In Cahoots

…To be in a secret partnership with an individual, group or enterprise, usually with the aim of being up to no good.


“John McCain likes to talk about ‘Joe the Plumber’ but he’s in cahoots with ‘Joe the CEO.’ ” 

– Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, October 22, 2008


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Whistling Past the Graveyard

There seems to be two meanings for this idiom, both dependent on the same metaphoric setting and action — but while one is mostly positive, the other, not so much. The first connotes a situation in which a person does something (whistling, maybe?) to make of show – to others, or even more commonly, to oneself — of bravery, or at least nonchalance, in the face of danger or difficulties.

The second meaning describes an individual who is genuinely confident and cheerful while in pursuit of a course of action at the same time blithely oblivious to the real risks involved – i.e., clueless.

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Tell it to the Marines!

Oddly, this rejoinder has two connotations, one British and negative, the other American, and entirely positive. The Brit meaning depends on a widespread belief that as a class of soldiers, marines are exceptionally gullible (their marines, not ours) and implies that only fools would accept a particular story or set of facts as true.

On the other hand, the American version posits that U.S. Marines, as a group, are exceptionally tough, discerning, quick thinking and quick acting, and that anyone who says or does anything harmful to America must be prepared to accept the consequences.

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Hey Rube

“Hey Rube!” is a rallying cry used by circus and carnival workers who find themselves in a serious confrontation with customers. It is used to summon backup from fellow workers, and can be employed as an expression for the fight itself.

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Hunky Dory

Hunky dory is a slang term used to describe a situation, event, or condition as just right and good. It is a sunny, happy expression, mostly applied to everyday happenings.

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Cooking with Gas

“Cooking with gas” means performing a difficult task with maximum efficiency and capability. There is a hint in the expression that an obstacle had to be overcome in order to achieve a state of “cooking with gas.”

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