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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!
See also: moment

do not spoil the ship for a ha'porth of tar

Do not 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: not, of, ship, spoil, tar

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


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.

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

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: of, ship, spoil, tar

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: of, ship, spoil, tar

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: of, ship, spoil, tar


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?