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

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Origin of the term “fat chance”

The phrase "fat chance" can be used as a way of sarcastically describing the impossibility of something, but where did it originate from? I've googled it several times, and it always comes up with the ...
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3answers
2k views

Having some kind of grit

What does the expression, "You have got some kind of grit," mean? Is it sarcastic, like being a bit crazy?
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2answers
4k views

“In this year” versus “this year”

"In this year": Can anyone argue that the preposition in is unnecessary here, maybe even a hypercorrection? (Are there any situations where in is necessary?) Edits Some examples: How many days are ...
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2answers
388 views

Is the phrase “Traffic Revision” generally used to describe temporary or permanent changes of traffic flow?

When I first moved to Washington state, I would see mystifying traffic warning signs that would announce "Traffic Revision Ahead" as I was driving and then be in the midst of roadwork and lane changes ...
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4answers
1k views

Why is “head over heels” used as if it were exceptional rather than commonplace?

Most people spend part of each day standing, and if they have normal anatomy their heads are over their heels in this position. Even sitting or lying down, the head is higher than the heels (if not ...
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11answers
9k views

Other expression for “Off the top of my head”

What are some other expressions for: "Off the top of my head" I seem to say this very often, it would be nice to be able to spice things up.
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1answer
737 views

Difference between “how you want” and “how you will”

Is there any difference in meaning betweeen these two? Is one a valid grammar construct and the other not?
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4answers
7k views

More common expression for “move your bowels”

Move your bowels may be too polite and sounds strained, and merely saying shit sounds offensive. What do native English speakers say then when you need to move your bowels, especially when a parent ...
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5answers
325 views

How would you say “written for a Latin population”?

I want to say that the author wrote for the Latin people (common folk of 1200 in Italy) as his main audience. That is, for the wide audience of general populace and not just for the scholars. My ...
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1answer
603 views

Why does one come to a “sticky end”?

I was reading this question here, and thinking, the kitten will come to a sticky end. But why is a ghastly but non-specific fate referred to as a sticky end? This source here suggests that blood is ...
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6answers
11k views

Where does the phrase “get crackin'” come from?

"There's a lot of work to be done, so we'd better get crackin'" I've often used this expression, but I have no idea what we might have been cracking, originally? Any insight?
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3answers
370 views

Look and 'feel' of a web page/site/app [closed]

Although used a lot, the phrase 'Look and feel' of a web application's assets seems a little inaccurate. Is it not better to change this common phrasing to 'look and character' because we really ...
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11answers
11k views

What on Earth does “cheap at half the price” mean?

I hear this all the time, "cheap at half the price", to indicate that something is cheap (mostly in an ironic sense, but often used literally), but it makes no sense to me. Of course, if something ...
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6answers
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In special cases, can you use “one such family are” vs. “one such family is”? [duplicate]

Is it correct to say "one such family are..." as opposed to "one such family is..." in some circumstances? Say, for instance, as used in this article on gene families: [...] One such family are ...
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4answers
5k views

Best source for origins of expressions and idioms? [closed]

I'm often interested in the origins of English phrases, and I know that I can find answers by googling, and I can find good answers by asking here. How can I find good answers myself? Are there any ...
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4answers
90k views

Which is correct, “buck naked” or “butt naked”?

"Butt naked" or "buck naked" both refer to completely naked, or do they? Where the phrase comes from I have no idea but that would be of interest. This is a phrase I am too afraid to google and ...
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1answer
6k views

What is the meaning of “I'm a wiener”?

I have scoured out dictionaries searching for the word wiener without success. As you can notice I am not a native speaker. I usually see the this phrase as a demeaning joke on animations when some ...
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10answers
1k views

Idiom for restlessness

A Chinese colleague just told me of a Chinese idiom for anxiousness or restlessness. They will often refer to someone who is overly restless as an ant standing on a heated pot. I'm pretty sure there ...
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2answers
3k views

What does “by and by” mean?

There are words in the chorus of the "Preacher and the Slave" song by Joe Hill: You will eat, by and by, In that glorious land above the sky; Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky ...
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2answers
10k views

How to use “for some reason” in a sentence?

Some examples (right or wrong, I do not know) He went to the store--for some reason. He went to the store, for some reason. For some reason, she went to the store. A grammatical explanation as to ...
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3answers
247 views

Meaning of “Make what's-her-name feel special this Mother's Day.”

Especially, the "what's-her-name" part.
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3answers
9k views

Meaning of “To all whom these presents come, greetings”

You see this a lot on formal government and institutional documents such as declarations and diplomas. What, exactly, is being said?
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3answers
270 views

“excursion over city” vs “excursion around city”

Is there any difference in phrases usage? Which one is better for title of a story? The story is about tourists.
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3answers
2k views

What does “10 years sober” mean?

Here is the full sentence: You’re from Orinda, your father’s in commercial real estate and your mother’s 10 years sober.
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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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3answers
52k views

“I'm home” or “I'm at home”

The second form looks more correct to me, but the first expression is present in several titles of movies and songs. Which form is preferable?
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2answers
315 views

Is “wait up!” considered correct English?

I thought if you wanted someone to wait for you, you would say, "wait for me". However, I've heard/seen a lot of people speak/write "wait up" instead. Is "wait up" correct English?
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9answers
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Is there a shorter alternative for “Enjoy your meal”?

The French have "Bon appetit". In Belgium and the Netherlands we have "Smakelijk". Is there a short way to wish someone a good meal in English?
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1answer
36k views

“To have a dinner” vs “to have dinner”: which one is correct?

Does one need to use the article in this case?
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5answers
16k views

“Bob's your uncle” … no he's not!

What is the origin of the phrase "Bob's your uncle"? Is it used internationally or is this just a term used in the UK? I have often heard an extension of this phrase: "Bob's your uncle and Fanny's ...
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1answer
3k views

Expressions in Tim Minchin's “Storm”

Can you help me with these expressions from Tim Minchin's Storm? There will be some obscenities—sorry for those; I am just interested in their meaning. "I confess a pigeonhole starts to form" [1:10] ...
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5answers
34k 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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3answers
894 views

Why are not all grains called “grains”?

In most languages, the word used for a single caryopsis seed is a good equivalent of grain — it is not only the translation for this kind of seeds, but also the translation for other meanings of the ...
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3answers
5k views

How to introduce someone

If I have to introduce someone in a meeting what should I say? I would like to introduce X who has joined us from Y company. I like to introduce X who is joining us from Y company.
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643 views

What is an “Open loop”?

In "Getting Things Done", David Allen refers to "Open Loops", meaning things that are incomplete. Q: What past reference to an "Open loop" is he alluding to? Is that phrase "Open Loop" something ...
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3answers
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Plural of “A good night's sleep”

Is it possible to have a plural of "A good night's sleep"? Would "Some good nights' sleep" be correct? Edit: I'm thinking specifically in the sentence: "I'm looking forward to a good night's sleep" ...
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6answers
15k views

Which saying is correct?

I've been having a small argument with a family member. She insists "It's no skin off my teeth" is the correct saying, though I've only heard "It's no skin off my nose" before. Which saying is more ...
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9answers
7k views

Why do we “get cold feet”?

A sudden loss of nerve when embarked on a venture is called cold feet. Does anyone know why that should be? An etymology is suggested at englishdaily626. If your 'feet' are 'cold', you can't walk ...
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4answers
201 views

“No more dirty dishes shall meet the eye.”

My flatmates frequently make a huge mess in our kitchen. I created a motivational poster to hang in our kitchen with a picture of Optimus Prime and the phrase: "Optimus Prime says: No more dirty ...
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2answers
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What is the correct usage of “those”?

I often hear people describe a specific subset of a larger set as "those things that are ________." Is this correct English? I mean, you could just say "the things that are ________." Something ...
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3answers
4k views

Meaning of “it's long past time to …”

Saw a lot of such sentences (examples below). What does the "it's long past time to..." mean? Example: It's long past time to ditch the use of the ubiquitous bulleted-list templates found in both ...
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2answers
597 views

“Time settles everything”

Is this a common phrase? A google search found only 6 pages using this exact phrase. What do you think of this phrase? What about "time solves everything?"
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2answers
7k views

What is meant by the phrase “which is to say”?

When someone says ... X which is to say Y ... is there an implication that X is mistaken or false? In this construction is Y generally the opposite of X? Some random examples from the NY ...
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5answers
2k views

Do you have English counterpart to “To ask a question is a shame of a moment. Not to ask the question is a shame for whole life”?

I doubt whether my question is worth asking or being answered every time I’m posting a question, and ask myself, “Doesn’t it look too naive or primitive a question?” However, I keep posting questions ...
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2answers
715 views

A “human cue tip”?

I am watching the excellent documentary "Nobelity" by Turk Pipkin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobelity http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turk_Pipkin 4 minutes into the movie, there is a bit that I ...
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5answers
994 views

Is it possible to say “as you can”?

Is it possible to say that "someone does something as he or she can" to express that he or she is doing it with full enthusiasm or is this just badly translated German? Edit: Unusual language ...
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3answers
8k views

What's the origin of the phrase “around the horn”?

Yesterday as we were sitting in traffic, my husband said he would have gone "around the horn" had he known traffic was so bad, meaning to take a longer way. What is the derivation of this phrase?
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2answers
39k views

What is the meaning of “you bet!”?

I often hear the term "you bet!". What does it mean?
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8answers
30k views

What are the metaphorical ways to say that someone has died? [closed]

What are the metaphorical ways to say that someone has died? For example "He has gone to the far country where he will be happy for ages". P.S. There is this question, but it focuses on mentioning ...
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2answers
2k views

Meaning of “steady-as-she-goes financial package”

I was reading this article and I'm not sure about the meaning of this sentence: Despite rise in inflation and borrowing, chancellor to court medium earners in 'steady-as-she-goes' financial ...