Idioms

Learn idioms with comprehensive meaning, examples and origin details.

Idioms

Idioms beginning with D

drop like flies

drop like flies

Meaning

  • many people falling ill or dying around the same time
  • faint, collapse or die in large numbers
  • rapidly decrease in number
  • drop out of a group in large numbers

Example Sentences

  1. It was flu season and people in our office were dropping like flies.
  2. In the beginning, a lot of people signed up for the health program, but after a few months they started dropping like flies.
  3. When one of the children in the class got infected, most of the other children started dropping like flies.
  4. We had an especially harsh summer this year. The heat was unbearable and people were dropping like flies.
  5. The contest was so difficult that the participants were dropping like flies.
  6. A mysterious and deadly illness was spreading throughout the region, claiming lives and stretching the healthcare system, as people were dropping like flies.
  7. If any one of us catches the virus, all of us will be dropping like flies, so be careful.

Origin
The phrase refers to the short life span of a fly, and also to the fact that they die in large numbers if someone decides to kill them. The earliest printed occurrence is found in newspaper The Atlanta Constitution in May 1902.

down to the wire

go down to the wire

Meaning

  • a situation where the outcome is not decided until the very end
  • something that ends in the last minute
  • until the last moment
  • become clear at the last moment

Example Sentences

  1. With both teams being equally matched and putting up an exceptional display, the match was very exiting and went down to the wire.
  2. Since both the candidates are equally popular, this year’s election looks to be going down to the wire.
  3. With the deadline coming up and the project not being on track, the team worked right down to the wire to complete it on time.
  4. The race went down to the wire with the local favourite winning it by a very small margin.
  5. They had a treasure hunt contest and it went down to the wire, with two teams being neck and neck most of the time.
  6. They went down to the wire and it was impossible to tell who would win till the very last moment.

Origin
The phrase originated in horse racing, where a wire was hung above the finish line to help determine the winner. Races that were very close were described as coming down to the wire. An early occurrence of the phrase can be found in the Scribner’s Magazine in July 1889, in an article titled “How the Derby Was Won”.

don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

don’t look a gift horse in the mouth

also never look a gift horse in the mouth

Meaning

  • don’t be ungrateful when you receive a gift
  • do not be critical of a gift you receive
  • do not refuse something good that is offered
  • do not be unappreciative of or question a gift you have received.

Example Sentences

  1. I know you don’t like the dress very much, but it was a gift; you should not look a gift horse in the mouth.
  2. Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth, be grateful for what you have received.
  3. He gave his old car as a gift; I know its not a great one, but I wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
  4. It’s not what you were hoping for, but it’s the best he could afford; I would advise you not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
  5. If I were you, I wouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Just be grateful that he was kind enough to give you his old watch when you needed one.

Origin
This phrase alludes to the fact that the age, hence the usefulness, of a horse can be determined by looking at its teeth. The expression says that if a horse is given as a gift, you should not look at its teeth to determine its quality. It is an ancient expression and the exact origin is unknown. However, the first print occurrence in English is found in 1546 in John Heywood’s “A dialogue conteinyng the nomber in effect of all the prouerbes in the Englishe tongue” (middle English). The phrase can be traced further back to the Latin text of St Jerome, The Letter to the Ephesians, in AD 400.

dog days

dog days

Meaning

  • hot, sultry days
  • hottest days of summer

Example Sentences

  1. During the dog days of summer, people prefer to remain indoors and go out as little as possible.
  2. The village lies in the hottest part of the country and during the dog days of summer, the little stream that runs through it dries up completely.
  3. The dog days of summer are a difficult period for those who have to work out in the open.
  4. It is advisable to drink lots of water and eat food that cools you down during the dog days of summer.
  5. We don’t expect much of the repair work to be done during the dog days of summer.
  6. During the dog days of summer, I always plan a long vacation to the cooler climes of the mountains.
  7. Once, we had gone on a hike during the dog days of summer. It was a tough task, but it tested our endurance to the limit.

Origin
This phrase originated from the belief of early Romans, Greeks or Egyptians that the hot summer days were caused by the Earth’s proximity to the dog star Sirius during the summer months. The Romans referred to the late summer period as dies caniculares, meaning dog star days.

double date

double date

Meaning

  • a date on which two couples go together
  • an occasion when two couples go out together
  • a date where two people and their partners go together
  • a social engagement in which two couples participate together

Example Sentences

  1. When Jim and Sam went on a double date with their girlfriends, they had a fun evening together.
  2. Well, now that you are dating my girlfriend’s brother, we can go on a double date sometime; it would really be fun, what do you say?
  3. They had gone on a double date with another couple who were their friends, and had a really good time together.
  4. When they went on a date to the restaurant, they met an old friend who was on a date with his partner, so they joined up and had a double date.
  5. Bill asked two girls at the club whether they would like to go on a double date with him and his friend.
  6. Tom wanted Sally to go on a date with a friend of his, but when she was reluctant, he said that he would also go along with his wife, so it would be a double date.

Origin
The origin of the phrase is not known.

dead ringer

dead ringer

Meaning

  • A duplicate of the exact nature.
  • A substitute for something.
  • An imposter.

Example Sentences

  1. She is a dead ringer of one of my friends. I in fact walked up to her at an event mistaking her for my friend.
  2. The car that is parked in that garage is a dead ringer of the car that my dad used to own a couple of years back.
  3. I used to have a gold necklace which had a dead ringer fake, you would never be able to find out which is the real one.
  4. I’ve heard that they change the crown jewels by their dead ringers so that they are protected from thieves. Is that true?

Origin
Since the 1900’s a ringer is a term that is used for a horse that substitutes another one in order to confuse and subsequently defraud bookies before races. This term has been used in the year 1882 where it has been defined. It referred to another horse that was a very close duplicate. To ring means to exchange or to substitute something.

The relevance of the word ‘dead’ in this phrase means ‘exact’. It is used similar to ‘dead center’ and ‘dead shot’. This phrase is said to have been coined in the 19th century itself and was used in 1888.

dry run

dry run

Meaning

  • a rehearsal before the actual performance
  • Used in terms of performances as well as a corporate jargon which means to give something a trial before it is actually launched.

Example Sentences

  1. Today is only a dry run so we will not be using the actual costumes.
  2. The company launched the service as a dry run to understand what the customers actually want from it.
  3. It is best to give it a dry run to check if the colour bleeds before you put the garment in the washing machine with your other clothes.

Origin
In 1941, a publication called the Gettysburg Times published this phrase in the United States. The expression has been around for longer which provides a sense of the actual (performance). In the early 1800s, in the United States and particularly North America they had streams which would be flooded during rainy season but went dry in the summers. The word run attached to dry merely pointed to its meaning, that is, route.

Another possible explanation again comes from the United States where the fire department would have rehearsals that would be ‘dry’ instead of ‘wet’, that is, water was not used in these rehearsals. In 1896, Salem Daily News used the term wet run. By the 1900’s the idea of a dry run being a rehearsal was pretty set.

doozy

doozy or doozie

Meaning

  • it is something that is unique
  • an outstanding formation of some sort
  • it is an unusual thing, could relate to being positive or negative, although originally the phrase was meant as a positive.

Usage
Also written as ‘Doozie’. The phrase is used as a slang more than an idiom.

Example Sentences

  1. It’s a doozy of a painting, she is so creative.
  2. It was a doozy of a ride since the countryside is just so scenic.
  3. This one was a doozy of a storm, we were stuck in our houses for almost 4 hours.
  4. It was a doozy of an exam, I must have hardly answered one question correctly.
  5. These flowers are great and make the room look doozy.

Origin
Between the years 1920s and 1930’s an automobile known as the ‘Duesies’ was launched by Fred and August Duesenburg, which brought the word ‘Doozy’ more into popularity. The noun was already in place by then and being used actively. The origin seems to have come from the 1836 publication of ‘The Clockmaker’ which described a perfect doll as a real daisy. In 1893, the Italian based actor Eleonora Duse exemplified someone perfect which may have then changed into ‘Doozy’ by the beginning of the 1900’s.

drink like a fish

drink like a fish

Meaning

  • This phrase means to drink heavily, which becomes worrisome.
  • It refers to alcoholic drinks more than non-alcoholic drinks but can be used for both.
  • Fishes stay in water hence to drink it, availability or capacity is not an issue. This is also reflected by the phrase.

Example Sentences

  1. At any party that he goes, he drinks like a fish. His wife ought to control this if she can.
  2. Pass that bottle to me, I can drink this like a fish because it is my favourite drink.
  3. Drink like a fish today since he has never been known to give a treat before this.
  4. At weddings people look for no excuses to drink like fishes.

Origin
The phrase originates from the closeness that fishes share with water and is meant to depict a lot of something since a fish can drink a lot water while being encompassed by it. The phrase originates in 1640 in the literary work of Fletcher and Shirley in the book titled ‘The night walker, or the little thiefe’. This was made popular in 2005 by a biological brewery in China who claimed that their fermentation was so good that they could turn fish into wine.

dish fit for the gods

a dish fit for the gods

Meaning

  • This refers to food that is of an exemplary quality
  • It literally means what it says, that is, the food is so good that it is good enough to be served to a God.
  • It also refers to offerings that many not necessarily be food but the phrase is seldom used in that context anymore.

Example Sentences

  1. She is such a wonderful cook. The cakes that she bakes are dish fit for the gods!
  2. I had this amazing Chinese soup at a restaurant. It was a dish fit for the gods.
  3. Generally his culinary skills are not great but today he has made a pie that is a dish fit for the gods.
  4. I could not go on with the kind of cooking that she did. But the minute I decided to change my housemaid she started churning out dishes fit for a god.

Origin
The phrase originates in the Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar in the year 1601. Brutus when killing Caesar, tells his men to be gentle. His speech contains that although they are killing Caesar, and that he would obviously bleed, the men should not tear him apart limb to limb. Brutus asked Caesar to be carved in a manner that he would be a dish fit for the Gods!

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