76

In the popular Cinderella fairy tale, a fairy turns the poor and dirty Cinderella into a princess and a pumpkin into the carriage that will get her to the party she wants to attend. The spell, however, has a time limit: it will end at midnight. What happens then is that the carriage turns back into a pumpkin. The word mom-pkin is a wordplay on the ...


46

Rabbit hole commonly refers to either an actual rabbit burrow where rabbits live, or, as an idiomatic phrase used in your Ted-Ed example, the hole Alice went down following the white rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. It metaphorically describes something unknown, possibly fantastical, that will lead to much more complexity than it initially appeared. In the ...


40

You have it right; "smoke" can be used to mean "win" (or maybe even, "win easily," or "win decisively"). When talking about lopsided contests, frequently-used slang verbs fall into a few different categories. For example, there's the word beat, along with its synonyms (such as drub, thrash, whip, and trounce – all of ...


38

It's a misprint! The smoke billowed high into the sky. See Lexico for definition and examples.


37

To smoke someone originally meant (and still does mean) to shoot them to death with a gun. The reference was to the smoke coming from the weapon's muzzle. This colorful term has come to mean "defeat soundly, trounce".


31

"Old Nick" is a synonym for "the devil". In this case, it has little to do with the rest of the article. The first line uses the idiom "the devil is in the details", which means: in general, to see the problems with a suggestion, you need to look closely at the specifics. So the line "old Nick is not just lurking in the ...


27

The phrase the America there refers to its people, not to the land mass. It is a synonym for the citizenry (of America).


25

In this context, "cherry-picking" is a very negative term. This meaning comes from statistical analysis. The term is idiomatic and informal. It is not as negative as accusing someone of lying, but it strongly implies that they do not care whether they mislead. Suppose you are writing an article about a sports team. The team won its first game, lost its ...


23

Both Eddie's and Enguroo's answers are correct, but neither say why. The easiest way to compare two things is to put them next to each other and have a look. Hence, the idiom is derived from the act of identifying differences in objects by placing them side-by-side and measuring: eg, which is taller/shorter, what colour the two objects are. In the example,...


18

The post's full title is Facebook’s fall from grace: Arab Spring to Indian winter. 'Fall from grace' is an idiom (going back to the Old Testament) for a loss of status, respect, or prestige. The post's title claims that Facebook has experienced such a decrease in prestige, and gives two events that are intended as examples: The Arab Spring was a series of ...


18

In storytelling contexts, the words turned back into a will be, nine times out of ten, an allusion to the fairy tale known as Cinderella. If you do an ngram search for turned back into a *, pumpkin is very high on the list. At the stroke of midnight, the magical carriage in that tale turns back into the pumpkin from which it is made. The heroine is ...


17

First of all, trap here is a technical soccer term: it's the action of stopping the ball with your foot, so you can more easily aim your next kick. You can see a demonstration in this video. This passage is using a common idiom in English: if you want to say that someone is really bad at a certain task, you suggest that even if the task were changed to ...


17

... feels a bit like chucking an ice cube into the path of a forest fire. feels a bit like frequently means a figure of speech follows. chucking means throwing, but suggests lack of precision. So it would mean throwing something in a general direction with no specific target. an ice cube into the path of a forest fire. Presumably one would do this to ...


17

When I hear this expression, I think of two possible metaphors: Two cars are drag racing on a dirt road. Carl's Camaro is much faster than Mary's Miata. The Camaro quickly gets ahead of the Miata. Both cars "kick up" dust. Mary's Miata is literally in a dust cloud that Carl's Camaro "kicked up". The Miata is figuratively "eating" the Camaro's dust. ...


17

Yes - 'sailed in' is often used metaphorically, although in this specific example, it is probably as much of a pun as it is a metaphor. "Sailed in" is sometimes used to describe an arrival or entrance which is grand or smooth, the way a large ship might glide accross the water into port. There might be some other ship-like qualities that may be ...


16

The New Oxford American Dictionary says: 3 [ with obj. ] informal kill (someone) by shooting. • defeat overwhelmingly in a fight or contest. That's a pretty exact definition; I have nothing to add to it.


16

"Straphanger" seems to have a different, and negative connotation in current US military parlance. Since this is a militarily-oriented movie, it is probably the definition that applies. In an article unrelated to Zero Dark Thirty, I found a reference to strap hangers. "We have a saying in the SEAL Teams about the 90-10 rule. It goes: 90% of the guys ...


16

You are right. In this sentence the author compares owls to rumors (one of the meanings of next to is in comparison with). If some ideas, accusations, remarks or rumors are flying around, they are passed quickly from one person to another and cause excitement. It goes without saying that, being birds, owls fly around too. Note that Professor McGonagall ...


15

I think that by definition, idioms have to be understood in their entirety; the meaning of the idiom does not necessarily correspond to the meaning of the individual words. However, a nutshell is the shell, or outer covering, of a nut. Like this: Inside a nutshell is a very small space, where you couldn't put very much. If you were trying to put an ...


15

The shell of a nut tends to be small and compact, which is why "in a nutshell" is used to mean "in a few words," or, more literally, "in a compact statement." According to Wiktionary, the etymology is as follows: A calque of Latin in nuce. "Calque" means "a word for word translation," and "in nuce" means "in a nut" in Latin.


15

Have you ever seen a car with a mechanical odometer? Many cars and trucks built during the 1960s had odometers that showed mileages between 0.0 miles and 99,999.9 miles. The odometers were connected via gears to the vehicles' transmissions. The last digit slowly moved as the wheels moved. Each time a 9 needed to be replaced by a 0, the next digit would ...


15

In the West, Old Nick is a religious reference to the devil in Christianity. GEORGE FILE, Old Nick, the Devil, c. 1937 Small print is text printed smaller, usually in order to lessen its importance (which is often quite valuable) and readability, to trick the reader, and in the hope it won't be noticed. A harmless small (fine) print disclaimer The sentence ...


13

The idiomatic expression, a "rabbit hole" is a reference to Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland". Its modern meaning is a detour from your work efforts that will require a great deal of time and analysis, while producing no useful result. It is a dead end or a fool's errand. A June 4, 2015 article in the New Yorker magazine recounts the evolution of the ...


13

The US Federal Reserve (FED) is mandated to maintain inflation within a targeted band. As economic activity increases, the risk of inflation also increases. By slowing down the economy, the risk of inflation abates. One way the FED slows down the economy is by raising interest rates (stepping on the brakes). What the article is saying is, if the FED's ...


12

Blown over is a weather metaphor- after a storm has blown over. It is a reference here to the storm over the murders of Jim Casey and the policeman. So Tom has to go away and lay low or hide until supposedly things have calmed down and he can return without fear of arrest or worse. "Blowed" is a non-standard or dialect form of "blown"


12

This quotation is using a metaphor. (Specifically, it uses a simile. A simile is a metaphor that uses "like" or "as" to compare things.) A forest fire "rages". It is huge, and dangerous. It can be "contained" by major interventions (such as back-burning, or dumping huge loads of water or foam). A tiny fire (like a candle wick) can be put out by ...


12

Here is a dog who is barking: "Drooker style dog" by Balthazar, licensed CC-BY-SA 3.0 Here is a dog who is barking up a tree: "Treeing Fiest" by Scochran4, licensed CC-BY 3.0 There is an animal in the tree that the dog wants to catch. But what if the dog picked the wrong tree? (Maybe the animal jumped into a different tree and the dog didn't see. Maybe ...


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