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 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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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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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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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
38 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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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
1k 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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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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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
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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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1answer
224 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
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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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1answer
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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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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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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
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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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1answer
506 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
38 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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1answer
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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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1answer
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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
339 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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3answers
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Practice Makes It Perfect

Is the phrase "practice makes perfect" (three words) a nonstandard but popular variation of "practice makes it perfect" (four words)?
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3answers
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Origin of “Let the cat out of the bag”

What is the literal meaning of "let the cat out of the bag"? Why would someone put their cat in a bag? What did the cat ever do to them?
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1answer
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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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1answer
52 views

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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1answer
476 views

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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1answer
71 views

“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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1answer
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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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1answer
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Why, speaking of a colonoscopy, does it say “they put it UP your bottom”?

This is a piece of dialogue about a colonoscopy from the series "Outnumbered" s03e03: — Yes, but how does it get inside your insides? — Well, they put it up your bottom.
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How do I express दिल लगाना in English? It literally means 'attaching heart.'

I am Indian, not a native English speaker. I can't figure out the English expression. We Indians use दिल लगाना literal translation 'to attach heart' which implies to be in love with someone in Hindi....
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3answers
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What is the meaning of “Spray and pray”?

I have googled around the meaning of "Spray and pray" I am not still clear about it. When do people might use this expression? Any help much appreciated.
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1answer
41 views

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
470 views

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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1answer
53 views

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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3answers
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'in the privacy of his kitchen.' what does it mean?

I am trying to translate some fanfics to Korean. Anyway, I can't understand the meaning of the sentence. Looking Will in the eyes gives Hannibal a tranquility that he usually only knows in the ...
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2answers
68 views

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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1answer
595 views

Please, explain what does it mean “'Electric Eel' digital condom promises *to make sparks fly* in the bedroom”

'Electric Eel' digital condom promises to make sparks fly in the bedroom.— The Independent I know that it's possible to make sparks fly by inducing arcs between a conductive thing of some sort ...
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1answer
51 views

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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2answers
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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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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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4answers
24k views

“When did you born?”

When did you born? What does the above question mean? Does it mean "When did you give birth" or "When were you given birth to"? The situation is that I'm trying to ask my friend his birthdate. ...
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1answer
23 views

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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1answer
25 views

What's the meaning of thinking they not?

South African fast bowler Dale Steyn made a statement on Twitter recently: "Apologies to Virat and a billion people for thinking they not" What is he apologising for? What's the meaning of the ...
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7answers
19k views
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1answer
501 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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1answer
52 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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