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

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11answers
3k views

Is “chubby” offensive?

I said to a person that she is "chubby" and, apparently, she took it very seriously. What I meant to say is that she's not skin and bones, she carried more pounds than needed but, precisely because of ...
2
votes
2answers
67 views

When did the word “snafu” enter the colloquial vernacular?

Roughly when did the word "snafu" enter the colloquial vernacular? It was a military term, but at some point it came into fairly common use among the general population. If you can narrow it down to a ...
2
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3answers
292 views

Is there a non-colloquial equivalent term for “cool”?

As I get older (into my 30s) the less I feel like using youthful slang, and I take extra pride in using professional English. But I can't think of a word that is universally equivalent to the ...
0
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2answers
60 views

Knocked up, two very different meanings. But why and how did the phrase split? [duplicate]

In American English, "Knocked up" means "pregnant." I just found out via an article regarding jobs that no longer exist that in British English, they use use the phrase "Knocked up in a completely ...
1
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1answer
109 views

Are “kinda”, “sorta”, “oughta” and “sposta” acceptable in formal writing?

I get that sorta, kinda, sorta-kinda (this one I quite like though) oughta and sposta imitate speech but it still annoys me to find them "in print", especially when the overall tone is formal. ...
5
votes
2answers
6k views

“I don't think so” vs. “I think not”

I've recently been told that "I don't think so" is, in the U.S.A., a southernism, whereas "I think not" is considered more acceptable everywhere else. Is this true? Example: Q: Is your wrist ...
-1
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0answers
31 views

Is the use of alliteration formal or informal?

Is it informal or formal to use alliterations? I've heard couple of them lately. "right as rain" or "sure as shooting"
3
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1answer
93 views

What does “wishy-washy” mean?

Question: What does it mean when something is "wishy-washy"? Is it informal? Is it American English, British English or both?
2
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2answers
191 views

“Say for someone to do something” in colloquial AE

In colloquial prose, is the idiomatic "say for" an appropriate substitute for "tell" in "tell someone to do something" whatever the context? E.g. Have I ever said for you to pretend to be someone ...
0
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2answers
47 views

“Flash (one's attention/eyes)” for “focus/direct (one's attention/eyes)”, and “flash one's eyes at” for “stare with lust or passion at”

As far as your English variety goes, is it acceptable in every which register of speech and writing, and rather common usage, to say "flash" for "focus/direct (one's attention/eyes)", but also for ...
13
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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)
2
votes
2answers
194 views

Is 'biasedness' a real word?

I am curious about the usage of word biasedness, I am unable to find it in Oxford's advance learners dictionary but on the internet. When tried to consult some expert, he said that it's a colloquial ...
32
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 ...
1
vote
2answers
47 views

Is the word “gig” formal?

I'd like to know whether the word gig (temporary job) is formal or colloquial. Always that I've read it, it has been in forums. I have never heard it or read it somewhere else, just in forums, which ...
0
votes
1answer
33 views

What does the phrase “They would clash with my drapes” mean?

I have come across this phrase in the sitcom, Hot in Cleveland wherein a gay man is asked if he had kids to which he responds with this phrase :"They would clash with my drapes." I tried looking it up ...
1
vote
1answer
81 views

“Decide/Intend on [gerund]” vs. “decide/intend to [infinitive]”

In analogy with "plan on [gerund]", do the gerund constructions above have any currency in AE, or are these chiefly dialectal and might sound folksy to most ears? E.g. We decided on taking our ...
1
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3answers
151 views

“Would you mind and do something” in nonstandard colloquial AE

Just curious, does "Would you mind and do something" instead of "Would you mind doing something" sound acceptable in spoken AE, or is it an attempt to imitate or render colloquial speech in not so ...
3
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4answers
304 views

“Shag” for “chase and bring back, fetch” in AE

Does "shag" have any currency in modern day AE to mean "chase and bring back, fetch (an escaped animal/prisoner)"? Is its use limited to the pursuit of runaways, or can it be extended to a broader ...
0
votes
2answers
59 views

“Associate with [someone]” for “socialize with [someone]” in colloquial AE

What's the difference in AE between saying "I like to associate with new folks" and "I like to socialize with new folks"? E.g. I am a positive person and I like to associate with other positive ...
-1
votes
4answers
117 views

What does “throw down (an order, an idea)” as in “The offer was thrown down to join the Sith” mean?

What's the actual meaning to "throw down something" as in "His offer was thrown down"? Is it the same as saying "His offer was rejected", or is it like saying that the offer was made for ...
3
votes
1answer
73 views

“In back of'' vs. ”back of“ vs. the spatial sense of ”behind" in AmE

What's the difference to these expressions, as in "The little girl was hiding in back of the tree" vs. "The little girl was hiding back of the tree" vs. "The little girl was hiding behind the tree"? ...
0
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2answers
50 views

In/on for “into/onto” in colloquial and not so formal AmE

If the context is crystal clear and, as such, allows no risk of misunderstanding or ambiguity whatsoever, unlike "Paul jumps into the lake (= Paul jumps into the lake from a certain point)" vs. "Paul ...
9
votes
8answers
13k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
118 views

“As long as” for “since” in AE

Some of you might have noticed that I oftentimes use the conjunction "as long as" in my questions and my posts. I was just wondering -- does "as long as" in the sense "since" [=in view of the fact ...
0
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2answers
79 views

“Latch onto [something/someone]” for “obtain, get (hold of) [something/someone]” in AE

I just rediscovered the colloquial expression "latch on to [something]" online and would like to know the story to its meaning of "obtain, get", which is presented by CD as AE and CE. ...
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1answer
59 views

“To be starved” for “to be hungry, starving” in colloquial AE [closed]

Is "to be starved" a typical AE expression for "to be starving"? I'm starved! What's for breakfast? source I'm starved. What's for dinner? source I'm starved. When do we eat? source
0
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1answer
45 views

Is “and all” a filler?

In L.P.Hartley's "The Go-between", one of the characters says: "I didn't think I would find anyone here, being a Sunday and all." In the 2002 English film "All or Nothing", a woman says: "I'm very ...
2
votes
2answers
71 views

What does this line in the chorus mean?

From New York Girls by by Finbar Furey Shipmates listen unto me, I'll tell you in my song Of the things that happened to me When I come home from Hong Kong CHORUS: To me a-weigh, ...
1
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1answer
31 views

Colloquial alternatives to questions regarding the ordinals

I'm very well aware that this question is asked a myriad of times before but I want to know how one would phrase a question in every-day language to get the answer "n-th". What ordinal number ...
0
votes
1answer
173 views

“Have you ever been” to France? vs. “Have you ever gone” to France? vs. “Did you ever go” to France?

Which of the grammatical constructions above is (or are) more typical of what is commonly said and heard in colloquial AE? If all three options work, is there any difference to them meaningwise? ...
0
votes
1answer
59 views

What does “to take/catch someone off stride” mean in AE?

I guess it might originate from ball game terminology, and mean pretty much the same as "catch/take someone off balance". But, sad to say, I just can't seem to find an authoritative source online that ...
0
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1answer
33 views

“Fudge” vs. “dodge” (an issue, question, etc.), and “fudge” as another term for “cheat” in AE

In AE, can "fudge" and "dodge" be used just about interchangeably to convey the sense of circumvent [= avoid or try to avoid answering, fulfilling, or performing (duties, questions, issues, etc.)]? ...
2
votes
3answers
50 views

“Tote” vs. “carry” in AE

Aside from formality/informality registers, what is to "tote" that is not to "carry" to AE native speakers? Does "tote", unlike "carry", imply a certain way to hold or support something while moving? ...
-1
votes
1answer
100 views

I've been betrayed by the Jedi Order, but I don't wish “for” them to all die [closed]

Does the presumably nonstandard construction "(verb) for someone/something to (verb)" instead of "(verb) (someone/something) to (verb)" have any currency in modern day colloquial AE speech and "not so ...
1
vote
1answer
54 views

“Should I” vs. “Shall I” vs. “Do I” in AE

In colloquial prose, is there some difference to saying "Should I/we", Shall I/we", "Do I/we" to ask someone's advice? E.g. Should I call the police? Sounds like I'm asking someone (or myself) ...
0
votes
2answers
52 views

“Occupation” and “professional occupation (plus calling and career)” vs. “vocation” and “professional vocation” [closed]

Is "professional vocation" an acceptable alternative to "professional occupation", and to "professional calling or career" also? You might want to consider the following sourced examples for this: ...
1
vote
1answer
318 views

Etymology of “What could (possibly) go wrong?”

What is the (likely) origin of the popular usage of the phase "What could go wrong?" or "What could possibly go wrong?" as a theatrical plot device or ironic commentary? Does this usage pre-date or ...
0
votes
1answer
27 views

X “has that” instead of X “can do that”

I've been encountering this more often lately. Two examples: After witnessing an impressive athletic display (a spinning reverse dunk), the announcer says "Ohh I didn't know he had that." Two radio ...
13
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2answers
1k views

Why do we use the word “oops”, if something goes wrong?

Why do we use the word oops in a sentence or when communicating with others, if something goes wrong? I would like to know the correct information regarding this question.
1
vote
1answer
120 views

“Opposite of (someone/something)” for “across from/opposite” in nonstandard colloquial prose

Consider the following quotes (emphasis mine). For a split second, I meet eyes with an older man standing in a still gaze just opposite of me amidst the sudden chaos. source Taking a seat ...
0
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1answer
36 views

Is there a colloquial phrase to describe a sports heckler?

What might you call someone who verbally harasses a player from the stands? Hey Lincecum. I've seen better curves on a square! Who is that guy?
0
votes
1answer
35 views

“Bother and do” for “bother doing/to do” in colloquial speech and writing

As far as your English variety goes, does it sound acceptable to say "bother and do" instead of "bother doing/to do" in colloquial speech and not so formal writing? E.g. Please spend a moment of ...
-2
votes
1answer
79 views

Various meanings of “mind and do” which can mean “be cautious/careful to do”, “take notice/give heed and do”, and “behave obediently and do”

How would you native speakers define the meaning of "mind and do" in the following examples: I will mind and do as I am told, Master Yoda... Mind and do your work properly... As long as you mind ...
2
votes
3answers
106 views

When did speakers/writers of AE begin to replace the noun “quotations” with the verb “quotes”?

Not being particularly adept at using Google's Ngram viewer, I put the two words (quotes and quotations) into the viewer and it displayed a result, with the two lines staying pretty close together ...
1
vote
4answers
70 views

Nouns as verbs, Brits and Yanks: ID cards

I find it interesting that not only do British and American English speakers both use the noun 'ID card' as a verb in the context of (trying to be in a position of) purchasing age-restricted items, ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

Using “so” and “very” for ungradable adjectives

We generally use modifiers such as "so" and "very" for gradable/normal adjectives (water can be quite/so/very HOT, but not quite/so/very BOILING (an ungradable/extreme adjective). Yet would you say ...
3
votes
4answers
527 views

Which is correct: “I’m done” or “I have finished”?

Which of these alternatives is grammatically correct? I’m done. or I have finished Like I’m done sounds very American, but is it grammatically correct?
2
votes
1answer
83 views

What does “I had every last one of them” mean?

I heard this quote from a Channel 4 sitcom the IT crowd I'm gonna go, I may not come back but I want to say this. That accounts team, I had every last one of them. It is said by Douglas ...
0
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2answers
59 views

alternatives for 'finding your feet'

I need alternatives for the expression finding your feet or getting used to something / doing something Can anyone help?
15
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4answers
15k views

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 ...