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Category: Idioms and Sayings
  1. What does "there's something rotten in the state of Denmark" mean? Has something happened in Denmark?
  2. What does "on the qt" mean, please?
  3. What's the meaning of "kiss away"?
  4. What does 'fingers are crossed' mean? Is it a positive or negative saying?


  5. I hear some persons say " I wanna to go to school or I am gonna to make this and this. I just want to ask about the words wanna and gonna; what do they mean? when and how to use them?
  6. Hello, I have read this in a book. but I didn't understand what is exactly meant by it. could you please tell me. " Deepen your receptivity, that you recieve on every level of your being the experiences in your life." Thanx
  7. What does it mean if someone says "I dont want to cut a sorry figure again by calling you and getting a negative reponse"?
  8. I would like to have a list of popular idioms and sayings that I could show to my students and was wondering if you could recommend a good website (preferably with both the French and the English ones).
  9. What does "hard-edged reality" mean?
  10. What is the meaning of (1)Foot in mouth and (2)Tongue in cheek ?
  11. hello.. I'd like to know what's the meaning of the phrase " Head over heals " thanks
  12. Not a queston, but rather an extension on a given answer... In addition to "kissing away" s/th (an opportunity, for example), it's also possible to "kiss s/th goodbye" As with most idioms, I suppose its a regional variation: I've heard it used frequently in the Mids/North of England.
  13. what do" am i bovvered ?" and "yeah but , no but " mean?
  14. as straight as..........?
  15. as deaf as .............?
  16. as easy as............?
  17. Which one of these is grammatically right, "Finish in style" or "Finish with style" ?
  18. What does the phrase: strap on your shoes...mean? Thanks
  19. what do "slip of the tongue'' and "several sandwiches short of a picnic" mean?
  20. What is the game called (scissor, hammer and ?)? Thanks, Student Fan
  21. I have tried hard to learn idioms however it always turn to failure please give me some tips to best master them.
  22. Hi ! Actually I speak German and now I wonder what "I got it beat" means ? greets :)
  23. Hello What are the expressions one can use when something like dirty socks smells really bad? When i was with my English friend, if something smelled very bad, she said an expression that sounded like "Pwor!". How does one spell that expression and what does one say after it? I thank you very much for your wonderful website. It is great help to me! Anisha
  24. first of all I would like to express my honest admiration of your wonderful site then I would like to ask you about the meaning of this idiom <> also i hope to be a good friend of you thnx
  25. What is the meaning of "you are putting your dirty finger on my pie"?
  26. what is meant by "living on the edge"
  27. Why do we say that the alarm went off, when it in fact turned on? Similarly, why do we call it a common "cold" when we are sick with a fever and are feeling hot?
  28. Tell me 5 idioms that describe being helpful.
  29. What is the meaning of "Whims & fancies". I request you to please give an example. Thanks
  30. For understanding novels or literature it is necessarily to learn Idioms.
  31. What is the actual meaning of the phrase/idiom "To cut a sorry figure" ?
  32. What does "a child can read you like a has-been out to grass"? TIA
  33. What does it mean when you ''kiss by the book''? It's in Shakespeare's play 'Romeo and Juliet'.
  34. what does this idiom mean a bird in hand
  35. what does this idiom mean joy to the bream
  36. what does the idiom "gone out of style" mean ?
  37. what does it mean " Do not poke your nose in other people''s affairs, lest you should not cut a sorry figure". ------------------ What does "Do not poke your nose in other people's affairs, lest you should cut a sorry figure" mean?
  38. Hi.Ellie. These days I saw toy story 3 for learning Enghlish. so I find many expression which don't guess the meaning of. what's the mean this? and when we use this saying? I'm callin' it -------------------- Hi Ellie I recently watched Toy Story 3, for learning English, but I found many expression which I couldn't guess the meaning of. What does this mean, and when should we use this saying? "I'm callin' it"
  39. Dear Ellie: Q1) Familiar saying of Shakespeare "Grief makes one hour ten" (right or wrong) Q2) As Familiar saying is "Grief makes one hour ten" (right or wrong) Q3) This is a saying "Grief makes one hour ten" (right or wrong) Would you please answers those questions. Regards: Aamir
  40. he lives within honest means-is this sentence grammatically correct? ------------------------ "He lives within honest means." Is this sentence grammatically correct?
  41. what does it mean "toy example"? thank you! ----------------------- What does "toy example" mean? Thank you!
  42. a green horn --------------------- What is a green horn?
  43. THE TEACHER POURED COLD WATER ON MY SUGGESTION.POURED COLD WATER MEANS WHAT? ----------------------- The teacher poured cold water on my suggestion. What does "poured cold water on" mean?
  44. am i go? Is this correct, if yes then explain.
  45. I would like to know the exactly meaning of( don't start anything you can't stop) ------------------------ I would like to know the exact meaning of (don't start anything you can't stop).
  46. Dear Ellie There is a proverb in English which says if you give sb an inch they will take a mile meaning if you give sb a little freedom or power they take more. Are there any expressions or verbs meaning the same? Thanks
  47. What does? on balance mean in this sentence resolved that on balance the rise of Brazil, Russia, & India, China, (BRIC) has had a positive impact on the United state --------------------------- What does on balance mean in this sentence? "... resolved that on balance the rise of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, (BRIC) has had a positive impact on the United states..."
  48. Two decades hashad have swung by-which is correct?
  49. a white elephant is an idiom what does it mean ---------------- A white elephant is an idiom. What does it mean?
  50. what is the meaning of (( A kick in the teeth ))? ------------------------ What is the meaning of "A kick in the teeth"?
  51. What does putting measures in place mean? I googled it but the definitions confused me, so I would like a simple but clear explanation - for 10 points. Thank you
  52. "We have been talking for at cross purposes.'' Can you tell me what it means? Can we use about with discuss? If no, why?
  53. Hello Ellie I've been fighting to understand a specific idiom the whole last evening+night, but it seems like it doesn't matter how many sources and dicationaries I looked up to, I just can't GET it. I was hopeful you could help me please? The idiom is "Boil down to" and the sentence which I heard this idiom included in, was 'It boils down to trust." Please, I'm really desperate,I do not understand the both exampls which I wrote.I'm feeling so unkind about that, especially because usually I'm a quick study. I don't know what is wrong with my ability to understand with this one... Thank you so much, I appreciate your help so very much. Limor -------------------------- Hello Ellie I've been fighting to understand a specific idiom since last evening+night, but it seems like it doesn't matter how many sources and dictionaries I look it up in, I just can't GET it. I was hoping you could help me. Please! The idiom is "Boil down to" and the sentence I heard this idiom in, was 'It boils down to trust." Please, I'm really desperate, I do not understand the examples and I'm feeling so unhappy about it, especially because usually I'm a quick study. I don't know what is wrong with my ability to understand this one... Thank you so much, I appreciate your help so very much. Limor
  54. Hello Ellie, I've got a new question to ask you, I'm hopeful and sure you could help with that out... I heard this saying: "shameless plug" and looked that up online but still didn't figure it out as I wish I would. Could you clarify it to me please? Thank you in advance for all the grear work you're doing here. =)
  55. I looked in the dictionary for the meaning but i still don't understand it. Like wallowing in self pity or wallowing in sadness wallowing in anything really i dont understand what it means
  56. I\'m sorry that my question is not based on the category. I just want to ask, what are the differences between phrases and slangs?could you give me the example?Thank you



  1. What does "there's something rotten in the state of Denmark" mean? Has something happened in Denmark?

    This isn't really an idiom it is a saying and originally it came out of Shakespeare's play Hamlet.

    Hamlet as you may or may not know was the son of the previous king of Denmark, his father allegedly died of a snakebite, but was actually murdered. Another character in the play Marcellus (who like everybody else surely suspects foul play) says, "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."

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  2. What does "on the qt" mean, please?

    Q T as in the saying "Keep it on the Q T", simply means quietly, or between you and I, or secretly.

    If I tell you something on the qt I expect you to keep it confidential.

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  3. What's the meaning of "kiss away"?


    If you "kiss away" something you are going to lose that thing.
    For example:-
    If you sign that document you can kiss away your rights. If you kiss that woman you can kiss away your marriage.

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  4. What does 'fingers are crossed' mean? Is it a positive or negative saying?



    Great question!

    If you "cross your fingers" you are hoping that something (usually something positive) will happen. You usually cross the second finger of the right hand over the first finger of the right hand. Strangely in Germany they "Press their thumbs" "Drucken die Daumen"!

    For example:-
    I am buying a lottery ticket this Saturday. Fingers crossed!
    When I heard about the new initiative on the peace process I crossed my fingers.
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  5. I hear some persons say " I wanna to go to school or I am gonna to make this and this. I just want to ask about the words wanna and gonna; what do they mean? when and how to use them?
    Wanna and gonna are both slang terms (originally from the USA). Wanna means "want to". Gonna means "going to". Neither will help you pass an English test, so be careful, but they are in common usage - especially on MTV!
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  6. Hello, I have read this in a book. but I didn't understand what is exactly meant by it. could you please tell me. " Deepen your receptivity, that you recieve on every level of your being the experiences in your life." Thanx
    To deepen your receptivity means to open your mind and being to new experiences. If we are receptive it means we are willing to listen to and accept new ideas and suggestions.
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  7. What does it mean if someone says "I dont want to cut a sorry figure again by calling you and getting a negative reponse"?
    To cut a sorry figure means to appear pathetic and sad. So the person is unwilling to phone someone in case they reject him/her. To cut a figure means, to create an image. To cut a fine figure means, to be admired for your appearance, usually because you are wearing attractive clothes. To cut a sorry figure means the opposite. You can also cut an [interesting/ridiculous/unusual etc.] figure.
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  8. I would like to have a list of popular idioms and sayings that I could show to my students and was wondering if you could recommend a good website (preferably with both the French and the English ones).
    I have only been able to find one site dedicated to French idioms, with English translations:- http://www.uwosh.edu/organizations/french/idiom.html There are several good sites with English idioms, but none with French translations:- http://www.idiomconnection.com/ http://www.learnenglish.de/idiompage.htm - my own page - sorted into themes
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  9. What does "hard-edged reality" mean?
    If something is hard-edged, it's very clear. So, hard edged reality means something that is so clear and obvious you can't argue with it.
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  10. What is the meaning of (1)Foot in mouth and (2)Tongue in cheek ?
    1. If you put your foot in your mouth - you don't do so literally - it just means you have said something you regret (usually something inappropriate at the wrong time). 2. If you say something with your tongue in your cheek - again not literally - it means you are joking.
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  11. hello.. I'd like to know what's the meaning of the phrase " Head over heals " thanks
    I think you mean "Head over heels". It generally refers to being in love, when your emotions make you feel topsy turvy. You can read about the etymology behind this idiom here:- http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-hea3.htm
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  12. Not a queston, but rather an extension on a given answer... In addition to "kissing away" s/th (an opportunity, for example), it's also possible to "kiss s/th goodbye" As with most idioms, I suppose its a regional variation: I've heard it used frequently in the Mids/North of England.
    Indeed. If you don't expect to see something again - you can kiss it goodbye. For example: What! You lent her £1,000? Well you can kiss that goodbye.
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  13. what do" am i bovvered ?" and "yeah but , no but " mean?
    It means you've been watching too much TV. They are both slang. Yeah but no but = teen trying to annoy his/her parent / teacher. Am I bovvered = slang for "Am I bothered?" as in "I don't care."
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  14. as straight as..........?
    a die an arrow a ruler a plumb-line etc....
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  15. as deaf as .............?
    a post a door-nail
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  16. as easy as............?
    pie ABC
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  17. Which one of these is grammatically right, "Finish in style" or "Finish with style" ?
    Finish in style, is more commonly used.
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  18. What does the phrase: strap on your shoes...mean? Thanks
    Without knowing the context I can only think it's an invitation to go out, maybe to go dancing or to go for a walk.
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  19. what do "slip of the tongue'' and "several sandwiches short of a picnic" mean?
    A slip of the tongue is when you say something you shouldn't have. For example: if you tell someone a secret by mistake you might say. "Oops sorry, that was a slip of the tongue. Please pretend you didn't hear me." There are some more idioms to do with the body on the web site. Several sandwiches short of a full picnic means - crazy. LOL Here are a few more ways of saying someone is crazy.
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  20. What is the game called (scissor, hammer and ?)? Thanks, Student Fan
    One question at a time. I think you mean - rock, paper, scissors
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  21. I have tried hard to learn idioms however it always turn to failure please give me some tips to best master them.
    Have fun with them and put them into context. Try learning them in groups - using flash cards etc, but don't let them distract you from expanding your daily vocabulary. ;-)
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  22. Hi ! Actually I speak German and now I wonder what "I got it beat" means ? greets :)
    It's slang, American, and as far as I know, being British, it means "I've succeeded". Any Americans know differently, please let me know.
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  23. Hello What are the expressions one can use when something like dirty socks smells really bad? When i was with my English friend, if something smelled very bad, she said an expression that sounded like "Pwor!". How does one spell that expression and what does one say after it? I thank you very much for your wonderful website. It is great help to me! Anisha
    Eeew! Or maybe Pe ew (literally P U). I wouldn't say Pwor because it sounds too much like "phwoar" which expresses sexual desire on seeing a person that one is attracted to. Tricky isn't it. ;-)
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  24. first of all I would like to express my honest admiration of your wonderful site then I would like to ask you about the meaning of this idiom <> also i hope to be a good friend of you thnx
    The ins and outs of something are the detailed or complicated facts of how it works. For example:- I know how to use the internet, but I don't really understand the ins and outs of how it works.
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  25. What is the meaning of "you are putting your dirty finger on my pie"?
    It means you're doing something I don't want you to do by interfering in something that's none of your business. (It's not a common idiom though.)
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  26. what is meant by "living on the edge"
    If you live a life that is exciting and full of dangerous activities, then you are living on the edge. For example:- James Bond lives on the edge.
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  27. Why do we say that the alarm went off, when it in fact turned on? Similarly, why do we call it a common "cold" when we are sick with a fever and are feeling hot?
    We just like to confuse any adult who is trying to learn our language. Kids just accept it. PS - instead of "are feeling hot" try "have a high temperature". :-)
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  28. Tell me 5 idioms that describe being helpful.
    Help someone along. Help someone out. Lend someone a hand. Give someone a leg up. Go out of your way.
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  29. What is the meaning of "Whims & fancies". I request you to please give an example. Thanks
    If you do something on a whim, you do it without thinking of the consequences. For example: I always regret buying clothing on a whim, because I usually end up giving it away. If you "fancy" something, it means you have a mild craving for it. For example: I fancy a cup of tea right now. So basically "whims and fancies" are those things we do or want without any serious thought or need. ;-)
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  30. For understanding novels or literature it is necessarily to learn Idioms.
    Yes. But there are lots of idiom dictionaries online. Just type the key word for example "fox" with the word "idiom".
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  31. What is the actual meaning of the phrase/idiom "To cut a sorry figure" ?
    It's used when someone looks pathetic or acts in a pathetic way. For example:- Far from physicians being able to heal themselves, doctors cut quite a sorry figure when it comes to their personal health.
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  32. What does "a child can read you like a has-been out to grass"? TIA
    First point - I've never heard this one! But, it means you're easy to read. When you "read" someone you can see any hidden motives they may have. "A has been" is someone who isn't as good as they once were. For example, a footballer who no longer scores goals, might be considered a has been. If you're put out to grass, it means you're too old. (If they're lucky, cows are put out to grass when they're no longer producing lots of milk.) It's like retirement.
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  33. What does it mean when you ''kiss by the book''? It's in Shakespeare's play 'Romeo and Juliet'.
    If you do something "by the book" you do it exactly as the rules tell you to. In the play I think she's criticising him for not being adventurous enough.
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  34. what does this idiom mean a bird in hand
    http://www.learnenglish.de/idioms/animaldioms.htm
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  35. what does this idiom mean joy to the bream
    There's no such idiom. Are you sure it's not "joy to the brim"? Which means "full of joy". Otherwise it might mean "happy fish".
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  36. what does the idiom "gone out of style" mean ?
    It's not really an idiom, it's a saying. It simply means that something is no longer fashionable.
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  37. what does it mean " Do not poke your nose in other people''s affairs, lest you should not cut a sorry figure". ------------------ What does "Do not poke your nose in other people's affairs, lest you should cut a sorry figure" mean?
    It means don't interfere in the lives of others, or you might make yourself look foolish.
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  38. Hi.Ellie. These days I saw toy story 3 for learning Enghlish. so I find many expression which don't guess the meaning of. what's the mean this? and when we use this saying? I'm callin' it -------------------- Hi Ellie I recently watched Toy Story 3, for learning English, but I found many expression which I couldn't guess the meaning of. What does this mean, and when should we use this saying? "I'm callin' it"
    OK - I haven't seen the film, and I couldn't find the script on-line, so at a guess, you would normally say "I'm calling it" when you are playing cards (poker). When you "call" something in this context, you put the minimum amount of money necessary to continue playing into the pot. Used idiomatically the character is probably challenging someone. If this doesn't make sense, let me know. You might like to join the Learn English - Movie forum, where we discuss things like this:- http://learnenglishonline.yuku.com/forums/71/Films-Movies-Theater
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  39. Dear Ellie: Q1) Familiar saying of Shakespeare "Grief makes one hour ten" (right or wrong) Q2) As Familiar saying is "Grief makes one hour ten" (right or wrong) Q3) This is a saying "Grief makes one hour ten" (right or wrong) Would you please answers those questions. Regards: Aamir
    Amir, I'm not sure what your question is. I do hope this isn't the sort of thing you are given when learning English. Shakespeare wrote Richard II around 1595. If you mean which of the sentences is correct - # 3. But I would say:- "Grief makes one hour ten," is a famous quote from 'Richard II', by Shakespeare. ------------------------- Richard II John of Gaunt: What is six winters? they are quickly gone. Bolingbroke: To men in joy; but grief makes one hour ten.
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  40. he lives within honest means-is this sentence grammatically correct? ------------------------ "He lives within honest means." Is this sentence grammatically correct?
    You could say "He lives by honest means", which means he doesn't do anything dishonest to make a living and implies he isn't wealthy.
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  41. what does it mean "toy example"? thank you! ----------------------- What does "toy example" mean? Thank you!
    I have never heard this used in an idiomatic way. I can only presume it means an example you can play around with.
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  42. a green horn --------------------- What is a green horn?
    This is an American idiom, used to describe someone who is naive or inexperienced.
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  43. THE TEACHER POURED COLD WATER ON MY SUGGESTION.POURED COLD WATER MEANS WHAT? ----------------------- The teacher poured cold water on my suggestion. What does "poured cold water on" mean?
    To pour / throw cold water on something is an idiom, which means the teacher didn't like your idea and criticised it, or pointed out all the reasons why s/he thought it wasn't a good idea, and by doing so you may have given up on the idea. Luckily, no water is actually used. :)
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  44. am i go? Is this correct, if yes then explain.
    It's the sort of thing an American soldier might say. Too slang for a Brit like me. PS - Am I go? Someone might use this to ask permission to do something, but it's slang and won't win you any points in a test.
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  45. I would like to know the exactly meaning of( don't start anything you can't stop) ------------------------ I would like to know the exact meaning of (don't start anything you can't stop).
    Usually it's "Don't start anything you can't finish." And I've heard it said just before a fight began. In other words, don't begin something unless you are sure you have the capability to complete it successfully.
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  46. Dear Ellie There is a proverb in English which says if you give sb an inch they will take a mile meaning if you give sb a little freedom or power they take more. Are there any expressions or verbs meaning the same? Thanks
    To take advantage of someone. To take a liberty.
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  47. What does? on balance mean in this sentence resolved that on balance the rise of Brazil, Russia, & India, China, (BRIC) has had a positive impact on the United state --------------------------- What does on balance mean in this sentence? "... resolved that on balance the rise of Brazil, Russia, India, and China, (BRIC) has had a positive impact on the United states..."
    It means that there have been negative and positive points, but the overall impact is positive.
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  48. Two decades hashad have swung by-which is correct?
    I wouldn't used swing by. It means a brief visit, as in:- I'll swing by your place later. Remember to try to put these kinds of questions in context. In the context of say a prisoner being released you could say:- Two decades had passed before he was released. Two decades have passed, and now he is being released.
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  49. a white elephant is an idiom what does it mean ---------------- A white elephant is an idiom. What does it mean?
    We use it to describe something useless. At the moment it's used a lot to describe buildings in Spain that are expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18855961 (I'll add this to the animal idioms page - so thanks.) :) http://www.learnenglish.de/idioms/animaldioms.htm
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  50. what is the meaning of (( A kick in the teeth ))? ------------------------ What is the meaning of "A kick in the teeth"?
    Well it could be literal if you're in a fight, but if you mean the idiom, it means a feeling of huge disappointment, usually because someone has let you down.
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  51. What does putting measures in place mean? I googled it but the definitions confused me, so I would like a simple but clear explanation - for 10 points. Thank you
    It simply means someone is doing something to deal with a situation, and they don't want to say exactly what it is they are doing. For example:- Someone was trying to hack the Network, so measures were put into place to block them.
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  52. "We have been talking for at cross purposes.'' Can you tell me what it means? Can we use about with discuss? If no, why?
    Firstly it should be: "We have been talking at cross purposes.'' It's a commonly used phrase, and so people expect to see "talking". It simply means you have been discussing something and suddenly realise the person you are speaking with hasn't been talking about the same thing, or has completely misunderstood what you are trying to say.
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  53. Hello Ellie I've been fighting to understand a specific idiom the whole last evening+night, but it seems like it doesn't matter how many sources and dicationaries I looked up to, I just can't GET it. I was hopeful you could help me please? The idiom is "Boil down to" and the sentence which I heard this idiom included in, was 'It boils down to trust." Please, I'm really desperate,I do not understand the both exampls which I wrote.I'm feeling so unkind about that, especially because usually I'm a quick study. I don't know what is wrong with my ability to understand with this one... Thank you so much, I appreciate your help so very much. Limor -------------------------- Hello Ellie I've been fighting to understand a specific idiom since last evening+night, but it seems like it doesn't matter how many sources and dictionaries I look it up in, I just can't GET it. I was hoping you could help me. Please! The idiom is "Boil down to" and the sentence I heard this idiom in, was 'It boils down to trust." Please, I'm really desperate, I do not understand the examples and I'm feeling so unhappy about it, especially because usually I'm a quick study. I don't know what is wrong with my ability to understand this one... Thank you so much, I appreciate your help so very much. Limor
    Hi Limor, Don't worry, idioms can be tricky things to grasp. This one simply means that the most important thing about whatever was being discussed is trust. If you boil something the liquid evaporates and what is left behind is any solid matter. The idiom implies that what has evaporated was unimportant and what is left is the most important thing. Here is a song full of idioms like this:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtqJMGjjhPI
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  54. Hello Ellie, I've got a new question to ask you, I'm hopeful and sure you could help with that out... I heard this saying: "shameless plug" and looked that up online but still didn't figure it out as I wish I would. Could you clarify it to me please? Thank you in advance for all the grear work you're doing here. =)
    Ah, this is nothing to do with the kind of plug you might find on a kettle, or in a bath. In this context, a plug is like an advert. It's used when someone mentions something in order to promote it. A lot of shameless plugging goes on nowadays, because of the internet. People plug their product using hashtags on Twitter, or by embedding links on other people's Facebook pages. Personally I try to avoid "plugging" the network, but even I am guilty sometimes. ;) PS - I hope you meant "great". ;)
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  55. I looked in the dictionary for the meaning but i still don't understand it. Like wallowing in self pity or wallowing in sadness wallowing in anything really i dont understand what it means
    Hippos wallow in mud, and they really enjoy it. http://youtu.be/1QW85kfakJc To wallow in self pity implies that the person is secretly enjoying the sheer misery of it all.
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  56. I\'m sorry that my question is not based on the category. I just want to ask, what are the differences between phrases and slangs?could you give me the example?Thank you
    A phrase is a collection of words which is part of the grammatical structure of a sentence. Slang is informal language. A phrase might include some slang.
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