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be like finding a needle in a haystack
To be very difficult to locate. Said especially of something small or hidden among similar things. I really need to tidy up my office. Whenever I need a specific document, it's like finding a needle in a haystack! Trying to find my contact lens on the floor was like finding a needle in a haystack.
find (one's) (own) level
To reach one's level of proficiency, comfort, or competency in a particular area. I'm so impressed with the interns—they've really found their level now. It takes time to find your own level as a teacher, but you'll get there—we all do.
find (one's) feet
To reach a level of comfort in a new situation. It took a while, but I've finally found my feet in my job. I know you're nervous, but all freshmen are—you'll find your feet at school, don't worry.
find (one's) place
1. To find the point at which one had stopped reading, in order to start reading again. A: "Oh geez, my bookmark must have fallen out." B: "Good luck finding your place again—Bleak House is only 900 pages long!" And so, in 1890, Dr. Tuttenberg discovered that… excuse me, I just need to find my place again in my notes.
2. To find a job, setting, or situation that complements one's unique gifts, interests, or personality very well. It took me a while to find my place in college, but joining the literary magazine was a good start for an English major. You'll find your place eventually, don't worry. I may be a therapist now, but I spent my 30s working in the business world.
find (one's) tongue
To regain the ability to speak, especially after feeling frightened, nervous, or at a loss for words. It took him a minute, but Pete found his tongue again after we startled him at his surprise party. The little boy, who had been huddled nervously at the back, found his tongue and told the detectives what happened.
find (one's) touch
To discover or regain one's skill in doing something. He's usually one of the league's elite shooters, but it's taken him time to find his touch this season. Come on, you're new at this. I'm confident you'll find your touch eventually!
find (one's) voice
1. To find one's distinctive style or vision of artistic expression. I think this is your best story yet, Betsy—you've really found your voice as a writer. It takes time to find your voice, but I'm confident you'll get there by the end of our photography class.
2. To regain the ability to speak, especially after something frightening or startling has happened. It took him a minute, but Pete found his voice again after we startled him at his surprise party.
find (oneself) in a bind
To end up in a challenging, problematic, or dangerous situation, especially unintentionally or unwittingly. It's always a good idea to carry a simple first aid kit when you're camping, just in case you find yourself in a bind out there in the wilderness. I always keep a few thousand dollars in a separate savings account to fall back on if we ever find ourselves in a bind financially.
find (oneself) in a tight spot
To end up in a challenging, problematic, or dangerous situation, especially unintentionally or unwittingly. It's always a good idea to carry a simple first aid kit when you're camping, just in case you find yourself in a tight spot out there in the wilderness. I always keep a few thousand dollars in a separate savings account to fall back on if we ever find ourselves in a tight spot financially.
find (oneself) in the market for (something)
To be in pursuit of something, often unexpectedly or unintentionally. The phrase is often, but not always, used when someone is interested in buying a specific, often expensive, item. If your car keeps making terrible noises like that, I think you'll be in the market for a new one sooner than later! He'll find himself in the market for a new girlfriend eventually—just give him time.
find a happy medium
To discover, develop, or contrive a healthy balance compromise or acceptable compromise between two extremes. It can be difficult for working mothers to find a happy medium between maintaining their careers and caring for their families. The mediator's role is to help both parties to reach a deal that finds a happy medium.
find another gear
To achieve a higher level of function, operation, or performance. Commonly applied to athletes. It's been a hard-fought game, and the team is going to have to find another gear if they want to force overtime. You guys need to find another gear creatively if you want to break into such a highly competitive market.
find common ground
To find shared ideas, interests, or beliefs, especially between people who often disagree. I was worried when my boyfriend and uncle started arguing over their different political views, but luckily they found common ground when discussing their favorite TV shows.
find favor with (one)
To receive one's approval and appreciation. If you can find favor with the new CEO, I doubt you'll be subject to those rumored layoffs.
To embrace a certain religion or a spiritual connection. Ted's become a completely different person since he found God.
find it in (one's) heart to (do something)
To be able to convince oneself do something despite one's reluctance. I know I hurt you, but I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.
1. To learn something. A noun or pronoun can be used between "find" and "out." Guess what I found out? Greg is getting the promotion after all! You know, I'm not sure what his phone number is, but I'll find out for you.
2. To learn of or expose someone's misleading, deceptive, or underhanded actions or intentions. A noun or pronoun can be used between "find" and "out." Well, don't leave any evidence behind, or they'll find you out.
3. To discover that someone is not home. A noun or pronoun can be used between "find" and "out." Yeah, I tried to go visit Sheila, but I found her out.
find out a thing or two (about someone or something)
To learn the facts or several pieces of information (about someone or something). You'll find out a thing or two about New Yorkers once you start working in the Big Apple. Jeff's a real movie buff, so if you want to find out a thing or two about the history of cinema, you should ask him.
find out how the land lies
To make observations about or come to understand a particular state of affairs or the way a situation exists or has developed, especially before taking any decisive or definitive action. Given the turbulent nature of this market, I think it would be prudent for us to find out how the land lies before we agree to invest in your company. I'm just finding out how the land lies between my parents before I make any solid plans to come visit them.
find the root of the problem
To find or ascertain the cause of a particular problem or issue. The plumber has found the root of the problem, and it doesn’t sound too costly to fix, thank goodness.
find the smoking gun
To discover indisputably incriminating evidence. Likened to a gun that is still smoking, thus proving that it has been fired. Investigators found the smoking gun when they uncovered emails explicitly detailing the CEO's involvement in the money laundering scheme. So far this is only circumstantial evidence. You'll need to find the smoking gun if you want to secure a conviction.
find the time
To devote time in one's busy schedule to do something; to make the time to do something. When am I supposed to find the time to make cupcakes for the school bake sale? I have two important meetings today at work! I try to find the time to meditate every day.
find time for (someone or something)
To allot time in one's schedule for a particular activity or to spend time with a particular person. Dad had a hectic work schedule when we were kids, but he always found time for us. Having two young kids really makes it hard to find time for exercise.
like finding a needle in a haystack
Said when one is searching for something that is very difficult to locate, especially something very small or hidden among many things. I really need to tidy up my office. Whenever I need a specific document, it's like finding a needle in a haystack! Trying to find my contact lens on the floor was like finding a needle in a haystack.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
find someone out
1. to discover that someone is not at home. We knocked on their door and found them out. Sam found Frank out when he arrived to collect the debt.
2. to discover something surprising or shocking about someone. I don't want them to find me out. We found her out despite her deviousness.
find something out
to discover facts about someone or something; to learn a fact. I found something out that you might be interested in. We found out that the Smiths are going to sell their house.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
1. Discover through examination or inquiry, as in You can find out his phone number by looking in the book. [Mid-1500]
2. Expose, detect the true nature or character of, especially in an offense. For example, Cheaters risk being found out. [c. 1700]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
find common ground
COMMON If two people or groups who generally disagree find common ground, they find a particular subject or opinion that they agree about. The participants seem unable to find common ground on the issue of agriculture. Both leaders were keen to stress that they were seeking to find common ground. Note: You can also say that people or groups are on common ground. Mike and I were on common ground. We both wanted what was in the best interests of the company.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
find Godexperience a religious conversion or awakening.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. To ascertain something, as through examination or inquiry: I found out the phone number by looking it up. We found the answer out in the dictionary. I'm not sure of the location of the bus stop, but I'll try to find out.
2. To detect or expose the true nature or character of something or someone: My plan to trick my roommate ended when he found me out. Liars risk being found out.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
needle in a haystack, (like finding) a
An item that is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find. This term dates from the sixteenth century, although “haystack” at first appeared as “meadow” (in Sir Thomas More’s Works, 1532), “bottle of hay” (Robert Greene, 1592), or “load of hay” (John Taylor, 1619). The same metaphor exists in numerous languages.
See also: needle
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer