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 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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2answers
667 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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Where does “beat around the bush” come from?

Where does the expression "beat around the bush" come from?
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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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4answers
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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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1answer
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“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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2answers
974 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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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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625 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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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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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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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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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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“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
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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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1answer
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What is the origin of the phrase “and nothing of value was lost”?

What is the origin of the phrase "and nothing of value was lost"? Is this from a movie, book, or show, or did it get its start on Slashdot or some other online forum?
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7answers
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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
587 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
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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 ...
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5answers
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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
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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
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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
494 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
247 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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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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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
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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 ...
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2answers
813 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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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
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What is the meaning of “you bet!”?

I often hear the term "you bet!". What does it mean?
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4answers
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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
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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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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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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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“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 ...
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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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“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 ...
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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 ...
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5answers
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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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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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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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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 ...
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What's a noun for the group of people who you're very close to, such as family, friends, relatives, and significant others?

If I wanted to describe all of the people close to someone such as their close friends, family, relatives, and spouse/significant other, how would I do so with one noun? The simplest 'noun' that ...
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a better expression for 'percentage divided by 100'

The function f(a,x) returns the value in the array a specified by x, where x is a percentage of the length of the array, divided by 100. (i.e. x can be any number between 0 and 1, corresponding ...
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2answers
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what does “lost a shilling and found a penny” mean?

I am translating a British story and I came across this expression "you look like you lost a shilling and found a penny". I am not sure I understand what it means.
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1answer
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“in ages” vs “for ages”

I've always thought I should use "for ages" when, for example, I meet a person who I haven't seen for a long time, but recently I came across another expression, "in ages," as in "I haven't seen you ...
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1answer
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Is “and then some” an offensive expression?

I started an internal email discussion with the title "Editorial: link issues, some spelling issues and then some". However, upon rereading my own mail, it occurred to me that this might express ...
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2answers
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What does “our Mayan moment” mean here?

In a brief article I read, it is stated that: For civil libertarians, the NDAA is our Mayan moment: 2012 is when the nation embraced authoritarian powers with little more than a pause between ...
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Meaning of “Ain't Seen Nothing Yet”

Was a little surprised I couldn't find a previous question asking about the phrase "Ain't Seen Nothing Yet". I try to decode its meaning every time I hear the song of the same name by Bachman Turner ...
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4answers
998 views

“A half a cup of [something]”

Watching a cooking show a few days ago, the lady that presented it used the expression a half a cup or a half a teaspoon several times during the programme. I've heard half a [something] used before ...