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Idioms were sayings that had a figurative meaning often unrelated to the actual phrasing. By studying the etymology of an idiom, one could determine how it came to be used. (TNG: "All Good Things...")

The Leyron were known to communicate using gestural idioms. (VOY: "Macrocosm")

Artistic, economic, medical, military, and nautical terms, as well as sports sayings often contained idioms.

Popular idioms[]

All hell breaking loose[]

If all hell broke loose, the situation was chaotic or violent.

When Kira Nerys asked Miles O'Brien if there was a way of beaming more than two prisoners from the Hutet labor camp, he replied, "I'm afraid not. As soon as we beam the first two up, all hell is going to break loose in that camp." (DS9: "The Homecoming")

Armed to the teeth[]

To be armed to the teeth meant to possess a lot of weapons, or to possess very effective weaponry.

When Geordi La Forge modified the weapons on a Pakled ship, he told the crew they were armed to the teeth, however, they did not understand and replied in confusion, "Teeth are for chewing." (TNG: "Samaritan Snare")

Back to the wall[]

If one's back was to the wall, one was in a bad position.

Miles O'Brien once warned Captain Picard that if Captain Maxwell felt his back was to the wall, he would strike. (TNG: "The Wounded")

Bad blood[]

If two people or groups had bad blood, they had animosity.

When Jake Sisko suggested setting the Cardassians and Jem'Hadar against each other, he said that the two species had bad blood. (DS9: "Behind the Lines")

Bad taste in (someone's) mouth []

Refers to something that seems wrong or offensive, or to a bad impression left on someone.(TOS: "The Naked Time"; DS9: "Field of Fire")

Between a rock and a hard place[]

Referred to someone who was in a situation where they could choose between two alternatives, and neither of them were acceptable.

In 1986, Bob Briggs told Gillian Taylor, they were in such a position regarding the fate of George and Gracie, explaining "If we can't keep them here without risking their lives. We can't let them go without a taking the same chance." (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

Bird in a gilded cage[]

To be a bird in a gilded cage was to live in luxury without freedom.

In 2268, Kirk described the crew of the USS Enterprise on the planet Mudd as birds in a gilded cage and asked how they could escape, to which Pavel Chekov replied that he had no ideas but that it was a very nice gilded cage. Kirk reminded everyone that despite it containing their deepest desires, it was a cage nonetheless and that they belonged back on the Enterprise. (TOS: "I, Mudd")

Birds of a feather[]

If two or more people were birds of a feather, they were similar.

Berlinghoff Rasmussen claimed not to know why Deanna Troi distrusted him, since he allegedly saw them as "birds of a feather" due to both having knowledge that others didn't (her being an empath and him knowing about the future). However, owing to the fact that he was actually from the past instead of the future (albeit with a time machine from the future), this was probably a lie, or at the very least, a half-truth. (TNG: "A Matter of Time")

Bite off more than one can chew[]

If someone bit off more than they could chew, they attempted to perform a task that was beyond their ability to complete, often because they had underestimated its complexity.

The mirror universe version of James Kirk once noted that he and Spock may have bitten off more than they could chew when they attempted to control the Halkans. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")

Black and white []

To be "black and white" was for something to be either one thing or another, with no in between. The term was also related to another idiom, "cut and dry", and was the opposite of "a shade of gray".

(A) black cloud hanging over your head []

A black cloud or dark cloud was an indication of a gloomy day, and anyone associated with a black cloud, especially one hanging over someone's head, was said to be having a bad day.

"It's like this big, black cloud with lots of thunder and lightning all around us."

"Just follow the black cloud"

"The only dark cloud I see around here is you."

"A black cloud hanging over (your) head"

Blood is thicker than water[]

Meant that familial bonds outweighed bonds between non-family members.

Janeway defined this idiom to Seven of Nine when explaining why she might have a strong urge to help three former members of her unimatrix. (VOY: "Survival Instinct")

Bloody nose[]

When used idiomatically, a "bloody nose" meant a minor inconvenience.

When an away team was stuck on a planet and dealing with ferocious creatures, one lieutenant suggested they "Give them a bloody nose" to mean fight back. (TOS: "The Galileo Seven")

After Q introduced Borg to Picard and his crew, he said that "If you can't take a little bloody nose, maybe you ought to go back home and crawl under your bed." (TNG: "Q Who")

When Lupaza was feeling nostalgic for her time in the Bajoran resistance, she said that when the Cardassians got "too close", she and the other resistance fighters would "give them a bloody nose". Shakaar responded that, "Sometimes it was our noses that got bloodied." (DS9: "Shakaar")

When Benjamin Sisko was practicing a speech to the Romulans, with Jadzia Dax pretending to be a Romulan, he claimed that the Dominion were violating Romulan territory. She responded, "So, they're crossing my backyard to give the Federation a bloody nose. I can't say that makes me very sad." (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")

Break the ice[]

To "break the ice" meant to introduce conversation or small talk into an awkward situation.

  • In 2151, Captain Jonathan Archer called a planned dinner with Vulcan Captain Vanik, he described the event as a "good way to break the ice." (ENT: "Breaking the Ice")
  • In 2372, The Doctor changed his program so that he would no longer say "Please state the nature of the medical emergency" when activated. When Kes discovered that he changed it back, and asked why, The Doctor explained that "I became so uncomfortable trying to find new ways to break the ice, as it were, that I restored it. Let's just say it works for me." (VOY: "Tattoo")

Burning the midnight oil[]

Referred to what one did when they stayed up late at night to work or study. (VOY: "Waking Moments", "Pathfinder")

In 2143, A.G. Robinson, who got to be the first Human to test the NX-Alpha test vehicle, told Jonathan Archer that he didn't get this assignment because he tried too hard, "burning the midnight oil" in the simulator eighteen to twenty hours a day. (ENT: "First Flight")

In 2376, Captain Kathryn Janeway, who was working very late one night in the mess hall, told Neelix that she was "just burning the midnight oil", to which Neelix replied that it was way past midnight. (VOY: "Fair Haven")

In an alternate timeline in 2364, Captain Jean-Luc Picard ordered Miles O'Brien to bypass the secondary plasma inducer, which required O'Brien to realign the entire power grid, stating "we're all going to be burning the midnight oil on this one." Data, who overheard O'Brien, told him that that would be inadvisable because any "attempt to ignite a petroleum product on this ship at 0:00 hours [would] activate the fire suppression system." (TNG: "All Good Things...")

Burying the hatchet[]

Referred to putting aside a grudge.

When an alien was making a group of Klingons, along with the crew of the Enterprise, hallucinate that they were at war, Kirk declared he and his underlings would have to bury the hatchet with the Klingons. (TOS: "The Day of the Dove")

Julian Bashir once expressed a desire to bury the hatchet with Kira Nerys. Being Bajoran, she did not understand the idiom, so he had to explain it. (DS9: "Crossover")

Can't see the forest for the trees[]

Referred to one was so caught up in small details that they were not able to see the bigger picture.

In 2373, Miles O'Brien felt he hadn't been able to see the forest for the trees when it was Rom who explained to him that the modifications that he had been making to equipment on Deep Space 9 on the orders of a Pah-wraith that had possessed his wife were designed to turn the station into a chroniton array aimed at the Bajoran wormhole, one which could kill the Prophets. (DS9: "The Assignment")

Casting a pall over ____[]

Referred to creating a somber mood in an otherwise pleasant situation.

In 2371, Julian Bashir apologized for casting a pall over a party when his thoughts were still on Bareil Antos's medical condition. (DS9: "Life Support")

Cat and mouse []

In 2267, Spock described Trelane's repositioning of the planet Gothos so that it was always in front of the USS Enterprise's flight path as a "cat-and-mouse game," Kirk adding that they were the mouse. (TOS: "The Squire of Gothos") / (TOS: "Friday's Child"; TAS: "Once Upon a Planet"; VOY: "Equinox, Part II")

When Dr. McCoy was on a planet where people's thoughts were made into reality via robots, he described the malevolent robots chasing them as "cat and mouse". This caused a large, aggressive, robot cat to appear.

The cat is out of the bag[]

If "the cat was out of the bag", that meant a secret was exposed.

When Data asked Jenna D'Sora if her giving him a decoration as a present was an attempt to make his quarters appear less "Spartan", she replied, "The cat's out of the bag." He did not understand and believed she was referring to Spot. (TNG: "In Theory")

Caught with one's hand in the cookie jar[]

Referring to being caught accessing something that was not one's own.

In 2151, Trip Tucker had Hoshi Sato decrypt a message from the Vulcans and found it was a personal letter meant for T'Pol. When expressing his embarrassment at having inadvertently snooped on her private business, he said that he felt as though he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. (ENT: "Breaking the Ice")

Caught with one's pants down[]

Referring to being found in the act of doing something which left one in an embarrassing position.

In 2285, James T. Kirk characterized his having been trapped by Khan Noonien Singh as having been caught with his britches down, a fact he attributed to his own supposed senility. (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

In 2366, Geordi La Forge opined that Romulan defector Alidar Jarok was correct about Romulan activity at Nelvana III, and that the Romulans would indeed be caught with their pants down. Data, unfamiliar with the phrase, questioned what he meant, and La Forge explained. (TNG: "The Defector")

Change of heart[]

A "change of heart" was a change in viewpoint, often relating to morality.

When Seven of Nine insisted on remaining on the Borg sphere despite the rest of the away team she was part of returning to Voyager, Chakotay asked where she was. Janeway responded, "She had a change of heart."

Chasing ghosts[]

To "chase ghosts" meant to pursue an imaginary threat, or to pursue someone despite them being dead.

When Hengist was opposed to allowing Scotty to investigate three murders of which he was the prime suspect, but which new evidence suggested were committed by a non-corporeal lifeforms, he expressed disapproval at allowing Scotty to "go and start chasing ghosts". (TOS: "Wolf in the Fold")

When the Sheliak asked the crew of the Enterprise-D to remove the Humans from Tau Cygna V and Riker noted that the planet contained hyperonic radiation, which was deadly to Humans, he said, "Then the Sheliak are asking us to chase ghosts?" (TNG: "The Ensigns of Command")

When Kira Nerys was trying to find the creator of the Aphasia virus, Benjamin Sisko asked how she was doing. She replied that she was "chasing after ghosts", and he joked that she had twelve hours to catch one before the virus became fatal. (DS9: "Babel")

Child's play[]

Meaning: easy.

Kirk once noted that attempting to search for his missing away team made finding a needle in a haystack seem like child's play. (TOS: "The Galileo Seven")

When McCoy forgot how to reattach Spock's brain, Kirk noted that "Moments ago, it was child's play." (TOS: "Spock's Brain")

Clean as a whistle[]

Referred to something being completely clean.

In 2369, retracing the murdered Ensign Aquino's steps, Chief O'Brien found that Runabout Pad C was as clean as a whistle. (DS9: "In the Hands of the Prophets")

In 2374, The Doctor told B'Elanna Torres that her pericardium was as clean as a whistle, having repaired injuries caused by Dejaren.  He was not able to say the same about sickbay's condition after a day in Tom Paris' charge. (VOY: "Revulsion")

Clean their chronometers[]

Colonel West, while proposing Operation Retrieve, assured the Federation President that should the operation precipitate a full-scale war with the Klingon Empire, Starfleet could quite frankly "clean their chronometers." (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Clear someone's name[]

To clear someone's name was to prove their innocence.

When Worf said that it was not yet time to arrive at the Klingon home world for a council meeting, Picard replied, "That doesn't sound like the man who came to me a year ago fiercely determined to clear his father's name or die trying." (TNG: "Redemption")

Coin a phrase[]

To coin a phrase was either to introduce a new idiom or to repeat an old one.

In 2267, upon meeting Apollo, Leonard McCoy, in the absence of Spock, remarked, "To coin a phrase, fascinating". (TOS: "Who Mourns for Adonais?")

In 2376, The Doctor recalled pausing in his metallurgical scans on a rare away mission (for him) to Arakis Prime, in order "to smell the roses, to coin a phrase". Later, upon hearing him wax eloquent about the mission, saying, "one small step for a hologram, one giant leap for mankind", Seven of Nine repeated, "to coin a phrase". The Doctor allowed that his choice of words was not new. (VOY: "One Small Step")


The term cold-blooded, in addition to its informal scientific meaning, was also applied to an individual who lacked emotion or was deliberately callous.

When Captain Jean-Luc Picard sheepishly approached Doctor Beverly Crusher following her arrival onboard the USS Enterprise-D to apologize for his conduct on the bridge when welcoming her aboard, he emphasized that "I didn't want you thinking me harsh. Cold-blooded." When asked why she would ever think that, he explained that, "I didn't welcome you aboard personally, professionally. I made you come to me on the bridge. I yelled at your son. Who, as you pointed out, was quite correct." (TNG: "Encounter at Farpoint")

When the USS Enterprise-D struck a quantum filament in 2368, and the ship was under the threat of a containment breach, Ensign Ro Laren suggested that should separate the saucer and get as far as they could from the drive section. Chief Miles O'Brien, however, felt that her suggestion was "damn cold-blooded," leaving all of those people in that section behind. Ro argued that ""there's no evidence that anyone is still alive in the drive section," but O'Brien argued back that, there was "no evidence they're dead, either. If you were trapped down there, would you like us to just cut you loose and leave?" (TNG: "Disaster")

During Gul Dukat's questioning of Captain Benjamin Sisko if he was among those that supported the post-Bajoran Occupation vilification, Sisko diplomatically replied, "I wasn't there during the occupation. I didn't see all the things you had to struggle with day after day. I don't think I can pass judgement." However, a hallucination of Kira Nerys told Dukat that, "he's just doesn't want to anger you. He really thinks you're a vicious, cold-blooded killer, Dukat, and so do I." (DS9: "Waltz")

Cold feet[]

Cold feet was an idiom for jitters, i.e. anxiety associated with an impending event that was considered greatly important.

When Keiko decided to call off the wedding between her and Miles O'Brien, Geordi posited that she did not really want to end their relationship; she just did it due to cold feet. Data defined the term "cold feet" and asked if that meant the cancellation was temporary, and Geordi affirmed. (TNG: "Data's Day")

When Kasidy Yates-Sisko was explaining that she wasn't going to turn down a job for the sole reason of Benjamin Sisko's nervousness at the prospect of her moving closer to him, she said, "Do you think I'd give up a great opportunity just because you got cold feet?" (DS9: "Indiscretion")

When Worf brought up his and Dax's wedding, she asked if he was getting cold feet. (DS9: "A Time to Stand")

Cover one's tracks[]

To cover one's tracks meant to destroy or hide evidence of one's secrets.

When Sisko denied that there was any real evidence that Bashir was a Dominion collaborator, Sloan said, "What other kind of case can I make against a man who covers his tracks so well?". Sisko stated that this was a "circular argument" and accused Sloan of being knowingly difficult. (DS9: "Inquisiton")

Cross that bridge when one comes to it[]

To state that one would "cross that bridge when one came to it" was to state that one would wait until a problem arose before attempting to solve it.

When a replicant of Miles O'Brien was escaping from the personnel of Deep Space 9, he did not know what to do once he dropped out of warp, but stated that he would cross that bridge when he came to it. (DS9: "Whispers")

In an alternate 2374, when USS Voyager was extremely damaged, Commander Chakotay suggested that they should consider abandoning the ship and split the crew up into smaller groups as a more viable option of successfully crossing Krenim space. When asked by Captain Kathryn Janeway what they would do after that, Chakotay offered, "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. But at least we'd be increasing our chances of survival." (VOY: "Year of Hell")

Cut someone slack[]

To cut someone slack was to be lenient on them.

When Benjamin Sisko was telling Quark not to be involved in a weapon sale, he said that while he did cut Quark slack in the past, but he would not let him get away with any more crime. (DS9: "Business as Usual")

Dead duck[]

Being a "dead duck" referred to someone's imminent death or defeat.

In 2268, James Kirk told the Beta XII-A entity it was a dead duck aboard the USS Enterprise, as he and Kang's people had realized they could defeat it with peace. (TOS: "Day of the Dove")

When Voyager was captured by Kazon, Tom Paris sent a message to The Doctor on the emergency medical holographic channel and described himself as a "dead duck" if The Doctor wasn't receiving it. (VOY: "Basics, Part I")

Dining on ashes[]

"Dining on ashes" was to excessively focus on past personal failures.

James Kirk asked if Spock was dining on ashes after finding him seemingly reflecting on the betrayal of Valeris. (Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country)

Don't let the door hit you on the way out[]

"Don't let the door hit you on the way out" was a derogatory idiom used to indicate that one was glad that someone was leaving.

Jadzia Dax used this expression when she was angry at Quark for being part of a weapons sale. (DS9: "Business as Usual")

Dry spell[]

A "dry spell" was a prolonged period without sexual activity.

After learning that Vulcans only mated once in seven years, Trip Tucker remarked that that was "a hell of a dry spell." (ENT: "Fallen Hero")

A dry spell could also be a synonym for a drought. When Kathryn Janeway was a child, a character on a holonovel she was using predicted a "dry spell" (as in a drought), so Janeway diverted a river. This backfired when it caused a flood and attracted a large mosquito named Stinger. (VOY: "Once Upon a Time")

Ducks in a row[]

Having one's "ducks in a row" meant they had things planned out and prepared.

In 2375, Admiral William Ross said that Wendell Greer had his ducks in a row, referring to the fact that he had been a low-level bureaucrat in the Department of Cartography for 15 years. (DS9: "Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges")

Early bird gets the worm[]

"The early bird gets the worm" meant that those who acted quickly/first were more likely to gain their objective.

When Commander Shelby used the expression to explain why she was bringing William Riker, Geordi LaForge, and Data on an away mission so early, Data who did not know the idiom, confusedly remarked that Shelby must have erred, since there were neither birds nor worms on the planet. Geordi noted that it was an idiom, but added that nevertheless, Shelby had, in fact, erred. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds")

When Voyager's EMH was trying to awaken B'Elanna Torres, he riffed on the idiom by stating that "The early bird gets the gagh". (VOY: "Drone")

Eating crow[]

To "eat crow" was to admit that one had been defeated or was wrong.

When Voyager's EMH was attempting to treat Lewis Zimmerman's disease, but Zimmerman was stubborn and refusing treatment, Deanna Troi invited the both of them to dinner. However, the EMH quipped that he would not be interested unless Zimmerman would be eating crow. (VOY: "Life Line")

Everything but the kitchen sink []

"Everything but the kitchen sink", meant that almost everything possible was being used to make something work, or likewise present in a single location.

When the USS Enterprise was caught in Vaal's tractor beam, Montgomery Scott was "putting everything but the kitchen sink into impulse power" just to keep the ship from being pulled out of orbit. (TOS: "The Apple")

While trapped inside a graviton ellipse, Commander Chakotay took note of the variety of debris contained within, describing "asteroid fragments, pieces of vessels, matter from every quadrant of the galaxy. Next time I lose something I'll know where to look. Instead of a graviton ellipse we should call it the "kitchen sink" anomaly." (VOY: "One Small Step")

Face the music[]

To "face the music" meant to accept negative consequences for one's actions.

When Seven of Nine wondered why B'Elanna Torres wanted to return to Earth despite being a wanted criminal, B'Elanna replied that she would rather face the music on Earth than spend the rest of her life in the Delta Quadrant. (VOY: "Hope and Fear")

Falling on deaf ears[]

"Falling on deaf ears" meant something that some believe should be heeded was not.

In 2369, Captain Picard told Dr. Crusher that the discovery made from Professor Galen's research would have been more fitting to Galen's legacy if only it "had not fallen on such deaf ears." (TNG: "The Chase")

Weyoun once told Major Kira that her pleas to have Rom not executed for terrorism would fall on deaf ears. (DS9: "Favor the Bold")

In 2372, Neelix believed diplomatic negotiation with the Botha might fall on deaf ears. (VOY: "Persistence of Vision")

In 2374, The Doctor complained that his requests for a larger sickbay were falling on deaf ears. (VOY: "Waking Moments")

The fat is in the fire[]

If "the fat was in the fire", that meant something negative was sure to happen.

McCoy once noted that the fat would be in the fire when the Federation High Commissioner found out that Elaan had recently tried to murder the ambassador of the man she was betrothed to. (TOS: "Elaan of Troyius")

Fishing for a compliment[]

To "fish for a compliment" meant to say something in hopes of the other person responding with a compliment.

When Ambassador Troi mentioned that she used to "sparkle", she then added, "You see, that's called 'fishing for a compliment'; you're supposed to stay I still sparkle." (TNG: "Half a Life")

Fit as a fiddle[]

If somebody was "fit as a fiddle", this meant they were healthy.

When Julian Bashir had his body controlled by the consciousness of Rao Vantika, Benjamin Sisko asked him what happened to Bashir. Bashir as Vantika stated that Bashir's body was "fit as a fiddle". (DS9: "The Passenger")

Fit like a glove[]

If something "fit like a glove", it fit perfectly.

Scotty once used this idiom to refer to a new panel he installed. (TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before")

Fly on the wall[]

A "fly on the wall" or "spider under the table" was a colloquial way of referring to an observer.

When Sito Jaxa was wondering why the senior officers were going to the Federation-Cardassian border, she wanted to have been a "spider under the table" during the briefing. She asked Sam Lavelle if he felt the same way, to which he responded, "Is that like a fly on the wall?". When Sito affirmed, he agreed. (TNG: "Lower Decks")

When Berlinghoff Rasmussen claimed to be a time-travelling historian observing Geordi La Forge and Data for research purposes, he told them to think of him as a fly on the wall. (TNG: "A Matter Of Time")

Follow in someone's footsteps[]

To "follow in someone's footsteps" meant to emulate them.

When Noonien Soong admitted to Data that he would have preferred it if Data had become a scientist instead of a Starfleet officer, Data responded, "To follow in your footsteps, as it were." (TNG: "Brothers")

When Julian Bashir, Odo, and Benjamin Sisko discovered that Ibudan had murdered his clone, and that another clone of his had just been created, Odo hoped the second clone would not "follow in his donor's footsteps." (DS9: "A Man Alone")

For all the tea in China[]

"For all the tea in China" meant something was so important to a person, he or she wouldn't exchange it for even the most precious things in the world.

In 1986, Gillian Taylor told time traveler Admiral James Kirk, when he explained to her that they wanted to bring George and Gracie to the 23rd century, and asked her if she was curious about the details, she said, "I wouldn't miss it for all the tea in China." (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

Fortune favours the bold[]

Meant that adventurous people tended to have better luck.

Sisko used the expression when facing up to some enemy ships during the mission to retake Deep Space Nine. (DS9: "Favour the Bold")

(A) genie from the bottle []

"A genie from the bottle" meant getting what one wanted, but with bad results.

Get on someone's nerves[]

Meant to annoy them.

When BC wondered why Benjamin Sisko was threatening to shoot him despite allegedly being on his side, Sisko replied, "We are, but you get on my nerves and I don't like your hat." (DS9: "Past Tense, Part II")

Get under someone's skin[]

To get under someone's skin was to put them into a bad mood.

When Nog asked O'Brien why Garak kept bringing up Setlik III, O'Brien replied, "Because he wants to get under my skin." (DS9: "Empok Nor")

Give up the ghost[]

To give up the ghost meant to die (lifeforms) or cease operating (machines).

In 2152, Trip Tucker warned Jonathan Archer that it was only a matter of time before a plasma injector gave up the ghost. (ENT: "A Night in Sickbay")

In 2267, Scotty noted that the machine he had improvised to replace a faulty PXK pergium reactor on Janus VI had given up the ghost. (TOS: "The Devil in the Dark")

Go to hell in a handbasket[]

If something went to hell in a handbasket, it rapidly worsened.

In a hallucination experienced by Benjamin Sisko, Burt Ryan noted that the city was going to hell in a handbasket. (DS9: "Far Beyond the Stars")

Go to one's head[]

If something went to someone's head, it made them arrogant.

When Nog was promoted to ensign, O'Brien told him, "Don't let that uniform go to your head." (DS9: "Favour The Bold")

When Worf and Dax called off their wedding, Sisko convinced Dax to change her mind by noting that the wedding had gone to Worf's head, but he was "just a kid" compared to her (DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited").

Gut feeling[]

A gut feeling was an idiom for an intuition.

When Data was debating whether to trust [[T'Pel (Ambassador)]|T'Pel]], he concluded that he probably should, since Vulcans were honest, but that he wished he was capable of intuition, since he felt having a "gut feeling" to back his insight up would be useful. (TNG: "Data's Day")

Hands full[]

Having one's hands full meant being unavailable due to being busy.

When Sisko was too busy playing with a baby to help Dax, she commented, "It sounds like you have your hands full." (DS9: "Children of Time")

Have the hide of[]

To have the hide of someone was to chastise someone severely.

In 2269, according to Dickerson, Captain Kirk promised to have the hide of the first man to smile or otherwise react with amusement to the appearance of President Abraham Lincoln on the Enterprise. (TOS: "The Savage Curtain")

Heavy heart[]

A heavy heart was an idiom for sadness.

Picard once noted in his log, "It is with a heavy heart that I have offered to meet whatever reasonable and necessary terms are demanded by the Ferengi."

Home sweet home []

I am who I am[]

According to Tuvok, along with this saying, "It is impossible for me to be more or less like myself." (VOY: "Tuvix")

Also referenced in DS9: "Civil Defense", "Fascination".

Icing on the cake[]

The icing on the cake was something that enhanced a good situation.

When Worf was on trial and Ch'Pok suggested conceding, Sisko determined that Ch'Pok was making the suggestion so that the convoys would stop, allowing the Klingons access to the Pentath system. Ch'Pok used the idiom, and Sisko jokingly advised him not to "eat the cake". (DS9: "Rules of Engagement")

I couldn't fill your shoes[]

"I couldn't fill your shoes" was a Human idiom, describing one being in a bad situation, which the other person couldn't bear.

In 2286, Leonard McCoy told Spock, when he suffered from memory loss after being resurrected, "What I mean is I may have carried your soul, but I sure couldn't fill your shoes," to which Spock replied, "My shoes?" (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

In good hands[]

If somebody or something was in good hands, it or they were being well cared for.

When Data left Reg Barclay in charge of a pregnant Spot, he noted that she was in good hands. (TNG: "Genesis")

In someone's shoes[]

If someone was in someone's shoes, they were in that person's situation.

When Worf was in love with Grilka, Dax said that if she were in his shoes, she would go for someone more available and more "fun". Worf replied, "I am not in your shoes," and Dax joked that that was too bad, since she could do a lot in a pair of size eighteen boots. (DS9: "Looking for Par'Mach in All the Wrong Places")

In the same boat[]

If two or more people were in the same boat, the same situation applied to them.

When Harry Kim and Tom Paris were on a class Y planet and both their environmental suits leaked, Paris commented, "We're in the same boat, buddy!". (VOY: "Demon")

In the zone[]

If someone was in the zone, they were having a run of good luck.

When O'Brien was having a run of good luck at darts, he described himself as being in the zone numerous times. Once his good fortune ended, he felt like being in the zone was a one-off occurrence. He then said, "Welcome to the zone!" after Julian Bashir landed a bullseye. (DS9: "Shakaar")

When O'Brien had a second run of good luck at darts, Bashir described him as being "back in the zone." (DS9: "Dr. Bashir, I Presume")


An indication of a very small, indefinite measurement. (DS9: "Melora"; VOY: "Twisted", "Sacred Ground")

Joined at the hip[]

This term referred to people being so close to one another as to appear inseparable (physically or emotionally)

In 2369, Q described himself and Vash as "A team, joined together at the hip." (DS9: "Q-Less")

After being temporarily telepathically linked with Jean-Luc Picard on Kesprytt III in 2370, Beverly Crusher remarked that she was happy not to be joined to Picard's hip anymore. (TNG: "Attached")

In an alternate 2390, Harry Kim called Chakotay and his girlfriend Tessa Omond as close as to be joined at the hip. (VOY: "Timeless")

Keep it under your hat[]

To keep information under one's hat was to remember it for future reference.

Keep on a short leash[]

To keep someone on a short leash was to control them.

When Miles O'Brien was expressing disapproval about Julian Bashir attempting to end the Jem'Hadar's addiction to Ketracel-white, he noted that this may cause them to abandon the Dominion and run rampant. He noted that "At least now the Dominion keeps them on a short leash.". Bashir expressed disapproval at Bashir's use of the idiom, believing it made the Jem'Hadar sound like animals.

Keep one's nose clean[]

To keep one's nose clean was to stay out of trouble.

When Bell was told that Data was from South America, he replied, "Wherever you're from, keep your nose clean." Data did not know the idiom, and rubbed his nose to see if it was clean. (TNG: "The Big Goodbye")

Kick someone's butt[]

To kick someone's butt was to defeat them.

When Keiko O'Brien was supporting her husband Miles for his upcoming racquetball match with Julian Bashir, she said to him, "Kick his butt". (DS9: "Rivals")

Harry Kim referenced the idiom when Janeway asked him and Tom Paris if they won a drunken game against some aliens, and Harry responded, "Yes, ma'am; we kicked their... racquets." (VOY: "Survival Instincts")

When Sisko advised Nog to confront the Klingons when they bothered him, since that was what a Klingon would have done and would thus earn him their respect, Jake joked, "Or get your butt kicked. One or the other." (DS9: "Blaze of Glory")

Kill two birds with one stone[]

To kill two birds with one stone meant to accomplish two things at once.

When locked in the cargo bay with Beverly Crusher and dealing with a volatile substance that was leaking, Geordi La Forge noted that his idea was unconventional, but might serve to "kill two birds with one stone". (TNG: "Disaster")

The lion's den[]

The lion's den referred to a dangerous place or situation.

When Spock wanted to avoid sending down a landing force to Triskelion to retrieve the missing Kirk, Uhura, and Chekov, and preferred to beam down solo to search for them, McCoy said, "Well, Mr. Spock, if you're going into the lion's den, you'll need a medical officer." (TOS: "The Gamesters of Triskelion")

When Jake Sisko wanted to see if Kai Winn kidnapped Dr. Giger, he said that he and Nog were going to "beard the lion in its den". (DS9: "In the Cards")

Make heads or tails of[]

To make heads or tails of meant to understand something.

On October 23 2032, John Kelly couldn’t make heads or tails of a spacecraft he encountered within a graviton ellipse. (VOY: "One Small Step")

In 2151, Trip Tucker couldn’t make heads or tails of most of a transmission that had been intercepted aboard Enterprise. (ENT: "Cold Front")

In November that year, Malcolm Reed couldn’t see head nor tails of Enterprise in an asteroid field the ship was supposed to be mapping. (ENT: "Shuttlepod One")

In March 2153, Reed had trouble making heads or tails of biometric data gathered by the A-6 excavation team. (ENT: "Regeneration")

While back in 2268, Miles O'Brien couldn’t make heads nor tails of the USS Enterprise's systems. (DS9: "Trials and Tribble-ations")

In 2364, Jean-Luc Picard asked Geordi La Forge how he could make head or tail of the jumble of images picked up by his VISOR. (TNG: "Heart of Glory")

In 2369, the USS Enterprise-D crew couldn’t make heads or tails of Professor Galen’s data. (TNG: "The Chase")

Later that year, Thomas Riker believed as a result of reconfiguring the computer on Nervala IV several times, the Enterprise crew wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of it. (TNG: "Second Chances")

In 2371, the computer aboard Deep Space 9 couldn’t make heads or tails of a ketracel-white repository. (DS9: "The Abandoned")

Also that year, The Doctor couldn’t make heads or tails of an injured Kazon’s injuries. (VOY: "State of Flux")

In 2373, O'Brien couldn't make head nor tail of the power relay systems on Japar's Bird-of-Prey. (DS9: "By Inferno's Light")

In 2375, a medical tricorder couldn’t make heads or tails of a cytoplasmic lifeform’s unusual physiology. (VOY: "Nothing Human")

Later that year, Harry Kim couldn’t make heads or tails of raw data from chaotic space due to the shifting readings. (VOY: "The Fight")

Also that year, B'Elanna Torres couldn’t make heads or tails of the USS Equinox’s injector manifold. (VOY: "Equinox")

May God have mercy upon your soul[]

"May God have mercy upon your soul" was a phrase used in some ancient Earth cultures upon sentencing a person to execution. It was used in that capacity during Worf's 2371 promotion ceremony, which included holodeck roleplaying on a sea vessel and involved him walking the plank. (Star Trek Generations)

Q, immediately before adjourning his trial of Humanity, said to Captain Picard "May whatever god you believe in have mercy on your soul!", a variant of this phrase. (TNG: "All Good Things...")

Another variant of the phrase, "May God have mercy on our souls," was used by Malcolm Reed to end his final log entry when stranded in Shuttlepod 1 and he believed there was no chance of rescue. (ENT: "Shuttlepod One")

Media circus[]

A media circus was a Human idiom which described a news event where the coverage was out of proportion to the event itself.

In 1986, Gillian Taylor described to James T. Kirk the farewell ceremony for George and Gracie as a potential media circus. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

Mind the store[]

Mind the store meant to be in charge in the absense of others.

In 2266, upon contacting the Enterprise while stranded in command of a landing party on planet Alfa 177, Hikaru Sulu was surprised that the member of the crew who answered was none other than the starship's commanding officer, Captain James T. Kirk. He humorously replied that he was "watching the store," having given everyone else the afternoon off. (TOS: "The Enemy Within")

The next year, Kirk again referred to the Enterprise's store, immediately after Doctor Leonard McCoy remarked that Spock reacting uncharacteristically overjoyed at finding that Kirk was still alive had been logical "in a pig's eye." To McCoy's comment, Kirk, momentarily turning back as he and Spock were about to leave sickbay, suggested they "go mind the store." (TOS: "Amok Time")

Mother hen[]

A mother hen was a derogatory term for someone who was nosy and overly nurturing, the term coming from the behaviour of female chickens towards their chicks.

When Will Riker told Capt. Picard to "be careful", Picard referenced this idiom by saying, "Oh, cluck, cluck, number one." Riker did not understand, so Picard explained that Riker was being a mother hen. (TNG: "Loud as a Whisper")

When Benjamin Sisko reminded Joseph Sisko to take his medicine, Joseph asked Jake Sisko if Benjamin was always such a mother hen. (DS9: "Paradise Lost")

My mind's turned to clay[]

This expression, which meant that he was having trouble thinking, was used by Geordi La Forge in the running up to the battle of Wolf 359. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds")

Needle in a haystack[]

"Needle in a haystack" was a Human idiom which described the long-lasting search for something in a large variety of possibilities.

In 2267, when searching for the Galileo, James Kirk remarked to High Commissioner Ferris, "Finding a needle in a haystack would be child's play." (TOS: " The Galileo Seven")

Later in the episode's script, just after Kirk decides to search Taurus II for the Galileo, Ferris disapprovingly commented, "You said something about a needle in a haystack. Useless…" and Kirk replied, "Not if you want your needle back."

In 2364, William Riker described searching Starfleet records for an instance of someone showering in their clothes as "like looking for a needle in a haystack." (TNG: "The Naked Now")

In 2369 while searching for the crash landed runabout USS Yangtzee Kiang in the Gamma Quadrant, Miles O'Brien compared the search with searching for a "bloody needle in a haystack." O'Brien and Jadzia Dax had to search several planets, two dozen moons, and an asteroid belt. (DS9: "Battle Lines")

In 2370, a Paradan replicant of Miles O'Brien commented "Needle in a haystack wouldn't do this job justice", describing the search for a fault in Deep Space 9's upper pylons. (DS9: "Whispers")

In 2373, Jadzia Dax said to Benjamin Sisko "Do the words 'needle in a haystack' mean anything to you," after the USS Defiant had spent two unsuccess days searching the Badlands for cloaked missiles appropriated by the Maquis for a strike against Cardassia. (DS9: "Blaze of Glory")

Off the hook[]

To be off the hook meant to escape one's duty or responsibility.

When Lt. Tomlinson wondered if he would die shortly after his interrupted wedding to Ensign Martine, she joked that he would not be getting off her hook that easily. (TOS: "Balance of Terror")

On a silver platter[]

Referring to something that was offered to someone in a rather obvious manner.

  • In 2375, Neelix offered B'Elanna Torres the chance to insult his cooking by telling her to name her poison. After she missed that chance, he seemed disappointed, claiming he'd handed it to her on a silver platter. (VOY: "Extreme Risk")

One-way street[]

Meaning: The term referred to an agreement made by two parties, but only one party benefits from.

When Captain James T. Kirk was explaining romantic relationships to Charlie Evans, he told him to take it slow, that it wasn't a "one-way street." (TOS: "Charlie X")

On ice[]

To be on ice meant to be detained, particularly by the authorities.

When Kirk declined Krako's deal, the latter said, "Put him on ice!". Later, Kirk asked Scotty if he had Krako "on ice". (TOS: "A Piece of the Action")

When Data used the idiom, along with the slang term "grilled" (as in, interrogated), to explain where Picard was, Dr. Crusher replied, "What is he, a fish?" (TNG: "The Big Goodbye")

On someone's tail[]

To be on someone's tail meant to pursue them.

Michael Eddington was surprised that despite having been on his tail for a long time, all that Sisko had to say was that Eddington knew a lot about betrayal. (DS9: "For the Uniform")

On the fence[]

Meant to be undecided.

When Seven of Nine was undecided on whether allowing Ledosian scientists to study the Ventu would be beneficial or a hindrance to the Ventu, Janeway noted that it was unlike Seven to be on the fence. (VOY: "Natural Law")

On the house[]

Meant that something free of charge (i.e. the business (house) would pay for it).

In 2371, Jadzia Dax asked how much the kanar cost that gave Morn food poisoning, to which Bashir replied, "Apparently, it was on the house." (DS9: "Destiny")

When Quark served a drink to Kira in 2374 and said, "This one's on the house," she was suspicious of his motives, and asked him what he wanted. (DS9: "A Time to Stand")

Quark once served Morn a drink on the house because he wanted to quickly talk to Kira. (DS9: "Favor the Bold")

Jake once claimed he "sold" his first book, but that it was a "figure of speech", i.e. that they were not paying him. Quark teased him by claiming he was going to serve Jake's first round of drinks on the house, but then backing out of it, saying it was a "figure of speech". (DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited")

Out of the woods[]

If someone was "out of the woods", they were no longer in a troubling situation.

When Willie Potts was being treated for an illness he'd contracted through eating parasite-ridden fruit, Beverly Crusher noted that, while he was not completely recovered, he was "out of the woods", i.e. no longer in danger of death. (TNG: "Brothers")

Over (my) dead body[]

Meaning: "You'll have to kill me to make that happen." Used to emphasize that a person's deep desire that something not occur.

Penny for your thoughts[]

"A penny for your thoughts" was a Human idiom, meaning that someone was curious about what the other person was thinking.

In 2368, Doctor Beverly Crusher used the expression when she wanted to get Jean-Luc Picard to talk to her during a conversation. When Picard asked her if she has one, she told him that the replicator probably has it on file. (TNG: "The Perfect Mate")

In 2369, when Q brought back Picard to the incident at Starbase Earhart in 2327, he told him (acting as a bartender): "Penny for your thoughts? You never told me you were such a lady's man," also jokingly referring to Picard's unsuccessful date with Penny Muroc. (TNG: "Tapestry")

In 2370, Crusher used the expression again, dining with Picard, after they shared thoughts for a time via the psi-wave device on Kesprytt III. (TNG: "Attached")

In 2257, Amanda Grayson spoke of a similar idiom, "Isik for your thoughts," which she described as a Vulcan but was later revealed as something she heard her mother say. (DIS: "Despite Yourself", "Will You Take My Hand?")

In 2383, Zero used the expression after learning it from Hologram Janeway to talk with Gwyn about why she was feeling sad. (PRO: "Kobayashi")

Piece of cake[]

If something was a piece of cake, it was easy.

When Tosk explained what his arva nodes were, O'Brien commented, "Piece of cake!". Tosk didn't know what that meant, so O'Brien explained that it meant repairing the nodes would be easy.

Play our cards right[]

Referring to "if things go well."

Play possum[]

Meaning: To feign death when an enemy approached.

  • In 2377, when Chakotay suggested the Hirogen might be laying a trap for Voyager, Kathryn Janeway dismissed the idea, saying that the Hirogen "aren't the type to play possum." (VOY: "Flesh and Blood")

Janeway uses the term incorrectly here, as it refers to an (o)possum's tendency to play dead in the hopes that an enemy will go away, rather than lying in wait to attack. [1]

According to the script for "Favor the Bold", the USS Defiant was "playing possum" when it, and the IKS Rotarran lured in and engaged two Dominion ships.

Playing twenty questions[]

Rather than playing an actual guessing game, this meant to make somebody ask questions rather than telling them directly what a problem or the answer was.

When Harry Kim claimed to be an American during the Hirogen simulation of World War II in 2374, Tom Paris became annoyed at the man's refusal to answer him, saying he didn't have time to play twenty questions. (VOY: "The Killing Game")

Kathryn Janeway told Neelix the same thing when he was less than forthcoming about the delicate issue of non-functioning lavatories on USS Voyager in 2375. (VOY: "Bride of Chaotica!")

The powers that be[]

"The powers that be" was a phrase referring to a decision made by those in power, or the decision makers, without going into detail who those decision makers were (as it was not relevant to the story.)

In 2143, when Jonathan Archer and A.G. Robinson were attempting to take NX Alpha on a test flight, Archer informed A.G. of the good news that he had just gotten word from "the powers that be" that he was good to go for launch. (ENT: "First Flight")

In 2256, Saru explained that he had been assigned to the USS Discovery as first officer by "the powers that be" after the destruction of the USS Shenzhou. (DIS: "Context Is for Kings")

Preaching to the choir []

"Preaching to the choir" was a phrase used to describe someone who was trying to convince another who was already a believer.

In 2365, Phillipa Louvois told Bruce Maddox he was preaching to the choir when he attempted to explain the usefulness of having a Data aboard every starship. (TNG: "The Measure Of A Man")

Pull a rabbit out of (a) hat[]

Pulling a rabbit out of a hat was a type of magic trick. Metaphorically, it referred to performing any amazing feat.

In 2372, Julian Bashir said, "Next time I'm going to pull a rabbit out of his ear" (DS9: "Rejoined")

In 2373, Chakotay said, "What's your next trick, Harry. Pull a shuttlecraft out of a hat?" (VOY: "Favorite Son")

In 2375, Ezri Dax, "Now we get to pull a rabbit out of our hat." (DS9: "The Siege of AR-558")

Later that year, Miles O'Brien said, "Julian, it's time to face facts. You're not going to pull a rabbit out of your medkit." (DS9: "Tacking Into the Wind")

Pull the plug[]

To pull the plug meant to abruptly put a stop to something.

When the Vulcans were considering allowing Klaang to die rather than returning him to his people, since Klingons consider dying on duty to be an honour, Jonathan Archer expressed disdain at the Vulcans being willing to "pull the plug." (ENT: "Broken Bow")

When James Kirk decided to terminate an AI named Landru, he stated that "the plug must be pulled". (TOS: "Return of the Archons")

When questioned about allowing Seven of Nine to remain on Voyager, Janeway noted that "we were the ones who pulled the plug" (i.e. the Voyager crew were the ones who separated Seven from the Borg collective) and so she was their responsibility now. (VOY: "The Gift")

When Tuvok asked Janeway if she intended to allow a Borg fetus to mature, she replied that the only other alternative was to 'pull the plug' (i.e. terminate the fetus), which she was not willing to do. (VOY: "Drone")

When a vinculum was causing erratic behaviour in Seven of Nine, Janeway ordered B'Elanna Torres to pull the plug, i.e. destroy it. (VOY: "Infinite Regress")

When the Fair Haven characters had become sentient and believed the Voyager crew were spirit folk due to a malfunction in their perceptual filters, B'Elanna Torres suggested "pulling the plug", i.e. terminating the holonovel. (VOY: "Spirit Folk")

Pull the wool over someone's eyes[]

To pull the wool over someone's eyes was to deceive them by lying.

When Chakotay was worried he was gullible due to Seska having "pulled the wool over [his] eyes", Tuvok assured him that he was not gullible, since Seska had pulled the wool over both of their eyes. (VOY: "State of Flux")

Push come to shove[]

If push came to shove, the situation became dire.

When Julian Bashir was visiting 2024 and noted the San Francisco natives' apparent apathy for the homeless, particularly those homeless individuals who were also mentally ill, he feared that if push came to shove, Humanity would become completely immoral. (DS9: "Past Tense, part 1")

When discussing Section 31, Julian Bashir worried that if push came to shove, the Federation would sacrifice their principles. (DS9: "Inquisition")

Put me out to pasture[]

"Put (me) out to pasture" means to be forcibly retired.

In 2287, Captain Kirk lamented that "When they put me out to pasture, I hope I fare better than Korrd." This after learning that the formerly great Klingon General whose military strategies were required learning at Starfleet Academy, to being posted at Nimbus III. (Star Trek V: The Final Frontier)

Put out feelers[]

To put out feelers was to attempt to ascertain how a party felt about an issue.

Vreenak noted to Benjamin Sisko that the Federation had already put out peace feelers towards the Romulans, hoping to ally with them against the Dominion. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")

Rain on my parade[]

To rain on one (one's) parade was to spoil their fun.

In 2372, Dr. Julian Bashir, annoyed by Elim Garak's intruding upon his Julian Bashir, Secret Agent holo-novel program, told him that he could stay, but to keep quiet and not rain on his parade. (DS9: "Our Man Bashir")

The real McCoy[]

"The real McCoy" described anything which was the genuine article in question, not merely a facsimile thereof.

In 2374, Vic Fontaine revealed to Odo that a new improved version of the "Lola Chrystal" hologram was in fact Kira Nerys, who the hologram's features were based on, and that the Changeling had been dancing with the real McCoy. (DS9: "His Way")

In 2375, "Boothby" classified Chakotay, unlike himself, to be "the real McCoy", (i.e. not a Species 8472 recreation of a Starfleet officer) and recommended "Valerie Archer" perform a genetic extraction in order to figure out a better way for members of Species 8472 to maintain a Human appearance. (VOY: "In the Flesh")

A TOS-set comic entitled "The Real McCoy" took the phrase literally for a story arc about an individual who assumed McCoy's appearance and identity.

Rich beyond the dreams of avarice[]

Doctor Leonard McCoy managed to convince Dr. Nichols to accept the formula for transparent aluminum as compensation for his services by saying that once he figured out the dynamics of the matrix (which would take years), he'd be rich beyond the dreams of avarice. (Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home)

Ripping the guts out of something[]

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions[]

Meant that someone could still do wrong even if they intended to do right.

Sisko used this expression when his plan to get the Romulans to join the Dominion War inadvertently got two people killed. (DS9: "In the Pale Moonlight")

Ruffle one's feathers[]

To ruffle someone's feathers was to annoy them.

When trying to instruct Seven of Nine to be more polite in her phrasing, Harry Kim noted that he was easygoing and it took a lot to ruffle his feathers, but that not everyone was the same. (VOY: "Concerning Flight")

Run off at the mouth[]

An admission by Julian Bashir of something he tended to do that he confessed was "just a nervous habit." (DS9: "The Storyteller")

Sauce for the goose[]

The Earth idiom "what's sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander," was in part spoken by Spock following Saavik's notation that Khan Noonien Singh, aboard the USS Reliant was following the USS Enterprise into the Mutara Nebula. In response, Spock stated "sauce for the goose, Mr. Saavik." (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Saved by the bell[]

To be saved by the bell was to be spared from something unpleasant by an interruption.

When William Riker was called to the bridge in an attempt to play Night Bird, a song which he had trouble playing, he remarked, "Saved by the bell." (TNG: "Second Chances")

Shade of gray[]

To be or have a "shade of gray" meant to not be clear what was right or wrong, or good and evil, but instead existed in a gray area. The term was the opposite of what it mean to be black and white.

  • Following Worf's transfer to Deep Space 9 in 2372, Captain Benjamin Sisko explained that "Starfleet officers often have trouble learning the unofficial rules of the station," as contrary to serving aboard the USS Enterprise-D, Worf "always knew who were my allies and who were my enemies." Sisko reiterated the discussion, adding, "Let's just say DS9 has more shades of gray. And Quark definitely is a shade of gray. He has his own set of rules and he follows them diligently. Once you understand them, you understand Quark. I'd say that's true for everyone here." (DS9: "Hippocratic Oath")
  • After Captain Sisko's time in captivity with Gul Dukat, following the destruction of the USS Honshu, he explained to Jadzia Dax that he always thought "sometimes life seems so complicated. Nothing is truly good or truly evil. Everything seems to be a shade of gray." However, recalling his experience, he continued, "And then you spend some time with a man like Dukat and you realize that there is really such a thing as truly evil." (DS9: "Waltz")

Shoulder to cry on[]

A shoulder to cry on referred to sympathy for a sad person.

When Guinan pretended she wanted to replace Deanna Troi, whose empathic powers were not functioning, as ship's counsellor in an attempt to make Troi realise she was still intuitive enough to do her job, she noted, "People come here, they want a shoulder to cry on, and usually, it turns out to be mine." Before Troi realised that Guinan wasn't sincere, she replied, "It's not just about letting them cry on your shoulder." (TNG: "The Loss")

Short-sighted []

To be short-sighted described lack of imagination or foresight. Not to be confused with myopia.

  • Later that year, Gul Ocett told Nu'Daq he was remarkably short-sighted to believe he had surrendered his portion of a Progenitor program for nothing when it emerged that the program was still incomplete. (TNG: "The Chase")

Sight for sore eyes []

Meaning: Something that was pleasing to look at.

  • In 2376, Harry Kim remarked that he would not want to bunk with the great explorers of the past. Tom Paris remarked that that would be a sight for sore eyes. (VOY: "Memorial")
  • Shortly thereafter, after making contact with Voyager again, Lyndsay Ballard remarked that Captain Janeway was a sight for sore eyes. (VOY: "Ashes to Ashes")
  • Later that year, the con artist Dala used the expression sarcastically upon seeing Tuvok. (VOY: "Live Fast and Prosper")

In a deleted scene from ENT: "The Expanse", Jonathan Archer tells Tommy he’s a sight for sore eyes.

Sitting duck[]

Being a "sitting duck" referred to someone or something being completely unable to defend itself.

In 2154, Captain Jonathan Archer said that he wanted to get the Enterprise's engines back online so that it wouldn't be a sitting duck when Harrad-Sar returned to attack. (ENT: "Bound")

In 2285, when the Enterprise entered the Mutara sector, they were engaged in combat by a Klingon Bird-of-Prey commanded by Kruge. During the attack, they lost control of their ship and Kirk said: "So, we're a sitting duck." (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

In 2367, Wesley Crusher was concerned that the Enterprise's saucer section was a sitting duck after being disabled by a Borg cube. (TNG: "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II")

In 2371, Chief O'Brien furiously told Michael Eddington that by sabotaging the USS Defiant, Eddington had turned them into sitting ducks for the Jem'Hadar. (DS9: "The Die is Cast")

In 2372, following an attack by Kazon raiders, Chakotay described USS Voyager and its crew as sitting ducks. (VOY: "Alliances")

In 2373, Captain Benjamin Sisko told Jadzia Dax that the Defiant would be a sitting duck if they hadn't finished laying the minefield before the imminent arrival of Dominion forces. (DS9: "Call to Arms")

In 2374, Major Kira Nerys told Sisko that the Defiant was a sitting duck for Jem'Hadar attack as long as they remained tethered to the miniaturized USS Rubicon. (DS9: "One Little Ship")

The sky is the limit[]

Meant the limit was unreachable.

Picard once used this expression to refer to a poker game. (TNG: "All Good Things")

Smell the roses[]

Smooth sailing[]

If something was smooth sailing, it was going well.

Dax once used this expression to refer to passing through a temporal anomaly. When she was proven wrong, Sisko mockingly echoed her line. (DS9: "Children of Time")

Someone walking on one's grave[]

To say that someone was walking on one's grave was to say that one felt strange.

When Kes noted a strange, sudden feeling of being "cold" and "shivery", Captain Janeway told her, "Someone was walking on your grave". The EMH was unfamiliar with this idiom, so Janeway defined it, to which he noted how macabre the idiom was. Janeway then expressed surprise that the EMH did not know the idiom since it originated on Earth, but he supposed that his programmers considered it unimportant. (VOY: "Persistence of Vision")

Spare the rod and spoil the child[]

Said to indicate children were not disciplined, they would not have correct character development.

This idiom is a paraphrase of Proverbs 13:24.

Mora Pol used this idiom when trying to justify using painful procedures on a juvenile changeling. (DS9: "The Begotten")

Stick in the mud[]

A stick in the mud was someone who was dull and opposed to change and adventure.

Vic Fontaine once used this idiom to describe Odo. (DS9: "His Way")

Stone knives and bearskins[]

"Stone knives and bearskins" was a derogatory term employed by Spock to describe the 1930s technology he was forced to use to construct a tricorder interface. Vital information was locked within Spock's tricorder: How had Leonard McCoy changed history? Spock was eventually able to construct an appropriate circuit, but retrieved two separate recordings: one in which Edith Keeler lived, and one in which she died. At that point, the improvised interface erupted in sparks and flame, ruining his chance to learn which of the recordings represented McCoy's alteration, and which the correct timeline. (TOS: "The City on the Edge of Forever")

Kathryn Janeway also used this expression when typing on a late 20th century computer keyboard trying to find out information about Henry Starling. (VOY: "Future's End")

Talk shop[]

To talk shop was to discuss the rudiments of one's profession.

In 2267, upon reconnecting with his ex-girlfriend Areel Shaw, James T. Kirk tried to discourage her from discussing his pending court martial, saying, "let's not talk shop". (TOS: "Court Martial")

That's life[]

"C'est la vie" (French: "that's life") was a Human idiom, meaning bad things happen, it was the way of life.

In 2285, when Admiral James Kirk self-destructed the USS Enterprise, killing most of Kruge's Klingon crew on board, he told the commander on the surface of the Genesis Planet: "Sorry about your crew, but as we say on Earth, …'c'est la vie.'" (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock)

Geordi La Forge once explained to Data that for the particular situation he was experiencing, it turned out that way, because "that's life". (TNG: "Inheritance")

That's the ticket[]

Used to express happiness or to compliment someone on a job well done.

A holographic Orient Express worker once used the phrase to compliment Will Riker on his work stoking a fireplace on the train. (TNG: "Emergency")

Throw someone a lifeline[]

Meant to rescue them from a dire situation.

Quark, defending himself to Jadzia Dax for being part of a weapons sale, expanded on this idiom by saying, "I was drowning. The waters were closing over my head and just as my lungs were about to burst, my cousin threw me a lifeline." (DS9: "Business as Usual")

Tickled pink[]

To be "tickled pink" was to be very happy.

Berlinghoff Rassmussen once claimed to be tickled pink to have witnessed the crew of the Enterprise-D saving Penthara IV. (TNG: "A Matter of Time")

Time flies when you're having fun[]

"Time flies when you're having fun" meant that pleasure gave the illusion of time passing quicker.

Data once noted that this idiom was a good example of how Humans had a more "flexible" perception of time than he did. (TNG: "We Will Always Have Paris")

Tip of the iceberg[]

The first hint or revelation of something much larger or more complex.

Tough cookie[]

A tough cookie was a high-spirited individual.

In a hallucination experienced by Benjamin Sisko, Kay Hunter said that she liked Benny Russell's depiction of Kira, noting that she as a tough cookie.

Two heads are better than one[]

Meant that multiple people collaborating was more productive than a single person working alone.

When Seven of Nine was working on how to prevent the Voyager crew from being digested by a noncorporeal life form, Naomi Wildman wanted to assist her. When Seven turned Naomi down, the latter countered that Samantha Wildman had told her that two heads were better than one, and that this appeared to be the Borg's philosophy as well. (VOY: "Bliss")

Under someone's nose[]

Meaning: unnoticed, despite being very noticeable.

When Sisko commented that the Bajorans fought their resistance under the Cardassians' noses, Garak replied, "Not under my nose, Captain. Under his." (DS9: "Things Past")

The vultures are circling[]

To say that "the vultures [were] circling" was to state that many people wanted something, or that the speaker was being pursued by enemies.

  • In 2373, when Janeway, Neelix, B'Elanna Torres, and Tuvok all wanted sirillium, Chakotay noted that the vultures were circling. (VOY: "Flashback")
  • In 2377, when Voyager was being monitored by many ships while trapped inside the Void, Tom Paris noted that the vultures were circling. Janeway replied, "Vultures eat the dead, Mr. Paris. We're not dead yet." (VOY: "The Void")

Wash my hands of it[]

Meaning: to avert a wrong decision, claiming that the person could not be held responsible for it.

  • In 2266, Doctor Simon Van Gelder accused Captain Kirk of escaping responsibility by taking him back to the Tantalus Colony, and told him, "You smart, button-pushing brass hat. Wash your hands of it. Is that your system? You're both quite sure of yourselves, aren't you?" (TOS: "Dagger of the Mind")
  • When the crew of the Enterprise-D accidentally killed a pregnant alien lifeform, Jean-luc Picard noted that it was their moral obligation to help deliver the infant lifeform, since they were responsible for its mother's death (albeit unintentionally) and it would be immoral for them to "wash their hands" of that fact. (TNG: "Galaxy's Child")

A watched pot never boils[]

Meaning: paying attention to a thing one is waiting for gives the illusion of the wait being longer.

Data once attempted to test if this idiom was literally true by having his kettle boil and occasionally watching it, but occasionally not. On Troi's suggestion, after finding no difference, he turned his chronometer off to see if that would make a difference. (TNG: "Timescape")

When in Rome, do as the Romans do[]

Meant that it was proper to emulate one's peers.

Julian Bashir used the idiom when both Jadzia Dax and Lita changed their clothes en route to Risa. (DS9: "Let He Who is Without Sin")

When the cat's away, the mice will play[]

Meaning: people tend to make merry, often in prohibited ways, when their superiors are absent.

A parallel universe version of Sulu once used this expression to flirt with the prime universe version of Uhura. (TOS: "Mirror, Mirror")

The whole kit and caboodle[]

Referring to the entirety of something.

Wild goose chase[]

Meaning: an expression used to mean futile pursuit or search after something.

  • In 2367, Data told Doctor Crusher that he "could be chasing an untamed ornithoid without a cause," describing this idiom, when examining the clues of Ambassador T'Pel's presumed death. Crusher eventually recognized the idiom, and corrected him with its common form. (TNG: "Data's Day")
  • In 2372, Kathryn Janeway was concerned that investigating "Planet Hell" might prove to be a wild goose chase. (VOY: "Parturition")

In a deleted scene from "Dramatis Personae", Jadzia Dax begins to recount a wild goose chase on Elanu IV, involving Curzon Dax and Benjamin Sisko.

With one's name on it[]

Having one's name on something meant that the object in question belonged to or was reserved for them.

In 2372, Julian Bashir assured Odo that there was a Spitfire with his name on it in the hangar if he wanted to join the Battle of Britain holoprogram. Later, Joseph Sisko told his grandson there was a vat of crayfish that needed cleaning with his name on it. (DS9: "Homefront")

In 2375, Miles O'Brien told Janel Tigan he was not looking forward to seeing Captain Sisko again, as he had a boot with O'Brien's name on it. (DS9: "Prodigal Daughter")

In 2377, Reginald Barclay offered Deanna Troi a drink. When she declined, he tried to tempt her, saying he had a chocolate passion punch with her name on it. (VOY: "Inside Man")

Within (arm's) reach []

For something to be "within arm's reach," or simply to be "within reach," meant for it to be very close or achievable. (ENT: "Terra Nova", "These Are the Voyages..."; VOY: "Spirit Folk") Contrarily, for something to be "(just) out of reach," meant for it to be very close, but unattainable. (TOS: "Balance of Terror"; DS9: "Change of Heart"; VOY: "Non Sequitur", "One Small Step")

Jean-Luc Picard told Gul Macet that he knew that the Cardassian research station, located within arm's reach of three Federation sectors, was indeed a weapons depot, and that while recent events could have made things much worse than they already were, and that they should consider themselves warned. (TNG: "The Wounded")

Following USS Voyager's discovery of the extremely dangerous, but deuterium-rich, Planet Hell, Ensign Harry Kim reminded the senior staff of the meek alternatives to the ship's low deuterium crisis, offering the idiom rich, "What's the alternative? Resume course? Creep along at quarter impulse hoping we find fuel before we end up dead in the water? We've got deuterium within arm's reach. We can't let the opportunity slip away without at least trying." (VOY: "Demon")

Work (one's) side of the street[]

To work (one's) side of the street was to take up another's line of work instead of one's own.

In 2266, after Kirk's successful handling of the situation with Harcourt Fenton Mudd, Eve McHuron, and Ben Childress, McCoy surmised Kirk must have talked them into rationality, asking if Kirk had ever thought of selling patent medicine. Kirk then quipped, "Why should I work your side of the street?" (TOS: "Mudd's Women")

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