Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange
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 ...


44

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 ...


39

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 these words can be found in headlines, ...


36

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".


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 ...


24

Bullseye (also bull’s-eye) is: The centre of the target in sports such as archery, shooting, and darts. The expression is often used metaphorically to suggest a precise goal or purpose. In your sentence it refers to the fact that Former CIA director has become a “target” of possible attacks because of his comments on President Trump.


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. ...


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

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

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 ...


14

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 ...


14

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.


14

"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 ...


14

It means that the Democratic candidates show the same characteristics as the country they want to represent: the U.S.A. That is, the U.S.A is a patriotic, big-hearted and diverse country in the same way as the Democratic candidates are.


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

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 ...


12

It is not incorrect, but it would be more common to see the adjective canonical than the phrase find its way into the canon, which is a phrase normally reserved for texts. The adjective canonical is figurative, based on that meaning. The canonical treatment paradigm for virtually all cancers, including prostate cancer, has been to target the tumor cell ...


11

The definition of the word "canon" appropriate here is: the writings or other works that are generally agreed to be good, important, and worth studying. I understand "the canon of cancer treatments" to be the "catalogue", or collection of treatments which the medical profession agree are effective or worthwhile. The term is not used to describe a ...


10

On the road is an idiom, and it can mean on the road 1. On tour, as a theatrical company. 2. Traveling, especially as a salesperson. 3. Wandering, as a vagabond. It's not easy to determine which meaning the author intends. The context is that of a theatre production, so Gollan could have been rescued from a life as an actor on tour (with the ...


9

So is/does X, meaning X is/does the same, can only be used when X is the subject of a proposition. Smoking is bad. So is drinking. But the construction It is true that [Y] represents [Y] is true. It is not a "real" subject but a "dummy" subject, only put in so [Y] can be postponed until after true. Consequently it cannot serve as the subject of ...


9

Another word you might consider is pristine. From NOAD: pristine (adj.) in its original condition; unspoiled To get back to your question, though, the word virgin can be used in a metaphorical sense: The skaters ventured onto the virgin ice. When used to describe prairies or plains, though, I might be inclined to think that virgin prairies were not ...


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