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

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How to answer the greeting “What's the story?”

I have a lot of Irish coworkers that often greet me by saying "What's the story?" What's a good way to answer to this greeting? Also, does this ever get used in the UK, US or Australia?
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Which is more common for everyday use? [migrated]

An old man is sitting on the bench. Or There is an old man sitting on the bench.
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OK, here's a weird one: “I appreciate ya”

Say you do something simple and nice for someone. A normal reply would be "I appreciate that, thank you." (phrased in either order) But for the past year or two, down here in the southern US, I've ...
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7answers
484 views

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

Does Would you mind and do something instead of Would you mind doing something sound acceptable in spoken AmEng, or is it an attempt to imitate or render colloquial speech in not so formal writing? ...
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What does “flustrated” mean, and is it a word?

What does the flustrated mean? Is it even a word? I am using Lingea Lexicon and it doesn’t know this word, but the Internet is full of it. I find myself getting mad at people for using it both in ...
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104 views

“[ball]park” in AmEng vernacular

Are the terms ballpark and park specific to baseball in AmEng, or can they also be used for every which athletic stadium in which ball games like soccer or rugby are played? For example, would a ...
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139 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 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 and ...
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What do you call a spoken disclaimer on a radio/TV commercial?

The other day I was listening to the radio, and a very lengthy disclosure came on after a commercial. I know that in printed legal documents, and even on websites, the colloquialism for legal ...
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158 views

Word meaning “to startle someone by surreptitiously poking them in the sides, from behind”

I inadvertently caused a great deal of amusement among a group of friends by incorrectly using the word "goose" to describe the action of sneaking up behind a person and poking, tickling, or touching ...
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“tab” for “hotel bill” in AmEng

In AmEng vernacular, is the word tab specific to restaurant and bar checks, or can it also be used for hotel bills? E.g. Guest: We'll be checking out early tomorrow morning, so if it isn't too ...
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Why does common usage of “random” feel so incorrect?

I am bothered by the modern usage of the term "random", and am wondering if "it's just me" or if there is a reason for my being discomfited. Take for instance, this lovely bit: The column and table ...
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558 views

“jam,” “jelly,” and “jello” in AmEng vernacular

What exactly is the fruit preserve called "jam" in the U.S.? Is it what is referred to in France as "confiture"? If so, then what would be the French for, what is called "jelly" in the U.S. ("jam" ...
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Usage of 'that much more' in a scientific article

Would it be acceptable to use the phrase "that much more" in the context of a scientific article? Basically, I want to convey this: "The results were obtained doing A. We expect that doing B, taking ...
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155 views

What did Cyrus Beene mean when he said “sausage factory” on Scandal?

It's a flashback scene from episode seven, "The Trail." In it, Cyrus Beene is arguing with the then not yet President, Fitzgerald Grant, about Olivia Pope. Beene had just hired Pope, and Grant, ...
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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.
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Examples of spoken phrases where the tone used changes the meaning [closed]

I'm looking for examples of phrases & sentences whose meaning changes depending on the tone of voice used. For example, 'Follow me.' (Said with a falling tone) would be understood as a command. ...
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279 views

The rain is “lifting”

How can the rain "lift"? I mean, I can pretty well figure out that the fog or mist or smog, etc. "lifts", i.e. disappears or disperses by or as if by rising, but "the rain lifting" sounds like it's ...
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What do you call someone who gets along with children?

What do you call someone who gets along with children/babies? A simple example: He is such a ____, he makes all children smile. A single word noun would be ideal but a phrase is acceptable ...
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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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Should I say “declutter” or “unclutter”?

Which verb is more appropriate (and older) for clearing out my desk: declutter or unclutter and why? I should declutter my desk I should unclutter my desk Dictionary.com defines ...
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What does “I want you to do me” mean?

I read a conversation between two people. "I want you to do me on this table." What is the meaning of this sentence?
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1answer
75 views

Differences between formal and colloquial English? [closed]

What are the basic differences between formal and colloquial English? Is it right that colloquial English uses more contracted forms, slang expressions, phrasal verbs, subjunctive, and euphemisms? ...
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239 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: ...
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Why are you a plonker?

The idiom, plonk (something/someone) down means to slap something down; to plop something down to sit or lie down on something in a careless or noisy way to leave someone somewhere to do ...
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Is it really possible to be “half dead”?

It is not all-too-rare to hear of someone being "half-dead," but is that logical, or possible? If so, how do you determine just how dead, percentage-wise, a person is? If it's possible to be 50% ...
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128 views

What does this phrase mean: “they just can't keep their hands off the cookie jar”?

What does the following sentence mean? They just can’t keep their hands off the cookie jar (or outta the cookie jar) I came across this sentence in a movie. The context is racism and the social ...
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91 views

Is “fatty” a proper word to use?

The most intuitive word to describe a person rich in fat seems to be fatty. However, I'm not sure whether it's commonly used in a derogatory sense in English. Do I need a more appropriate word ...
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67 views

Colloquial term for “irritable bladder”

In German, there's a term "Reizblase" which describes the bladder of someone who has to hit the bathroom every ten minutes. The dictionaries suggested "irritable bladder" as a translation which - ...
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287 views

What is the origin of the phrase “has some teeth to it”?

I know the phrase "has some teeth to it" refers to something that cuts and/or takes hold of something. It's used a lot in arguments / discussion of topics where serious / good counterpoints are used, ...
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What do kids say instead of "videotape”?

In a conversation I just had I used the word "videotape" to mean recording a video on a cell phone. It occurred to me that this is probably not the word youngsters use today, but I couldn't think of a ...
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Die hard or die heart?

I just saw someone write that they were a "die heart" fan. I always thought the term was supposed to be "die hard" but I decided to google it just in case I was wrong. Google was unable to give me a ...
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241 views

“I have been Jessica” shouldn't it be “My name is Jessica”

We went to an electronics showroom, where we chatted with a sales girl. She explained some technical stuff about the things we were interested in. When she had finished explaining, she said "By ...
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What do we 'turn round and say'?

Often you will hear people say something like 'He turned round and called me a liar', or 'what if she turns round and refuses to pay'. This 'turn round' (I am informed it is much less used in ...
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“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"? ...
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Is there any equivalent for 'amorous affairs' that is very informal?

I'm looking for a way of saying “having amorous affairs”. Ideally it should indicate a married man fooling around with younger women, and the expression should be informal, humorous, in low register ...
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What do we got? [duplicate]

What do we got? In vernacular American speech, I have heard this structure several times. A search in COCA yields 36 results for "what do we got" and 107 results for "what do you got". This is what ...
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What is the term used for some kind of punishment

What is colloquial word for kind of punishment for children/teen when he's not allowed to leave home (go to friends etc), but only school-home-school... ?
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130 views

Meaning of the statement “Are you playing thick or just are? ”

Somebody told me Are you playing thick or just are? in the middle of a conversation. and I didn't know its meaning. I searched for "play thick" in Google, but I didn't find anything. Is “are ...
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173 views

When did “I could care less” (rather than “I couldn't care less”) become popular?

What decade? Any particular reason? This is an etymological/historical question, not a grammar question.
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Does “started a start-up company” contain redundancy?

I see the phrase "started a start-up company" more and more these days, and feel that it is redundant, and the speaker is ignorant or using stock phrases without thinking. Any company we start would ...
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4answers
288 views

Feminine version of colloquial use 'hi man'

When a man greets another man, he often says 'hi man', 'thanks man', etc. I am wondering whether these expressions have feminine use. I never heard a woman greeting another woman with 'hi woman'. Any ...
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“Take a photo” — why “take”?

I don't understand why it's "take a photo". Why take? Is there any rule for this?
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151 views

Colloquially, does the term “redhead” apply specifically to a person with naturally red hair? [closed]

My husband and I were discussing this yesterday, and I was hoping y'all would give us an "official" answer. :) We both believe that for a person to be accurately described as a "redhead", they must ...
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What does “fiddle with that” mean [closed]

What does "fiddle with that" mean. Can anyone please explain with an example. Thank you.
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4k 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 ...
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“Gun an engine” vs. “Rev an engine”

The driver of the van brakes sharply at every red light or junction and guns the engine when we move off. I begin to sweat—travelling sideways isn't helping. Apple Tree Yard "To gun the ...
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425 views

Can “must not” be used alternately to “can't” in AE to say that sth is logically impossible?

Does American English allow the use of "must not" instead of "can't" to say that something is believed to be logically impossible? Please consider the following examples: It must not be true! How ...
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Is it acceptable to begin a declarative sentence with “Am”?

I want to know firstly if it's grammatically correct to start a declarative sentence with "Am". For example: Am excited about the game today. Secondly, if it is grammatically incorrect, then I ...
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Origin and meaning of “strealish”/“streelish”

I've heard the word strealish (or streelish) used to describe someone with a lost or wan look or someone unkempt or untidy. I know it's an Irishism, but what is the origin of the word and what did it ...
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What does “But lay off his looks, okay, Donald?” mean?

In this issue of "The O'Reilly Factor" Bill O'Reilly says at the end: "But lay off his looks, okay, Donald?" My question What does this phrase mean?