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

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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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5answers
16k 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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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
3k 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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7answers
6k 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 ...
10
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2answers
690 views

Are there any common phrases in the English language that use metric units of measurement?

We've got things like 'inch closer' or 'miss by miles' but nothing common that uses the metric system as far as I know.
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3answers
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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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11answers
3k views

Non-religious equivalent expression for “Pray for [Country X]” after a disaster

When a big disaster occurs in a country, you can often see messages saying: Pray for [Country X] Are people really writing this to incite people to ask their God for anything? For instance ...
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1answer
11k 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 ...
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4answers
7k views

Where does “beat around the bush” come from?

Where does the expression "beat around the bush" come from?
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4answers
3k 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: ...
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2answers
1k 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
3k 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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4answers
760 views

Meaning and origin of “put a wrinkle on one's horn”

While investigating a recent EL&U question (What does "throw a wrinkle" mean?), I came across the unusual expression “put a wrinkle on [or in] one’s horn [or horns].” I have three ...
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2answers
1k 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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2answers
6k views

The meaning and origin of “hedge your bets”

What exactly does it mean? And what is the origin of the phrase "hedge your bets"?
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5answers
3k 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
7k 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 ...
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4answers
9k 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?
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3answers
7k 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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7answers
1k 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"?
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3answers
628 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.
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8answers
33k 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 ...
6
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5answers
31k views

What does “going blue” mean?

I'm familiar with the expression to feel blue, but I recently stumbled upon the expression to go blue on two different websites in one week. Vork from The Guild goes a bit blue Source: ...
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6answers
558 views

What does a cat's tail do?

A friendly dog will wag its tail, especially when it's happy to see his owner. Cats can communicate their approval and appreciation too, but I don't remember ever hearing a cat wagging its tail for ...
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7answers
2k views

A phrase or a word for not practising what you are preaching [closed]

Can you please tell me the word, term or phrase for not practising what you are preaching. Also, if possible, the word, term or phrase for someone who does so. I am not looking for hypocrisy or ...
5
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3answers
639 views

What is the origin and sense of the phrase “put up or shut up”?

In researching the recent EL&U question Origins and Interpretations of "Put your money where your mouth is", I repeatedly came across the seemingly related but older phrase “put up or ...
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3answers
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Origin of “as all get out” meaning “to the utmost degree”

At reference.com, all get out is glossed as “in the extreme; to the utmost degree”, and at thefreedictionary.com as an unimaginably large amount; “British say ‘it rained like billyo’ where ...
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3answers
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“expecting a baby”

Can I say "we are expecting a baby" when my wife is pregnant or does that sound funny to native English speakers, saying it as a man? (In German, the phrase has become somewhat common, but it stills ...
5
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3answers
251 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 ...
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5answers
1k views

Phrase which describes falsely improving something

Is there an aphorism or proverb in English which describes attempting to improve something fundamentally flawed by dressing it with a lot of ornament?
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1answer
484 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
4k views

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
856 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
36k 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 ...
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2answers
34k views

What is the meaning of “you bet!”?

I often hear the term "you bet!". What does it mean?
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4answers
1k 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?
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5answers
402 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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2answers
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that feeling where you feel like you need to do something but can't remember what it is

You know when you feel like you need to do something but you can't remember what it is? You almost feel a little anxious because you can't remember what you were going to do / what you need to do. ...
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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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4answers
10k views

What's another word for Guinea Pig, i.e. when you call someone a “test dummy”?

If someone is being used to test a new product or idea, they can be called a "guinea pig" (because Guinea Pigs are usually used by medical labs for testing). What is another term that would carry the ...
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3answers
2k 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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1answer
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What might “knock me over with a feather” mean?

I recently received a text message which read: "well, knock me over with a feather!" It was in response to a statement which may or may not have been surprising (I honestly have no idea). Has anyone ...
4
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5answers
10k views

A term or phrase meaning “to explain in simple words”?

How do you ask someone to explain something in very simple words, understandable by everyone from general public? In Russia we say something, that can be translated like "explain on fingers". What's ...
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5answers
1k views

What do I do when I hear 'Say cheese!'?

Photographers seems to love to say this. Is this still considered funny?
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4answers
3k views

What does “to bleed something” mean?

In Bloomberg magazine, I saw this sentence: Rust Belt states that have bled manufacturing jobs. Does it mean they have lost the jobs or gained more jobs?
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4answers
4k views

origin of phrase 'stone the crows'

Just as the title says — where, and how, did the phrase 'stone the crows' originate?
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4answers
247 views

Is there a word for someone who is not aware of how pretty or handsome he/she is? [closed]

Is there a word or an idiom that describes someone who is beautiful but unaware of it?
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4answers
169 views

Origin of My thing

When did the term "my thing" as in "that is my thing" come into usage?
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4answers
905 views

If I can “fall in” love, can I “fall in” depression?

In Italian we say essere innamorato (to be in love) whereas the English idiom, to fall in love, expresses the idea of abandonment, of letting oneself go. mi sono innamorato = I am in love, and ...