Tagged Questions

A colloquialism is a word or phrase used in everyday conversation, but generally avoided in formal speech and writing.

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6k views

What does “Eleventy-seven” mean?

I came across the following phrase in a story (set in Australia): So the fact that I'm forty-five and you're eleventy-seven means nothing to me. If other people have a problem with that, then it's ...
5
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3answers
1k views

Is the phrase “all to c**k” considered profane?

I occasionally use the colloquialism "all to cock" to mean "disastrously wrong". I've always thought it a benign phrase, but recently I've wondered whether the use of the word "cock" in this situation ...
8
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2answers
593 views

Where did this usage of “something” originate: “I need a nap something terrible”?

I need a nap something awful! I know what this means, but I could never understand it: it's not easier to say, it's not more efficient, and it doesn't make sense! When was it started (and why)?
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vote
0answers
122 views

Region-specific game names [closed]

I grew up in a small town in Eastern Kentucky, and we played a game called sookie (soak e). This game is very similar to dodge ball except that it is every man for himself. Adults taught us this game ...
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3answers
7k views

What is the origin of the phrase “stand on your head and spit wooden nickels?”

Where does this phrase come from? Was there a time in which it was in popular use? Is it an American English phrase?
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7answers
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Colloquial definition of “douchebag”

Obviously "douchebag" has a literal meaning - however if we see someone wearing sunglasses indoors, we would call them a douchebag. I'm trying to explain this to a friend. How do you verbalize this ...
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5answers
2k views

“A whole nother” way of looking at things

People say this so much (instead of "another whole" way, etc.) that I wonder how it got started. How did "another whole..." get changed to "a whole nother..."?
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Where did the phrase “shut up” as an expression of disbelief or amazement originate?

I recently heard shut up used according to this definition in Urban dictionary. shut·up (shuht-up) --interjection 1. An expression of disbelief. 2. Amazement; astonishment. I've only ...
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4answers
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What's the difference between “informal”, “colloquial”, “slang”, and “vulgar”?

It seems many people get confused about the differences (and similarities) between "colloquial" and "slang", so what exactly does each term apply to? But to be even more thorough it seems to me we ...
3
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1answer
2k views

Origin of “blue” for rude?

This question Why do we talk a blue streak?, had me thinking—why do we use blue for rude ? Dictionary.com has it: lewd, indecent recorded from 1840 "(in form blueness, in an essay of Carlyle's)" and ...
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6answers
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Origins: “try and” over “try to” — how did we get there from here?

In written and standard semi-formal (and above) spoken English, one would use "try to": Try to be a better person. Try to get the fishhook out of my thumb, please. Try to find a pharmacy ...
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5answers
8k views

What is the origin of the phrase “to go apeshit”?

What is the origin of the phrase "to go apeshit"? An example usage would be: And then he went apeshit over the prize he just won. Obviously there is a strong visual associated with an angry ...
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6answers
8k views

He's good people. Just him. The one guy

I think this is a Midwestern thing, but where does the phrase "good people" come from? I'm referring specifically to the usage: "I like Bob. He's good people."
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vote
4answers
3k views

“How be you” or “How are you”?

I have never heard the phrase "How be you?" until yesterday, and started arguing that this was incorrect and that the correct phrase is "How are you?". My friend's reply was "This is how it's taught ...
5
votes
3answers
10k views

“Going to go” vs “going to”?

My significant other tells me that I'm not "going to go" to the shops, I'm "going to" the shops, and beats me mercilessly when I say that. Is this not correct? I might not be going to the shops until ...
14
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2answers
5k views

Where did the term “cheesy” come from?

Why do we call frivolous, lame or naff things cheesy?
2
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5answers
21k views

“What needs to be done” vs “What is needed to be done”

When you are looking at a task remaining, it seems right to me to say, "what needs to be done" in the simple present tense. I have seen some people write "what is needed to be done." While I don't ...
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7answers
2k views

Who/What decides if a word is “proper” English?

I was taught since kindergarten that "ain't" isn't a proper English word. I was wondering, who determines which words are acceptable and which words are not? Do words ever go from "improper" to ...
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vote
2answers
155 views

Any better term than “Postscript”?

There was a Postscript section in my English Course-book, which simply teaches the colloquial English phrases as in "Give me a lift", "Let me have a look", "There is no point", etc. But "postscript" ...
3
votes
2answers
759 views

I need <something> yesterday?

Is it correct to say: I need those reports, and I need them yesterday. Shouldn't it be: I needed those reports yesterday. Or is this aberrant usage style simply a colloquialism?
4
votes
3answers
1k views

How to use “It ain't over till the fat lady sings”?

I know the meaning of this phrase: One should not assume the outcome of some activity (e.g. a sports game) until it has actually finished. I'm curious as to whether it would more likely be used when ...
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votes
2answers
1k views

What does it mean when someone calls himself “non sequitur”?

Coming from my answer to question Is there a better noun form of “unreasonable” than “unreasonableness?” What does it mean when someone calls himself "non sequitur"? Examples: "I AM NON ...
4
votes
1answer
338 views

Usage of 'realize'

Does the word realize always include the process of becoming cognizant of the matter at hand? e.g. I realize that the iPhone is a popular device. Does this mean the speaker become cognizant of this ...
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8answers
5k views

Could you name some numbers that have a special meaning in English, like 666? [closed]

The question "What does the term “86'd” relate to?" made me wonder what similar cases we have in English. I'd like to know some other numbers that have a commonly understood meaning beyond their use ...
2
votes
5answers
663 views

Is the term “blind spot” something that only native English speakers would understand?

Is the term "blind spot" peculiar to the English language, or is it likely to be well understood worldwide, even by people who don't have English as their first language? Some background I'm ...
5
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5answers
16k views

Usage of 'much more'

Is saying much more grammatically correct? For instance, some purists argue that this is wrong: I'm much more comfortable with A than B and that it should be: I'm more comfortable with A ...
16
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5answers
4k views

Burn up or burn down?

What's the difference between "burn up" and "burn down"? Or is there a difference at all?
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vote
6answers
1k views

Colloquial expression for “compliment” that carries negative feeling

What is the colloquial/casual/conversational form of the word "compliment" in this context: A: I hate John. B: Why? He's like a genius. A: Exactly! He's such a teacher's pet. He's always ...
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vote
2answers
517 views

What does “trigger-happy on broken windows” mean?

What does this expression mean: to be "trigger-happy on broken windows"
2
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7answers
846 views

Is using “an idea” instead of “a good idea” good English?

In colloquial German, you can say something to the effect of Would it be an idea to move the bike shed a bit to the left? and it is immediately understood that "an idea" is supposed to mean "a ...
3
votes
2answers
276 views

Is “you've coming from” a colloquialism?

In the Take That song, Never Forget, the lyrics run "Never forget where you've coming from". Was that a mistake, or is it a colloquialism (or something else) to say "you've" instead of "you're" in ...
22
votes
2answers
54k views

Why do we say “to boot”?

Here's an example of the phrase "to boot": My wife made a disgusting looking dinner, and it tasted awful to boot! The implication of the "to boot" is that the fact that the dinner tasted awful ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Question regarding the usage of “Bang”

Can anyone shed some light on the origin of the use of the word "Bang" to imply a positive adjective? For example, here are three colloquial phrases which use the word bang to lend strength to the ...
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3answers
19k views

Which is the correct idiom: “First thing's first” or “First things first”?

I've gotten into a debate over which usage of an apostrophe in the phrase "first thing(')s first" is correct. My thinking is that one would take the first thing and give it priority, hence the first ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

“What's going on?” vs. “What's happening?”

Is there a semantic difference between What's going on? and What's happening?. Can they be used interchangeably?
4
votes
3answers
2k views

These ones/those ones/the other ones

I came across the following sentence: This is the only type of command that requires us to complete by a certain time - all of the other ones aren't governed by exclusion logic. I am intrigued ...
3
votes
2answers
5k views

How do you write the short form of “you all”?

The short form is pronounced as "yoll", but what is the actual spelling? Is it "y'all"? Any official mention of the spelling? Example useage: "Where are you-all going". Pronounced as "Where are yoll ...
16
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6answers
23k views

Is “my bad” a correct English phrase?

I have seen many people use the phrase "my bad" in Internet forums. What does it exactly imply and is it a proper English phrase?
10
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5answers
13k views

What does the word “rich” mean in the reactionary sarcastic phrase “That's rich!”?

What does the word "rich" mean in the reactionary sarcastic phrase "That's rich!" (Google shows 67M hits). I take it to mean "rich" as in "rich in irony". What it is the source of the phrase and how ...
15
votes
3answers
19k views

Why is “guinea pig” used as the colloquial term for test subjects?

Why do we refer to people as guinea pigs when discussing the subjects of an informal experiment? Surely mice, rabbits and rats are much more common experimental subjects. Indeed, it's rare that you'll ...
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votes
6answers
4k views

What is the commonly accepted pronunciation of FAQ?

I hear FAQ(s) pronounced like a word in "FACK(s)", while I go letter by letter. In usage, what is more common? (Similar to SQL vs Sequel)
4
votes
3answers
357 views

Is this usage of “all” considered archaic?

I was writing, and this happened: It was a beautiful afternoon in mid-autumn, all chill air and dazzling sunlight. Is X, all Y considered archaic? I use this construction occasionally, but it ...
13
votes
5answers
25k views

“Y'all” or “ya'll”?

I've seen it spelled both ways. Are both correct?
7
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the meaning of “to look like a square”?

I read this at oatmeal: Hey, he is clapping along to the music! How quaint! I should too. I would not want to look like a square! Another one: You Won't Look Like a Square With ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

“Fixing to” at the beginning of a sentence

Use of fixing to at the beginning of a sentence is prevalent in the southern states of Amerca. Is this the right usage? And is this only a southern US thing? Examples: Fixing to call her. ...
9
votes
8answers
18k views

What does “I know, right?” mean?

Not only is my seventh grader using this phrase, but her teachers are as well. I suppose it means I totally agree with you and you totally agree with me but it sounds like there is a subtle Is that ...
11
votes
4answers
4k views

“high rate of speed” or “high speed” to mean going fast

Why do reporters (and sometimes police officers) say that somebody was going at a high rate of speed when they actually mean high speed? In physics, speed is already the rate of distance over time, ...
11
votes
6answers
997 views

“Literally” and “Decimate” misuse

Recently I've heard American TV commentators say "[a person] was literally decimated" and "[a Senator] was literally thrown under the bus". In the first case I think the person was not actually 10% ...
30
votes
12answers
7k views

Is there a difference between “cheers” and “thanks” in colloquial British English?

In colloquial British English today you hear "Cheers" (to mean "thank you") more often than "Thanks." Is the choice of one or the other determined by regional, class, or education differences, or is ...
30
votes
5answers
3k views

Is Valley Girl speak “like”, entering the language?

So like, I had this teacher? And he's like, "You're late?" And I'm like, "There's like other people late too?" I've always cringed at the word "like" strewn about in a spoken sentence. Well now ...