Idioms title

The Idiom Attic - a collection of hundreds of English idioms, each one explained.

"number" idioms...

See also, the Phrase Thesaurus list of phrases that contain the word number

and, a list of phrases that relate in some way the word number

" A dime a dozen "
Meaning:
So commonplace as to be of little consequence.
Example:
Red buses in London. they’re a dime a dozen.
Where did it originate?:
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   money   america  
" A picture paints a thousand words "
Meaning:
Pictures are far more descriptive than words.
Example:
I tried to describe that fantastic sunset and then she just showed them a photo. You know it’s true - a picture paints a thousand words.
Where did it originate?:
Where is it used?:
A very widely and commonly used proverb/adage.
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More idioms about:   language   adage   america  
" A stitch in time saves nine "
Meaning:
A small effort made at the right time might save a calamity later on.
Example:
Fixing that frayed rope was a real stitch in time. It would probably have snapped when the wind got up later if we hadn’t.
Where did it originate?:
Britain. A very old proverb.
Where is it used?:
In use worldwide, but less commonly than before and mainly by the older generation.
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More idioms about:   effort   time   adage  
" Back to square one "
Meaning:
Back to the beginning.
Example:
He had nearly climbed the cliff before he slipped off. Now it's back to square one.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, early 20th century.
Where is it used?:
In the UK, but less so than a few years ago.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   sport   failure  
" Baker's dozen "
Meaning:
Thirteen.
Example:
There's got to be at least twelve in each box. Better just pack a baker's dozen to be sure.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 17th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   food  
" Caught between two stools "
Meaning:
Finding it difficult to choose between two alternatives.
Example:
I'd like to go to the game and stay in for the birthday party. I'm between two stools.
Where did it originate?:
14th century Britain.
Where is it used?:
Worldwide, but less commonly so that in the past.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   household_items  
" Double header "
Meaning:
A sports expression denoting two events held at the same time.
Example:
The semi-finals are always played together as a double-header to give no team an advantage.
Where did it originate?:
USA, late 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Mostly USA.
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More idioms about:   sport   america  
" Dressed to the nines "
Meaning:
Very smartly dressed, in one's best clothes.
Example:
It's my daughter's wedding today. All the family will be dressed to the nines.
Where did it originate?:
Britain - 19th century.
Where is it used?:
In the UK, mostly amongst the older generation.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   fashion  
" Eighty six "
Meaning:
Referring to an item on a menu that is no longer available.
Example:
I would have had the mushroom risotto but they're eighty-sixed it.
Where did it originate?:
USA, mid-20th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   food   america  
" First World "
Meaning:
The industrialised affluent and wealthy nations.
Example:
The rise of China and India means we may have to redefine the First World before long.
Where did it originate?:
USA, mid 20th century.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   location   america  
" First World problem "
Meaning:
A relatively trivial problem only affecting the affluent.
Example:
Jack's complaining again that his 48 inch screen is giving him eyestrain. That's a First World problem if there ever was.
Where did it originate?:
USA, late 20th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   location   america  
" First among equals "
Meaning:
The most senior person in a group of equal rank.
Example:
The British Prime Ministership is a cabinet post, no different from his colleagues, but the position is always considered to be the first among equals.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 18th century. Often used to describe the British Prime Minister and his/her cabinet, although the first usage pre-dates that.
Where is it used?:
Mostly Britain.
Hear the idiom spoken:
" First footing "
Meaning:
Making a round of visits at New Year.
Example:
As soon as the clock strikes midnight on 31st December we'll be off around town first footing all our neighbours.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, especially Scotland, from 19th century onward.
Where is it used?:
Mostly Scotland but has travelled with Scots throughout the world.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   the_human_body   date  
" It takes two to tango "
Meaning:
It takes two people to cause a problem between them.
Example:
Maybe Jack did provoke the argument but he couldn't argue on his own could he? - it takes two to tango.
Where did it originate?:
USA, from a popular 1952 song of the same name.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   dance   adage   america  
" Kill two birds with one stone "
Meaning:
Accomplish two things with a single action.
Example:
When I chop the wood I get warm too. You could say I kill two birds with one stone.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 17th century. Found in the writings of Thomas Hobbes.
Where is it used?:
More idioms about:   animals   death  
" Nine to five "
Meaning:
A standard office day, between 9am and 5pm. Often used to denote the boring nature of the weekly working routine.
Example:
This 9 to 5 slog really gets me down by about wednesday - I'm waiting for the weekend to come.
Where did it originate?:
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   clock   work  
" On cloud nine "
Meaning:
Blissfully happy.
Example:
The day after George proposed to her, Mildred won the lottery. She's on cloud nine.
Where did it originate?:
USA, 20th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   weather   happiness   america  
" Once in a blue moon "
Meaning:
A rare occurrence.
Example:
West Bromwich Albion have won the cup. but only every once in a blue moon.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   colour   nature   luck  
" Sixth sense "
Meaning:
An imaginary intuitive facility.
Example:
My sixth sense is telling me that I'm going to meet my perfect partner today.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 17th century.
Where is it used?:
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More idioms about:   trickery  
" The glorious twelfth "
Meaning:
The 12th of August - the start of the British grouse shooting season.
Example:
Just two weeks to go. I've booked all the beaters and the trip to the grouse moor is all set - bring on the glorious twelfth.
Where is it used?:
Britain.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   animals   date   excellence  
" The whole nine yards "
Meaning:
The full entirety of something.
Example:
The allies went full-on in the attack on Baghdad - bombs, missiles, the whole nine yards.
Where did it originate?:
The origin is unknown (and is probably the most sought after origin in all of etymology). Either USA or UK, early in the 20th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
" Third time lucky "
Meaning:
Said when trying something for the third time.
Example:
Two divorces and now I'm engaged again. Let's hope it's third time lucky.
Where did it originate?:
Britain, 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   luck  
" Third times a charm "
Meaning:
The third try is often successful.
Example:
Have you noticed that, in TV dramas, when the police try a lock with a set of keys it's always the third that works. They must think third times a charm.
Where did it originate?:
Originated in Ireland in the 1830s and was later adopted in American speech.
Where is it used?:
Worldwide, but more common in the USA than elsewhere.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   luck  
" Twenty three skidoo "
Meaning:
Invitation to go away.
Example:
Hey, you kids, get off my garden - twenty three skidoo!
Hear the idiom spoken:
" Two and eight "
Meaning:
Cockney rhyming slang for state.
Example:
His clothes were awry and he'd lost one of his shoes - he was in a right two and eight.
Where did it originate?:
Where is it used?:
Mostly Britain.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   cockney_rhyming_slang  
" Work out "
Meaning:
1. Calculate using arithmetic. 2. Take exercise (also spelled 'workout').
Example:
1. We decided to share the bill for the taxi. My part worked out to four pounds. 2. I've joined the gym. My plan is to work out once a week.
Where did it originate?:
1. Britain, 16th century. 2. (As 'workout') USA, late 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Both forms used Worldwide.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   sport   america  
" Your number is up "
Meaning:
It is now your turn. For instance, if 1. You are about to die. or 2. You have won a lottery.
Example:
1. When I heard the bombers screaming towards us I was sure my number was up. 2. Who has ticket number 374? Come on down and collect your prize - your number is up.
Where did it originate?:
1. Britain, early 20th century. 2. Britain, early 19th century.
Where is it used?:
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   luck   death  
" Zip your lip "
Meaning:
Say nothing; keep your mouth shut. Often shortened to 'zip it'.
Example:
I saw Kevin put sneezing powder in the staff room but he told me to zip my lip about it or it would spoil the joke.
Where did it originate?:
USA, 1940s. Deriving from the allusion to closing a garment with a zipper.
Where is it used?:
Worldwide, but most common in the USA.
Hear the idiom spoken:
More idioms about:   the_human_body   cliche   clothes   america  

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