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

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 the cool kids befriended her. We dropped our renovation plans like a hot potato after finding out how much the job would cost.
See also: drop, hot, like, 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

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

small beer

BRITISH
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.
See also: beer, small

a couch potato

INFORMAL
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.
See also: couch, potato

meat and potatoes

INFORMAL
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.
See also: and, meat, potato

drop something like a hot potato

or

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.
See also: drop, hot, like, potato, something

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.
See also: hot, potato

small potatoes

INFORMAL
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.
See also: potato, small

couch potato

someone 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.
See also: couch, potato

drop someone or something like a hot potato

quickly 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.
See also: drop, hot, like, potato, something

meat and potatoes

ordinary 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.
See also: and, meat, potato

small beer

something 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.
See also: beer, small

small potatoes

something 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.
See also: potato, small

a ˈcouch poˌtato

(informal, disapproving) a person who spends a lot of time sitting and watching television
See also: couch, potato

a hot poˈtato

(informal) a very sensitive matter that is difficult or embarrassing to deal with: His resignation is a political hot potato.
See also: hot, potato

ˌmeat-and-poˈtatoes

(American English) dealing with or interested in the most basic and important aspects of something: a meat-and-potatoes argumentMy 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.
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, that

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, something

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.