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

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Proverb or expression for someone taking on too much

What is an appropriate proverb or expression that means one has: Taken on too many tasks Set out to do something that one isn't qualified to do and hence probably will fail Set out to do something ...
2
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3answers
277 views

Usage of “break off one's plans”

I have heard the expression break off one's plans in the context of breaking off one's holidays due to an emergency. He had to break off his holidays to come back for the meeting. What are other ...
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4answers
823 views

Meaning of “rallying call”

I searched for an English translation of the German term Durchhalteparole, meaning to appeal to a group of followers to hold out (especially in politics), but having the connotation of being a ...
2
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1answer
523 views

Expression “if and when something happens”

What is the level of formality in the expression “if and when” while referring to a possible happening? Googling “if and when X happen” gives me all sorts of entries, some formal some clearly ...
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3answers
263 views

Is ‘Political gold’ a cliché or just a compound noun?

I found the word, ‘political gold’ in the following sentence of the article of Boston News (August 13) titled “Romney sees gain in ‘Corporations are people’ remark.” “Romney's response that ...
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6answers
39k views

Shorter alternatives to “staying up-to-date”

Is this kind of bad foreign English or it would be correct to say "to keep yourself up-to-date"/"informed" when subscribing, e.g., a twitter or a RSS feed? Is there a single verb/adjective/shorter ...
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10answers
5k views

Is there an expression for creating something from start to finish (e.g. grain to bread)

Maybe this is not really the right place to ask this, I hope I will not be penalized for asking this. I am a webdeveloper, and I do most of the stuff myself, from the basic idea, till the final ...
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1answer
747 views

“pop bottles all night” - slang or valid term?

I know the meaning of "pop bottles all night" - drink all night long. My question is - is this valid term, or slang invented by the person who wrote the song?
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2answers
4k views

What does the phrase “putting them in time out” mean?

I have a sentence, but there is an expression I can't understand. Could someone explain it to me? Here it is: "You should treat your employees like adults instead of putting them in time out like ...
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4answers
2k views

What is the name of this figure of speech?

I've been reading Nevil Shute books recently, and they are set in late-1940s Britain. As a consequence, the characters are always using expressions such as "frightfully good", "terribly good" and ...
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2answers
524 views

What is the origin of “oh noodles!”

Noodles are tasty. I like them, but why are they also used as an exclamation of dismay in the following? Oh Noodles!
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4answers
35k views

Meaning of “catch you on the flip side”

I received an email from a coworker, and we're not that friendly. Actually, we're not friends at all, just two good colleagues. In his email, he wrote as his last sentence Catch you on the flip ...
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2answers
1k views

What does “bad-ass wives” exactly mean? Why did “bad-ass” come to mean “tough and aggressive”?

Time magazine carries the list of ‘Top 10 Bad-ass wives’ (in the world, or in history) in its July 21 issue with the lead copy: When a comedian tried to throw a pie in her husband's face, Wendi ...
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3answers
978 views

Meaning of “we leave at eight thirty for nine”

In the expression we leave at eight thirty for nine, what time is the departure going to be?
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3answers
1k views

Word for “a sudden death”

A neighbour of mine died last week a moment after reaching his climax during the sexual intercourse with his young partner. He was 79 years old. Is there any available English word to describe his ...
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3answers
3k views

“Feel it in my bones”

Does "Feel it in my bones" sound natural? I have never seen or heard any native speakers use something like that, except in a subtitle of a movie I watched long ago. What are other phrases, or common ...
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2answers
464 views

What is a “mind-share leader”? [closed]

My limited understanding is that it applies to a company that comes first when people think about a particular topic. Could I say Microsoft is a mind-share leader for Operating Systems? The ...
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2answers
4k views

Why does ‘you’re on’ mean ‘I agree’?

One dictionary says ‘you’re on’ is used tell someone that you accept a bet or an invitation to compete against them. Then why does it use ‘you’ instead of ‘I’? What’s the ‘on’? In terms of the ...
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2answers
4k views

Where does the phrase “possession is ( nine points | nine-tenths ) of the law” come from?

I've seen dozens of arguments for the correctness and/or precedence of one version over the other, but have not come across compelling sources or well-documented explanations for either. Does anyone ...
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1answer
4k views

“beef cacky” and “cheese cacky” as physical descriptions

Can "beef cacky" or "cheese cacky" be used to describe the physique of a person? I don't know where does this come from, but I found a reference here: ...
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3answers
5k views

Origins of the phrase “You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows”?

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. This phrase is famously used in Subterranean Homesick Blues by Bob Dylan. The metaphor itself is so simple and powerful I'm sure it ...
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1answer
581 views

Is ‘eclectic bunch’ trendy instead of simply saying ‘a group of different types of constituents'?

I found the words ‘eclectic bunch’ in the following sentence of a New York Times (July 29, 2011) article reporting increase in foraging in city parks, which is titled ‘Enjoy Park Greenery, City Says, ...
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1answer
6k views

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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2answers
2k views

What’s the meaning of “I don’t care…” as a reply to a poor joke?

Is he saying he doesn’t like the playful attitude? Or is he cynically referring to part of the joke? I’m reading a Harry Potter book and found ‘I don’t care …’ in a scene. For the moment, I have ...
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4answers
1k views

What is the origin of the expression “brassed off”?

Brass bands were being discussed today which naturally led to someone claiming to be brassed off about something, meaning disgruntled or annoyed. Does anyone know the origin of this expression? ...
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1answer
2k views

“Hand over hand” and “hand over fist”

The expressions "hand over hand" and "hand over fist" seem to be related. Apparently "hand over hand" was a British term for the act of moving quickly up a rope or hoisting a sail, which was a matter ...
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1answer
574 views

Expression “shockingly enough”

Is the expression shockingly enough an understatement? I've heard of oddly enough and took it to mean to some extent, it's odd, but the combination of shockingly and enough sounds like you are ...
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8answers
14k views

History of “X is dead. Long live X”

What is the history of "X is dead. Long live X"? For example, Location is dead. Long live Location. JavaScript is dead. Long live JavaScript. I feel like I'm missing out on a joke.
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3answers
38k views

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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4answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “Set us up the [noun]”?

Why would someone frequently say "Someone set us up the (thing)" when referring to things done to or for them. For example: "Someone set us up the breakfast." "Someone set us up the ...
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6answers
2k views

Why “horseback riding” and not simply “horse riding”?

As a German horse riding seems to be to the point. Why is it horseback riding in English? Isn't it obvious that you ride on the back of the horse? Is there a difference between British and American ...
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6answers
38k views

What is meant by “don't piss on my boots and tell me it's raining”?

I have heard a couple of times recently the phrase "don't piss on my boots and tell me it's raining", usually in the context of a heated argument so I've hesitated to ask speaker what exactly he meant ...
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2answers
480 views

Where does the term “make sure” come from?

I was reading the Mac OS X Lion upgrade page, and it said "make sure" all over the place. It struck me as odd. Where does the term "make sure" come from? What are you making to be sure? Yourself? ...
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4answers
443 views

What does 'a beautifully-proportioned room' mean?

“Oh I would never dream of assuming I know all Hogwarts’ secrets, Igor,” said Dumbledore amicably. “Only this morning, for instance, I took a wrong turning on the way to the bathroom and found ...
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3answers
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What does “creeping on one's turf” mean?

When you check in on foursquare to a place whose mayor is your friend, your check-in message is "Your friend X is the mayor here (and you're creeping on their turf)." What does this expression mean? ...
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1answer
670 views

What is the meaning of a parenthetic ‘that one’ in a sentence?

“It is too ‘eavy, all zis ‘Ogwarts food,” they heard her saying grumpily as they left the Great Hall behind her one evening. “I will not fit into my dress robes!” “Oooh there’s a tragedy,” ...
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2answers
926 views

How does “very much” fit in with “thank you very much”?

I would never say, "I am sorry very much" or "You're welcome very much", why is it that it fits well with "Thank You"?
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4answers
636 views

English expression for “ascribing negative intentions to someone”

There's a French expression that means "ascribing negative intentions to someone with no factual base" (prêter des intentions). It's practical, as the English sentence "stop ascribing negative ...
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2answers
2k views

“I can only hope to X”

When someone says "I can only hope to X", what does she mean? How is it different from the simpler expression "I hope to X"? Would it be natural to use "I can only hope to" in the following case? ...
2
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2answers
8k views

What does the phrase “the fine point” mean?

I heard about this sentence, "How to do it well? The fine point: ...." What does 'the fine point' mean in this context?
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3answers
12k views

How can I answer the question “What is the word, bird?” [closed]

I'm often asked a question "What is the word, bird?" by a manager of mine. I'm not sure what does it mean but I think it means "What's your last status update?" and I answer like I do have to do 1, 2, ...
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2answers
2k views

What Exactly is Meant by “X Puts Y to Shame?”

In the movie Camelot, Lancelot told Guenevere that "your face has a luster, that puts gold to shame." What does "put to shame" mean in this context?
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2answers
91 views

Expression “counterprogramming” also for social events?

Would it be adequate to use the term "counterprogramming" also for non-TV events like counterprogramming a party at the same time of another one? For example: I am sorry I didn't check the date ...
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5answers
570 views

What's the origin of the term “call” in card games?

What is the origin of the term "to call" in card games like poker? I can understand that one can "raise" the bet, but why does one want to say "call" to match a bet or match a raise? How would that ...
3
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4answers
1k views

Pioneers Often Die with Arrows in their Backs

What's the meaning of Pioneers Often Die with Arrows in their Backs I mean i can roughly gauge it to be the first to move dies, but why arrows in the backs ?
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2answers
325 views

Expression for “cold headhunting”

Is there an expression for the case when someone receives an email from a recruiter with whom he had no previous contact? I am looking for a term other than headhunting, like salesman knocking on cold ...
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4answers
2k views

What does “you and the rest of the world” mean?

I sometimes see ‘you and …’ in English, for example “you and the other nine”, “You and your big mouth!”. This makes me sensitive to you and something. “Okay,” said Harry slowly. “But … are you ...
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6answers
17k views

“By the way” in formal writing

Can I say "By the way" in an official document or professional meeting and other important/formal times? I never saw any film which would include these words.
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5answers
790 views

“I like living by ocean” , “I like living by the ocean” or “I like living by the sea”?

Which is the correct sentence: "I like living by ocean" , "I like living by the ocean" or "I like living by the sea"? I want to say I love ocean and I like staying nearby ocean. Update: I had been ...
4
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5answers
325 views

How could I express the idea that one person is learning the habits of other person?

I want to express the idea that one person is becoming like another person. I was thinking to use color, as in "Mr. X is getting colored in Mr. Y." Is this a common usage?