Advertisement Upgrade to remove ads

Throw Down the Gauntlet

issue a challenge dramatically


Someone's source of inspiration (usually artistic)


situation or experience that is bizarre, surreal, or anxiety-producing


noisy confusion, sometimes caused by different languages


someone unusually optimistic, always looking at the bright side, excessively cheerful or naive


Automatic, unthinking response

Steal Thunder

to take credit

Sour Grapes

refers to the attitude of a person who did not get what they wanted and then concluded that it wasn't that great anyway

Sold Down the River

betrayed or misled, usually by someone trusted


someone who causes one's downfall; the downfall itself

Pyrrhic Victory

in which the winner's victory comes at great expense that's scarcely better than losing

Flash in the Pan

something/someone who shows great promise but ultimately disappoints

Handwriting on the Wall

indication of coming misfortune

Albatross Around the Neck

burdensome, ongoing, ever-present problem


marked by resistance to authority or rebellion against established order


An especially destructive force that defies opposition

Red Herring

diverting someone onto a false trail


referring to a hypocrite who upholds the letter of the law, but not the spirit


slogan or catchword used by or associated with a particular party, group, or sect. (Who Dat!?)


deliberate use of evasive or ambiguous language (Maybe Apollo's priests used this. Punny)

Murphy's Law

"if anything can go wrong, it will."


repulsive or terrifying woman (I know a few of these); also applied to extraordinarily wild, unruly hair

Hoist with One's own Petard

caught in one's own trap or beaten at one's own game (pwned)


person who is blamed or punished for others

Don Quixote/quixotic

foolish or impractically idealistic

Tilting at Windmills

Naive attempt to be heroic


wildly chaotic or extremely noisy

Benedict Arnold

refers to a traitor

Delphic Oracle

"delphic"- ambiguous and difficult to interpret (maybe they're using doublespeak)

Over a Barrel

unable to act independently (do a barrel roll!)


refers to a person with no appreciation for culture and whose tastes are commonplace (and whose only concerns are about their GPA)

Faust/Faustian Bargain

sacrificing one's self or one's values in exchange for getting what one desires, often material wealth (or Gretchen! Maybe Benedict Arnold did this.)

Coals to Newcastle

refers to giving a superfluous gift or making a contribution that is gratuitous and unnecessary

Freudian Slip

you should know this without anyone having to tell you...

Sisyphean/ labor of Sisyphus

seemingly endless, perhaps futile task (busywork!)


proverbially (widely spoken of), an extremely old person. (Dumbledore. Or Gandalf.)

Between Scylla and Charybdis

caught between two equal dangers in which avoiding one means getting close to another; being screwed either way; "stuck between a rock and a hard place"

Holy Grail

refers to an object that is extremely desirable or valuable and which is attainable only after a long and difficult quest (for Don Quixote, it was the demise of the windmills)


someone who opposes change, especially industrial or technological advances; possibly Amish

Pass the Buck

to shift responsibility (and often blame) to another person (to make a scapegoat)


place of decadence and corruption, kind of like the American government

Pheonix/Rising from the Ashes

symbolizing rebirth or resurrection; describing overcoming great obstacles


refers to any magnificent, beautiful, almost magical place (Universal Studios!)


authors or journalists who expose corruption in government or business, or other arenas

Sine quo non

refers to an essential ingredient without which an endeavor or a situation would be impossible

Witch hunt

A campaign against a part of a group of people after holding unorthodox opinions or behaving in an unconventional manner

Please allow access to your computer’s microphone to use Voice Recording.

Having trouble? Click here for help.

We can’t access your microphone!

Click the icon above to update your browser permissions above and try again


Reload the page to try again!


Press Cmd-0 to reset your zoom

Press Ctrl-0 to reset your zoom

It looks like your browser might be zoomed in or out. Your browser needs to be zoomed to a normal size to record audio.

Please upgrade Flash or install Chrome
to use Voice Recording.

For more help, see our troubleshooting page.

Your microphone is muted

For help fixing this issue, see this FAQ.

Star this term

You can study starred terms together

NEW! Voice Recording