Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
heap coals of fire on (one's) head
To make a special effort to induce feelings of guilt or remorse in another person. Why are you citing all these examples of times I wronged you? Why are you heaping coals of fire on my head?
at the bottom of the heap
In the worst or lowest position in a group. As far as our government is concerned, kids born into poverty are just at the bottom of the heap, perpetually ignored.
bottom of the barreland bottom of the heap
Fig. the location of persons or things of the very lowest quality; someone or something of the lowest quality. (The fruit at the bottom of a barrel of apples is likely to be bruised from the weight of the other apples.) That last secretary you sent me was really the bottom of the barrel. I don't need any candidates from the bottom of the heap.
do someone a power of goodand do someone a heap of good
Rur. to be very good for someone. You should take a vacation. It'd do you a power of good. Just hearing your voice does me a heap of good.
(a) heap of (something)
a great deal of something. Tom's got a heap of money, but no one to spend it on. A teacher has to have a heap of patience as well as a lot of smarts.
(a) heap sight
Rur. a lot; very much. This chair is a heap sight better than that one. You got a heap sight more taters than I did.
heap something up
to make something into a pile. He heaped the mashed potatoes up on my plate, because he thought I wanted lots. Heap up the leaves in the corner of the yard.
heap something (up)on someone or something
1. Lit. to pile something up on someone or something. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) Please don't heap so much trouble upon me! Wally heaped leaves on the flower bed.
2. Fig. to give someone too much of something, such as homework, praise, criticism, etc. (Upon is formal and less commonly used than on.) Don't heap too much praise on her. She will get conceited. The manager heaped criticism on the workers.
heap something with something
to pile something onto something. Karen heaped Jeff's plate with way too much food. We heaped the driveway with leaves and then put them into bags.
top of the heap
Fig. a position superior to everyone else. For some reason, Jerry has to be at the top of the heap. She fought her way to the top of the heap and means to stay there.
whole heap moreand whole lot more
Rur. a great deal more. I think a whole heap more of Joe than I do of his brother. Don't quit now. There's a whole heap more work to be done.
the bottom of the heapalso the bottom of the pile
the lowest rank within a group Being near the bottom of the heap, the company has nowhere to go but up. Those at the bottom of the heap feel that no one cares about them.Opposite of: the top of the heap
heap something on somebody/something
to express a strong opinion about someone or something Other leaders heaped praise on the president at the meeting.
Usage notes: often heap scorn on someone or something (to express a strong lack of respect): He heaped scorn on those who thought the plan would work.
on the scrap heapalso in the scrap heap
in a place for things that are not wanted any more Congress is threatening to throw the president's budget on the scrap heap.
Etymology: from the literal meaning of scrap heap (a pile of things that are no longer wanted)
the top of the heap
the highest rank within a group How does Stephen plan to keep the company at the top of the heap?Opposite of: the bottom of the heap
Usage notes: often used in the form at the top of the heap, as in the example
at the bottom of the heap/pile
in a worse situation than anyone else in a group of people Those at the bottom of the heap feel that society has failed them. The homeless are at the bottom of the pile with little hope of improving their situation.
fall in a heap(Australian informal)
to lose control of your feelings and start to cry The case collapsed when the main witness fell in a heap and was escorted from the court.
do somebody a power of good(informal)
to make someone feel much better That walk in the fresh air did me a power of good.
throw somebody/something on the scrap heap(informal)
to get rid of someone or something that is not wanted or needed any more (usually passive) Many people over forty who can't find a job feel they've been thrown on the scrap heap.
bottom of the barrel
The least desirable, the dregs, as in The nominating committee had trouble finding candidates; they were settling for the bottom of the barrel . The phrase often occurs in scrape the bottom of the barrel, meaning "to use the least desirable elements" (because one has no choice), as in Bringing up that minor legal point proves that you're scraping the bottom of the barrel. This metaphor for the sediment left by wine in a barrel was already used by Cicero to describe the lowest elements of Roman society. [First half of 1900s]
1. To pile something up: I heaped up the dirty clothes in the corner of my room. The floodwaters heaped debris up onto the beach.
2. To accumulate: Garbage heaped up in the streets.
bottom of the barreland bottom of the heap
n. the location of persons or things of the very lowest quality. (see also scrape the bottom of the barrel.) That last secretary you sent me was really from the bottom of the barrel. If you drop out of school, you stay at the bottom of the heap.
bottom of the heapverb
1. n. an old car. (see also load.) I’ve got to get my heap fixed up.
2. n. any dilapidated thing or person. We have to fix up this heap if we’re really going to live in it.
3. and heaps n. lots (of something). Mr. Wilson has heaps of money.
in a heap
mod. alcohol intoxicated. The guys were all in a heap after the blast.
n. a dilapidated old car; a dilapidated house or other structure. They lived in that junk heap for thirty years and never painted it.
top of the heap
n. a position superior to everyone else. For some reason, Jerry has to be at the top of the heap.
heaping Pelion upon Ossa
Adding difficulty to difficulty; fruitless efforts. The reference is to the attempt by the giants in Greek mythology to climb to heaven by piling Mount Ossa upon Mount Pelion.