Choosing the best phrase FROM A GIVEN SELECTION for a particular context or meaning.

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50
votes
12answers
5k views

What's the English equivalent of the Japanese saying, “A fart ruins 100 days of sermons by the priest (bishop)”?

I was amused by the expression "Paid a penny and only farted" (related by @FumbleFingers), which suggested a similar Japanese saying: 大山鳴動鼠一匹 - "Find only a small mouse coming out after hearing ...
13
votes
10answers
4k views

Is there a term I can use for a boss's favorite employee?

Over dinner tonight, one of the guests was describing herself as her boss's favorite employee, and asked for a term to describe this. As the only guest who spoke English as a first language, the ...
22
votes
6answers
5k views

Are “Fish in a barrel” and “Sitting ducks” similar?

Do the phrases "Fish in a barrel" and "Sitting ducks" convey the same thing? In my opinion, they have the same tone and express something to be an easy target. Eg: Out there, they are just fish in ...
10
votes
11answers
4k views

Non-religious equivalent expression for “Pray for [Country X]” after a disaster

When a big disaster occurs in a country, you can often see messages saying: Pray for [Country X] Are people really writing this to incite people to ask their God for anything? For instance ...
4
votes
2answers
237 views

Word for the situation of being unable to pass opposing pedestrian, as you both start to step same direction

Is there a word or expression in English, which describes the situation, when you can't pass a stranger, who is walking towards you on the street, because you both start to step the same direction? ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

“He will come back in two hours” vs. “He will come back after two hours”

He will come back in two hours. vs. He will come back after two hours. What's the subtle diff?
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Close by or nearby? [closed]

The cops traced residential address of his relatives who lived close by. Close up/down, close off, close in are terms well understood, I have not seen such usage of close + by. Would it be ...
0
votes
1answer
135 views

Connotations of “hungry for X” and “thirsty for X.” [closed]

Does "hungry for X" have different connotations than "thirsty for X"? I did a few Google searches and found that "hungry for X" outdoes "thirsty for X" by about 250% with most values I tried for X. ...
16
votes
5answers
93k views

“Please advise” — why is this a common turn of phrase for foreign speakers of English?

I was just browsing through StackOverflow just now, and randomly hit on this question, where the question-asker signed off his request with a "please advise." Certain I'd heard this turn of phrase ...
11
votes
11answers
3k views

How else can I express the concept of ' just to be on the safe side'

I always use this expression when I want to say that I just want to be prudent about something. Are there other ways to convey the same concept, other idioms or expressions I can use alternatively?
6
votes
8answers
586 views

Expression for personality/lifestyle of somebody that likes to step outside of the comfort zone?

This is maybe a difficult question. In my mother tongue we have a word for it, but I can not find anything similar in english: How to describe a person/characteristic/way of life of somebody that ...
4
votes
4answers
6k views

“Both which” or “both of which”

"This can be done using the technique of Peters, and using the technique of Matthews, both which involve mathematics" Having searched both which and both of which in Google, it appears both of which ...
13
votes
10answers
29k views

Alternative expression for “bang for your buck”

I have been hearing the expression "bang for you buck" many times a day and I find myself distracted when I or others use it. In an effort to be an attentive listener, what is a good alternative ...
2
votes
1answer
75 views

Lost In Punctuation

Usually, when a piece of text is translated from one language to some other language, and (due to slightly different idioms, phrases, words, etc.) the end meaning is changed, then it is attributed to ...
2
votes
5answers
300 views

Term for a choice that you like and you dislike?

First Q here. If this has been asked before sorry (Did search) Term for a choice that you like and you dislike? And you can/would probably only take the choice you like. For example: A justice ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Is absence of the person needed in “On someone's behalf”?

In the middle of a conversation he had with my father, [Mr. X] asked him: “What does your son want to do in future?”. “He wants to do religious studies,” my father replied. He talked on my behalf ...
2
votes
8answers
46k views

What do you call a person who motivates or inspires?

My choices so far: motivational source inspirational source source of motivation source of inspiration Being a non-native speaker, I don't know which one to use. What I want to say is that ...
14
votes
12answers
4k views

Ways of saying “You don't have to be a rocket scientist” [closed]

I'm trying to find different ways of saying that "You don't have to be a rocket scientist", but I can't seem to get any good ideas. I got a variation, "You don't have to be a brain surgeon...," but ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

What does the most common usage of 'Korea' mean in modern-day English-speaking world?

On Meta.Travel.SE, we have a debate whether our 'Korea' tag should be mapped to 'South Korea'. One of the answers - from the moderator who made the synonym mapping - is that common usage of the word ...
5
votes
4answers
4k views

To know something “inside out” or “inside and out”?

As a native English speaker (Australia) I've always known and used the expression "to know something inside out", meaning "to know thoroughly". Just now when editing a post on another SE site that ...
4
votes
10answers
1k views

How to describe a person in a situation in which he does not completely know what he is doing?

How can we describe a person doing or communicating something without (really) knowing what he is doing or talking about? This could be either because of some indisposition like for example ...
3
votes
2answers
680 views

Word for a friend you have never met?

Can anyone provide "emotional" word/phrase for a "friend" you have never met, but it feels like you really know him? I won't mind even if it was in a language other than English. :) Update: Would ...
3
votes
1answer
206 views

If I go to a Language School, do I go to school?

My friend, aged 21, has just started taking classes at a language school, and will shortly be doing 4 hours each weekday there. It feels very odd to be saying "How's school going?" – we finished ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Oh my God, Oh my Lord, Oh my Gosh

What are the differences between them? Is there a cultural and/or social interference? Do young people say "Oh my Gosh" more than others?
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Compact rephrasing of “In contrast to previous work, our method …”

I am writing an abstract for a paper, where I say the following: "In contrast to previous work, our method does not rely on ...." Then, about three sentences later, I would like to use a similar ...
1
vote
4answers
184 views

“next two weeks” vs. “in 14 days from now”

Which one is most appropriate and why? I will have my laptop next two weeks. Or I will have my laptop in 14 days from now.
1
vote
2answers
232 views

A “Frankenstein's monster” similar metaphors

Although originally it's a novel character, a "Frankenstein's monster" became a metaphor for "something that cannot be controlled and that attacks or destroys the person who invented it." However, are ...
1
vote
4answers
753 views

Is “Neither I you” Correct?

A friend of mine said "...I never saw you during school." For some reason I wanted to respond "Neither I you." I am certain I have heard this reply before, but, looking at it now, it does not seem ...
1
vote
2answers
237 views

Is use of “Oriental” racism? [duplicate]

I've heard that the word Oriental, if used to people, is racism. Is it true? And if it is, why?
0
votes
1answer
2k views

Proceed vs. Proceed further/ahead- Redundancy

In a training session on Business English, the instructor often said, proceed and proceed further, usually, after a pause by the speakers or whenever he interrupted. Examples: I ...
0
votes
2answers
3k views

How about 'play cute' or 'play adorable'?

I wonder if 'play cute' or 'play adorable' is frequently used to stand for 'act cute/adorable' in spoken language. It seems easier to google out 'act cute/adorable' instead of 'play cute/adorable'.
0
votes
5answers
4k views

“You are not going to be able to … ” versus “you can't …” [closed]

Are there any differences between these two expressions?