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

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1answer
902 views

Is absence of the person needed in “On someone's behalf”?

In the middle of a conversation he had with my father, [Mr. X] asked him: “What does your son want to do in future?”. “He wants to do religious studies,” my father replied. He talked on my behalf ...
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6answers
1k views

What is the English expression for this facial expression? [closed]

Any expression for this?
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1answer
2k views

saying thanks to someone answering your email ASAP who is important for you [closed]

Which of these sentences sounds more american? and which sounds more polite against who is important for you like a professor or boss? first: Thanks for your prompt response second: Thanks ...
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2answers
140 views

Term or expression which best describes a problem that goes away when an expert attempts to diagnose it?

There is a phenomenon which I've seen happen across many circumstances. Generally, it goes something like this: The complainant has a recurring observable problem. The complainant contacts an ...
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1answer
222 views

What does “has been loathe to fully distance itself from” mean?

The following sentence I read from Huff Post: "Why Egypt Matters: The Implications Of The Protests" gets me quite confused. I've made the key problem boldface. Hope someone can explain to me the ...
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2answers
2k views

“Don't know what the name is” vs. “Don't know what it's called”

What is the difference between saying: A: Which meal do you want, Sir? B: Number 4. I don't know what the name is. A: Which meal do you want, Sir? B: Number 4. I don't know what it's ...
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1answer
6k views

“Head over heels” and “head over feet”

Does the expression head over heels mean the same as head over feet? To be madly in love with someone?
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7answers
3k views

Idiomatic expression for a difficult choice

This has cropped up several times in the past couple of months, and I've been struggling to find a fitting word to describe this phenomenon. I'll describe it: You have two choices(no, it's not ...
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8answers
19k views

Which one is correct? “A teacher of English” or “An English teacher”? [closed]

I want to know which is correct teacher of English or English teacher.
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12answers
3k 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 ...
12
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9answers
8k 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 ...
12
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5answers
41k views

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.
12
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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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13answers
6k views

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 ...
11
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5answers
18k 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
3k views

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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7answers
7k 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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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
8k views

Where does “beat around the bush” come from?

Where does the expression "beat around the bush" come from?
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3answers
2k views

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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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: ...
8
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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
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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3answers
8k 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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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
912 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
7k 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 ...
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2answers
8k 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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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 ...
6
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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"?
6
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3answers
787 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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3answers
7k views

“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 ...
6
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8answers
38k 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
33k 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
666 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 ...
5
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3answers
825 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 ...
5
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3answers
5k views

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
266 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
2k 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?
5
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1answer
498 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
5k 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
895 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.
5
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3answers
39k 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 ...
5
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3answers
12k views

What does it mean to “pay X on the dollar”?

When I hear money laundry lingo in TV crime-series, people sometimes fence stuff for so and so much "on the dollar". What does it actually mean? And where does the expression originate from?
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5answers
12k 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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2answers
38k 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?