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

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“Oh, for Pete's sake!”

Just curious as to where this expression came from and when it came into being. It's one that is commonly used (among other variations, e.g. "Oh for crying out loud!"), but where does it come from ...
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5answers
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Meanings of 'killing moon' and 'killing time' in song by Echo and The Bunnymen

I was wondering what the meanings of the expressions killing moon and killing time on the song Killing moon by Echo and The Bunnymen are. Under blue moon I saw you So soon you'll take me Up in ...
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4answers
2k views

To put on the thinking cap

I found this expression: to put on the thinking cap, What does it mean and how to use?
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4answers
10k views

“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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why do we say scorching hot while scorching already means very hot?

Scorching means extremely hot. So why do we say scorching hot? Isn't it redundant to bring hot after scorching?
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Touch the blue paper

I have recently heard that phrase (touch the blue paper) from a native English speaker¹. Is it an erroneous alteration of the expression light the blue touchpaper or is it a correct² phrase in its own ...
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“To increase competitiveness in” or “to increase competitiveness on”?

Which phrase is the correct one? to increase competitiveness in the EU labor market to increase competitiveness on the EU labor market
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to give options to “if you do not mind <much?>”

Can I tell "if you do not mind ?much?"? Or how can I leave me with some freedom in taking and changing a decision?
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415 views

How to determine if a “[something] fighter” fights for or against [something]?

In freedom fighter the fighter supports freedom. In fire fighter the fighter fights fire. How do you determine when it is the first or the second case? What is the meaning of spam fighter? ...
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5answers
656 views

In what context or situation (if any) would the words “try to see me” make sense?

If there is such possible situation, please, describe it. Please don't insert any punctuation between those words and keep their order intact.
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7answers
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Is the expression “may or may not” semantically void?

I personally have a hard time accepting the use of "may or may not." To me, it seems as if "may" and "may not" effectively cancel each other out, so the semantics of the sentence in which it appears ...
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4answers
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What is the origin of “that's using your noggin”?

I find myself using the phrase "that's using your noggin" in various situations, even though English is not my native language. Most likely I picked it up watching some tv show. I understand that ...
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3answers
161 views

Is it acceptable to drop “having” in “having to do with?”

I encountered a problem having to do with the connection… vs. I encountered a problem to do with the connection… Is the second option a legitimate expression?
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4answers
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“in for a penny, in for a pound”

What does this mean? I'm English and I've never come across the meaning!
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1answer
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What is the difference between an expression and a phrase?

I'm trying to decide what tags I should be using and realized I did not know the difference between these terms.
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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
364 views

Is 'Blood libel' an established expression?

I came across the word, 'Blood libel,' apparently associated with Ms. Sarah Palin's agressive statement which was zeroed in at Democratic lowmakers in today's Washington Post. Neither Concise Oxford ...
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4answers
3k views

What does the expression 'Do the fish' mean?

I just recently heard this expression and couldn't quite figure out its meaning from the context, unless it means something like "take the bait." Is this a common expression? Is it perhaps an ...
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6answers
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Properly refer to the turn of the year

During a meeting I was explaining a problem that only occurs once year: when one year ends and new one begins. Specifically during the first few days of the new year. Unfortunately, I was lost for ...
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2answers
168 views

meaing of the expression: It’s a safeguard for the creep of subjectivity

"It’s a safeguard for the creep of subjectivity." Read more
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What does “what's the catch” mean?

It sounds like a marketing term. Does it mean "However there are some points to take note"?
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What does 'outsize character' mean?

I saw the following sentence in today's New York Times: Despite questions about their coach's outsize personality, the Jets have won three playoff games in two seasons under Rex Ryan. As the ...
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371 views

Which one is the proper alternative ? niche / field / area / domain

I'm developing software that asks user to specify a niche / field / area / domain of the document he is uploading. It can be business proposal, technical documentation, official stuff, correspondence, ...
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What is the origin of the phrase “when push comes to shove”?

"When push comes to shove" means "as a last resort" or "if absolutely necessary". Does anyone know why the phrase came to be used in this way?
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2answers
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What does “draw back a stump” mean?

What does it mean to "draw back a stump" in this sentence? "Keep touching me like that, and you'll draw back a stump."
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2answers
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Etymology of “Scantily clad”

I'm aware of the meaning of "scantily clad", the internet gives some good clues on that (Side question: Does it have erotic implications in itself?). However, what do the actual words mean ("clad" ...
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242 views

Correct term or phrase for “unidirectional gaga”

I'm not sure if such a figure of speech exists in English, and "unidirectional gaga" is certainly not correct. But which wording expresses that a person becomes dumber from having exercised/performed ...
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What does “to bleed something” mean?

In Bloomberg magazine, I saw this sentence: Rust Belt states that have bled manufacturing jobs. Does it mean they have lost the jobs or gained more jobs?
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Strong Wind(s) or High Wind(s)?

Which one is more popular? I always used strong wind, but I found high winds also used some times.
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1answer
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“Any ideas are appreciated” or “Any ideas would be appreciated”?

Lets say I'm asking a question on a popular question and answer website, and I want to close by saying that I will appreciate any submitted ideas. The first seems awkward because at the moment of ...
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“Insofar” or “in so far”

A quick search suggests that insofar is the American variant of the British in so far. I always assumed it belonged to the set of expressions like hitherto, heretofore, therefore and albeit. Is there ...
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What does “open up a vein” mean?

I found the phrase 'open up a vein of fury' in the article of today's Washington Post as shown below. The New Year's Day suicide bombing of a church that killed 21 people has opened up a vein of ...
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2answers
910 views

“Self-study” vs “self-education”

I got a book titled Self-study vocabulary practice. Can I replace self-study with self-education? Does it make sense to use self-learning in the statement of above?
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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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Meaning of “Render onto Caesar the things which are Caesar's”

Render onto Caesar the things which are Caesar's What does this sentence mean?
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1answer
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How to use “Knock [him/them] out of the water” — is this a common (if at all used) expression?

I can't seem to find much about this expression online, and its usage eludes me somewhat. I'm guessing that it's supposed to mean that someone is being overcome by another party, a winner in a ...
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3answers
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What does the phrase “I have but one claim to fame” mean?

I would appreciate if someone could explain the meaning of the phrase "I have but one claim to fame". I understand every separate word, but the meaning of the whole phrase is fairly obscure to me, as ...
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Why do we say Undisclosed or Non-Disclosure instead of Closed or Closure

According to Wiktionary, disclosure's etymology comes from Latin dis-+clausus, literally away+enclosed. I wonder why do the term closed is not in common use as the term undisclosed. Not Not True is ...
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Use of “parley” meaning to convert?

I sometimes use the word "parley" as a verb effectively meaning "to convert from one language or system to another". Such as Stargate parleys the Egyptian deities into villainous star-faring ...
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5answers
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How to use “you know”

For a non-native speaker like me, I am always wondering how to use you know correctly, as in the following sentence: Alright, well, for example, like on Saturdays, y’know, what I liked to do ...
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5answers
140k views

“Hear hear” or “here here”

Which one is it really: hear hear or here here? Where does the saying really come from?
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Where does the phrase “holy crap on a cracker” come from?

Where does the phrase "holy crap on a cracker" come from?
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What is the origin of the phrase “beyond the pale”?

What's the origin of the phrase 'beyond the pale'?
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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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Meaning of “AS FOR” expression [closed]

What is the meaning of the expression "as for others" in the sentence bellow: God does not have such a love for them as for others
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Where does the phrase “Scare the Dickens out of…” originate from?

Where does the phrase "Scare the Dickens out of..." originate from? And does it refer to Charles Dickens?
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1answer
812 views

pick of a bad lot

They are the pick of a bad lot. This is a sentence from a 1892 novel. What does that mean?
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Correct usage of “infringement of copyright”

Does the term infringement of copyright apply in the following situations? I am attending a training session conducted by a third-party training company. I want to audio record the sessions. Will ...
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“To date” versus “until now”

Is there a difference between these two expressions? Are they perfect synonyms?
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2k views

“drop the penny”

I was wondering what "drop the penny", "help get the penny to drop", or things similar mean? All I can understand is that it must be a metaphor. For example: simply trying to repeat things in ...