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a-ha moment

A moment or instance at which a sudden, revelatory idea, realization, or solution to a problem comes to mind. We'd been working on the problem at the lab for weeks, but the aha moment came to me when I was out gardening! Wait, I think I just had an a-ha moment—what if we used liquid metal to cool the processor? Couldn't that prevent overheating? Dad's all excited, saying he just had an a-ha moment about the business.
See also: moment


A loud fuss, uproar, or commotion. There was some brouhaha outside our apartment complex at 3 AM last night. The argument escalated into a full-blown brouhaha among the politicians.

funny ha-ha

Humorous or amusing, as opposed to strange (another meaning of "funny"). That play sure is funny. Funny ha-ha, I mean—I laughed through the whole thing.
See also: funny

funny-peculiar or funny ha-ha

A phrase used when the speaker is trying to determine if someone else used the word "funny" to mean "strange" or "humorous." A: "That play sure is funny." B: "Do you mean funny-peculiar or funny ha-ha?"
See also: funny


informal Used as a written expression of laughter, or more generally to indicate that the writer finds something humorous. Also commonly written as "ha ha" or "ha-ha." Greater degrees of laughter or humor can be represented by more instances of "ha." A: "So then Charlie says, 'I've heard of teachers' pets, but this is ridiculous!'" B: "Haha, classic Charlie." A: "What did the surfer say about the London Underground? 'Totally Tubular, dude!'" B: "Hahaha, that's a good one!" A: "Congratulations on the promotion! Sounds like you're pretty much running the place now, eh?" B: "Ha ha, not quite, but thanks all the same."


1. slang A fuss or commotion. It's three in the morning! What's all this hoo-ha about?
2. slang Nonsense. His explanation is just hoo-ha—it doesn't answer the question at all.

spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar

proverb To ruin something simply to avoid some minor difficulty, inconvenience, or expense. "Ship" is thought to be a dialectical pronunciation of "sheep," and a "ha'porth" is a "halfpennyworth." Tar was used to protect sheep skin from flies (and thereby illness and death), so not having enough tar would contribute to the death of the sheep. You know your mom is going to be offended, so please call her before the dinner party—do not spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar.
See also: for, of, ship, spoil, tar

two ha'pennies for a penny

dated Any money at all. Usually used in negative constructions. (A "ha'penny," or "halfpenny," was a British coin equal to half of a penny. It is no longer in circulation.) Primarily heard in UK. Give her some money, dear. The poor girl looks like she hasn't got two ha'pennies for a penny.
See also: for, penny, two
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

funny ha-ha

amusing; comical. (As opposed to funny peculiar.) I didn't mean that Mrs. Peters is funny ha-ha. She's weird—funny peculiar in fact. Mike thinks his jokes are funny ha-ha, but we laugh because they are so silly.
See also: funny
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar

If you spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar, you spoil a large or important piece of work completely because you refuse to spend a small amount of money on one aspect of it. I think it's a modest investment that is well worth making. You don't want to spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar. Note: `Ship' in this expression was originally `sheep'. A `ha'porth' is a `halfpenny's worth'; a halfpenny was a British coin of very low value. Shepherds used to put tar on their sheep's wounds and sores to protect them from flies, and it would be foolish to risk the sheep's health in order to save a small amount of money.
See also: for, of, ship, spoil, tar
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

spoil the ship for a ha'p'orth of tar

risk the failure of a large enterprise by trying to economize on trivial things.
The expression originally referred to the use of tar to keep flies off sores on sheep (ship represented a dialectal pronunciation of sheep ). Ha'p'orth is a contraction of halfpennyworth .
See also: for, of, ship, spoil, tar
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

spoil the ˌship for a ha’porth/ha’penny-worth of ˈtar

(saying) spoil something good because you did not spend any or enough money on a small but essential part of it: Always buy good quality floppy disks. Don’t spoil the ship for a ha’porth of tar. Ship in this idiom was originally sheep and ha’porth or ha’penny-worth referred to a very small amount of money. The basic meaning of the idiom was originally ‘allow a sheep to die because you won’t buy a very small amount of tar’, tar being used to treat cuts on a sheep’s body.
See also: for, of, ship, spoil, tar
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017


n. brew; a beer. One brew-ha over here, innkeeper!


1. n. a commotion. A deer created quite a hoo-ha by running frantically through the department store.
2. n. nonsense. What is all this hoo-ha about your leaving the company?
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.


A commotion, an uproar. Adopted from a fifteenth-century French term imitating a loud confused noise, it entered English in the late 1800s and has become a cliché. A Boston Globe column edited by Devra First had it, “What are your thoughts on the Josh Ozersky brouhaha? In brief the food writer pens a column about his wedding, saying caterers can’t cook . . . Then it turns out he didn’t pay for the food.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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