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

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819 views

Is the use of “conversely” to mean “on the other hand” correct?

I've previously used "conversely" to mean "on the other hand". For example. I always thought this the correct usage. Conversely, I might be wrong. However, the OED defines it as: In the ...
27
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8answers
3k views

How did “stuck-up” get to mean “snob”?

I was inclined to believe that the expression "stuck-up", meaning staying aloof from others because one thinks one is superior, had its origins with somebody's nose stuck (up) in the air and yet, ...
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2answers
4k views

What are the origins for the phrases “Knock it off” and “Cut it out”?

When taken literally, the colloquial phrases "Knock it off" and "Cut it out" do not seem to mean "Stop what you're doing." How did these two phrases get their current meanings?
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2answers
38 views

What does “the young go getters” mean?

I came across this colloquial phrase: "the young go getters". What does that actually mean? Does it refer to a young child/adolescent who is supposed to be a creative thinker?
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1answer
424 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 niggles me to find them "in print", especially when the overall tone is formal. ...
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1answer
58 views

Is there a word for women who use prostitutes?

Men who use prostitutes are colloquially called johns. Is there a specific word for women who use prostitutes?
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0answers
37 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 - ...
0
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1answer
67 views

Informal way of saying 'to be on the list'

Did you check out your ingore list? If I am on the list, cross my name off there. Are there any informal phrases in English that mean the same as in the example above? As I mean the ignore list ...
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3answers
576 views

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

What does this expression mean: to be "trigger-happy on broken windows"
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5answers
10k views

What does “What are you into?” mean?

I personally don't use this question in spoken language but I usually see it in written language. I also frequently see that when someone asks this question, it elicits in turn the question "What do ...
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2answers
243 views

Why do people say 'buck' for a dollar?

I grew up in South Africa. When someone said something costs 'two bucks' it meant two rand (like saying two dollars, but South African currency). It made perfect sense, as the 1 Rand coin had an ...
-4
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1answer
41 views

What do “the Dude sporting” and “PR dream come true” mean? [closed]

What does this sentence exactly mean? The image of the Dude sporting both a Rolex and the Berlin Philharmonic is a PR dream-come-true.
2
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1answer
140 views

“The man in glasses” or “The man with glasses”? [closed]

The man in glasses or The man with glasses Is it grammatically correct to say with or in glasses? I've heard both, but the first seems to prevail a little bit more, though. Googling ...
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6answers
850 views

Is there a female or gender-neutral equivalent to the colloquial “man”?

I don't know how to define the usage of man I'm talking about*, so I'll do it with examples: Hey, man, what's up? C'mon, man, don't make me do this. Is there a female or gender-neutral ...
0
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2answers
182 views

Does “is that ok for you?” means the same of “does that work for you?”

Do they mean exactly the same? Is one form more formal/casual than other? Can I say one of them in a email that is not very formal?
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2answers
5k 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 ...
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4answers
81 views

An idiom for “don't buy the first thing you see”

I'm looking for a colloquialism for: shop around a bit before you make your decision
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6answers
8k views

Etymology of “to be like” meaning “to say”

It seems that "to be like" is an informal phrase for "to say". E.g. She was so angry, she was like "I'm breaking up with you", and I was like "I'm sorry", and she was like "Go away". Is this a ...
16
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4answers
24k 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 ...
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2answers
103 views

Is the phrase “Next waiting!” by retail staff incorrect grammar?

In Australian retail stores the phrase "Next waiting!" has become an idiom. As I understand it, it is a contraction of "Can I serve the person next waiting?". When the idiom is used, it is snapped ...
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2answers
47 views

this “something” thing

How can we explain the use of this "something" thing? I understand it, and I might even use it, but I'm having trouble putting my finger on what it conveys. I've provided two examples below: Example ...
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2answers
2k views

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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2answers
62 views

Is this proper usage of the word “talks about”?

We were on the subject of borders within the EU/Europe; we were not talking about the actual EU and Europe borders. Europe and the EU are two different things. "Europe has open borders" works as ...
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1answer
848 views

“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. "To gun the engine" is a new ...
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2answers
95 views

the slang contraction of “what'd he” as in the sentence “what'd he come at you with”

What is the slang contraction of "What'd he" as in the sentence "What'd he come at you with"? "What'd he" is already a contraction but I mean in the same manner like whatcha = what're you=what've you, ...
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2answers
1k views

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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2answers
76 views

First to Last --OR— Second to Last [duplicate]

If I have a list of n items and I want to refer to the item that is just before the end of the list, do I say "first to last" or "second to last"? For example: First item Second item ... ...
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2answers
85 views

Sugarcane or Sugar cane? [duplicate]

Is there a difference between "sugar cane" and sugarcane? Is sugarcane wrong? What is the gramatical rule for joining two names like that? I have found 13.500 entries on google for sugarcane, but ...
2
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5answers
26k 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 ...
2
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1answer
495 views

Is it correct to say “Yesterday night”? [duplicate]

I have heard a lot of people say "Yesterday night" is that considered correct? I have always said last night.
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4answers
125 views

What's a word or phrase to describe literature that builds upon topics discussed earlier?

If I were teaching a class, how do I say that the topics currently being discussed build upon the topics that were discussed in earlier classes? I'm looking for colloquialisms but if you know about ...
10
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4answers
339 views

Is using “all” instead of “all used up” a regional thing?

My inlaws from Central Pennsylvania will say, "The milk is all" instead of "The milk is all gone". Another very common example, "Can you bring me some cookies?" "Sorry, the cookies are all". Anyone ...
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5answers
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, ...
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2answers
148 views

What's the origin of “dinkum”?

Dinkum as a noun means work, especially hard work. As an adjective, like fair dinkum, it means honest or genuine. Other than saying it's chiefly Australian and New Zealand, the OED simply says ...
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4answers
266 views

American word for commode

I know several words for the toilet, i.e. bathroom. However I want to know the colloquial word for the seat on which one sits while defecating. I have read john somewhere but never heard an American ...
5
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1answer
76 views

To Witness Something of Such Beauty

There is a word used in English but from Italian (I think) which has the following meaning: To witness something or someone of such profound beauty that you are compelled to sing aloud in ...
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2answers
692 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, ...
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1answer
1k views

“I have already [seen]” vs “I already [saw]” [duplicate]

I have already (past participle) I already (simple past) I feel like when I'm reading literature or any serious writing, the present perfect is always used with "already". I would guess that ...
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6answers
2k views

Why can I use 'guys' in the plural but not in the singular vocatively

We went to a pizza restaurant the other evening and the waiter insisted on referring to us as 'guys'. I responded by calling him 'guy'. 'What kind of beer have you got, guy?' My wife said she ...
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5answers
295 views

Is there a common expression for someone who “always holds a mobile phone in hand”?

I would like to know if there is a typical expression or phrase, used by native speakers, for someone who always has their mobile phone in their hand. I would prefer a spoken expression rather than ...
6
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1answer
925 views

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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2answers
1k views

Is the phrase “I feel you” too colloquial?

Does the phrase "I feel you" sound too slangy and somewhat horrible to a British person? Is it ok to use it as a synonym of "I understand what you feel/say" in an informal, casual conversation?
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4answers
2k views

Is “blah blah blah” the most common spelling?

What is the most common or correct spelling of "blah blah blah"? blah blah blah blah blah bla bla bla bla bla My question stems from when I first wrote it as "bla bla bla" in an English text, ...
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1answer
45 views

How do you use the phrase “all about” in terms of location? [closed]

There's a line in Dropkick Murphys' song "Going out in style" saying "take my urn to Fenways spread my ashes all about" I suppose this means "all over the place"? I tried searching for all ...
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2answers
578 views

“I was used”, is it correct?

I want to use the term used, like I was used. I mean when someone used my name or some of my property for his own advantage. Is it OK to say in this context: I was used ?
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1answer
852 views

What does “Way to read the room” mean?

I'm translating a movie and there's one sentence I could not understand. In the movie a doctor tells his friend: Doctor: Find something sharp to penetrate his skull.(to help the patient). ...
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2answers
66 views

Opposite of 'downvoted to hell' [closed]

What would I say as the opposite of downvoted to hell? So if I wanted to say, "Wow, that question on the Hot Questions list really got upvoted to xxx!", what word would I use in place of xxx? ...
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2answers
3k 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 ...
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4answers
722 views

Meaning and origin of “put a wrinkle on one's horn”

While investigating a recent EL&U question (What does "throw a wrinkle" mean?), I came across the unusual expression “put a wrinkle on [or in] one’s horn [or horns].” I have three ...
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0answers
42 views

“He might could come Friday” - Can anyone use two modals for the same verb (and get away with it)? [duplicate]

I've heard someone use two modals for the same verb more than once, in an American film. It looked like an old movie, perhaps from the 70s. The other sentence was: "I might could help you." I wonder ...