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11
votes
2answers
599 views

“pros and cons”, “black and white”, “ups and downs”. Always in a fixed sequence, is there a word or phrase for these?

Is there a word or phrase for two nouns or adjectives joined by a conjunction (usually "and") in a fixed sequence? alive and well fast and furious hat and gloves pen and pencil ...
1
vote
2answers
324 views

Two minuses make a plus

As English is not my native language, I have a trouble to find the correct way to express the following: Two negations are equivalent to an affirmation properly. This is how it translates from my ...
5
votes
5answers
333 views

What's a nice way to say “fool's errand”?

I have a situation in which i want to say that a particular task i just completed was rather silly, a fool's errand, but i need to phrase it in such a way as it doesn't insult the management team that ...
9
votes
2answers
349 views

Is there English version of French army cliché, “A friend when you’re lieutenant, companion when captain, … the enemy when you’re general"?

I found a French army cliché; “A friend when you’ re a first lieutenant, a companion when you’re captain, a colleague when you’re major, a rival when you’re colonel, the enemy when you’re general” ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

Where did the phrase “don't spend it all in one store” originate?

I've heard the phrase "don't spend it [money] all in one store" a number of times, virtually always in a joking manner. Where did it originate from and has it always been said as a joke?
0
votes
0answers
41 views

Plural form of a noun vs “many a…” [duplicate]

I just read the sentence "I live in the East Village and see many a person lying in the street at all hours of the day" (for anyone wondering this sentence is referring to New York City). When, if ...
-1
votes
3answers
4k views

Lost in the Midst vs Mists of Time [closed]

Which of the following is more correct, and why? My attempts at Googling haven't produced a definitive answer, and all seem as sensible as each other going from base definitions. Lost in the mists ...
2
votes
2answers
10k views

What is a more eloquent way to say “I hope I'm not asking too much”?

I've been emailing back and forth with another professional who has been very generous in sharing a workflow developed at their institution. This professional has gone to great lengths to answer my ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Does the term “witch-hunt” apply when referring to dealing with a real problem?

Should the term "witch hunt" only be used when dealing with a problem that does not exist, as in witchcraft, or does the term also apply when a problem does exist, but those dealing with it are ...
5
votes
2answers
319 views

Is there a reference book that lists words by usage or theme?

Similar to how a Thesaurus lists synonyms, is there a book that groups words (or phrases) together by conceptual usage? For example, this question is looking for words that describe a person's ...
21
votes
3answers
982 views

Why is “head over heels” used as if it were exceptional rather than commonplace?

Most people spend part of each day standing, and if they have normal anatomy their heads are over their heels in this position. Even sitting or lying down, the head is higher than the heels (if not ...
10
votes
11answers
9k views

What on Earth does “cheap at half the price” mean?

I hear this all the time, "cheap at half the price", to indicate that something is cheap (mostly in an ironic sense, but often used literally), but it makes no sense to me. Of course, if something ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Is it a poke in the eye with a sharp, or blunt stick?

Is it "better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick", or "better than a poke in the eye with a blunt stick"? I suspect that some sort of metaphor testing facility in the Discworld concluded that ...
1
vote
2answers
609 views

Sentence to Indicate Change (That is not a cliché)

I have a sentence that I need to replace; one that is somewhat cliché. What would be a good sentence (Or perhaps a phrase) that could indicate change in a somewhat stale/monotonous environment? ...
6
votes
3answers
919 views

What is the origin of the phrase “blue moon”? Any alternate phrase for it?

Was just wondering how this phrase came into being? Was it inspired from some natural or astronomical observation? or is it the result of poetic imagination?
8
votes
5answers
2k views

What other alliterative phrases have become inseparable? [closed]

Just asking out of idle curiousity. There are some words that just always seem to be found together, such as strong, silent type cool, calm and collected cheap and cheerful Can you ...