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Celeste00's avatar

What idiomatic expression intrigues you?

Asked by Celeste00 (784 points ) October 13th, 2008

Often I wonder how an idiom came to be. For example how did “saving face” or “break a leg” show up in the language? What expression have you always wondered the history of?

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17 Answers

jsc3791's avatar

One bird in hand, is worth two the bush.

Call a spade a spade.

Go fly a kite!

Why don’t you get out of my hair!

Tooting your own horn.

A chip on your shoulder.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

Everything but the kitchen sink.

etc.

etc.

cyndyh's avatar

The whole nine yards. Nine yards of what?

sndfreQ's avatar

More than (x) ways to skin a cat

Catch as catch can (who’s “catch”?)

more to come…

basp's avatar

Not sure if this qualifies as an idiomatc phrase, but I always wondered about the word “jinx” used when two people speak the same time. I always thought that was just something between my siblings and myself and was quite surprised when I realized how universal it is.

squirbel's avatar

As nervous as a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs…

sooperburd's avatar

If it looks like a duck…

Jump down someone’s throat

The worm has turned

High on the hog

…in spades

Neck of the woods

Stinking rich

sooperburd's avatar

Winner winner chicken dinner!

augustlan's avatar

Going ‘round Robin Hood’s barn.
I know there are more rattling around in my brain…I just can’t remember them at the moment!

CMaz's avatar

If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.

LexWordsmith's avatar

i’m often amazed by idiomatic expressions in foreign languages (examples solicited! thanks), and i’m sure that native speakers of foreign languages are often totally puzzled by some English idioms.

LexWordsmith's avatar

Lots of idioms stem from an era that we’re no longer in touch with, when most people were farmers. “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” because you might be able to tell from its teeth that it’s much older than the giver would like you to be grateful for. “Don’t buy a pig in a poke” [old word for pouch] because it might turn out to be some less desirable animal—usually a rat.

cyndyh's avatar

How about “waiting for the other shoe to drop”?

cyndyh's avatar

Hey, thanks! That’s pretty cool! :^>

Yetanotheruser's avatar

The classical Greek phrase transliterated; I can’t figure out how to type Greek script here ‘Omoion estin ‘omoion philon literally translates to “Like things are like to like things.” My Greek professor said the idiomatic translation would be Birds of a feather flock together!

OneBadApple's avatar

@cyndyh As I understand it, “The whole nine yards” derives from radio communication between fighter pilots and their gunner, who during World War I carried 27 feet of machine gun rounds with them for each mission.

Pilot: “Have we fired-off all of our ammunition ?”
Gunner: “Yes, sir. The whole nine yards….”

Yetanotheruser's avatar

“Let the cat out of the bag” and “pig in a poke” seem to be related. Letting the “cat” out of the bag would show that the “pig” in the poke was actually a cat!

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