Skip to main content
86 votes
Accepted

English equivalent of a Spanish expression that translates to "iron fist, crystal jaw"

Its English equivalent is ‘he can dish it out, but he can't take it’ defined by Cambridge English Dictionary as: someone easily criticizes other people but does not like it when other people ...
Void's user avatar
  • 18.1k
86 votes

Is there an idiom that says not to change a perfectly good thing?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it. (informal) If it isn't broken, don't try to fix it. Edit: You could leave out "try to" (I've heard it both ways), but the point of the proverb is that if you ...
user3169's user avatar
  • 31.2k
75 votes
Accepted

Is there an idiom that means that you are in a very strong negotiation position in a negotiation?

I suggest "having the upper hand". Oxford defines this as: have (or gain) the upper hand (phrase) Have or gain advantage or control over someone or something. and provides this example sentence: ...
Thomas Hirsch's user avatar
65 votes
Accepted

An idiomatic expression for the situation when a punisher in fact punishes himself rather than the one he intended to punish

Cutting off your nose to spite your face is a stock phrase for this; Wikipedia says it's been in use for 800 years!
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
61 votes
Accepted

Can I say "Oh boy" to a girl?

The expression is not even that dated, e.g. here's a movie from 2020 with exact this title, and there's another one from 2012. In neither case is the title supposed to be a sentence addressed to a ...
Dmitry Grigoryev's user avatar
56 votes
Accepted

Assigned to a job I know nothing about it - is there an idiom for that idea?

A common metaphor for this is to say you've been "thrown in the deep end", referring to the (supposed) practice of teaching someone to swim by throwing them into a swimming pool at the deep end, where ...
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
55 votes
Accepted

Is there an idiom about how humanely killing something is better than letting it live in pain?

You can put the animal out of its misery. It means to euthanize. I suppose you could say the same of a failing business enterprise, figuratively, and even of a dysfunctional relationship, when ...
TimR's user avatar
  • 127k
52 votes
Accepted

Is there an English equivalent for the Italian saying "It's another pair of sleeves"?

In British English, you can indicate that two subjects, things or situations are completely different by saying about one of them: That's another kettle of fish That's a different kettle of fish ...
JavaLatte's user avatar
  • 59.9k
46 votes

Idiom for a student being purposely overly verbose only to make an essay look longer

I would describe the process as inflating or padding my essay. I might call the extra words and phrases I add fluff.
swmcdonnell's user avatar
  • 6,960
43 votes

English equivalent for the expression "only iron can cut iron"

In English, we have diamond cut diamond, although I think fight fire with fire is more appropriate in the situation described in the OP. Fight fire with fire: to use the same methods as someone else ...
Void's user avatar
  • 18.1k
39 votes

Is there an English equivalent for the Italian saying "It's another pair of sleeves"?

The first thing that came to mind was "That's a whole new ball game" or "That's a different ball game", but that saying is primarily used for situations and not things. As ...
ColleenV's user avatar
  • 12k
39 votes

Is there an idiomatic way to say "go to the path of no way out"?

You can paint yourself into a corner.
TimR's user avatar
  • 127k
38 votes

Is there an idiom that means "revealing a secret unintentionally"?

Yes, there are a number which imply "by accident": Mike Pompeo let slip some of the CIA's secrets. Mike Pompeo spilled some of the CIA's secrets. Mike Pompeo let out some of the CIA's ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 88.4k
37 votes

Can I say "Oh boy" to a girl?

You can, the "boy" in the phrase is not addressed to the person you are speaking to. (It probably started as a minced oath with "boy" replacing the blasphemous "Jesus" ...
James K's user avatar
  • 223k
35 votes

What's the English saying for "That the ancestors are successful is inferior to that the descendants are successful"?

“Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” I would say this quote gets across the same meaning. That is it is more important that successes be push ...
Hatman's user avatar
  • 451
33 votes
Accepted

"The victory, within four days, was just reward" - why not "was just a reward"?

The meaning of "just" here is adjectival: "well-merited", "well-earned". In short, he earned the reward, therefore the reward was "just". I also half-expected an indefinite article there, but in ...
CowperKettle's user avatar
  • 36.6k
33 votes

Is there an English equivalent for the Italian saying "It's another pair of sleeves"?

The first thing that pops into my mind is That's a horse of a different color.
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
33 votes

Is there an idiom that means that you are in a very strong negotiation position in a negotiation?

"To hold all the aces" means having overwhelming advantage, the metaphor coming from bridge or pretty much any card game. Re a previous contribution: "an ace up one's sleeve" means more of having a ...
Sam G's user avatar
  • 339
33 votes

Is there an idiom that says not to change a perfectly good thing?

"Leave well enough alone." Related, "Let sleeping dogs lie." I've always heard user3169's answer as "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
the-baby-is-you's user avatar
32 votes

Assigned to a job I know nothing about it - is there an idiom for that idea?

Another idiom is baptism by fire: A phrase originating from Europe that describes an employee that is learning something the hard way, like being immersed in their field of employment. Baptism by ...
Alan Carmack's user avatar
32 votes

What's the English saying for "That the ancestors are successful is inferior to that the descendants are successful"?

The maxim reminds you that your future is your children … There's the following expression: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children. According to Quote ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
32 votes

English equivalent of the Russian idiom "притянуть за уши" + opposite of "to abbreviate"

The idiom I would use is ‘grasping at straws’, for which Cambridge English Dictionary gives two definitions: Grasp at straws: trying to find some way to succeed when nothing you choose is likely to ...
Void's user avatar
  • 18.1k
29 votes
Accepted

Term for making fun of somebody else's weakness when you have the same?

An apt English idiom in this context is: The pot calling the kettle "black." The Dictionary.com entry tells us: Criticizing others for the very fault one possesses: “I wouldn't call him lazy if ...
P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica's user avatar
29 votes
Accepted

An idiom describing a strong desire for alcohol

A very common verb used here is crave: They really crave a drink. But one could crave ice-cream as well. To give anything for: I'd give anything for a drink. The same meaning goes for die for, as ...
Lambie's user avatar
  • 45.7k
29 votes
Accepted

How to idiomatically suggest someone should live the day and forget about tomorrow?

An old Latin expression can be used in these situations: "Carpe Diem", which literally translated means "pluck/pick the day", but a more idiomatic translation would be "seize the day". It is a rather ...
Glorfindel's user avatar
  • 14.8k
29 votes

We're waiting in a BIG or LONG queue?

A "queue" is, by definition, line-shaped, therefore it makes sense to define it by its length rather than its size. So "a long queue". In contrast, a "crowd" is kind of blob-shaped, so you would say ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 88.4k
29 votes

What do you call someone who likes to pick fights?

The first word that jumped to my mind is the adjective belligerent. Some published definitions include: inclined or eager to fight; hostile or aggressive. Aggressively hostile, eager to fight; ...
J.R.'s user avatar
  • 110k
29 votes
Accepted

Is there an idiom that means that an item of clothing fits perfectly?

It fits like a glove. It's tailor made. [Often said of things which are not literally tailor made, but fit very well.] It's made to measure. [Likewise, often used metaphorically of things ...
fred2's user avatar
  • 5,823
29 votes
Accepted

Is there an idiom that means "revealing a secret unintentionally"?

Let the cat out of the bag is the idiomatic answer to this. Oxford (and google dictionary): Reveal a secret carelessly or by mistake. Edit: It appears commentators dispute the 'unintentionality' ...
mcalex's user avatar
  • 6,136
29 votes
Accepted

Idiom for saying something doesn't cost a lot for someone rich?

You might be thinking of chump change, defined by Wiktionary as: (chiefly US, idiomatic) A sum of money considered to be insignificant. He spent $300,000 for his new car, but that's chump change for ...
Laurel's user avatar
  • 15.6k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible