Choosing the best phrase for a particular context or meaning.

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22
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
46
votes
12answers
4k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
65k 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
2k 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?
4
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
2
votes
5answers
231 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
749 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 ...
14
votes
12answers
3k 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 ...
12
votes
10answers
3k 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 ...
9
votes
11answers
3k 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 ...
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
358 views

Word for a friend you have never met?

Can anyone provide "emotional" word/phrase for a "friend" a you have never met, but feels like you really know him? I won't mind even if it is in a language other than English. :) Update: Would love ...
3
votes
1answer
155 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
1k 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
3answers
367 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
180 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
2answers
2k 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'.