Expressions are words or phrases used to convey an idea, or else a particular term used conventionally to express something.

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11
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2answers
64k views

Is “nice to meet you” an appropriate online salutation?

When one makes a new acquaintance with somebody in person, you may say "it was nice to meet you", e.g. when you leave. What if you make a new acquaintance over the internet, what do you say when you ...
41
votes
6answers
37k views

What is meant by “don't piss on my boots and tell me it's raining”?

I have heard a couple of times recently the phrase "don't piss on my boots and tell me it's raining", usually in the context of a heated argument so I've hesitated to ask speaker what exactly he meant ...
33
votes
4answers
132k views

Is “yay or nay” an acceptable alternative to “yea or nay”?

Is "yay or nay" an acceptable alternative to "yea or nay"? I have seen it several times in recent weeks, enough to make me wonder whether it is an emerging usage or just a common typo.
21
votes
2answers
707 views

Is there a name for this method of writing that includes pictograms?

I've seen people write (usually in a humorous way) a 'code-like' message where parts of words are replaced with a pictogram that sounds like that word-part. E.G.: (eyeball) (tin can)(rope knot) ...
20
votes
6answers
72k views

What is the meaning of the phrase “The morning constitutional”?

What exactly is the meaning of the phrase “The morning constitutional”? Is it an early morning walk or the first visit to the bathroom during the day? What is the origin of this phrase? What is the ...
13
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13answers
3k views

What word or phrase means “a loss of what was on your mind”?

Sometimes, in the middle of a conversation, a "loss of mind" can affect the speaker. What is the word for that situation and that person ? Are there more specific terms or phrases than: the loss ...
8
votes
2answers
6k views

“Through” or “to” for expression of range

16-bit unsigned short integers that range from 0 through 0xFFFF 16-bit unsigned short integers that range from 0 to 0xFFFF Which expression is better above?
3
votes
3answers
25k views

Analogue of “to the best of our knowledge”

I have seen the following formula when writing an academic article: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that shows how to optimize a non-submodular function for .... I like ...
49
votes
24answers
6k views

Are there counterpart English expressions to Japanese proverb, "the nail that pops up is always hammered down?

I was once reminded by Robusto-san of a Japanese popular saying, ‘出る釘は打たれる - the nail that pops up is always hammered down,’ when I complained about sequential down-votes that I received. I wondered ...
12
votes
10answers
11k views

“Out of pocket”?

I'm increasingly hearing the phrase "out of pocket" used in America as a colloquialism to mean "away from the office", "unavailable", or "incommunicado". I apologize for not replying sooner; I ...
11
votes
3answers
48k views

“I'm home” or “I'm at home”

The second form looks more correct to me, but the first expression is present in several titles of movies and songs. Which form is preferable?
10
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9answers
2k views

Are there good English expressions for “raison d’être” and “joie de vivre”? [closed]

I know the two phrases have been adopted into the English lexicon, but raison d’être and joie de vivre are phrases, not words. As phrases they certainly sound better in French than would their ...
10
votes
8answers
705 views

English term for pre-thinker?

I was searching for an English translation for the German Vordenker. Basically a person, often a scientist, who began or further significantly developed a new concept or theory by contributing ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “if only” mean?

Like in this sentence: The influence of the Titnaeus among early philosophical thinkers was pervasive, if only because it was the sole dialogue available in Europe for almost 1,000 years. ...
8
votes
3answers
6k views

Origin of “they don't know they're born”?

Practising today for my forthcoming role as radgie gadgie, I was having a little rant about modern youth: "they don't know they're born!" This seems to me rather a strange phrase to describe someone ...
8
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3answers
7k views

Is “very less” correct English?

Is using very less correct English? My friend suggests it should be very little. Are they both correct, or is there a difference?
7
votes
7answers
5k views

Is there a word for one who enjoys to eat for the sake of eating (a food hedonist)?

Does such a word exist? I don't mean to excess (IE, a glutton), but rather one who eats because he enjoys eating. Essentially, I'm looking for a word that's synonymous with "a food hedonist", or "a ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

Where does the phrase “possession is ( nine points | nine-tenths ) of the law” come from?

I've seen dozens of arguments for the correctness and/or precedence of one version over the other, but have not come across compelling sources or well-documented explanations for either. Does anyone ...
7
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3answers
38k views

What does “what's the catch” mean?

It sounds like a marketing term. Does it mean "However there are some points to take note"?
7
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3answers
3k views

What is the etymology of the expression “so far, so good”?

What is the etymology of the expression "so far, so good"? Why is the meaning of "so far" in that phrase different from the meaning it has in "it's so far"?
6
votes
3answers
1k views

Eve-teasing… are such words used only in the country of origin

I was reading a newspaper published in Indonesia and while quoting sexual harassment , the term 'eve-teasing" was repeatedly used. E.g. The Bontang police arrested two residents for eve-teasing, ...
4
votes
2answers
14k views

Rules for rising and falling intonation in similar questions - what are they?

Consider these two questions: Would you mind saying a little bit more about that? and What do you mean by that? When they perform the same function, and I expect an answer to both, why ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

“Feel it in my bones”

Does "Feel it in my bones" sound natural? I have never seen or heard any native speakers use something like that, except in a subtitle of a movie I watched long ago. What are other phrases, or common ...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

What's the meaning of the expression “Grab a hold”?

What does it mean to "grab a hold"? There is a song by Cyndi Lauper that says If you wanna grab a hold, let it go...
35
votes
9answers
4k views

Person who pretends to not understand unless one speaks in exactly the words they expect [duplicate]

I just realized there are some people around my workplace who always try to correct me when using a certain word, saying that that's not how I should speak, and I should use other words (the ones ...
29
votes
17answers
8k views

Opposite of 'Midas touch'?

I'm wondering what word or phrase could be used for the counter examples of 'Midas touch' effect. The Midas touch, or the gift of profiting from whatever one undertakes, is named for a legendary ...
20
votes
23answers
4k views

A stronger word than “snob”

I recently stayed at a charming boarding house and had the pleasure of meeting one of the most curious people I have ever come across in my life. He was polite, and yet standoffish. He reminded me of ...
20
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8answers
16k views

Are there any expressions that describe going from a bad to a worse situation?

Are there idioms or expressions in English that describe going from one bad situation to one that's even worse? I heard "between a rock and hard place" but this describes a dilemma not really a ...
20
votes
9answers
6k views

Why do we “get cold feet”?

A sudden loss of nerve when embarked on a venture is called cold feet. Does anyone know why that should be? An etymology is suggested at englishdaily626. If your 'feet' are 'cold', you can't walk ...
10
votes
5answers
29k views

Is “a ways to go” grammatically correct?

In English we often say, for example, "he still has a ways to go before he's done." Is this grammatically correct?
10
votes
1answer
561 views

Expressions for a mystery?

I'm trying to help out a friend with something. Is there any expression for when something has been done, but nobody knows whom by? In Dutch there is an expression which translates into "the gnomes ...
9
votes
3answers
6k views

How to use the expression “lo and behold”

How should this expression be used, and what is its origin?
8
votes
8answers
6k views

Proverb or expression for someone taking on too much

What is an appropriate proverb or expression that means one has: Taken on too many tasks Set out to do something that one isn't qualified to do and hence probably will fail Set out to do something ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

“drop the penny”

I was wondering what "drop the penny", "help get the penny to drop", or things similar mean? All I can understand is that it must be a metaphor. For example: simply trying to repeat things in ...
7
votes
5answers
65k views

“For the time being” vs. “for now”

Consider the following passages: A litter made of two rifles and two field jackets would suffice for now. That was good news; another bit was that the EPW was a lieutenant, a regimental REMF ...
7
votes
3answers
409 views

How to determine if a “[something] fighter” fights for or against [something]?

In freedom fighter the fighter supports freedom. In fire fighter the fighter fights fire. How do you determine when it is the first or the second case? What is the meaning of spam fighter? ...
6
votes
1answer
9k views

“bibs and bobs” - what does it mean and where does it come from?

Just exactly what is a bibs and a bobs? And where the heck did that expression come from, anyway?
5
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5answers
1k views

What would be an English equivalent for the Mexican Spanish word tocayo? [duplicate]

In Mexican Spanish (not sure if other Spanish speaking countries use the word too) we call "tocayo" to those people that share the same name as us (but not necessarily the same last name i.e., Juan ...
5
votes
6answers
2k views

Word for someone seeming deep and intelligent, but not really being that

What is the word for someone trying to seem/be deep and intelligent, but really they are shallow, and not at all being insightful. Pedant is about rules, so that is disqualified, the closest I could ...
5
votes
5answers
6k views

What do you call someone who lives for himself?

What do you call someone who lives for himself? If someone lives his life solely to achieve his own life goals and not want to associate his life with others', what would you call him? I know some of ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Are there any practices to use onomatopoeia in English for describing the degree of joyfulness / funniness by laughter and sorrow by crying?

Japanese use a plenty of onomatopoeia in expressing the degree and level of joyfulness / funniness when laughing and sorrow when crying, and they always come in refrains of onomatopoeia. For examples: ...
5
votes
3answers
710 views

Is “looking to” acceptable English in this use?

Recently there is dramatic increase in the use of looking to verb as in: Jeff is looking to start something big. Is this acceptable grammar? Why is it recently popular? What could best be ...
5
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8answers
2k views

A far away place

Is there an English idiomatic expression to indicate a place which is very far away from the speaker's location? Something like in the middle of nowhere but not necessarily implying that the ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

a better expression for 'percentage divided by 100'

The function f(a,x) returns the value in the array a specified by x, where x is a percentage of the length of the array, divided by 100. (i.e. x can be any number between 0 and 1, corresponding ...
4
votes
5answers
3k views

What's a good expression for “too much information”?

If someone provides too many details on something, basically making it more difficult to extract the actual information asked for, what is a good expression to describe this? Is superfluous adequate ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

What does it mean to “start from scratch”?

This question speaks to the "start from the beginning" meaning, but in yesterday's USA Today, there was a headline about Obama and Romney starting from scratch because they were even in a poll. Have ...
2
votes
1answer
69 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
2answers
157 views

Psychological term or phrase for experiencing the world via the senses

I am looking for a psychological term or phrase for experiencing the world via the senses. (I am particularly interested in visual, auditory and thermal stimuli.) I am not looking for the word ...
2
votes
1answer
893 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
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6answers
1k views

What is the English expression for this facial expression? [closed]

Any expression for this?