Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to potato: potato salad
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?"
Someone who habitually 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.
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.
drop (someone or something) like a hot potato
To abandon someone or something suddenly and completely, sometimes to avoid potential problems. I haven't seen Cynthia in weeks because she dropped me like a hot potato once she started hanging out with the cool kids. We dropped our renovation plans like a hot potato after finding out how much the job would cost.
the meat and potatoes
The most basic or fundamental aspects of something. Too much information will overwhelm the new hire, so just give him the meat and potatoes. The meat and potatoes of this game is keeping possession of the ball.
A tiny, trifling, and/or inconsequential person, thing, or amount (of something). Primarily heard in UK. To most people, £2,000 is a lot to spend on anything, but it's small beer to the country's mega rich. I've been trying to raise my concerns about the project, but I'm small beer to the company's upper management.
A tiny, trifling, and/or inconsequential person, thing, or amount (of something). To most people, $2,000 is a lot to spend on anything, but it's small potatoes to the country's mega rich. I've been trying to raise my concerns about the project, but I'm small potatoes to the company's upper management.
Concerned with or pertaining to the most basic or fundamental aspects of something. Too much information will overwhelm the new intern, so just give him the meat-and-potatoes introduction. The meat-and-potatoes argument is that the law will unfairly target lower-class workers.
all (that) meat and no potatoes
A phrase used to describe someone who is very obese. I'm surprised that guy could fit through the door—he's all meat and no potatoes.
Someone who spends an excessive amount of leisure time using a computer while being sedentary. A play on the established phrase "couch potato," someone who similarly spends too much time on the couch watching television (or playing video games, etc.). I've been playing this addictive online video game, and it has turned me into a total mouse potato! This new computer is for school work, do you understand? I don't want you turning into a mouse potato.
slang Vodka (which is distilled from potatoes). I don't know why Tom buys such cheap potato soup. Sure, it gets you drunk, but the hangover the next morning is savage!
slang A fool or dolt; someone who act stupidly, carelessly, or thoughtlessly. Sometimes hyphenated or written as two words. John, you potatohead—I told you to double check the oil level before starting the engine! Janet can be such a potatohead sometimes!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]
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.
COMMON If something is small beer, it is unimportant compared with another thing. The five million pound subsidy is, however, small beer compared to the amounts that European governments give their film industries. The present series of royal scandals makes the 1936 abdication look like pretty small beer. Note: `Small beer' originally meant weak beer.
a couch potatoINFORMAL
COMMON If someone is a couch potato, they are lazy and spend most of their time sitting, watching television. Most evenings they sit, like a pair of couch potatoes in front of television. Most of these people are junk-food eating couch potatoes. Note: This expression is a complicated pun based on the American slang term `boob tube' meaning the TV, and the fact that a potato is a variety of tuber or root vegetable.
meat and potatoesINFORMAL
The meat and potatoes of something are the most important and basic things about it or parts of it. American workwear is the meat and potatoes of off-duty clothing. The real meat and potatoes of any auto show is in the cars and trucks people can buy now.
drop something like a hot potatoor
drop something like a hot brick
If you drop something or someone like a hot potato or drop them like a hot brick, you get rid of them as quickly as possible because they are difficult to deal with, or because you do not want them any more. He was celebrated in the media one minute and dropped like a hot potato the next. He panicked and dropped his lover like a hot brick.
a hot potato
COMMON If a subject or problem is a hot potato, it is very difficult to deal with, especially because it is something that people argue about a lot. When she is faced with a political hot potato such tightening the gun laws, she is not afraid to give her opinion. Pricing policy is another hot potato.
If you describe something as small potatoes, you mean that it is small in amount or not important. An audience of 20,000 is small potatoes by his standards. All his influence and success are small potatoes compared with the opportunity that now lies before him.
couch potatosomeone who watches a lot of television, eats junk food, and takes little or no physical exercise. informal
Couch potato was a humorous American coinage using the image of a person with the physical shape of a potato slouching on a sofa or couch. Originally, the phrase relied on a pun with tuber in the slang term boob tuber , which referred to someone devoted to watching the boob tube or television.
drop someone or something like a hot potatoquickly abandon someone or something. informal
Drop here is used literally, but also in the figurative sense of ‘end a social acquaintance with someone’. A hot potato can be used independently as a metaphor for a controversial or awkward issue or problem that no one wants to deal with.
meat and potatoesordinary but fundamental things; basic ingredients.
1993 New York Times Mainstream rock acts like Van Halen and Bruce Springsteen are the meat and potatoes of A.O.R.
small beersomething trivial or insignificant. chiefly British
Originally, small beer meant literally ‘weak beer’.
2005 Observer Music Monthly Getting called a ‘Paki’ by ill-informed racists was very small beer compared to being shot at by Sinhalese government forces chasing her father.
small potatoessomething insignificant or unimportant.
This phrase originated in mid 19th-century American use, especially in the form small potatoes and few in the hill .
2002 Science Turner calls this budget a start but says it's ‘small potatoes’ compared to what will be needed to get fuel cell cars to market.
a ˈcouch poˌtato(informal, disapproving) a person who spends a lot of time sitting and watching television
a hot poˈtato(informal) a very sensitive matter that is difficult or embarrassing to deal with: His resignation is a political hot potato.
ˌmeat-and-poˈtatoes(American English) dealing with or interested in the most basic and important aspects of something: a meat-and-potatoes argument ♢ My father always was a meat-and-potatoes man (= a person who likes simple things).
small ˈbeer(British English) (American English small poˈtatoes) something that has little importance or value: Jacob earns about $40 000, but that’s small beer compared with his brother’s salary.
all (that) meat and no potatoes
phr. said of a tremendously fat person. (Rude.) Look at that guy—all meat and no potatoes.
all meat and no potatoesverb
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.
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.
n. a difficult problem. I sure don’t want to have to deal with that hot 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.
n. the head. Put your hat on your potato, and let’s get out of here.
n. vodka. (This liquor is typically made from potatoes.) Have a bit of this potato soup, why don’t you?
n. a stupid person. (see also potato.) Stop acting like a potatohead.
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.
n. something or someone insignificant. This contract is small potatoes, but it keeps us in business till we get into the real money.
meat and potatoesInformal
The fundamental parts or part; the basis.
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.