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all the tea in China

A priceless amount or value; something of such great value that it cannot be quantified. Just a glimpse of your smile is worth all the tea in China to me.
See also: all, china, tea

China syndrome

A scenario in which a nuclear reactor meltdown in North America would theoretically melt a hole straight through the Earth to China (which is impossible). In more realistic usage, it describes such a meltdown reaching groundwater and forcing subsequent radioactive gases into the atmosphere. The latter scenario was used as the basis of a 1979 film of the same name starring Jack Lemmon and Jane Fonda. While many advocate nuclear power as clean and safe, the risk of catastrophes such as China syndrome make me very nervous about its use.
See also: china, syndrome

What's that got to do with the price of tea in China?

A rhetorical question calling attention to a non-sequitur or irrelevant statement or suggestion made by another person. Yes, I agree that health care is an important issue, but what's that got to do with the price of tea in China? We're discussing tax incentives for local businesses—not exactly a related topic!
See also: of, price, tea

made in China

A phrase printed on objects (or on the labels attached to objects) that have been produced in factories in China. The phrase is sometimes used derisively to highlight a lack of quality. I thought this piece was handcrafted by European artisans, but look—it says "made in China" on the bottom! I took up pottery because I was sick of using flimsy plastic cups that had been made in China!
See also: china, made

only Nixon could go to China

A phrase used to highlight a political leader's unique ability to accomplish something particularly daunting or taboo. It refers to US President Richard Nixon's landmark 1972 visit to Communist China, which established diplomatic relations between the two nations. With all of your connections, I think you'll be the first mayor to get a train station built in our town—only Nixon could go to China, right?
See also: china, could

*bull in a china shop

Prov. a very clumsy creature in a delicate situation. (*Typically: as awkward as ~; like ~.) I never know what to say at a funeral. I feel like a bull in a china shop, trampling on feelings without even meaning to. Lester felt like a bull in a china shop; reaching for an orange, he made several elaborate pyramids of fruit tumble down.
See also: bull, china, shop

not for all the tea in China

Fig. not even if you rewarded me with all the tea in China; not for anything at all. No I won't do it—not for all the tea in China.
See also: all, china, not, tea

be like a bull in a china shop

to often drop or break things because you move awkwardly or roughly Rob's like a bull in a china shop - don't let him near those plants. She's like a bull in a china shop when it comes to dealing with people's feelings. (= behaves in a way that offends people)
See also: bull, china, like, shop

would not do something for all the tea in China

if you say that you would not do something for all the tea in China, you mean that nothing could persuade you to do it I wouldn't be a teacher for all the tea in China.
See also: all, china, tea

bull in a china shop

An extremely clumsy person, as in Her living room, with its delicate furniture and knickknacks, made him feel like a bull in a china shop . The precise origin for this term has been lost; it was first recorded in Frederick Marryat's novel, Jacob Faithful (1834).
See also: bull, china, shop

not for all the tea in China

Not at any price, never, as in I wouldn't give up my car, not for all the tea in China. This term originated in Australia and alludes to the presumed huge quantity of tea in China. [Late 1800s] Also see for all the world; not for love or money.
See also: all, china, not, tea


n. the teeth. (see also ivories.) I spent a damn fortune trying to get this China fixed up.

bull in a china shop

Clumsily destructive. An early written example of the expression appeared in Frederick Marryat's 1834 novel, Jacob Faithful , although the image of a bull wrecking havoc as he wandered among tables and shelves of fine porcelain can be traced a century earlier. The expression can also be found in several European languages, although the animal in question is an elephant. In 1940, an American press agent led a bull through a New York City china shop as a publicity stunt. The bull didn't break anything, but a bystander trying to avoid the bull backed into a table and caused the damage.
See also: bull, china, shop

slow boat to China

A very long time. A poker players' expression for a player who constantly lost was “I'd like to get you on a slow boat to China,” meaning that the others would have all the time in the world to win the guy's money. Composer Frank Loesser used the phrase as the title and the first line of a 1948 romantic ballad, and the expression started being used as a compliment.
See also: boat, china, slow
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