed]

What is meant by "set bang" in the following sentence: The tasteful and triangular green is set bang in the middle of the large village. Thank you.
27
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2answers
7k views

What is the Kool-aid reference?

I’ve heard the expression “someone’s been drinking/drank the cool aid” multiple times. I know coolaid is a drink or something but it doesn’t really make sense in the context. I feel like there’s some ...
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1answer
19 views

Using the idiom “the other way 'a'round”

I wonder if the phrasing within the following context is semantically correct or not: Can someone tell me why my life is a disaster? Why things always go the other way around to what it should ...
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1answer
60 views

What does “Make my life easier” meaning?

"Make my life easier" and "Make life easier" are the same thing? Could I putting a pronoun or determiner between "Make" and "Life"? Example: I wanna make her life easier. Example: He want to make my ...
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1answer
26 views

What meaning of FOR is used in “stumped for an answer”, “lost for words”, etc.?

What meaning of FOR in "stumped for an answer", "lost for words", etc. I've gone through the OED looking for the right meaning to no avail, as well as other major dictionaries. https://www.oed.com/...
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1answer
57 views

Does the phrase “no sh*t” imply the same meaning as “no kidding”? [closed]

Used sarcastically, does "No sh*t, Sherlock." imply the same meaning as "no kidding"?
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1answer
44 views

About nick your beer

My Twitter listening parties are like gigs-but nobody nicks your beer. What's "nicks your beer" here? I can't take it straight. Source: https://amp.theguardian.com/music/2020/apr/10/tim-burgess-...
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1answer
13 views

Is there an idiom that means it's possible and not impossible?

Is there an idiom that means it's possible and not impossible? I could only think of "within the realm of possibility", which is a mouthful, and I am wondering if there's any good idiom I might have ...
0
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1answer
73 views

Is there an idiom that means working hard and continuously?

Is there an idiom that means working hard continuously? Preferably, I would like an idiom that means "work 24/7 without rest", but I can accept something that means "give as much effort as possible". ...
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0answers
21 views

How to understand fall off the menu?

It's never been cheaper, but home cooking has fallen off the menu. What's "fall off the menu" here?
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1answer
20 views

is it okay to say “Please go get it under the bed for me”?

get [transitive] to go to a place and bring somebody/something back SYNONYM fetch get somebody/something Quick—go and get a cloth! Somebody get a doctor! She went to get help. I ...
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1answer
17 views

How to express “to go to the other side of the room in the direction that we want”?

Ok, this is a picture of my apartment. There are 2 adjacent rooms. There is a balcony. The child is standing in Room 1. The child can go from Room1 to Room2 through route 1 (the child can walk down ...
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1answer
145 views

Force the lid, open or closed?

I encountered the poem below, which ends with force the lid. I recognize this phrase, but I'm not sure if it means forcing the lid closed, or forcing yourself inside. Or can it be both? A system is ...
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2answers
28 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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0answers
22 views

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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0answers
25 views

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
24 views

¨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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2answers
43 views

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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0answers
39 views

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
27 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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0answers
34 views

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
26 views

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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1answer
40 views

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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0answers
39 views

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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2answers
23 views

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
30 views

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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0answers
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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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4answers
5k views

Snowing hard - idiom

There is an idiom for raining hard: It's raining cats and dogs. But is there an idiom for snowing hard?
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1answer
37 views

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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0answers
34 views

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
889 views

Meaning of “is getting on me..”?

What's the meaning of "is getting on me"? For example: "Mom is always getting on me about not finishing my breakfast."
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3answers
5k views

{You were to blame} vs. {You were to be blamed}

You were to blame . You were to be blamed. What is the difference between these two sentences in terms of meaning?
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6answers
33k views

Ambiguity of the idiom - “A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

Since my childhood, I have been told about this phrase/idiom by my teachers, friends and parents. Since now I see everything written in English microscopically, this seems perplexed to me. A ...
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4answers
65 views

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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1answer
15 views

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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1answer
212 views

is it idiomatic to mix expressions “to nail something” and “the sh* out of”?

The expression to nail something usually means to "to achieve something or do something right". (informal) The expression "the sh*t out of" is used to "emphasize the degree of force of an action that ...
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2answers
43 views

“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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0answers
25 views

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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1answer
3k views

What does 'feed off' mean?

The whole language of love had been corrupted by overuse. When I listened to the radio in the car, my love fed effortlessly off the love songs that happened to be playing, for example, off the passion ...
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1answer
2k views

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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0answers
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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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1answer
51 views

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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1answer
233 views

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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1answer
34 views

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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