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

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“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 ...
6
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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"?
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5answers
3k 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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3answers
424 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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7answers
8k views

Is the expression “may or may not” semantically void?

I personally have a hard time accepting the use of "may or may not." To me, it seems as if "may" and "may not" effectively cancel each other out, so the semantics of the sentence in which it appears ...
5
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1answer
6k 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?
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4answers
4k views

Is the construction “It allows to …” proper English?

I frequently encounter phrases like this: "It allows to apply these features to customisable sets of fonts". My question is whether this is proper English or not? In my mind, "it allows the ...
2
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3answers
6k views

A more succinct expression for “The day before yesterday”

Is there a more succinct expression for "the day before yesterday"? In German for example, gestern = 'yesterday.' The prefix vor roughly means before, so logically, vorgestern means 'the day before ...
2
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2answers
4k views

“All but convinced” as a way of saying that one is, in fact, convinced? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “All but” idiom has two meanings? It seems kind of counterintuitive, but saying that: I'm all but convinced that ponies eat leprechauns. means ...
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6answers
1k views

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

Any expression for this?
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2answers
904 views

“Don't know what the name is” vs. “Don't know what it's called”

What is the difference between saying: A: Which meal do you want, Sir? B: Number 4. I don't know what the name is. A: Which meal do you want, Sir? B: Number 4. I don't know what it's ...
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1answer
4k views

“Head over heels” and “head over feet”

Does the expression head over heels mean the same as head over feet? To be madly in love with someone?
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2answers
78 views

Term or expression which best describes a problem that goes away when an expert attempts to diagnose it?

There is a phenomenon which I've seen happen across many circumstances. Generally, it goes something like this: The complainant has a recurring observable problem. The complainant contacts an ...
0
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7answers
2k views

Idiomatic expression for a difficult choice

This has cropped up several times in the past couple of months, and I've been struggling to find a fitting word to describe this phenomenon. I'll describe it: You have two choices(no, it's not ...
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4answers
1k views

What are English counterparts to Japanese Honne (real intent) and Tatemae (public position)?

I think many foreigners who have lived or worked in Japan heard this set of words, “Honne 本音– real intent” and “Tatemae 建前– outward reason.” Actually many expatriate colleagues I had worked with in ...
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9answers
5k views

Is it “Check and mate” or “Checkmate”?

I found the expression “Check and mate!” in the following sentence describing furious exchange of words between CNN host Piers Morgan and rightwing radio host and anti-gun-control propagandist Alex ...
11
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4answers
9k views

What does “To-may-to, to-mah-to” mean?

What does "to-may-to, to-mah-to" mean? I've seen this expression a few times and it seems to indicate some sort of equality. But what does it really mean?
11
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5answers
30k views

Meaning and origin of “if you catch my drift”

What does the expression if you catch my drift mean? Where does it originate? I've heard it in the context to signify something like if you know what I mean.
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12answers
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Words to describe a semi-literate person

I once had a manager whose level of literacy was lacking to the extent that he would nearly always return my technical reports with sections rewritten such that they became either ungrammatical, or ...
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6answers
5k views

Meaning of the phrase “the wrong side of history”

I've just realized I don't understand what this phrase means. What does "Gaddafi is on the wrong side of history" mean? Does it mean he's about to die, or something else? Here's the relevant ...
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5answers
2k views

Cold turkey as expression

I've discovered a expression : to go cold turkey, meaning something like feeling bad because you have taken drugs and you need to take more. I wonder if another verb rather than go can be used ...
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9answers
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Is there a shorter alternative for “Enjoy your meal”?

The French have "Bon appetit". In Belgium and the Netherlands we have "Smakelijk". Is there a short way to wish someone a good meal in English?
9
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2answers
4k views

Where does “beat around the bush” come from?

Where does the expression "beat around the bush" come from?
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3answers
1k views

Is word “crap” considered a vulgarism?

Most common damn-words in English are of course the f-word and the s-word, which are - for my best knowledge - considered vulgarisms. The word "crap" may be used as a damn-word, however I'd bet, that ...
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4answers
2k views

Origin of the expression “being cagey about something”

What is the origin of the expression "being cagey about something"? Does it have anything to do with "being in a cage", not letting someone out of a cage? I googled for it but didn't get much: ...
8
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1answer
7k views

“Toe the Party Line” or “Tow the Party Line”? [closed]

When I have seen this expression written, it is usually as "tow the line" as if the subject were a tugboat. I have always thought that "toe the line" made more sense as a fighting expression, where ...
8
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5answers
2k views

Does “see you this weekend” in email express “will write another email this weekend”?

Perhaps people will think that I'll physically visit them?
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2answers
966 views

How old is the expression “as if”?

It's a pretty simple question, but just to clarify, I am talking about the expression used by itself, not just in a sentence. So not: — Have you seen Ted? — Yes! He flew through here as if his ...
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5answers
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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?
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3answers
2k views

A saying indicating how some professionals don't apply their skills for themselves

Some made-up examples: Architect's house is always crooked. Mechanic's car is leaking Chef's breakfast is as plain as boiled eggs Is there an established saying for these situations?
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2answers
799 views

Origin of “stop-gap”

What is the origin of the expression stop-gap? stop-gap: A temporary way of dealing with a problem or satisfying a need Where and how did this expression originate?
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5answers
2k views

What does ‘Red meat rhetoric’ exactly mean?

I see quite often the expression 'Red meat rhetoric’ these days in journals, for example Obama’s red meat rhetoric –CNN Conservative Media July 7. Mitt Romney delivers red meat rhetoric to ...
7
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2answers
5k views

Where does “pull it off” come from?

"to pull it off" was at one time used meaning "to win." And in sentences such as, I don't think you can pull it off. , it often implies the idea of "success." But how did this expression ...
7
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4answers
6k views

“Yeah Right” expression

Where does "Yeah right" come from? Can it be used in a formal writing? If not, what is a good alternative?
7
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3answers
4k views

Why does one scream blue murder?

To scream blue murder is to shout loudly and make a huge fuss, sometimes with the implication that the fuss is excessive. But does anyone know why murder should be blue?
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1answer
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What is the origin of the phrase “and nothing of value was lost”?

What is the origin of the phrase "and nothing of value was lost"? Is this from a movie, book, or show, or did it get its start on Slashdot or some other online forum?
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7answers
680 views

Can something be “extremely mediocre”?

This doesn't sound quite right to me, but I can't explain why. I can understand an extreme sense of mediocrity one can get from something but does that justify the usage of "extreme" with "mediocre"?
6
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3answers
460 views

Why the “up” in “hang up the phone”?

Why do you hang "up" when you put the phone down when you're done talking? I don't get it and none of my friends do.
5
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3answers
229 views

What does “As for Romney, the G.O.P. is over him” mean?

New Yorker (March 4) carries the article titled “Ann and Mitt Romney’s lost fairy tale” portraying an interview of Mr. and Mrs. Mitt Romney by Chris Wallace on Fox News on Sunday, which ends up with ...
5
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1answer
419 views

OED Appeals: Antedatings of “blue-arsed fly”

The OED has made a public appeal for help in tracing the history of some English words, including: blue-arsed fly noun earlier than 1970 The first evidence for the metaphorical ...
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2answers
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What does “Turn a lemon(s) into lemonade” exactly mean?

In association with my question about possibility of using Etch-a-Sketch as a verb, I found the expression “turn a lemon into lemonade” in the related article of Five Star. It says: Etch-a-Sketch ...
5
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2answers
646 views

What is the meaning, and origin, of the phrase “breaking windows with guineas”?

Regarding the phrase: Breaking windows with guineas What is its meaning, and origin? The 'guineas' part of it might mean more to the British audience on this site than the others.
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3answers
26k views

What is the meaning of “way better” [closed]

I sometimes hear people use "I hope you feel way better","This is way more than I was expecting" and etc. Could you explain this type of usage and what is the difference between "feeling better" and ...
5
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2answers
21k views

What is the meaning of “you bet!”?

I often hear the term "you bet!". What does it mean?
5
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4answers
862 views

Meaning of the expression “2.1 kids”

What does it mean to say, "Everyone in this city has 2.1 kids"? Is this an idiom?
5
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5answers
387 views

Is “it is no calculus” correct grammar?

I often hear people saying, it's no big deal, or I am no […], etc. I was wondering if it is acceptable to say it is no calculus in a college essay.
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7answers
2k views

Please “Mute your voice”!

I have not heard or used this phrase before, but can I use the sentence "please mute your voice" in conversation?
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5answers
17k 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 ...
4
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3answers
1k views

“Strike gold” but without the implication of searching?

Whenever I hear the phrase I struck gold the fact the person had to have done a certain search is implied to me. Is this correct? For example, if I say: Janet loves sex so much! I've struck gold ...
4
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8answers
1k 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 ...