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 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 ...
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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
823 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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7answers
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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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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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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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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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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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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 ...
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1answer
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Why do we call cinema The Seventh Art?

Why do we call cinema The Seventh Art? Why not sixth or fifth?
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What does ‘It’s one thing to dance like Fred Astaire, but Ginger Rogers did it backwards’ mean as a metaphor to John Roberts' ruling?

There was the following sentence in June 29 issue of Time magazine titled “Roberts Rules: What the health care decision means for the country” dealing with Chief Justice of Supreme Court, John ...
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Is “knife-in-one’s-teeth (woman)” frequently used English? Can we use it for a man as well?

I saw the word “knife-in-her-teeth daughter” in Maureen Dawd’s article, titled “Darth Vader Vents” in New York Times (August 27). The article deals with former Vice president Dick Cheney’s new memoir, ...
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Describing a group of people who lie down in a public place to send a political message

I was walking through the square, and I came upon a group of people all lying on the ground. Each had a printout on their chest with a political message, and nobody was moving. What word or phrase ...
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Origin of the of the phrase “feeling blue”

Where did the expression "feeling blue" come from?
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What do you call a day that never comes?

Searching on Google Books I discovered that 'a day that never comes' has 2.060 results. As an example usage, among a lot of others, in 'Healing Words' by Susan Brozek it is written: If we wait ...
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why do we say scorching hot while scorching already means very hot?

Scorching means extremely hot. So why do we say scorching hot? Isn't it redundant to bring hot after scorching?
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1answer
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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 ...
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Where does the phrase “get crackin'” come from?

"There's a lot of work to be done, so we'd better get crackin'" I've often used this expression, but I have no idea what we might have been cracking, originally? Any insight?
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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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Looking for idiom/expression to describe an instance where one makes something seem better than it really is

Maybe the example would help to describe the expression I am looking for: Say - a sub-par school or organization makes a promotional video, whereby they make the school look way better than it ...
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Idiom to mean “one must avoid going into dangerous situations”

In my native language, there's an idiom that someone warn you not to go into a dangerous situation when you're sure you'll get into trouble but you still feel like doing it. For instance, making jokes ...
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What is the origin of “Couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo”?

This picturesque expression, meaning 'not a very good shot with a rifle' or (of a footballer) unable to score any goals, has cropped up a few times recently in my reading. Does anyone know where it ...
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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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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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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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Is the “really” in “I don't really know” necessary?

I know that one can have a greater or lesser amount of surety (i.e. "I'm not really sure"), but don't you either know or not know something? Are there degrees of knowledge? I hear this phrase often ...
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The expression “hands down.”

How did the expression "hands down" come to mean "without a doubt?"
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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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More common expression for “move your bowels”

Move your bowels may be too polite and sounds strained, and merely saying shit sounds offensive. What do native English speakers say then when you need to move your bowels, especially when a parent ...
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English equivalent of the Italian “Mannaggia!”, “Che peccato!”

What is the English expression or exclamation to refer to something that has gone wrong or a missed opportunity, or something that we could have done better than we actually did? I'm specifically ...