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Hello, everybody!
I'm a student of English who needs your help with some idioms in order to analyse them for my graduation paper.
The topic of my research is synonymy among idiomatic expressions. For the purpose of this research I have composed a questionnaire with seven questions that I would like you to answer, using your native speaker intuitions.
Each question is actually a list of idiomatic expressions whose meaning can be subsumed under the general heading which is underlined.
The main question for questions 1-5 is how synonymous the expressions are. In other words, do those expressions mean the same thing? The questions are open-ended and you can discuss as much as feel like, giving examples of contexts and explanations about how you feel about each expression.
The same goes for questions 6 and 7, with an additional task - put them in the order of intensity, with number 1 as the most intense.
My hypothesis is that speakers' opinions will vary as to the similarity of meaning. My task will be to compare the answers of all the participants of this research in my paper.
You can send me a private message with your answer.

Thank you very much for taking part in this project.

QUESTIONNAIRE
1) be confused or absent-minded
all at sea
all balled up
psyched out
wool-gathering
in a brown study

2) disturb a stable situation
rock the boat
make waves
cause ripples
create a stir
kick up dust / raise dust
fire up things

3) lose one' s mental sanity
lose your mind
go over the edge
go off your head
go round the bend
go soft in the head
take leave of your senses
go out of your mind
4) be in a state of anxiety or tense expectation
be on pins and needles
be like a cat on a hot tin roof
be like a cat on hot bricks
be on the hot seat
be on thorns

5) be in a very happy / blissful state
be in seventh heaven
be on cloud nine
tread on air
be on the top of the world

6) cry a lot and uncontrollably
cry like the rain
cry like a rainstorm
cry like a baby
cry buckets
cry your eyes/heart out
sob your heart out
turn on the waterworks

7) to work extremely hard
work like an ant
work like a maniac
work like crazy
work like a slave / nigger
burn the midnight oil
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Hi Ballerina,

I live in southwestern Ohio, USA, an area on a dialect boundary between Appalachian, middle American and Northeastern dialects. Here are my answers:

1) be confused or absent-minded

"All at sea" is the only choice I might use. "Psyched out" is not a synonym; it means something like "distracted". "All balled up", "wool-gathering" and "in a brown study" don't mean anything to me.

2) disturb a stable situation

"Rock the boat" and "make waves" convey more or less that meaning. "Create a stir" means to attract attention, usually in a defined community of some sort. "Cause ripples" is unknown around here. "Kick up dust / raise dust" and "fire up things" are not idiomatic to me, though people can be described as "fired up" when they're excited about something.

3) lose one' s mental sanity
"Lose your mind", "go over the edge" and "go out of your mind" all mean "lose one's sanity" -- the word "mental" is redundant. The rest of your choices sound archaic or British to me.

4) be in a state of anxiety or tense expectation
Only "be on pins and needles" fits that definition. "To be on the hot seat" means that you're being held responsible for a bad situation.

5) be in a very happy / blissful state
All your idioms are reasonable for this one, except that Americans would never "tread", they'd "walk on air."

6) cry a lot and uncontrollably

"Cry like a baby" and "cry your eyes out" are common here. None of the rest are.

7) to work extremely hard
"Work like crazy" and "burn the midnight oil" are both common, though the second has the specific meaning that you worked very late at night. None of the others would sound very natural to me.
Comments  
ballerina
1) be confused or absent-minded
all at sea
all balled up
psyched out
wool-gathering
in a brown study

2) disturb a stable situation
rock the boat
make waves
cause ripples
create a stir
kick up dust / raise dust
fire up things

3) lose one' s mental sanity
lose your mind
go over the edge
go off your head
go round the bend
go soft in the head
take leave of your senses
go out of your mind

4) be in a state of anxiety or tense expectation
be on pins and needles
be like a cat on a hot tin roof
be like a cat on hot bricks
be on the hot seat
be on thorns

5) be in a very happy / blissful state
be in seventh heaven
be on cloud nine
tread on air
be on the top of the world

6) cry a lot and uncontrollably
cry like the rain
cry like a rainstorm
cry like a baby
cry buckets
cry your eyes/heart out
sob your heart out
turn on the waterworks

7) to work extremely hard
work like an ant
work like a maniac
work like crazy
work like a slave / ***
burn the midnight oil

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
The only ones that seem strange to this native speaker are 1) balled up& in a brown study.
Hi,

I'm a student of English who needs your help with some idioms in order to analyse them for my graduation paper.

The topic of my research is synonymy among idiomatic expressions. For the purpose of this research I have composed a questionnaire with seven questions that I would like you to answer, using your native speaker intuitions.

Each question is actually a list of idiomatic expressions whose meaning can be subsumed under the general heading which is underlined.

The main question for questions 1-5 is how synonymous the expressions are. In other words, do those expressions mean the same thing? The questions are open-ended and you can discuss as much as feel like, giving examples of contexts and explanations about how you feel about each expression.

The same goes for questions 6 and 7, with an additional task - put them in the order of intensity, with number 1 as the most intense.

My hypothesis is that speakers' opinions will vary as to the similarity of meaning. My task will be to compare the answers of all the participants of this research in my paper.

You can send me a private message with your answer.

Thank you very much for taking part in this project.

red - it doesn't fit that category

QUESTIONNAIRE

1) be confused or absent-minded
all at sea
all balled up
psyched out
wool-gathering
in a brown study

2) disturb a stable situation
rock the boat
make waves
cause ripples
create a stir
kick up dust / raise dust
fire up things

3) lose one' s mental sanity
lose your mind
go over the edge
go off your head
go round the bend
go soft in the head
take leave of your senses
go out of your mind

4) be in a state of anxiety or tense expectation
be on pins and needles
be like a cat on a hot tin roof
be like a cat on hot bricks
be on the hot seat
be on thorns never heard this one

5) be in a very happy / blissful state
be in seventh heaven
be on cloud nine
tread on air
be on the top of the world

6) cry a lot and uncontrollably
cry like the rain never heard this
cry like a rainstorm never heard this
cry like a baby
cry buckets
cry your eyes/heart out
sob your heart out
turn on the waterworks

7) to work extremely hard
work like an ant never heard this
work like a maniac
work like crazy
work like a slave / ***
burn the midnight oil really just stresses 'working late'.

I don't really feel I can rank these in 6 and 7. There's no real difference intended.

Good luck, Clive
 anonymous's reply was promoted to an answer.
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Thank you for answering!!!!
Hi, everybody!!

Anonymous, would you, please, write how old are you? it is relevant for the research. Thank you.