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

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Does English use “red thread” as expression for theme?

In Swedish the expression "röd tråd" (literally "red thread") is used to describe that something follows a theme. For instance, if a piece of text has a "red thread", it's written with a consistent ...
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7answers
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How to give a tip without using 'Keep the change' [closed]

Imagine you're in a bar and order a pint of beer, which is £3.20. You only have a £10 note but want to tip the barkeeper. As you can't use 'keep the change' for obvious reasons, what do you say to tip ...
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9answers
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Any other good way of saying “Happy Birthday”?

Quite a few of my friends are having their birthdays in the coming weeks. I feel a little awkward posting plain words like "Happy Birthday" on their Facebook pages. I've decided I should come up with ...
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12answers
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Is there a suitable antonym for 'Achilles heel'?

I'm trying to juxtapose antonyms in a effort to describe something. The first draft of an excerpt reads something like this: I will tell of their triumphs and downfalls... I would like to ...
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3answers
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Does the word “out” carry sexual-minority flavour?

My NGO and partners are producing a feature film about Russian speakers in the world, and to explain its point as bias-breaking, we came up with the name out, that's nicely expanded in the slogan as ...
12
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3answers
140k views

What is the origin of the phrase “Top of the morning to you”?

Each morning, a colleague of mine greets me with the phrase: Top of the morning to you! I've tried to figure out what the meaning of this really is and how to properly respond, however there ...
12
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9answers
7k 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 ...
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7answers
606 views

What is the term for the part of a jingle that states the company name?

I have a vague recollection that there's a specific term for the way a company name is set to music in an advertising jingle. The only examples I can find right now are at the end of this Youtube ...
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6answers
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What does “the darkest of nights” mean?

Over at German.SE we have a question involving "the darkest of nights". I would like to know what this expression actually means, but I didn't find it in an online dictionary (e.g. leo.org, dict.cc, ...
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5answers
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Other expressions for “to be the devil's advocate”?

Is there another way or expression to say: He is the devil's advocate I don't quite like this expression, and I don't know if it is a good idea to use it in a religious context.
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2answers
784 views

Roy Hodgson's “Church in the centre of the village” expression

Listening to the current England football manager, Roy Hodgson, speaking on the radio, he used a very curious expression while speaking about his team: "We have to try to get back to putting the ...
12
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2answers
7k views

“Pretty please with sugar on top”

Where does this expression come from? I understand when it's used, but I was wondering about its origin.
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3answers
4k views

“Insofar” or “in so far”

A quick search suggests that insofar is the American variant of the British in so far. I always assumed it belonged to the set of expressions like hitherto, heretofore, therefore and albeit. Is there ...
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13answers
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An English expression for 'femme fatale'

Femme fatale, meaning "an attractive and dangerous woman", is a French expression which has become part of the English language roughly since the beginning of the 20th century. Is there another ...
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9answers
5k views

How to describe a guy who is popular with girls?

Perhaps I should make it clear: - He naturally attracts girls. - He doesn't chase girls and have no intention for any relationship. - You just see him often together with girls.
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9answers
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What's an item called that was required to progress in a video game, but now isn't?

This question was inspired by an Arqade question: How do I save a Destiny warp drive?. The premise is this: In order to progress to mission 3 (or 4 etc.) you must complete the second mission. The ...
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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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5answers
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An aeroplane, when it leaves the ground, 'takes off'. What does a bird do?

My daughter recently had the experience of a large bird hitting her car windscreen, and smashing it, when she was doing about 70mph on a motorway. Fortunately the bird did not come through the screen, ...
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4answers
929 views

“Who is that for?”

Showing a baby bottle to my son I ask him "Who's that for?", obviously waiting for a "That's for me!" answer (which turns out to be just "Me!") But I am not a native speaker and I kind of translate ...
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5answers
6k views

How to use “you know”

For a non-native speaker like me, I am always wondering how to use you know correctly, as in the following sentence: Alright, well, for example, like on Saturdays, y’know, what I liked to do ...
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3answers
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Is the term “setting someone straight” offensive to queer people?

I replaced "Thanks for setting me straight" with "Thanks for correcting me" when editing an email to a recipient who is queer. Is the term "setting [someone] straight" inappropriate if the ...
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5answers
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Is there a non-romantic phrase for missing someone? [closed]

The phrase "I miss you" can be equivocal: suggestive of (a) romantic longing and/or (b) regret of loss. Certainly, context can shape its meaning, including geography, historical period, and the ...
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2answers
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Expression “enter [somebody]”

I would like to know what's the meaning and in which situations would one use the expression "Enter [somebody]", like "we were trying to find a solution. Enter John".
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11answers
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What on Earth does “cheap at half the price” mean?

I hear this all the time, "cheap at half the price", to indicate that something is cheap (mostly in an ironic sense, but often used literally), but it makes no sense to me. Of course, if something ...
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5answers
14k 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?
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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?
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7answers
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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
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3answers
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Why (and since when) is prostitution called “the world's oldest profession”? [closed]

According to Wikipedia, the phrase the world's second oldest profession is "spying" and the world's oldest profession is prostitution. I was always raised with the understanding that prostitution was ...
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6answers
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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
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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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10answers
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“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 ...
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3answers
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Difference between phrase, idiom and expression [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the difference between an expression and a phrase? Difference between “phrase” and “idiom” What is the difference between a phrase, an ...
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3answers
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How to speak mathematics [closed]

I've been asked to give lectures on electromagnetism in English, but I encounter many problems trying to express mathematical formulas since they are written and I do not know how to read them. Are ...
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6answers
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Origin of the of the phrase “feeling blue”

Where did the expression "feeling blue" come from?
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Where did the “unavailable” meaning of “Out of Pocket” come from?

The phrase "out of pocket" is often used in my office to mean "unavailable". I've found reference to this on the internet as well, but no obvious clue to where this meaning comes from. Where does ...
11
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3answers
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Where does “emphasis mine” go in a quotation?

I have often seen the term emphasis mine used whenever an author wishes to denote that emphasis in a given quotation originates from said author rather than from the original source. What is the ...
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2answers
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Value (in cents) of big words

I found the answer to this question interesting in that he referred to a "75 cent word". I would have called it a 50-cent word, not because I undervalued his answer but because that is how I have ...
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2answers
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How did “tongue-in-cheek” get its current meaning?

A statement is said to be tongue-in-cheek if it is not to be taken seriously. How did this meaning come into vogue? Where did it originate from?
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10answers
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What is it called when you “refill” a debit card?

How it is called (in the US) when you go to the bank or an ATM to add cash to your VISA/MasterCard debit card? That is, when you add cash to the bank account which is tied to that card. Is it ...
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6answers
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Is there an English word for a woman who has recently given birth?

In some cultures, there are lots of customs about a woman who has recently given birth to a baby, such as feeding special fancy meals to her, taking special care of her, and so on for (a certain ...
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8answers
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Is there an expression for someone who often takes things too literally?

E.g., if you use an idiom (in a context) like: "To throw the baby away with the bathwater." and your conversation partner says: "Huh, seems I don't have a baby/bathwater!" Also, when you explain the ...
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5answers
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What is the best way to describe someone who is very social in a party?

If a person is very social in a party, striking up conversations with different people from one end of the hall to the other end, are there some good expressions to describe this person? In Chinese, ...
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3answers
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Do we say “… is greater or equal to…” or “… is greater or equal than…”?

We do say "… is equal to…", but we say "… is greater than…". What happens when we mix those? What should we say: "… is greater or equal to…" (297,000,000 hits on Google), or "… is greater or equal ...
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6answers
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What's a “brace” in the expression “brace yourself”? [closed]

I know the meaning of the expression, "brace yourself," and also the meaning of the word "brace" but I don't understand why they have that word in that expression and what its origin or history is. ...
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14answers
3k views

Is there a slang word or phrase for someone who is always playing dirty tricks or unpleasant practical jokes on his friends and acquaintances?

context: He will surreptitiously introduce a frog into your handbag. You leave your car keys on a desk, he sees it and hides it somewhere. He may offer you M&M type candies that will leave your ...
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1answer
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“brake the rules” vs “break the rules”

In a shop I have found a T-shirt with the sentence: "Brake the rules" (not "Break the rules"). Is it correct?
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8answers
635 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 ...
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5answers
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Where does “ta!” come from?

Where does the expression "ta" come from? Wikipedia has only this to say: "ta!", slang, Exclam. Thank you! {Informal}, an expression of gratitude but no additional information or links about ...
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5answers
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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
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5answers
7k views

What is the origin of the phrase “beyond the pale”?

What's the origin of the phrase 'beyond the pale'?