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sell (one's) birthright for a bowl of soup
To exchange something of great, important, or fundamental value for some financial gain that proves to be of little, trivial, or no value but which appears to be attractive or valuable on first reckoning. (A variant of "sell one's birthright for a mess of pottage," an allusion to Esau in Genesis 25:29–32, who sells to Jacob his birthright to his family's estate for a bowl of lentil stew (pottage).) If we allow our obsession with job creation to undermine the health of the environment, humanity will ultimately end up selling its birthright for a bowl of soup.
too many cooks spoil the soup
If too many people try to control, influence, or work on something, the final product will be worse as a result. A: "We've got my boss, his boss, the assistant manager, a freelance consultant, and the head of IT all involved in this project, and it's turning into a complete disaster!" B: "Well, too many cooks spoil the soup, after all!"
1. Literally, a soup that contains noodles shaped like the letters of the alphabet. I used to love alphabet soup when I was a kid.
2. By extension, an incoherent or disorganized mix (typically of letters or abbreviations). All of these acronyms in the manual have started to look like alphabet soup.
be duck soup
slang To be very easy. Primarily heard in US. Oh please, I've been playing guitar for 20 years—that song is duck soup.
be in the soup
To be in trouble or experiencing difficulties. The company will officially be in the soup if it loses money again this quarter. I was in the soup after I dented my mom's brand-new car.
initialisms and acronyms, especially when used excessively. The names of these government agencies are just alphabet soup. Just look at the telephone book! You can't find anything because it's filled with alphabet soup.
Fig. very easy; an easy thing to do. For Maria, knitting a sweater is duck soup. Jill: This jar is stuck. Could you open it for me? Jane: Sure. Duck soup.
*easy as A, B, Cand *easy as falling off a log; *easy as rolling off a log; *easy as (apple) pie; *easy as duck soup
very easy. (*Also: as ~.) If you use a cake mix, baking a cake is easy as A, B, C. Mountain climbing is as easy as pie. Finding your way to the shopping center is easy as duck soup. Getting out of jail was easy as rolling off a log.
See also: easy
everything from soup to nutsand everything from A to Z
Cliché almost everything one can think of. For dinner we had everything from soup to nuts. In college I studied everything from soup to nuts.
*in the soup
Fig. in a bad situation. (*Typically: be ~; get [into] ~.) Now I'm really in the soup. I broke Mrs. Franklin's window. I make a lot of mistakes. It's easy for me to get into the soup.
Rur. The meal is ready to eat. (Said for any food, not just soup.) Tom: Soup's on! Bill: The camp chef has dished up another disaster. John: soup's on! Come and get it! Mary: Well, I guess it's time to eat again.
soup something up
to increase the power of something. He souped his car up so it will do nearly 120 miles per hour. If only I could soup up this computer to run just a little faster.
made more powerful. That souped-up car of John's sure makes a lot of noise. Why do all cars driven by males under the age of twenty have to be souped up?
*thick as pea soup
[of fog] very thick. (*Also: as ~.) This fog is as thick as pea soup. You can't see ten feet in front of you.
(as) easy as A, B, CSee: (as) easy as pie
See also: easy
in the soup
experiencing a difficult situation As soon as the airlines started to make a profit, they put themselves right back in the soup with a new round of mergers.
Usage notes: often used with right back, as in the example
soup up somethingalso soup something up
to make something more powerful They had to soup up the air-conditioning to keep her computers from overheating in the summer.
Usage notes: usually used to describe an improvement to a car or other machine
be duck soup(American informal)
to be very easy to do Winning your case in court ought to be duck soup.
be in the soup(old-fashioned)
to be in trouble This team know that if they lose on Saturday, they'll really be in the soup.
from soup to nuts(American informal)
from the beginning to the end She told us everything about the trip, from soup to nuts.
An easily accomplished task or assignment, a cinch to succeed, as in Fixing this car is going to be duck soup. This expression gained currency as the title of a hilarious popular movie by the Marx Brothers (1933). The original allusion has been lost. [Early 1900s]
from soup to nuts
Also, from A to Z or start to finish or stem to stern . From beginning to end, throughout, as in We went through the whole agenda, from soup to nuts, or She had to learn a whole new system from A to Z, or It rained from start to finish, or We did over the whole house from stem to stern. The first expression, with its analogy to the first and last courses of a meal, appeared in slightly different forms (such as from potage to cheese) from the 1500s on; the precise wording here dates only from the mid-1900s. The second expression alludes to the first and last letters of the Roman alphabet; see also alpha and omega. The third comes from racing and alludes to the entire course of the race; it dates from the mid-1800s. The last variant is nautical, alluding to the front or stem, and rear or stern, of a vessel.
in the soup
In trouble, as in She mailed all the checks with the wrong postage, and now she's really in the soup. [Slang; late 1800s]
Make something more powerful; especially, add speed to an engine. For example, He was riding around in that car he'd souped up, or They had to soup up the sound system for the outdoor concert. [Slang; c. 1930]
To modify something so as to increase its capacity to perform or satisfy, especially to add horsepower or greater speed potential to an engine or a vehicle: The mechanic souped the car up with racing tires and a bigger engine. I souped up my computer with a faster processor and a liquid cooling system.
n. initialisms and acronyms in general. Just look at the telephone book! You can’t find anything because it’s filled with alphabet soup.
n. catsup; ketchup. Do you want some cat-soup on your burger?
everything from soup to nutsand everything from A to Z and everything but the kitchen sink
n. everything imaginable. (Colloquial.) I have everything from soup to nuts in my briefcase. He brought everything but the kitchen sink.
in the soup
mod. in trouble. I’m in the soup with the boss.
laughing soupand laughing water
n. liquor; champagne. This laughing water tickles my nose. Laughing soup flowed like fury at the reception.
n. vodka. (This liquor is typically made from potatoes.) Have a bit of this potato soup, why don’t you?
n. nitroglycerin, a liquid explosive. (Underworld.) Lefty was a master with the soup till he blew off his hand.
in. Dinner is ready. Time to eat! Soup’s on!
n. something impossibly messy or impossible to deal with. This whole project is just a soup sandwich. I’ll never get it straightened out.
soup something up
tv. to increase the power of something. (see also souped up.) If only I could soup up this computer to run just a little faster.
mod. made more powerful. Why do all cars driven by males under the age of twenty have to be souped up?
n. a mustache. Jerry had a big bushy soup-strainer that he was very proud of.
in the soupSlang
Having difficulties; in trouble.
Easy to accomplish. The first appearance of the phrase was in a 1902 newspaper cartoon that had nothing to do with ducks. Not then and not now has anybody been able to suggest a likely derivation. If you're interested in an expression that makes sense, try the equivalent, “as easy as falling off a log.”