stranger


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a stranger to (someone or something)

1. Literally, someone who has never met someone or been to some place. I was a complete stranger to this country four years ago, but now I feel like I've lived here forever. I have heard her name mentioned by others, but she is a stranger to me.
2. By extension, someone who experience or knowledge of something. Often used in negative constructions. They brought in lawyer who was no stranger to such complex cases. He was a complete stranger to illicit drugs until he was well into his 30s.
See also: stranger, to

be no stranger to (something)

To be thoroughly experienced in or knowledgeable about something or someone. Don't worry, I'm no stranger to spicy food. They brought in a crack agent who was no stranger to such complex cases.
See also: no, stranger, to

depend on the kindness of strangers

A reference to the final words of Blanche DuBois, a character in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams: "Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."
1. To rely on the generosity and goodwill of those around us, especially those we don't know personally. Many of us these days choose or have to leave home in search of work. Without friends and family around us, we must depend on the kindness of strangers. When I was in my twenties, I used to travel the world with nothing but a backpack full of clothes, depending on the kindness of strangers to get by each day.
2. To rely on outside support or assistance, especially financially. As the company's long-term outlook worsens, they are having to depend more and more on the kindness of strangers to remain operational. Basing our country's economy on cross-border trade is a bit like depending on the kindness of strangers at times—it can dry up when economic issues hit on a global scale and other countries start spending less.
See also: depend, kindness, of, on, stranger

don't be a stranger

Used to express one's wishes that someone will return or be in touch soon. Usually said as part of a farewell. Bye, Tom! It was great having you over! Don't be a stranger, you hear? Don't be a stranger, OK? You can call me anytime you want to talk.
See also: stranger

fact is stranger than fiction

proverb Real life is filled such bizarre, absurd, or unlikely events that it can be hard to believe they are not fictional. A piece of metal that had embedded itself in the patient's abdomen from the accident actually deflected the bullet away from any vital organs. I tell you, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.
See also: fact, fiction, stranger

little stranger

A baby or very young child that is new to someone's life, especially parents or siblings. The arrival of a new baby is usually a very happy event for most first-time parents, but bringing a little stranger home can also be incredibly overwhelming. Siblings over the age of three have a hard time in particular accepting the little stranger who now takes away the attention from Mommy and Daddy.
See also: little, stranger

no stranger to (something)

Thoroughly experienced in or knowledgeable about something; not encountering something for the first time. Don't worry, I'm no stranger to spicy food. They brought in an agent who was no stranger to such complex cases.
See also: no, stranger, to

perfect stranger

Someone with whom one has absolutely no previous association. My mom and dad didn't come to see our son until he was nearly three years old, so, to him, they were perfect strangers! She thought it was terribly funny to go up to perfect strangers and begin conversations with them as if they had been lifelong friends.
See also: perfect, stranger

rely on the kindness of strangers

A reference to the final words of Blanche DuBois, a character in A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams: "Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers."
1. To depend on the generosity and goodwill of those around us, especially those we don't know personally. Many of us these days choose or have to leave home in search of work. Without friends and family around us, we must rely on the kindness of strangers. When I was in my twenties, I used to travel the world with nothing but a backpack full of clothes, relying on the kindness of strangers to get by each day.
2. To depend on outside support or assistance, especially financially. As the company's long-term outlook worsens, they are having to rely more and more on the kindness of strangers to remain operational. Basing our country's economy on cross-border trade is a bit like relying on the kindness of strangers at times—it can dry up when economic issues hit on a global scale and other countries start spending less.
See also: kindness, of, on, rely, stranger

shifty-looking

Having or of an untrustworthy, dubious, or deceptive appearance. There are always a bunch of shifty-looking characters around this part of town at night, so let's not linger! I didn't feel great about the deal when John's shifty-looking business partner came along to sign the papers.

total stranger

Someone with whom one has absolutely no previous association. My mom and dad didn't come to see our son until he was nearly three years old, so, to him, they were total strangers! She thought it was terribly funny to go up to total strangers and begin conversations with them as if they had been lifelong friends.
See also: stranger, total

truth is stranger than fiction

proverb Real life is filled such bizarre, absurd, or unlikely events that it can be hard to believe they are not fictional. A piece of metal that had embedded itself in the patient's abdomen from the accident actually deflected the bullet away from any vital organs. I tell you, sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.
See also: fiction, stranger, truth
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

Fact is stranger than fiction,

 and Truth is stranger than fiction.
Prov. Things that really happen are harder to believe or more amazing than stories that people invent. Did you see the story in the newspaper about the criminal who attacks people with a toenail clipper? Fact is stranger than fiction! Jill: I can't believe someone's paying 900 dollars for Tom's broken-down old car—it doesn't even run. Jane: Truth is stranger than fiction.
See also: fact, fiction, stranger

perfect stranger

 and total stranger
Fig. a person who is completely unknown [to oneself]. I was stopped on the street by a perfect stranger who wanted to know my name. If a total stranger asked me such a personal question, I am sure I would not answer!
See also: perfect, stranger

stranger to (something or some place)

someone who is new to an area or place. Although John was a stranger to big cities, he enjoyed visiting New York. You are a stranger to our town, and I hope you feel welcome.
See also: stranger, to
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

truth is stranger than fiction

Real life can be more remarkable than invented tales, as in In our two-month trip around the world we ran into long-lost relatives on three separate occasions, proving that truth is stranger than fiction . This expression may have been invented by Byron, who used it in Don Juan (1833).
See also: fiction, stranger, truth
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.

little stranger

a newly born baby. informal
2002 Psychology Today For anyone in the brand new role of caring for a little stranger so totally dependent on their ministrations, the early days of motherhood challenge anyone's sense of competence.
See also: little, stranger
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

be no/a ˈstranger to something

(formal) be familiar/not familiar with something because you have/have not experienced it many times before: He is no stranger to controversy.
See also: no, something, stranger, to

ˌtruth is stranger than ˈfiction

(saying) used to say that things that actually happen are often more surprising than stories that are invented
See also: fiction, stranger, truth
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

depend on the kindness of strangers

A form of self-deception. The phrase comes from Tennessee Williams’s play A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), in which Blanche DuBois, with delusions of grandeur, has a destructive effect on her sister Stella’s marriage to Stanley Kowalski. Stanley rapes her, leading to her nervous breakdown, and commits her to a mental hospital. As the doctor leads her off, she says, “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” The phrase “kindness of strangers” occasionally appears in other contexts, as in “With no rain for a month, my garden depends on the kindness of strangers.” Sue Miller used it in her novel The Lake Shore Limited (2010). Talking about two characters in her play, the playwright said: “Well, you are not Jay . . . a guy who’s betraying his wife. And I’m not Elena. I’m not . . . dependent upon the kindness of strangers.”
See also: depend, kindness, of, on, stranger

truth is stranger than fiction

Facts may be more remarkable than an invented story. The phrase first appeared in Byron’s Don Juan (1823)—“‘Tis strange—but true; for truth is always strange,—stranger than fiction”—and has been repeated ever since, often with ironic variations. Mark Twain had it in Pudd’nhead Wilson’s New Calendar (1893), “Truth is stranger than fiction— to some people, but I am measurably familiar with it.” And novelist Margaret Echard wrote, “Truth is not only stranger than fiction but far more interesting” (Before IWake, 1943).
See also: fiction, stranger, truth
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
See also:
References in classic literature ?
On this Telemachus spoke fiercely to Ctesippus, "It is a good thing for you," said he, "that the stranger turned his head so that you missed him.
Leave off, therefore, ill-treating the stranger, or any one else of the servants who are about the house; I would say, however, a friendly word to Telemachus and his mother, which I trust may commend itself to both.
OEDIPUS After what manner, stranger? Teach me, pray.
Do as I bid, And I shall then be bold to stand thy friend; Else, stranger, I should have my fears for thee.
Then Robin Hood stepped quickly to the coverside and cut a good staff of ground oak, straight, without new, and six feet in length, and came back trimming away the tender stems from it, while the stranger waited for him, leaning upon his staff, and whistling as he gazed round about.
"Now get out," said the stranger, "and next time you see me remember who I am," and he spoke a name in the Swede's ear--a name that more effectually subdued the scoundrel than many beatings--then he gave him a push that carried him bodily through the tent doorway to sprawl upon the turf beyond.
STRANGER. Yes: but in order to see into Space you ought to have an eye, not on your Perimeter, but on your side, that is, on what you would probably call your inside; but we in Spaceland should call it your side.
This fair little stranger is so small of bone and sinew, that his old name is not to the purpose." Here he paused long enough to fill a horn in the stream.
"While I improved in speech, I also learned the science of letters as it was taught to the stranger, and this opened before me a wide field for wonder and delight.
The stranger, with a comfortable kind of grunt over his pipe, put his legs up on the settle that he had to himself.
The stranger, then perceiving that the matter went beyond raillery, drew his sword, saluted his adversary, and seriously placed himself on guard.
"Let me see," continued the stranger, "I am one of your largest creditors."
Bumble felt, every now and then, a powerful inducement, which he could not resist, to steal a look at the stranger: and that whenever he did so, he withdrew his eyes, in some confusion, to find that the stranger was at that moment stealing a look at him.
The green coat had been a smart dress garment in the days of swallow-tails, but had evidently in those times adorned a much shorter man than the stranger, for the soiled and faded sleeves scarcely reached to his wrists.
A stranger came to Winesburg and saw in the child what the father did not see.