potato

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potayto, potahto

A negligible, trivial, or unimportant difference, distinction, or correction. (While "potahto" is not an accepted pronunciation in any English-speaking population, the phrase is an allusion to a verse in the song "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off": "You like potayto, I like potahto; you like tomayto, I like tomahto; potayto, potahto, tomayto, tomahto, let's call the whole thing off!") A: "Well, technically, the Hindenburg was a rigid airship, not a blimp." B: "Eh, potayto, potahto, who cares?"

couch potato

Someone who often engages in sedentary activities, usually understood as frequently watching television. Lisa wants to date a man who loves to travel and explore, not a couch potato who watches television all the time.
See also: couch, potato

hot potato

A sensitive situation or controversial issue that is difficult to handle and thus gets passed from one person to the next (like a potato that is too hot to hold). The political candidate knew the issue was a hot potato, so he deferred to his chief of staff, who directed questions to the committee chairperson.
See also: hot, potato

couch potato

a lazy individual, addicted to television-watching. All he ever does is watch TV; he's become a real couch potato. Couch potatoes can tend to become very fat and unhealthy, you know.
See also: couch, potato

drop someone or something like a hot potato

Fig. to disassociate oneself with someone or something instantly. When we learned of the conviction, we dropped him like a hot potato. I dropped the idea like a hot potato when the big boss said he didn't like it.
See also: drop, hot, like, potato

small potatoes

something or someone insignificant; small fry. This contract is small potatoes, but it keeps us in business till we get into the real money. Small potatoes are better than no potatoes at all.
See also: potato, small

a couch potato

  (informal)
a person who does not like physical activity and prefers to sit down, usually to watch television
Usage notes: A couch is a piece of furniture that people sit on.
The remote control television was invented for couch potatoes.
See also: couch, potato

a hot potato

  (informal)
something that is difficult or dangerous to deal with The abortion issue is a political hot potato in the United States.
See also: hot, potato

the meat and potatoes

  (American informal)
the most important or basic parts of something They stuck to the meat and potatoes of broadcasting - sports and news. (American informal)
See also: and, meat, potato

small beer

  (British, American & Australian informal) also small potatoes (American & Australian informal)
something that is not important, especially when compared to something else A loan of that size is small beer - these banks are lending millions of pounds a day. And we are not talking small potatoes - building the airport means many people in the area will lose their homes.
See also: beer, small

hot potato

A problem so controversial and sensitive that it is risky to deal with. For example, Gun control is a political hot potato. This term, dating from the mid-1800s, alludes to the only slightly older expression drop like a hot potato, meaning "to abandon something or someone quickly" (lest one be burned). The idiom alludes to the fact that cooked potatoes retain considerable heat because they contain a lot of water.
See also: hot, potato

meat and potatoes

The fundamental part or parts of something, as in This paragraph is the meat and potatoes of the contract. This metaphoric term transfers what some regard as basic fare to the basics of an issue. [Mid-1900s]
See also: and, meat, potato

small beer

Also, small potatoes. Of little importance, as in Don't listen to Henry; he's small beer, or It's silly to worry about that bill; it's small potatoes. The first term alludes to a beer of low alcoholic content (also called light beer today) and was used metaphorically by Shakespeare in several plays. The variant may have been invented by frontiersman Davy Crockett; it was first recorded in 1836. Also see small fry, def. 2.
See also: beer, small

all (that) meat and no potatoes

phr. said of a tremendously fat person. (Rude.) Look at that guy—all meat and no potatoes.
See also: all, and, meat, potato

all meat and no potatoes

verb
See also: all, and, meat, potato

couch potato

n. a lazy, do-nothing television watcher. (see also sofa spud.) If there was a prize for the best couch potato, my husband would win it.
See also: couch, potato

drop someone/something like a hot potato

tv. to disassociate oneself with someone or something instantly. When we learned of the conviction, we dropped him like a hot potato.
See also: drop, hot, like, potato

hot potato

n. a difficult problem. I sure don’t want to have to deal with that hot potato.
See also: hot, potato

mouse potato

n. someone who spends a great amount of time using a computer. (Based on couch potato.) Every since we go the new computer, Jane has turned into a regular mouse potato.
See also: mouse, potato

potato

n. the head. Put your hat on your potato, and let’s get out of here.

potato soup

n. vodka. (This liquor is typically made from potatoes.) Have a bit of this potato soup, why don’t you?
See also: potato, soup

small beer

n. nothing or next to nothing; an insignificant person. (From a very old word for weak or inferior beer.) Small beer or not, he’s my customer, and I will see that he is taken care of.
See also: beer, small

small potatoes

n. something or someone insignificant. This contract is small potatoes, but it keeps us in business till we get into the real money.
See also: potato, small

meat and potatoes

Informal
The fundamental parts or part; the basis.
See also: and, meat, potato

small potatoes

An inconsequential amount or insignificant item or matter. Dating from the mid-19th century, the phrase suggests not bothering with undersized spuds while harvesting or buying the vegetable.
See also: potato, small
References in classic literature ?
Eked out by apple-sauce and mashed potatoes, it was a sufficient dinner for the whole family; indeed, as Mrs Cratchit said with great delight (surveying one small atom of a bone upon the dish), they hadn't ate it all at last.
It seemed difficult to believe that the potato-scrapings in which Harris and I stood, half smothered, could have come off four potatoes.
But in spite of all this, the soldiers of Denisov's squadron fed chiefly on "Mashka's sweet root," because it was the second week that the last of the biscuits were being doled out at the rate of half a pound a man and the last potatoes received had sprouted and frozen.
We can get through with it while the potatoes are boiling and cooling.
here are the potatoes already cut, and nobody to fry them
The place was a sort of store-house; containing bags of potatoes and baskets of carrots, onions and turnips.
She shrouded herself, puffing and snorting, in a cloud of steam at the stove, and eventually extracted a frying-pan full of potatoes that hissed.
It burst, and about his feet and mine bounced and rolled a flood of potatoes.
It's on the second shelf of the sitting-room closet and you and Diana can have it if you like, and a cooky to eat with it along in the afternoon, for I daresay Matthew'll be late coming in to tea since he's hauling potatoes to the vessel.
There is very little pasture for the larger quadrupeds; and in consequence, the staple articles of food are pigs, potatoes, and fish.
I dug my cellar in the side of a hill sloping to the south, where a woodchuck had formerly dug his burrow, down through sumach and blackberry roots, and the lowest stain of vegetation, six feet square by seven deep, to a fine sand where potatoes would not freeze in any winter.
But the energy with which he dug potatoes, and the regularity with which he disappeared into the kitchen gave people an impression that he was providing for the meals of a superior, and that the strange earl was still concealed in the castle.
Tom's new purse and money burnt in his pocket; he wondered, as they toddled through the quadrangle and along the street, whether East would be insulted if he suggested further extravagance, as he had not sufficient faith in a pennyworth of potatoes.
Besides my work in the cabin, with its four small state- rooms, I was supposed to be his assistant in the galley, and my colossal ignorance concerning such things as peeling potatoes or washing greasy pots was a source of unending and sarcastic wonder to him.
Everything he saw from the carriage window, everything in that cold pure air, in the pale light of the sunset, was as fresh, and gay, and strong as he was himself: the roofs of the houses shining in the rays of the setting sun, the sharp outlines of fences and angles of buildings, the figures of passers-by, the carriages that met him now and then, the motionless green of the trees and grass, the fields with evenly drawn furrows of potatoes, and the slanting shadows that fell from the houses, and trees, and bushes, and even from the rows of potatoes--everything was bright like a pretty landscape just finished and freshly varnished.