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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1answer
21 views

More than +root verb?

Mona Lisa was commissioned to celebrate the birth at a baby boy. Interestingly, there is more than meets the eye. They have suggested that by magnifying lady's eyes under a microscope, tiny letters ...
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3answers
52 views

What does “move worlds” mean/imply mean in this sentence?

I have no idea what "move worlds" mean/imply in this sentence: I have moved worlds out of conviction, he thought. I only have seen phrases like "move across the world", but "move worlds"? Does ...
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1answer
47 views

“Spanking brand new” or “Brand spanking new”?

What do you guys say? I've never heard brand spanking new, and yet that's the right expression according to the dictionary.
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1answer
34 views

“Cheers to a new year” is idiom or literal?

On New year greetings card we get to see: Cheers to a new year. Is it idiomatic or literal? I am familiar with : Cheer --Noun and verb. I have heard about: Cheer for someone Online ...
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2answers
46 views

How would you say in English this “Gold to be had for the picking!” without idiom “be had”?

In the book Journey by James A. Michener, I read this: "Across the United States and Canada, men who had suffered sore deprivation during the great financial panic of 1893 cried: 'Gold to be had ...
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3answers
71 views

Phrase to state that every process has its advantages and disadvantages

I am trying to explain how everything has its own advantages and disadvantages whilst not being insensitive as I am referring to the advantages and disadvantages of recruiting foreigners within a ...
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1answer
85 views

meaning of “send something to the devil”

What does "send something to the devil" mean? Here is an example: If you knew what I know, you could send all your worries to the devil. I wasn't able to find it in dictionaries, though there is ...
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1answer
323 views

Are “with a view to” and “with a view towards” synonymous?

I know that "with a view to x" means "with the intent of doing something", but I am not sure if "with a view towards x" means the same thing. I couldn't find an entry for "with a view towards", so I ...
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2answers
72 views

How to use idiom “Not a moment too soon”

The meaning of idiom not a moment too soon is almost too late It is used as- The ambulance arrived not a moment too soon. If I form the sentence in the following- The ambulance did not arrive ...
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1answer
47 views

A more succinct way of saying “everyone you have on your Facebook friend list”?

I can't really think of a succinct way of saying this. I don't know if it's because of my small vocabulary, but I really can't think of a succinct way of saying this that would roll of the tongue. ...
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1answer
19 views

Is there a word that means “finding X more attractive than X is”?

I am trying to think of a word that means finding something more attractive than it is, or finding it less unattractive than it is, but there's no expression that roll off the tongue. For example: ...
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3answers
90 views

“Bring to light”, another usage of it

The idiom "Bring something/someone to light" means according to the Free Dictionary: To reveal something, often something inappropriate or illegal. I want to use it for something completely ...
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1answer
42 views

The meaning of “with many delays”

Is "with many delays" a common idiom, and in which cases can it be used? Are there other ways to express the same meaning? For example, Life comes with many delays. He went to look for him, with ...
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2answers
52 views

Are you a couch potato if you spend days lying on a couch with a smartphone in your hands?

A couch potato is someone who spends most of their time watching television and does not exercise or have any interesting hobbies (Collins Dictionary). Would it be correct to use the phrase to refer ...
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2answers
44 views

Properly using “what about you”

Person 1: Do you think they will come all the way here to meet with us? Person 2: No, way, these people are high-flown people from the royalty. Person 1: You think so? What about you, ...
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3answers
112 views

When to use the idiom “set someone up”?

I am not sure if this is the case, but can we use the idiom "set someone up" before there's evidence that X betrayed us, or is it something we can only say after the signs indicate that X betrayed us. ...
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3answers
110 views

As a man sows, so shall he reap

Are there any cooler/better-matched/modern phrases to express that you have to recover your own fault or make up your own mistakes by yourself? I found the phrase in title by search, but I guess the ...
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2answers
163 views

Is “bit of oil” countable or uncountable?

If it is countable why do we say a little bit of oil and can I say the following? a little quantity of seeds
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3answers
752 views

A variation to the phrase “hanging over my shoulders”

I couldn't find the exact definition of "hanging over someone's shoulders" online. I am not referring to the literal meaning, when, for example, you feel there is a ghost hanging over your shoulders. ...
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33 views

Why people say ‘a racehorse’ and ‘a racing car’?

A horse bred and trained for taking part in racing is termed a racehorse, while a car made for taking part in racing is called a racing car. Could anyone figure out any reason for this apparent ...
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3answers
74 views

Is there an idiom for a situation in which you get all the closed windows of your mind open?

I am stuck to express my feelings. I watched a video about business ideas and the speaker presented it so beautifully that I got so energized and it opened up so many new ideas to me. I am looking for ...
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1answer
32 views

What does mean “to get {somebody} {something}”

Could you say if I'm correct translating the following sentence: And I'd like to see about getting Harry some contacts. like And I'd like to see about providing Harry with some contacts. I'm ...
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3answers
132 views

An idiom/ idioms for a person who spends too much time on the cellphone?

Do we have any idioms for a person who spends too much time on the cellphone? As we call a person who watches television a lot, a couch potato, or a person who spends large amounts of leisure or ...
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2answers
912 views

What does “tippy top” mean here?

And except for those at the tippy top, shareholder value isn’t a meaningful goal that excites and engages them. I searched online dictionaries but I didn't find a good definition for"tippy top" ...
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1answer
117 views

To come to him in a breeze

Acording to the The Free Dictionary, the phrase in a breeze has this meaning: Easily; handily; without much or any effort. I thought the phrase could be used as this: The answer came to him in ...
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2answers
45 views

Looking for an idiom for saying, when a powerful person/entity moves, the effects will be noticed even far away

When talking about the actions of a powerful entity, I need an idiom to convey that the effects will be profound. The only one that is close to this that I can think of is "When a big tree falls, ...
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1answer
185 views

Is “in the hopes of” synonymous to “in the hope of”?

Why do sometimes people put an s after hope in the idiom "in the hopes of"? Is there a reason for this, or is it just a matter of "dumb" preference? I am asking, because I saw the idiom with an s and ...
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1answer
37 views

on a daily line

I'm having trouble understanding the meaning of these words at the end of the second chapter of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The narrator reflects on what Tom Sawyer has learned in manipulating all ...
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3answers
45 views

Is “by a many” the same thing as “by many”?

I found this on a The Guardian article: John ClareJohn Clare was steeped in nature. There is no literary sightseeing here: he writes from inside the landscape. “Young Lambs” could almost be a ...
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23 views

Take sth into account vs. take into account sth

Regarding the idiom "take into account", when is it appropriate to put something between "take" and "into", and when is it best to place something at the end of the idiom? For example, consider these ...
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66 views

Is there an idiom that expresses the convenience of something you need to happen happening without the idea of luck?

Let's say that there's a 80% odd of something happening and it happened. Is there an idiom that expresses the general idea of convenience of such thing happening in your favor? I don't think "by a ...
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2answers
39 views

I have a bit of Englishman in me

You would say 'I have a bit of the English in me' to say 'I have a bit of English 'blood/heritage/temperament.' Would the following be also used? I have a bit of Englishman in me.
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5answers
19 views

What is the phrase for the management's ideology in which staffs are told to perform other's responsibilities?

It happens in lot of organization. Its a management habit in some organization who think of cutting corners , that they are saving money. These management people tend to overlap responsibilities. ...
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5k views

“On one hand” vs “on the one hand.”

I'm confused because I've seen both mentioned in dictionaries. Example sentence (context: writing a story): On (the) one hand, I want to wrap up everything perfectly. On the other hand, I want to ...
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2answers
315 views

What's the meaning of “mellow mama”?

What's the meaning of "mellow mama" in this description? I found this expression in a recipe book, but I don't understand what it means: Pulling from the inspiration of a green goddess dressing, ...
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1answer
221 views

What does “be not for turning” mean?

It is from this article. "But what about the money?" I press on. "Going by your declaration, it's going to take 10 years for you to earn the registration fee - let alone to pay it back." Yuriy's ...
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3answers
231 views

What are some idioms that means something along the lines of “switching it up every day to not do the same thing over and over”?

It doesn't have to mean exactly that by the way, but it should be concise, because I don't want to use something that would be a mouthful.
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24 views

“Tomorrow might be difficult.” -> Is this sentence is natural for real?

I wonder the sentence "Tomorrow might be difficult." is natural. For meaning like this context : A : how about having dinner with me tomorrow? B : Tomorrow might be difficult. I have to do work. ...
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2answers
35 views

What does 'Can you tell us about a time you had to close a particularly challenging deal' mean?

I can't understand the meaning of had to close a deal. Does 'time' has other meaning in this sentence?
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2answers
78 views

Any idioms about “You never wake a people who pretend to be sleeping”

I would like to know, when you ask someone for something, but he ignore it all the time, and pretend he didn't know your request. Any idioms I can use? Thank you in advance.
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709 views

Take a Chance VS Grab a Chance

When I looked for the meaning of "take a chance", it seems like it involves risks. Macmillan says: to do something even though it involves risk So I think it's similar to take a risk. Then ...
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4answers
7k views

What does “don't have a baby” imply or mean in this sentence?

This is really, really confusing as the literal meaning of "don't have a baby" — being pregnant or give birth to a child — does not fit the context at all. My guesses are: Don't act like a baby, be ...
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2answers
331 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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3answers
4k views

What does the expression “Happy is as happy does” mean?

I just read an article in The Economist's China section (2019/02/16) with the subtitle "Happy is as happy is told to". Feeling confused, I googled about this expression, only to find a quite similar ...
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1answer
39 views

What does “get your account of events out there” mean?

Reputation building involves telling and retelling your story to get your account of events out there and to explain your downfall. Be consistent. Could you tell me please what's the meaning of "...
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1answer
35 views

I'm having trouble understanding why “go pear shaped” has the negative meaning

"Go pear shaped" (The plan isn't working / plan is going wrong) Might I trouble you for helping me to understand why/how "go pear shaped" has the meaning like that? Could it be British people ...
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1answer
25 views

What does “above the law” mean in this context?

If I want to say about some corruptionists that the are out of law, meaning that they are defended by the law. If I say that they are above the law, does it mean that the laws are not for those people?...
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3answers
157 views

Is “would I could” idiomatic?

This excerpt came from The Confidence-Man (1857) from Herman Melville: Oh, the cripple. Poor fellow. I know him well. They found me. I have said all I could for him. I think I abated their distrust....
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2answers
58 views

What does the phrase “be X to Y” mean?

This comes from The Company Man from Herman Melville: "Have you no charity, friend?" here in self-subdued tones, singularly contrasted with his unsubdued person, said a Methodist minister, ...
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8answers
1k views

Pouring from empty to empty

How to translate to english from a foreign language an idiom that uses two different words that have the same meaning “empty”, to say “pouring from empty to empty”, which means if you pour something ...