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

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5answers
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“Vitriol” vs “caustic comments”

In choosing whether to use the expression He spewed his usual vitriol or He spewed his usual caustic comments does one carry more weight than the other?
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3answers
617 views

Is there a more abstract word for infrastructure?

I am thinking a lot about infrastructure these days. My definition of infrastructure is "something, which facilitates other things, but does not by itself fulfill the need of a person". An example is ...
47
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11answers
4k views

Idiom: People caring about minor stuff while something terrible is happening

Imagine a situation in which the whole place is on fire, a bomb is about to explode, everyone is running for their lives and someone is checking his looks on the mirror... pretty inappropriate for the ...
4
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13answers
10k views

Is there an idiom for people who boast too much?

I am looking for idioms or informal/slang/colloquial expression for some people that make you think that they are able of building a skyscraper, constructing a spaceship, playing the piano better than ...
3
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4answers
16k views

How do you call the sound of a bell?

If you want to describe the sound of a small brass bell that you can hold in your hand (this is an example image of what I mean - what word would you use? Brrring? Bling?
3
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2answers
1k views

How is “lay bare” sexual?

In the latest Futurama episode, there was a scene with the dialogue: Professor: Now, for the first time, we may be able to see the infinitesimal fabric of matter itself, laying bare the most ...
3
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5answers
2k views

Meaning and origin of “the grind of my day”

Somebody told me today in chat: before i get into the grind of my day... is there anything you are waiting on from us or need asap? What does the expression the grind of my day mean? Where does ...
2
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1answer
505 views

Laughing somebody out of town/court/the room

I heard of this expression: We were laughed out of the room After googling for it, it seems there are 2 more variations to it: laughing somebody out of town laughing somebody out of court I ...
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2answers
2k views

“Why and for what reasons”

I saw "Why and for what reasons […]" here and it seems to be present in other places. Is it pure redundancy, or does the asker expect an anwer in two parts ("why" and "for what reasons")? If it is ...
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3answers
6k views

What’s the meaning of “if that” at the end of a sentence?

I find it often after a number. What does it mean and what is that? It’d be nice if you could help me. (from Google search) Some books that are more than 100 years old still won't sell for more ...
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1answer
829 views

Looking for word/expression/idiom that describes “difficult to describe driving directions”

On lives in a part of town which has new roads most cab drivers don't know. In effect, one needs to direct the driver to the part of town, instead of just saying "take me to street X that intersects ...
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1answer
2k views

Reveling in the past

Can the phrase "reveling in the past" also mean "to live in the past"? Also, is it spelled "reveling" or "revelling" as the online Merriam-Webster dictionary shows it both ways?
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1answer
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How far back in time does “recent past” mean in the following sentence when applying for law enforcement? [closed]

How far back in time does "recent past" mean in the following sentence when applied to law enforcement? Have you used Marijuana or any illicit narcotics within the recent past?
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3answers
5k views

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 ...
6
votes
8answers
3k views

What is a word or expression to describe anxiety about the passing of time?

What is a word or expression to describe a feeling of anxiety about the passing of time? I am not referring to boredom which refers to not having anything to do or being dissatisfied with what I'm ...
4
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1answer
21k views

Meaning of “rolling stone”

In the song Papa Was a Rollin' Stone, what does rolling stone mean?
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2answers
143k views

What does “Many, many happy returns of the day” mean in context of a birthday?

Today I saw a birthday card which says: Many, many happy returns of the day. Can you help me understand what it means?
9
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12answers
6k views

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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6answers
5k views

Origin of “hashing out plans”

What is the origin of the expression hashing out plans? I can't find a definition when googling for: definition "to hash out plans" definition "hash out plans" definition "hashing out plans"
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3answers
10k views

Origins and meaning of “can you not”

What is the origin and meaning of the phrase can you not? To my ear, it has an archaic tone, but searches yield entries in the urban dictionary, along with one quote from Sense and Sensibility. Its ...
2
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3answers
5k views

“Forbidden to” vs “Forbidden from”?

Which sounds better (and where do you live?) I am American, and I think "forbidden from" sounds better, although both "forbidden to" and "forbidden from" are considered standard usage. "The banks ...
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0answers
341 views

origin and uses of expression “teach one's grandmother how to suck eggs” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Etymology of 'teaching grandma to suck eggs'? I found out about this expression that puzzles me. What is the origin and uses of the expression "teach one's ...
4
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1answer
1k views

What is the meaning of “limpin' to the barn”?

I was watching an episode of Family Guy and came across this expression: Peter Griffin: Now stay tuned for whatever FOX is limpin' to the barn with. (Emphasis added) It was said at the end of ...
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8answers
713 views

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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5answers
5k views

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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1answer
110 views

The condition for saying “You’re the door on the right.” etc. and its construction

This question is a spin-off from “Is you’re the door on the right. grammatically correct?” . After the original question, some ideas came to me, about its conditions and construction. I opened this ...
3
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1answer
896 views

Can we use “what the heck” in formal contexts to denote a more friendly environment?

I see in many movies bad words are censored or simply replaced by a beep sound. But the expression what the heck is not censored and you can hear it clearly. You can also see that this expression is ...
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5answers
2k views

Why prefix a request with “I'm going to have to ask you…”

Say you are in a nice restaurant and, at the table next you, a gentleman lights up the most offensive cigar you ever smelled. You mention it to the manager and then the manager goes up to the ...
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3answers
2k views

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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5answers
161k views

Origin and meaning of “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”

I'm having trouble understanding the rationale behind the meaning of an American English phrase of which I just became aware. That phrase is: You catch more flies with honey than you do with ...
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3answers
1k views

“Agreed” or “agreed to”

Should agreed or agreed to be used in the example below? The member countries agreed the bailout package for the sovereign. NATO will enforce the sanctions agreed in May. The member ...
0
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2answers
312 views

What’s the meaning of ‘wipe slime from his mother’s boots’?

I’m afraid this question might turn out to be stupid, but I’ll give it a try. I’d like to know if it’s a set phrase and its meaning. ”My mother didn’t have a heart, Kreacher,” Sirius snapped. “She ...
0
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1answer
100 views

’He was off’ vs. ‘He started’ (in terms of their effect in story telling)

I’m feeling something more energetic from ‘off’ than from ‘start’ because of its shortness and pronunciation, but I don’t know for sure what effect ‘be off’ has in story telling. Is it exactly same as ...
2
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2answers
646 views

Can I say “medium-term”, as with the adjectives “short-term” and “long-term”? Do they need prepositions?

I would like to use an adjective to express something in between the two adjectives short-term and long-term. Does medium-term make sense here? What is the adjective I can use? What preposition, if ...
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3answers
2k views

Is describing someone as “higher-educated” awkward?

I’m updating my résumé and would like to convey in a condensed manner the fact that I have a Masters degree in a particular branch of the humanities (politics and society of the Middle East, but ...
2
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2answers
4k views

The expression “Pitch a loaf”

I would like to know where the expression "pitch a loaf" came from, what its origin is, and if people really use it nowadays. I heard it in a movie, and I believe it means to go to the bathroom, by ...
2
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1answer
325 views

Is there a name for this kind of phrase? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a name for inverting word order to accomplish a different meaning? "Some champagne for my real friends, some real pain for my sham friends." Is there any one ...
1
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2answers
219 views

Is ‘smaller-bore’ proposal (or plan) an ordinary expression?

I found the expression (Obama needs to present the Congress) smaller-bore job proposal in the August 22 article of Washington Times written by Chris Cillizza under the title Economy has Obama facing ...
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6answers
10k views

Difference between “meant to” and “supposed to”

Those two expressions have close meaning: He is not meant to do this He is not supposed to do this What is the difference between them, and when I should use one or the other?
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6answers
6k views

Alternatives to “kick your a**” [closed]

I would like to have an alternative phrase that is equivalent to kick your ass, but without using ass. What other words can I use instead? Some friends suggested kick your bacon (but I am not sure if ...
4
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3answers
979 views

What does ‘alpha’ mean in the phrase, “A plea came for the President to be more alpha.”

I find the articles of New York Times’ columnist, Maureen Dowd, a treasure house of English expressions unfamiliar to non-native English learners. It’s stud with knotty expressions and new words to ...
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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 ...
4
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2answers
571 views

Use of “mugging up” for hobby

I have heard of the expression mugging up to mean study intensively as before an exam, but would like to know if it can also be used to investigate a hobby. For example, could I use something like: ...
3
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7answers
984 views

Expression for advantages of solution being disadvantages of alternatives

Is there some expression for situations where you can conclude that a solution's advantages are the same as the disadvantages of alternative solutions?
5
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3answers
2k views

Connotation of “intestinal fortitude”

I have heard the expression intestinal fortitude to mean courage or endurance to achieve something. Is there a connotation for stubbornness in this expression?
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1answer
3k views

“tailored towards” or “tailored to”?

Which one would you prefer, in particular in combination with "the needs"? Google finds a lot more for "tailored to" (30 millions) than for "tailored towards" (only 600 thousands).
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6answers
4k views

Common antonyms to “happy ending”?

I know you may specify to something like tragic, open end to describe actually what the end is like. But do English critics/reviewer in movie magazines use a common term for movies with bad/evil ...
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3answers
9k views

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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12answers
26k views

Proverb or expression for a situation with two choices, both leading to a different kind of trouble

I'm searching for a proverb or expression that describes a situation which has two choices or two ways out (that is, somewhat of a forced choice) where both lead to some kind of trouble (but not the ...
2
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1answer
520 views

Executing a plan

To execute a plan is to carry it out. However, isn't this wording strange? Why doesn't executing a plan mean the same thing as shooting it down?