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

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“Reply to this mail is _not_ necessary” - Can this be considered negative in any way?

A year back a person had once told me that he doesn't want to have any conversation with me at the moment. Today I sent him a kind of apology mail and added the sentence (in tile of this thread) at ...
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2answers
3k views

Who coined the phrase “trickle-down government” and what does it mean?

“Trickle-down government” or “trickledown government” seems to be one of Mitt Romney’s more memorable lines from the October 3, 2012 political debate between the Republican presidential candidate and ...
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1answer
4k views

What is the origin of the dated British expression “I say!”

It doesn't appear that this expression was a minced oath or something along those lines. Was it shortened from a longer phrase, or did it just enter the vernacular as is (similar to "listen up" or "...
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1answer
541 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 blue-...
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1answer
4k views

Origin of the expression “his/her face is a map of the world”

What is the origin of the expression "his/her face is a map of the world"? Bonus points to a literary origin (as in, the first written usage of the phrase in the English language). The phrase is ...
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5answers
840 views

Equivalent of “false alarm” in a positive context

Is there an equivalent for "false alarm" in a positive context? For example imagine everybody is waiting for a miracle to happen, after a while someone says "hey! the miracle happened" and then ...
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2answers
5k views

“Bust a cap” meaning and derivation

I've always believed that the phrase "bust a cap in yo ass" was AAVE for: To shoot an individual with a gun. Whilst trying to figure out what the cap actually meant, I ran into this alternate ...
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6answers
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Does the washing up fairy exist outside of Australia? [closed]

Just to clarify, I'm not talking about the Lush product of the same name. In Australia, the washing up fairy is a mythical creature. People leave their dishes unwashed overnight, and lo and behold, ...
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2answers
1k views

What is the meaning of “the dogs live in clover”?

I was reading an issue of Atlantic Monthly from 1919 and encountered the following paragraph: There is no further context, as these are (according to the article) translated conversations and ...
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3answers
6k views

Why is it “make sure that” (no 'it') but “make it so” (with 'it')?

Once again, y'all can blame my boss. Well, him or Captain Picard. He (my boss, not Picard) has the annoying habit of saying "Make it sure that", instead of "Make sure that". No matter how many times I ...
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3answers
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Is there a female equivalent for “my good sir”?

Is there a quaint-sounding/archaic dual to address women a la "[my] [good] sir" jovially in casual conversation? I can't come up with an expression that doesn't sound like a moderately intense term ...
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1answer
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Can “this time around” and “all the time” be compatible?

I was a bit puzzled to read the following sentence in the article titled “Obama showering Ohio with attention and money” in September 26 Washington Post: “It goes without saying that, every four ...
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1answer
226 views

Usage of “eggheads and fatheads” in a sentence

Recently I came across this expression "eggheads and fatheads". I know the individual meanings of both the words. In which context should I use these two words together?
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6answers
2k views

The usage of “the same…as…”

Which one of the following two sentences is more correct? We use the same space as is specified in Chapter 1. We use the same space as specified in Chapter 1.
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7answers
12k views

Is there an equivalent of the spanish “que hueva” slang expression in English to denote that you feel lazy about doing something?

In Spanish slang, particularly in the west, the expressions "que hueva" or "me da hueva" are used, respectively, to convey that you are lazy about doing something. The context might be as follows: A: ...
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6answers
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Phrase to say that something which happened twice already is likely to happen again

In French, there is the expression "jamais deux sans trois" (literally: "never twice without a third [time]"). We use it to express that something which has already happened twice is likely to happen ...
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2answers
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expression “something beyond your kin” [closed]

I heard the expression "something is beyond your kin", see an example: Woman, you're playing with forces beyond your kin. I can't find a way to fit any of the entries of the definition of 'kin' ...
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2answers
4k views

what phrase to use to convey the idea of “my first attempt”

I had tried photography as serious hobby for the first time and I have made an album. I want to expresses the idea to the world that this is my first attempt. Few things come to my mind like "my first ...
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2answers
145 views

Which sounds better: “What’s in ――” or “What’s on――”?

I’m making the title of a web page with classifieds, and I’d like to name it either “What’s in (town name)” or “What’s on (town name)”. Which one sounds better for a town classified web page? Right ...
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2answers
275 views

Rationale for expression “Fixer-upper”

I have encountered the expression fixer-upper: A fixer-upper is a real-estate property that will require maintenance work (redecoration, reconstruction or redesign) though it usually can be ...
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10answers
32k views

Is there a word to describe someone who often inaccurately uses words?

Or a word to describe the act of inaccurately using complicated or unusual words (often in an attempt to sound more intelligent)? I considered 'bombastic' but it doesn't have that quality of ...
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1answer
476 views

Implication(s) of “Though you wouldn't think it”

(This question arose because on some other SE many of us tried to translate this expression. It turns out it was not so easy, and it would certainly help if we had a better grasp on it.) I believe ...
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2answers
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Origin of “pull your socks up”?

I was pulling my socks up this morning, in the literal sense of the term, when I started to wonder about why pull your socks up came to mean what it does:- to make an effort to improve your work ...
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3answers
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What is the meaning of the phrase “moving the needle”?

Here is the context: The network has geographically distributed upload endpoints, featuring end-to-end encryption as well as patent-pending routing and optimization technology, letting Box process ...
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2answers
208 views

Why the discrepancy between number and case in (some) British English?

By chance, I've heard a lot of Midlands English in the last few weeks, and have noticed this sort of disconnect: "It cost me five pound" (rather than 'pounds'); "The ball rolled ten foot" (rather than ...
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4answers
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What is the difference between “here we go” and “there we go”?

As a non-native speaker, I cannot grasp any difference between the expressions "here we go" and "there we go": both expressions seem to underline an event that is going to happen immediately. Is ...
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3answers
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“Strikes me a great deal” in a negative way

Is it correct to use "Strikes me a great deal to connotes a negative feeling? The rude behavior of the officer struck me a great deal. I didn't expect this from a professional person.
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2answers
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Expression for “someone who's clueless of their surroundings”?

What is an expression or saying you could use to describe someone that is totally clueless of their surroundings?
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2answers
794 views

Is there a name for this method of writing that includes pictograms?

I've seen people write (usually in a humorous way) a 'code-like' message where parts of words are replaced with a pictogram that sounds like that word-part. E.G.: (eyeball) (tin can)(rope knot) ...
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4answers
9k views

Origin of “they don't know they're born”?

Practising today for my forthcoming role as radgie gadgie, I was having a little rant about modern youth: "they don't know they're born!" This seems to me rather a strange phrase to describe someone ...
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6answers
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What metaphor do countries that don't play baseball use for intercourse?

Related question: In sex talk, how many bases are there and what do they all mean? There are lots of English-speaking (or English-learning) countries where baseball simply isn't played much if at ...
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2answers
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Is “auditory aid” correct when talking about helping someone through audio signals?

I'm not talking about the concept of a "hearing aid" (those little things you put in your ears). I'm talking about sounds like the ones emitted by traffic lights, letting us know they've turned green....
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1answer
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“We strongly advise you to enjoy this book before turning to the Introduction”

This was part of General Introduction (it's right before the Introduction) of some Wordsworth Classics series, We strongly advise you to enjoy this book before turning to the Introduction. ...
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5answers
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Using “to my mind”

English is not my native language. I am curious about the usage of "to my mind". Is it a British English phrase? Is it used in American English? Is it formal/informal? I've found an interesting ...
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1answer
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“Pain in the neck” and similar expressions [closed]

Are there any other expressions equivalent in meaning to "pain in the neck" that mention another part of the body (e.g, "pain in the ass")? How would you rate each of those expressions (including the ...
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2answers
31k views

Me too or I as well [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it correct to use “me too” and “I too”? Which one is correct to use Me too or I as well? For example - Suppose my friend says I want to go there ...
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2answers
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Is “Better never than late” the saying as popular as “Better late than never”?

There was the following sentence in Maureen Dowd’s column in New York Times (September 1): We all know Republicans prefer riches-to-riches sagas, and rounding up immigrants, if the parasitic ...
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8answers
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Expression for a choice which isn't really one

What would be a nice short expression to describe a choice which isn't really one, in that all of its possible outcomes are ultimately equivalent despite being presented as different? My first ...
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2answers
207 views

Old (professional) Adam

Again, from Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: [George Smiley] had schooled himself to admit that in those last wretched months of Control's career, when disasters followed one another with ...
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2answers
158 views

“Losing the semester” [closed]

Is the following expression common among native speakers: If you don't enroll now, there is a chance of losing the semester. Any better alternative?
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1answer
109 views

Express a phrase as compound [closed]

I need to express this phrase as a short compound to be used as programming variable name (this phrase is in the context of a software user interface): the block showing current chatters I have ...
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3answers
2k views

“For <xxx> sake” - which variant is more common?

There are a lot of variations of this phrase, most notably including "for God's sake" "for Heaven's sake" "for Jesus sake" "for Pete's sake" Which of those are most commonly used in modern English?...
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3answers
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What does “Safety net in the coffin” mean?

There was the phrase “the safety net in the coffin” in reference to Mr. Paul Ryan, running mate of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in Maureen Dowd’s article, titled “Cruel conservatives ...
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What does the cause for your feeling like “downing a quart of Red Bull” mean?

Again in the Time article (June 29),“Roberts Rules: What the Health Care decision means for the country” that many of my familiar ‘teachers’ criticized the style of writing as too pretentious and the ...
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3answers
7k views

How do I express “hope you become less busy” [closed]

I have a friend who works at law firm. I suggested to him to have dinner with my family this weekend but he told me that he just got staffed on an new thing that will have him working through the ...
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1answer
814 views

What is the meaning of “I don't need no stinking counters”?

The context is this video at timeline 43:26 seconds . That's too fancy for me. I don't need no stinking counters. What does this mean? Is it an American or British expression?
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1answer
495 views

Why is the “round figure” of a person associated with being “comforting”? [closed]

Example: Miss Beam was all that I had expected middle-aged, authoritative, kindly, and understanding. Her hair was beginning to turn grey, and her round figure was likely to be comforting for a ...
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2answers
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What does ‘It’s one thing to dance like Fred Astaire, but Ginger Rogers did it backwards’ mean as a metaphor to John Roberts' ruling?

There was the following sentence in June 29 issue of Time magazine titled “Roberts Rules: What the health care decision means for the country” dealing with Chief Justice of Supreme Court, John Roberts’...
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2answers
103 views

“fix me that account” or “fix that account for me”

Can we say "Did you fix me that account?" Or should it be "Did you fix that account for me?" assuming something is wrong with the account. Account represents a computer based system user id.
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1answer
2k views

“Blow your heads off ” or “blow your head off ”

Is it heads or head? Google told me both are okay. What do you think? I will blow your head[s] off if you don't tell me.