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

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13
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3answers
15k 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
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1answer
2k 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
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3answers
1k 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
votes
6answers
17k 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?
9
votes
5answers
11k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
15k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
3k 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
350 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
16k 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
4answers
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
15k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
3k 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
908 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% ...
29
votes
12answers
6k 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
2k 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
479 views

“Par for the course”

From your personal experience, is "par for the course" widely understood, or would you recommend using a less technical term? I am particularly interested in differences between American, British, ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

When is it OK to use OK?

I often use "OK" in business and personal emails and phone conversations. But I often feel uncertain if it is appropriate to use it in every type of context. Please tell how universally I can use ...