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

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23
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10answers
2k views

Has “aught” survived in common usage?

In a movie that I watched recently, I heard- for aught I know, for aught I care. I work with a lot of native speakers, and they all told me it's not in formal or informal usage anymore. ...
39
votes
6answers
7k views

“For all it's worth” or “for all its worth”?

Should I put an apostrophe in "for all its worth"? The meaning comes to about the same thing either way, as far as I can make out, and it seems like "it's" is more popular. But is there an accepted ...
36
votes
6answers
16k views

What's the meaning of the word “brand” in the expression “brand new”?

What meanings might be conveyed by something being called brand new, as opposed to it simply being called new? What's behind the word brand here?
11
votes
2answers
68k 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
38k 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 ...
34
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4answers
138k 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.
15
votes
7answers
31k views

Origin of the expression “Dead to rights”?

I was watching a TV show and this term was used. I am familiar with the definition, but I was wondering the origin of the phrase. It does not make sense to me if taken literally. Reference
21
votes
2answers
719 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
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6answers
74k 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
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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
27k 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
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24answers
7k 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 ...
23
votes
9answers
4k views

What is it called when something you previously took to be a mistake turned out to be the correct decision?

Sometimes your “mistake” results in a big success, or you find out that it actually was the correct way of doing it. I sarcastically call this a “correct mistake”. What do you call it? I don’t know if ...
20
votes
23answers
5k 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 ...
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 ...
12
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3answers
53k 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
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8answers
713 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
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7answers
6k 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
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3answers
40k 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
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9answers
5k 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
9k 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
8answers
17k 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
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9answers
7k 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 ...
11
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5answers
51k views

How do I say, “I am willing to relocate”, in my CV?

I'd like some help with my CV. I want to add one sentence below my name, telling the company that I am free to relocate to any city. I am not a native speaker and I am not sure about this. Can ...
10
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 ...
10
votes
5answers
31k 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
573 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
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3answers
6k views

How to use the expression “lo and behold”

How should this expression be used, and what is its origin?
8
votes
5answers
12k views

Why does to “take a powder” mean to run away or to leave?

From Flappers to Rappers: American youth slang by Dr. Thomas Dalzell cites "take a powder" as a 1930s expression meaning to run away or to leave. Does anyone have any ideas why taking a powder would ...
8
votes
8answers
7k 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
68k 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
415 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
8answers
40k views

Why is “a 100% increase” the same amount as “a two-fold increase”?

and is such interpretation the norm? When something went from 4 units to 8 units, most authoritative sources seem to agree with the use of "a two-fold increase", even though what was actually ...
6
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1answer
10k 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
votes
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
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5answers
7k 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
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4answers
2k 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
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3answers
750 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 ...