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

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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
756 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 ...
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2answers
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“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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2answers
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Neither do I / Nor do I / Me neither / Me either

In this circumstance, which would be the most correct / natural answer? Person 1: I don't eat meat Person 2: Neither do I / Nor do I / Me neither / Me either This says both neither do I and Me ...
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3answers
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“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
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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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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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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
861 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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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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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
936 views

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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5answers
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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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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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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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Origin of the of the phrase “feeling blue”

Where did the expression "feeling blue" come from?
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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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4answers
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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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“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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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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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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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 ...
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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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What is the origin of the phrase “beyond the pale”?

What's the origin of the phrase 'beyond the pale'?
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Word or phrase for “seeing meaning where none exists”

Is there a word or a phrase to describe an instance where meaning is ascribed to something where there is no such meaning or where the interpretation is particularly fanciful? For example, when ...
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3answers
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What proof is there in pudding?

Yesterday I heard an English baker on a cooking show say that "the proof is in the pudding." I've heard the expression before but I can't imagine how pudding would prove anything. How did the idiom ...
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6answers
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Phrase to say that something which happened twice already is likely to happen again

In French, there is the expression "jamais deux sans trois" (literally: "never twice without a third [time]"). We use it to express that something which has already happened twice is likely to happen ...
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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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Expressions in Tim Minchin's “Storm”

Can you help me with these expressions from Tim Minchin's Storm? There will be some obscenities—sorry for those; I am just interested in their meaning. "I confess a pigeonhole starts to form" [1:10] ...
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4answers
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The expression “hands down.”

How did the expression "hands down" come to mean "without a doubt?"
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Vulgar way of saying “he killed himself”

I'm trying to translate my acquaintance's cartoon to cite it in an article written in English. For the subject of the article it is important that the translation will be direct, thus very vulgar ...
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3answers
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Is “bad loser” a valid expression?

Is the expression "(someone is a) bad loser" valid? If it is valid, is it equal to "sore loser", or does it have a different meaning and/or use?
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Why am I always compelled to begin a response with “Well, ”?

Because of a certain 140 character limit I've learned where I can trim characters on responses but even after all this time I still reply with "Well, so and so . . ." and I go back and have to delete ...
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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 ...