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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6
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1answer
2k views

catch fire; catch on fire

1. Seventy percent of the man's body had been burned after the truck caught fire. 2. The house just caught on fire. (All are from COCA) I’ve thought that ‘on’ gives the nuance of continuity. ...
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2answers
3k views

What's the meaning of “to dog his heels”

I've come across Elia's Peattie, The Shape of Fear but I can't figure out the meaning of the following sentence. Is it an idiom or phrase? "Purity seemed to dog his heels, no matter how violently ...
6
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1answer
509 views

May I use the simple present for a series of actions within a limited time period?

It’s well-known that the present simple is used to describe an action which happens regularly and occurs during an infinite period of time (or a finite but quite long one). He sells cars. I go to ...
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1answer
6k views

“I'm new to this town” vs. “I'm new in this town”

I'm new to this town. I'm new in this town. What's the difference between the two sentences meaning-wise?
6
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1answer
843 views

Difference between “out of the blue” and “unexpectedly”

What's the difference between out of the blue and unexpectedly? When I translate, "I apologize for calling like this, out of the blue" to French, I get Je m'excuse pour appeler comme ça, à l'...
6
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1answer
230 views

What does 'thrown off his mojo' mean?

i want to use this term as someone who is kind of swooned and throw rationality to the wind because of the impact of someone else. Would that expression do?
6
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1answer
373 views

A spoken English equivalent of 'someone who has glass-dust'

In my native language we have the expression having glass-dust by which in spoken language we describe a person who's generally good but sometimes gets dishonest to take advantage of a situation or ...
6
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9answers
115k views

“Live life to the fullest” what does it mean?

I have read in some articles "live life to the fullest" and I was so confused as to what this really means. Does it mean to live happily? I'm not so sure.
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4answers
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What is the meaning of the simile “quick as silk”?

It seems that the Internet is unhelpful at all. The original quote, where this simile appears, is: “Once upon a time,” began Frank switching, quick as silk, to a sonorous story-telling voice... ...
5
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2answers
12k views

To sleep your way to the top

He was insinuating that she slept her way to the top. Most memorably, Huffington urges the assembled luncheon group: “Sleep your way to the top. Four hours is not enough.” She is a big advocate of ...
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6answers
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Contextual expression and Get/Got It

First context If I taught something to my students and wanted to check whether they understood me or not, what should I say ? second context If I were to ask them whether they are following me or ...
5
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3answers
12k views

“Stretched too thin”: Would the meaning of the phrase change without “too”?

My colleague, a native-English speaker, in his message apologized for not replying to my emails right away. I know that he is an awfully busy person and besides his professional activity and family, ...
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2answers
5k views

what does “______, thy name is ______” mean?

No only can I not get what the following sentence means, I fail to understand the concept of the bold part, as well. Frailty, thy name is woman "______, thy name is ______"
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5answers
147k views

Idiom to be used as replacement of “A coin has two sides”

I need an alternative idiom for 'A coin has 2 sides' to make my writing piece look richer and comprising broader lexical resource. I am writing a discussion essay, and I wish to say something unique ...
5
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2answers
3k views

“In charge of” vs “Responsible for”

I would appreciate it if you could let me know what phrase can ne used in the following blanks: 1- Everybody is ................. their own actions. So you cannot blame others for what you did in ...
5
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1answer
1k views

What does “a fair weather student” mean?

I read this expression in scrappedcola's comment on this question. I never encountered it before, and fail to translate it. What does it mean? Context: [...] If you have someone [to ask] you ...
5
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4answers
32k views

Don't be in a Hurry or Don't be Hurry

Consider that we want to say a sentence with meaning in negative form of "hurry up!". Which one is true? Don't be in a hurry Don't be hurry
5
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1answer
2k views

What does “ will be made or broken” mean in this context?

I'm trying to translate a new smart phone review. But I don't know what does "will be made or broken by its pricing" mean in the following context? The Samsung Galaxy J1 is a decent entry-level ...
5
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3answers
16k views

What does “as it stands” mean?

I searched in dictionary and it returned "in its present condition". Here is the corresponding example: the country would struggle, as it stands, to host the next World Cup Can I simply replace it ...
5
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1answer
699 views

The meaning of “squishy hand-wringer”

Here's part of an article: Experienced envoys have retired or resigned in droves. John Feeley resigned as ambassador to Panama on March 9th. He is no "squishy hand-wringer". A former Marine ...
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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?
5
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3answers
1k views

The meaning of 'take in one's sign'

I searched for the meaning of "take in", and the dictionary showed me several meanings. to understand to receive into one's house in exchange for payment to accept But the sentence below which ...
5
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1answer
439 views

Which one sounds right: “life is short” or “lives are short”?

According to the Oxford Learner's Dictionary, "life" can be a countable and uncountable noun. The floods caused a massive loss of life Hundreds of lives were threatened But if we wanted to say "...
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1answer
2k views

What is the meaning of “Take my advice with this much salt”?

What is the meaning of this sentence? Take my advice with this much salt. There was an image of a lot of salt being attached to this sentence. I guess some kind of humor is being involved but I ...
5
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2answers
876 views

What's the role and meaning of 'pin' in this context?

In yesterday’s central committee meeting of the opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD), party members approved an initiative for nomination reforms, which embattled Chairman Moon ...
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4answers
5k views

to take the skies

Source: Russia wants everyone to think it's building this absurd and massive super-plane: It will be an astonishing accomplishment if a prototype ever takes the skies—never mind 80 finished planes. ...
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2answers
7k views

this side of something - meaning?

From the dedication section of a book: To my beautiful wife, Donna. You're the best thing this side of heaven. 1 What does this side of (something) mean? 2 Isn't it idiomatic to say on this side ...
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3answers
4k views

Idiom for “you can't undo the effects of having said something”

I once read an idiom which means you can't undo the effects of having said something, but couldn't recollect it now. I searched on google and also on stack exchange to find out but in vain. Can you ...
5
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2answers
424 views

“written in skim milk” means cheesy, soppy writing?

I just read Raymond Chandler's letter to Hitchcock (which is brilliantly written); Chandler is ranting about the script for a film, pretty much calling the final script rubbish, and this is where I ...
5
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2answers
547 views

How to dissect/parse 'no sooner X than Y'?

I ask not about the meaning, but about its derivation: no sooner F than S {phrases} = [Please check my additions of F and S 1. Used to convey that the second event S mentioned happens ...
5
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1answer
837 views

What image lies behind the expression “Take a bow”?

I heard this expression in the Rihanna's eponymic song. I understand the general meaning, but where does it come from? What is the image behind?
5
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1answer
937 views

What do these phrases in the game of cricket mean?

I like watching cricket. I hear phrases like: He played a great innings and brought his team home. He remained there till the end to ensure he sees his team home. And: He is in the form of ...
5
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1answer
36k views

“Something is off”

In this paragraph, does "something is off" mean "something is not right", "something is different" or something else? There was definitely something off about Mr. Bittner today, she thought. It ...
5
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1answer
682 views

Does “Joey Kangaroo” have a supplementary meaning?

My twins love Peppa Pig, and whenever it is possible I let them see the original English version. There's a rule of thumb that all "young" characters, except the piglets themselves, have a name which ...
5
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1answer
2k views

Is “had done it” an idiom?

Harry caught sight of Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle's triumphant faces as he left, walking numbly in Professor McGonagall's wake as she strode toward the castle. He was going to be expelled, he just ...
5
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1answer
686 views

“Play Ping-Pong with the designer”, real Ping-Pong or not?

One reason manufacturers like Ligne Roset or Vitra charge significantly more is the involvement of a top designer, Mr. Breitling said. “You’re investing time and money in playing Ping-Pong with the ...
5
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1answer
555 views

What is “after the dinosaurs, but before the giant armored sloths”?

I read an article in Forbes, where I saw the following lines: I’ve been blogging since 2002 (which is after the dinosaurs, but before the giant armored sloths), and some variant of the philosophy ...
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2answers
2k views

What's the meaning of 'slay somebody to a man'?

In the book This Country of Ours, I ran into the idiom slew them to a man several times. For example: He was soon undeceived. For he was led away among the bushes, and his hands were tied behind ...
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3answers
12k 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?
5
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1answer
24k views

What does hard pass mean here?

"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 definitions of it, it says on ...
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2answers
2k views

English idiom for people who overreact

Let's say, a person shows his feelings too much. He laughs loudly when he is happy. He sobs when something makes him unhappy. I don't want to use 'overreact' for this expression. Is there any idiom? ...
5
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2answers
4k views

Why does he say, “Shame I can't say the same …”?

Here is an excerpt from HeadWay Upper Intermediate, Student's Book, Unit 1: Even after four years, I don't feel I belong. Over Christmas I went back to the UK for a month's holiday - on landing at ...
5
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4answers
28k views

'Give a damn' OR 'Don't give a damn'?

From TheFreeDictionary: give a damn (v): show no concern or interest; always used in the negative But then in example, it says... "She doesn't give a damn about her job" This means, she gives ...
5
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1answer
622 views

Help parse “smell crazy on him”

A quick snippet from a particularly humorous exchange: Bruce Banner: “I don’t think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.” Thor: “Have a ...
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3answers
1k views

“play it up” instead of “turn it up”?

Imagine you are watching TV with your son and the volume is a bit low, and you want to ask him to turn it up. You could simply say turn it up, but is it okay to say: Play it up. Does it ...
5
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2answers
1k views

Praising someone for noticing something

I would like ask for phrases/idioms that can be used to praise someone (especially children) for spotting small things that would otherwise go unnoticed. I know that 'well spotted' is a common one, ...
5
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1answer
121k views

“I look forward to receiving your updates”, is it right?

I look forward to receiving your updates Do native UK speakers use this kind of sentence holding for news from someone? I don't know if it could be helpful, the context I am referring to is a ...
5
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2answers
1k views

What does “play games” mean in this sentence?

I have a paragraph which is about how to talk to women if you are a man. The writer said that a man should be direct when he talks to women. The paragraph has a sentence: Being this direct is easy ...
5
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2answers
8k views

How about someone do something?

Can "how about" be used in this way? I heard it in an episode of Grey's Anatomy: How about we don't talk to her anymore? Because from what I've learned after "how about" we're ...
5
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2answers
715 views

Maybe a typo mistake

I was reading news and found a mistake. I have just wanted to confirm that, as it does not sound natural to my ears. I feel that the article(a) or maybe this word(many) are not sounding naturally here....

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