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a grain of mustard seed
A small or seemingly insignificant thing that has the potential to grow or develop into something vast or formidable. Originating from the Parable of the Mustard Seed in the Bible (in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke), describing how the Christian faith spreads and flourishes from small beginnings. Every child is a grain of mustard seed—at once relatively small in the scope of the world, but having within them the power to shape the very course of human existence.
1. A very paltry or minuscule amount of money; the absolute minimum amount. Suzy's brother has a connection in the stadium, so we got these tickets for birdseed! I had a few jobs during college working for birdseed, but it was the only work I could get that fit in with my studies.
2. Nonsense or foolishness Oh, don't listen to what they have to say—it's all birdseed anyway.
1. obsolete Something that is so strange, interesting, or unexpected that it causes one to stare with one's mouth open. A: "I think that seeing a horse in our kitchen certainly counts as gapeseed, don't you?" B: "Uh, indeed. Where is the stable boy?"
2. obsolete Someone who gapes or gawks at something. Show some respect—don't be a gapeseed.
go to seed
To look shabby, unhealthy, or unattractive due to a lack of care or attention. Wow, Tim's really started going to seed ever since he had kids. The house has gone to seed with those college kids living there.
good seed makes a good crop
proverb Favorable raw materials will produce a favorable end result or product. I only use the finest ingredients when I bake. Good seed makes a good crop, you know. Of course she's a sweet girl—her parents are very nice, and good seed makes a good crop.
An unsophisticated person, particularly from a rural place; a bumpkin. When I knew John, he was a total hayseed, but I guess he's converted to city life now.
Covered in grass seed. I'm really glad we're getting all this rain now that the yard is in seed. It will be lush with grass soon enough!
See also: seed
plant a seed
1. To lay the groundwork for something that can develop or expand in the future. By involving the community in our plans, we hope to plant a seed for an event that will grow into a neighborhood tradition for years to come.
2. To introduce an idea to someone with the intention of making them more likely to eventually support or agree with it. I casually mentioned the idea of my mom watching Noah some weekends. Just planting a seed so she might be open to it down the line.
plant a/the seed of doubt (in someone's mind)
To cause someone to have doubts, worries, or concerns (about something); to introduce someone to a doubtful or worrisome idea. The candidate was doing very well in the polls six months ago, but it seems that this smear campaign has been effective in planting a seed of doubt in the minds of voters. Recent economic turbulence in the Eurozone has planted the seed of doubt about the strength of the economy's recovery. Every time you act suspiciously like that, it plants a seed of doubt in my mind about your fidelity.
plant the seeds (of something)
1. To do something that ensures a certain outcome in the future, especially an unfortunate or tragic one. They've been planting the seeds of their own downfall with their anti-consumer practices over the last few years.
2. To cause someone to have certain thoughts or feelings, usually negative ones. The over-zealous policing of opposing opinions has planted the seeds of discontent among the population.
run to seed
To look shabby, unhealthy, or unattractive due to a lack of care or attention. Wow, Tim's really started running to seed ever since he had kids. The house has run to seed with those college kids living there.
1. Literally, the seed of corn that is kept aside from a harvest in order to plant for the following year's production. The hens got loose and ate up all of our seed corn. I don't know what we'll do for next year's harvest!
2. By extension, that which drives or supports future use, growth, or development, as opposed to that which is used immediately or in the present. Sometimes hyphenated when used as a modifier before a noun. Research, even that which doesn't lead to anything profitable, is the seed corn of this industry. The investment firm provides seed-corn financing to small business ventures.
3. A very small, painful callous that typically appears on the weight-bearing part of one's foot. I can't believe I got a seed corn right before the big marathon! I don't know how I'll be able to run it.
Money used to start a business or other venture. Once I save up enough seed money, I'm going to quit this place and start my own business.
sow a/the seed of doubt (in someone's mind)
To cause someone to have doubts, worries, or concerns (about something); to introduce someone to a doubtful or worrisome idea. The candidate was doing very well in the polls six months ago, but it seems that this smear campaign has been effective in sowing a seed of doubt in the minds of voters. Recent economic turbulence in the Eurozone has sown the seed of doubt about the strength of the economy's recovery. Jim's suspicious behavior sowed a seed of doubt in Jenny's mind about his fidelity.
sow the seeds of (something)
1. To do something that ensures a certain outcome in the future, especially an unfortunate or tragic one. They've been sowing the seeds of their own downfall with their anti-consumer practices over the last few years.
2. To cause someone to have certain thoughts or feelings, usually negative ones. The over-zealous policing of opposing opinions has sown the seeds of discontent among the population.
spill (one's) seed
slang To ejaculate. Think about something other than spilling your seed for once!
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
go to seed
1. and run to seed Lit. [for a plant] to grow long enough to produce seed; [for a plant] to spend its energy going to seed. The lettuce went to seed and we couldn't eat it. Plants like that ought not to be allowed to go to seed.
2. and run to seed Fig. [for a lawn or a plant] to produce seeds because it has not had proper care. You've got to mow the grass. It's going to seed. Don't let the lawn go to seed. It looks so—seedy!
3. Fig. [for something] to decline in looks, status, or utility due to lack of care. (The same as run to seed.) This old coat is going to seed. Have to get a new one. The front of the house is going to seed. Let's get it painted.
Good seed makes a good crop.
Prov. Starting with good materials will help you get good results. Jill: Elsie and Jim are going to have a baby. Jane: I'm sure it will be a good child, since they're both such good people. Good seed makes a good crop. I am sure Robert's business will flourish. He's capable and honest, and good seed makes a good crop.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
run to seed
Also, go to seed. Become devitalized or worn out; deteriorate, as in I went back to visit my old elementary school, and sadly, it has really run to seed, or The gold medalist quickly went to seed after he left competition. This term alludes to plants that, when allowed to set seed after flowering, either taste bitter, as in the case of lettuce, or do not send out new buds, as is true of annual flowers. Its figurative use dates from the first half of the 1800s.
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.
go to seedor
run to seed
1. If someone goes to seed or runs to seed, they allow themselves to become fat, unhealthy and unattractive as they get older. He was big and fleshy, like an athlete gone to seed. Once he had carried a lot of muscle but now he was running to seed.
2. If a place goes to seed or runs to seed, it becomes dirty and untidy because people stop taking care of it. The report painted a depressing picture of an America going to seed, its bridges and roads falling apart, its national parks neglected. When she died, the house went to seed. Note: When vegetables such as lettuce go to seed, they produce flowers and seeds, and are no longer fit to eat.
If someone talks about seed corn, they mean resources or people that will produce benefits in the future rather than immediately. Investment in the industry, the seed corn of future output, has fallen by 75 percent. Note: If people eat their seed corn, they use up their valuable resources, and this will prevent them from being able to do things in the future. A society that's unwilling to invest in its future is a society that's living off capital. It's eating its seed corn. Note: A farmer's seed corn is the grain that is used for planting rather than being sold or eaten.
sow the seeds of somethingor
plant the seeds of something
1. If something or someone sows or plants the seeds of a future problem, they start the process which causes that problem to develop. An incident then occurred that was to sow the seeds of the invasion's eventual failure. It was this racist policy that planted the seeds of today's crisis in Africa.
2. You can also sow or plant the seeds of something good or something that you want to happen. With this overall strategy, they hope to sow the seeds of economic recovery. Ministers had spent five years planting the seeds of reform. I had planted the seeds of doubt in their minds.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
a grain of mustard seeda small thing capable of vast development.
Black mustard seed grows to a great height. In Matthew 13:31–2 it is stated that ‘mustard seed…indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs’.
go (or run) to seed1 (of a plant) cease flowering as the seeds develop. 2 deteriorate in condition, strength, or efficiency.
sow the seed (or seeds) ofdo something which will eventually bring about a particular result.
1991 Philip Slater A Dream Deferred Each authoritarian government, groping toward modernization, would thereby sow the seeds of its own destruction.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
go/run to ˈseed(informal) (of a person) become untidy or dirty because you no longer care about your appearance, etc: I was very surprised when I saw her. She has really run to seed in the last few months.This idiom refers to the fact that when the flower in a plant dies, seeds are produced.
plant/sow the ˈseeds of somethingstart a process which will develop into something large, important, etc: What first planted the seeds of doubt in your mind? ♢ The seeds of conflict were sown when oil was discovered on the border between the two countries.
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
1. n. a small amount of money. (see also chicken feed.) Forty billion is birdseed to a government with a 600 billion dollar budget.
2. n. nonsense. (Based on BS.) I’ve heard enough birdseed here to last for a lifetime.
n. a farmer; a rustic character, usually a male. I’m not just some hayseed fresh off the farm.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
run to seed, to
To become old and decrepit. Plants that are allowed to set seed after flowering either become bitter to the taste (lettuce) or will not bloom as well the following year (daffodils, tulips). Henry Fielding used the term figuratively in an essay of 1740: “For Virtue itself by growing too exuberant and . . . by running to seed changes its very nature.”
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer