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

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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
636 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
17k 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
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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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8answers
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
44k 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
541 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
490 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
6k views

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
994 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
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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
733 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
3k 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? ...
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2answers
9k 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
14k 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
3k 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
97 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
699 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
2k 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
355 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
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“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
889 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 ...
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5answers
369 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?
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3answers
322 views

What are the origins of: to “bleed something”?

I've come across the answer about what it means to bleed something but am having a hard time finding its origin. What was the original thing that was bled and in what context was it used?
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1answer
2k views

Expression “making a bid/break for freedom”?

What is the difference between "making a bid for freedom" and "making a break for freedom"? In which situations would one use one and not the other?
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4answers
47k views

The expression “hands down.”

How did the expression "hands down" come to mean "without a doubt?"
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8answers
10k views

What is the difference between a marque and a brand?

What is the difference between a marque and a brand? For example, why would one use the expression "car marques" instead of "car brands"?
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3answers
15k views

Origin of the expression “part and parcel”

Does anybody know the origin of the expression "part and parcel"? Where and when did the word "parcel" start to be used?
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2answers
3k views

PhD = Piled Higher and Deeper

For most folks, PhD means "Doctor of Philosophy". But, for Jorge Cham, it means "Piled Higher and Deeper". Can you explain to me the title of that comic book?
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2answers
985 views

“Figment” other than in “figment of the imagination”?

Are there any recurring uses of the word "figment" other than in the expression "figment of the imagination"?
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13answers
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What is an expression for something you particularly like?

I'm not a native English speaker. I want to find the English equivalent of ho un debole per le ragazze svedesi that, in Italian, basically means "I particularly like Swedish girls." (It's just ...
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2answers
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What is the meaning of “chewing the carpet”?

I was digging about Load-Balancers (computer networking stuff) and came across this expression: Sometimes it (Load-Balancer) sits down chewing the carpet while backends go idle ... I guess "chewing ...
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3answers
1k views

How to describe something that is very likely happening immediately?

How should I describe something that will very likely happen right away? For example, would it be it correct to say, "It is about to rain"?
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2answers
161 views

Expression for “a regular bencher” in sports?

How would one describe a player in a team that is not playing much, and is usually just on the bench for most of the games?
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1answer
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expression “caught between a rock and a hard place”

What is the origin and definition of the expression "caught between a rock and a hard place"? I also heard it in a situation where it could have had a jocose double sense, but I may have ...
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3answers
490 views

What does “it tastes like horspy” mean?

I heard an expression today but I did not know how it is written or what it is. And I could not find it with Google. It's something like: it tastes like horspy Any pointers?
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2answers
899 views

Meaning and origin of “dressed like a slob”

What does the expression "dressed like a slob" mean? Where does it come from?
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5answers
48k views

Meaning and origin of “if you catch my drift”

What does the expression if you catch my drift mean? Where does it originate? I've heard it in the context to signify something like if you know what I mean.
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2answers
442 views

Where does “If I can do it, you can do it!” come from?

I first heard this in "Don King's Prizefighter for Wii", where he says, if I'm transcribing correctly: If I can do it, you can do it! The heart would say, in America anybody can do it! ...
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2answers
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Expression “enter [somebody]”

I would like to know what's the meaning and in which situations would one use the expression "Enter [somebody]", like "we were trying to find a solution. Enter John".
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4answers
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Differences among expression and idiom, as well as colloquial and vernacular

Expression and idiom are used interchangeably, and so are colloquial and vernacular; albeit incorrectly. Please advise on differences in meaning and recommend a proper usage.
5
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2answers
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What does 'knee-jerk reaction' mean?

What does knee-jerk reaction mean? From NYT article: Another senior Socialist, who declined to be identified, said the party could not afford knee-jerk reactions.
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4answers
827 views

What expression ironically says that something new is better or improved?

In French, we have the Expression X lave plus blanc which translates word for word as X washes whiter. It comes from old TV advertisements where it was the typical argument to show that a new laundry ...
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3answers
20k views

Getting into the Groove

What is the exact context of using this phrase? Is a positive connotation attached to it or a negative one?
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12answers
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Words to describe a semi-literate person

I once had a manager whose level of literacy was lacking to the extent that he would nearly always return my technical reports with sections rewritten such that they became either ungrammatical, or ...
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3answers
117 views

Is it correct to speak of an object as “cover” ? or to say “behind cover”?

In gunfights, fighters protect themselves from shots by staying behind objects. It's called taking cover and staying behind cover. But cover, just like shadow, is the consequence of the position of ...
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8answers
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Are there any expressions that describe going from a bad to a worse situation?

Are there idioms or expressions in English that describe going from one bad situation to one that's even worse? I heard "between a rock and hard place" but this describes a dilemma not really a ...