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

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Why do we “paint the town red”?

Why is the phrase "paint the town red" used to mean go on a colossal drinking spree? Does anyone know where it came from? Green's Slang Dictionary tentatively suggests a famous toot by the Marquis of ...
16
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5answers
32k views

Which is correct: “standing on line” or “standing in line”?

I'm curious to hear from folks in the the Northeast United States (or anyone, really) an explanation of why "standing on line" seems preferable to "standing in line" in the US northeast. I imagine ...
16
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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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16answers
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Describing “not knowing what to do” (as a response to an unexpected event that happened)?

Is there a good word or a great expression that describes not knowing what to do (as a response to an unexpected event that happened)? Something uncanny happened, and I do not know what to do. ...
15
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13answers
3k views

What is an expression for something you particularly like?

I'm not a native English speaker. I want to find the English equivalent of ho un debole per le ragazze svedesi that, in Italian, basically means "I particularly like Swedish girls." (It's just ...
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19answers
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Word/Idiom/Phrase to describe a stage in a project's life-cycle when you are stuck and thus no progress is happening?

Sometimes while working on a project, we get stuck. We run into a problem which we are not able to solve despite of trying for some time (a few days or weeks). Sometimes we don't even know what is ...
15
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13answers
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One word to call people that attach their feelings to a concept

Is there a way to express in one word when people attach their personal feelings to a concept or an idea and then become very vehement at defending it because they consider it personal criticism. As ...
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5answers
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Why prefix a request with “I'm going to have to ask you…”

Say you are in a nice restaurant and, at the table next you, a gentleman lights up the most offensive cigar you ever smelled. You mention it to the manager and then the manager goes up to the ...
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5answers
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Why are there two “to”s in “from … to … to …”?

To denote that something applies to a wide range of items you can use the phrase "from ... to ... to ...", e.g. Animals can live anywhere, from forests to deserts to deepest pits of the oceans. ...
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1answer
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Meaning of “Carrots aren't that great” in the sentence

I was reading "10 hurdles to Windows 10 adoption". In slide 12, there's this paragraph: I still think it’s smartest for Windows 7 customers to stand pat, unless they see something in Windows 10 ...
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3answers
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Short Sleeves or Shirt Sleeves

I've always referred to a shirt that has short sleeves as a "short sleeve" shirt. However, I've also heard it be referred to as a "shirt sleeve" shirt or "wearing shirt sleeves." This seems like a ...
15
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1answer
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What do you call exaggerations like “I'm starving”?

For example, when you are a little hungry and you say "I'm starving", or when you are so tired and you say "I'm dying". What do you call these type of expressions? Just exaggerations? I don't know how ...
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2answers
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Is “spoon feeding” a widely accepted usage?

In India, "spoon feeding" is widely used in context of education where the students are taught in a manner by which they do not have to do much on their own. Everything will be done by the teachers, ...
15
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5answers
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Origin of “Put up your dukes”

This link claims that one cannot be sure of origin of this phrase. Three explanations are given here, but they are not very convincing (I am not a native speaker). In one of our newspapers, ...
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2answers
14k views

Where does the phrase “Scare the Dickens out of…” originate from?

Where does the phrase "Scare the Dickens out of..." originate from? And does it refer to Charles Dickens?
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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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8answers
56k views

What is the meaning of the expression “We can table this”?

This came up in an email discussion - we are arguing about the merits and demerits of a certain approach, and I mentioned what I thought was a drawback to a scheme. To that, my colleague replied : ...
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4answers
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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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2answers
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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 ...
15
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4answers
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Where did the “unavailable” meaning of “Out of Pocket” come from? [duplicate]

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 ...
14
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10answers
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I’m looking for a word or phrase that describes the feeling that something very bad or catastrophic is about to happen

It may be something that will happen to the person who is having the feeling but it may also be to several persons, as might occur with a highly destructive earthquake, for instance. The word or ...
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8answers
3k views

Good expression for “things are starting to work”?

Is there a good and meaningful expression for "things are starting to work"? Italians would say "le cose stanno ingranando", where the verb "ingranare" literally translates "to gear". Can it be used ...
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14answers
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An expression for trying to futilely apply old methods that once worked

We are looking for an expression that captures this idea: When someone tries to adapt an old way of doing something, holding on to the original core of their process, in a futile way, instead of ...
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12answers
4k 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 ...
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14answers
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Is there a word/phrase to describe an action which leads to it being pointless?

I'm wondering if there's a word or phrase to describe an action or activity which turns out to be pointless - let me explain further with an example; Recently I was organising the garage and had lots ...
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3answers
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Is there a word or phrase for a nursing mother not biologically related to the baby she breastfeeds?

Nowadays he have human milk banks. In the olden days, however, it was not unusual to see a woman nurse the child of another mother who couldn't produce her own milk. Is there a word or phrase for a ...
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9answers
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Feminine version of “gentleman and a scholar”

Although I've often heard use of the phrase: You are a gentleman and a scholar I have never heard a version appropriate for the fairer sex. I guess you could say a lady and a scholar?
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6answers
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What is the expression that means : Try to stop crying

Sometimes, when I get emotional. I get in a situation when only talking can lead in a burst of tears, so I try to prevent it and I feel like crying is on hold inside my throat. Is there an expression ...
14
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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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2answers
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What's this gesture called?

It's used to be pretty frequent in movies where I think the person after accomplishing a big task would want to convey to the viewers that "I am awesome and a hot-shot". It starts with bringing your ...
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5answers
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rule of thumb for 'however' in the middle of the sentence?

What is the rule of thumb for using 'however' in the middle of the sentence? For example: Some people disagree with this theory, however, as it's never been proven right.
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“Related work” or “related works”

Which expression should be used as a section heading of an academic paper: related work or related works? This is a question that has been bothering me for years, as googling shows that both have a ...
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4answers
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“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?
14
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7answers
782 views

Fear of incrimination by inaction

During the Chinese cultural revolution, students assaulted their teachers. During the French liberation, Nazi collaborators were shaved in the streets. The perpetrators are often described as being in ...
14
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3answers
96k views

“The other way around” or “the other way round”

I see both phrases the other way around and the other way round very often. Which is correct? Please provide usage examples.
14
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1answer
216 views

Etymology of “Horsengoggle”

(Note to the dyslexic: be sure NOT to confuse this with “Google”.) Horse and goggle --> Horse 'n' goggle --> Horsengoggle There is a Wikipedia entry for this hand game: a kind of ...
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8answers
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What to call someone who always sincerely shows on the outside how and what he feels on the inside?

So, this person is very open, honest and brave to display his vulnerabilities and feelings (because that's what feels natural for him, and as a good thing, to do) whether he's out in public, with ...
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13answers
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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 ...
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14answers
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Common phrase for “to name the issue exactly”

I'm looking for an expression/phrase which is common for when in a discussion somebody points to the exact issue / cause of the problem or named an argument which corresponds perfectly to your own ...
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7answers
7k views

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 ...
13
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10answers
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Looking for a word to describe ineffectual people who would like to be effective

I need to create names for four categories of people - people who score either high or low on measures of environmental concern and pro-environmental behaviour. I have three sorted so far: High ...
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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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9answers
2k views

Words or phrases that describe a person who knows the answer to a problem but is not believed

I'm trying to find either a word or a phrase that describes a person who knows the answer to a problem or problems but is never believed. Or ignored. The nearest I can come up with is maybe the story ...
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6answers
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What do you call the habit of looking into smartphone while walking?

The habit of looking into and texting on a smartphone is becoming a prevailing social phenomena in Japan these days. We call this habit “歩きスマホ – aruki sumaho – using a smart-phone while walking” in ...
13
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4answers
1k views

“Yes marry have I” usage

I was looking through the original text of a popular nursery rhyme “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep” in Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book when noticed an expression whose meaning I can’t understand: “Yes, marry, ...
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3answers
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People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war or before an election

It seems to me that "never...so much as after" is a set expression yet I failed to find any credible, detailed definition on that. Plus, what does the quote by Otto von Bismarck mean? Any help would ...
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5answers
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You can’t have your cake and eat it too

If you've had your cake, haven't you already eaten it? So why can't you have it and eat it too? It doesn't seem to make sense.
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4answers
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What is a “moorland farmer”?

I came across the phrase "moorland farmer" yesterday while reading The Hound of the Baskervilles, and Google shows that the phrase has some currency. [link] We don't have moors in the U.S. — or ...
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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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4answers
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“Calling dibs” - what does it imply?

The term "to have dibs on something" or "to call dibs on something" plays a recurring role in American film and television (e.g. How I Met Your Mother), so it gets exported a lot. Wikipedia describes ...