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

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2answers
999 views

Name for a type of idiom with two things joined (like “raining cats and dogs”, “bread and butter”)

I had heard, a number of years ago, that there is a name for an type of idiomatic expression in which two things are joined to refer to one thing. An example of this would be “raining cats and dogs”. ...
0
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1answer
237 views

Expressions for 'unclear'

Basically, I'm looking for something similar to this: "His reasoning was as clear as dirt." Are there any other common expressions like that?
6
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3answers
1k views

I can't understand a sentence with “never more ~ than ~”

I'm a student studying English and I'm not quite sure that my question is proper to this site. Let me know if my question is improper. Thomas Jefferson was never more typically a child of the ...
12
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5answers
5k views

Origin/reason for the “hit by a bus” phrase

Often at my job when someone is becoming a single source of knowledge or otherwise has a skill that no one else on the team or the department has, a common expression is: If John was hit by a bus, ...
4
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2answers
17k views

Is “Here's wishing xxxx” proper?

I have seen the phrase "Here's wishing you a very happy birthday" in greeting cards. What is the meaning of "Here's"? Where does it come from?
3
votes
2answers
306 views

Will my audience understand the phrase “lead time”?

...results in a relatively long lead time for our software products. Should I use this expression in an article for average software developers? (i.e. an international Java magazine) Would it ...
10
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3answers
9k views

“Through” or “to” for expression of range

16-bit unsigned short integers that range from 0 through 0xFFFF 16-bit unsigned short integers that range from 0 to 0xFFFF Which expression is better above?
4
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2answers
7k views

What's the meaning of the expression “The take home is …”?

There is one expression I came across recently - 'The take home is ...'. The full sentence was “The take home is that regular use of caffeine produces no benefit to alertness, energy, or function”. ...
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2answers
496 views

To pay something (in) cash/cache

What is correct? It has to be paid in cash. It has to be paid cash. It has to be paid in cache. It has to be paid cache. If more would be correct, is there a difference in when to use what? I'm ...
6
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3answers
966 views

Determining which good sentiment to wish at each holiday

Is there any rhyme or reason to how we wish people sentiments for various holidays. For example: "Merry Christmas", "Happy New Year", "Happy Birthday" are all acceptable sentiments but if we ...
4
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2answers
3k views

“What exactly” vs. “Exactly what”

What are the differences between these two phrases? For example, how would you qualify the difference between these two sentences: "What exactly is that book about?" and "Exactly what is that book ...
3
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5answers
21k views

“Out of the box” — when should I use this phrase?

I send a lot of unsolicited emails. In many of them, I ask to buy traditional advertising spots or to help conceive a non-traditional campaign. Oftentimes, I find myself describing these non-...
3
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2answers
669 views

Is “to play with one's feet” usable in English?

I'm Belgian (Flemish) and over there we have an expression: "met iemands voeten spelen". Google translates it as I would: "Playing with one's feet". Googling around for a minute or so does not give me ...
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1answer
752 views

Most common (and correct) expression for going (driving) past something? [closed]

We just walked/drove past a speed limit sign. We just passed a speed limit sign. We just went by a speed limit sign. We just passed by a speed limit sign.
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1answer
3k views

How can I describe the use of “you” when referring to a group of people rather than the second party? [closed]

I have used the pronoun "you" instead of the more appropriate word "one" in the position of the pronoun when referring to a generic group. Then when realizing the slip, I've qualified the statement ...
15
votes
3answers
9k views

Short Sleeves or Shirt Sleeves

I've always referred to a shirt that has short sleeves as a "short sleeve" shirt. However, I've also heard it be referred to as a "shirt sleeve" shirt or "wearing shirt sleeves." This seems like a ...
4
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4answers
2k views

Is there any difference if Peeves said “Not doing anything” instead of “Not doing nothing?

Peeves the Poltergeist is a practical joker in Harry Potter books. Why is he saying ‘nothing’ for ‘anything’ in the following citation? Does this express his character? Is it possibly a dialect or ...
2
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3answers
2k views

Origin of “smooth operator”

I'm interested in the origin of the term smooth operator. Does anyone know where it came from? What kind of operation?
4
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3answers
94k views

What does (the expression) “to stir the paint” mean?

In today's Family Guy episode, called Seahorse Seashell Party, when Meg was complaining to her mother Lois, her father Peter came to her and whispered something in her ear. Then Meg said: Meg: (...
0
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1answer
2k views

Meaning of Lyrics in “Diamonds on the Inside” [closed]

In Ben Harper's song, "Diamonds on the Inside", there is a verse that goes She made herself a bed of nails, And shes plannin' on puttin' it to use. I don't quite understand its meaning, ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Origin of “stop-gap”

What is the origin of the expression stop-gap? stop-gap: A temporary way of dealing with a problem or satisfying a need Where and how did this expression originate?
3
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6answers
1k views

What is the English expression for this facial expression? [closed]

Any expression for this?
13
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4answers
102k views

“Calling dibs” - what does it imply?

The term "to have dibs on something" or "to call dibs on something" plays a recurring role in American film and television (e.g. How I Met Your Mother), so it gets exported a lot. Wikipedia describes ...
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12answers
3k views

Expression that means something like “killing the sheep to keep them from being kidnapped”

I'm looking for an expression that conveys an excessive risk management approach that ends up having a worse effect than what it is trying to protect against.
6
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2answers
211 views

Is “There is no sewer one isn’t willing to swim in for one’s master” a popular expression?

I found the phrase, “There is no sewer he wasn’t willing to swim in for his master” in the following sentence in Jeffrey Archer’s novel, “False Impression.” “Fenston looked down at a man who had ...
6
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3answers
731 views

How did the phenomenon of doubling words come about?

I am referring to phrases such as: "Do you like her, or do you like like her." Can someone provide an explanation of this? There are many more examples but none come to mind at the moment.
6
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6answers
495 views

“Not hindered with any knowledge”

In Dutch we use the translated equivalent of not hindered with any knowledge to indicate somebody without any knowledge on the subject. It is not necessarily negative. It can mean that somebody is ...
3
votes
2answers
14k views

How to use the idiom “in force”

I'm wondering how to correctly use the idiom "in force". Often "active" can be used instead, but are there any situations in which "in force" can be used and "active" cannot, or vice versa? More ...
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4answers
1k views

“A half a cup of [something]”

Watching a cooking show a few days ago, the lady that presented it used the expression a half a cup or a half a teaspoon several times during the programme. I've heard half a [something] used before ...
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1answer
7k views

Common expressions of surprise in American and British English [closed]

I'm trying to learn English and I would like to know what are the expressions of surprise with positive meaning (slang or not, but not vulgar) currently used in spoken English for USA and Britain. Is ...
0
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0answers
111 views

What is the origin of the term “nose bleed” section? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What's the reason for calling cheap seats at the theatre nosebleed seats? When referring to the section of the stadium farthest from the stage/field, it is not uncommon ...
6
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4answers
43k views

One for the money, two for the show

What does the expression [x] for the money mean? I remember hearing the topic title in a rap song (can’t remember which, might be Eminem), and there seem to be movies named after this pattern: ...
2
votes
3answers
85 views

Is it always possible to say ‘he was (time) in doing’ instead of ‘it took him (time) to do’?

I’m not so familiar with the expression ‘he was (time) in doing’, but it seems to be used here and there and obviously mean ‘it took him (time) to do. When would you want to use the phrase? Are they ...
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4answers
5k views

Meaning of “cavorting with various women”

I've heard of the expression cavorting with various women. Apparently, Google says the original expression is cavorting with the enemy, but I take that the definition is slightly different then. What ...
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2answers
1k views

Meaning of “whiffling and waffling”

I heard the expression whiffling and waffling all over the place but can't find a definition for it. Maybe it's a misspelling. What does it mean?
2
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5answers
103k views

Where does the phrase “on the lam” come from?

According to the Online Etymological Dictionary, lam means: "flight," as in on the lam, 1897, from a U.S. slang verb meaning "to run off" (1886), of uncertain origin, perhaps somehow from the ...
22
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14answers
222k views

Different ways to say “you're welcome” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do native English speakers respond to “Thank you”? Can “Sure” be used to respond to “Thanks”? Is “not at all” still alive and doing well? I'm getting ...
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3answers
123 views

How much is he keen not to do something when he’s saying “I do never – if I can help it”?

I guess ‘if I can help it’ is a kind of ‘if possible’. It seems help means to prevent or avoid. By the way, how much are the speakers keen not to do something in the following sentences? I can’t ...
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3answers
14k views

Proper way to say you haven't met someone

What options are there to politely say you haven't met someone yet? For example if you have a common acquaintance online who asks if you know each other. "I haven't had the pleasure to meet him yet" ...
3
votes
2answers
565 views

What is “taking gongs”?

What is the meaning, if any, of the expression "taking gongs"? I know what a gong is (a large Oriental cymbal). But I don't understand the expression in the context of the following article: http://...
1
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3answers
2k views

“Writer's writer” — who can say it?

When someone says: This author is a writer's writer. I understand that as meaning the author is accomplished and generally excellent. It's a bit fuzzy in my mind how it can mean this, but I can ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Is the expression “to float someone's boat” possible outside of “Whatever floats your boat”?

According to the Urban Dictionary, the expression "whatever floats your boat" means [...] whatever "soothes your soul" or whatever "works best" Aka- Whatever you feel like doing. Is it possible ...
7
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2answers
10k views

The meaning and origin of “hedge your bets”

What exactly does it mean? And what is the origin of the phrase "hedge your bets"?
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3answers
2k views

“Seal the Deal” literally?

I am familiar with "seal the deal" only as an expression. I assume it has a history in literal use. If so, was "seal" the process of stamping/imprinting, or the process of securing a containing ...
5
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2answers
248 views

What do you call “gift CDs” that you select music for manually?

Is there a special word or phrase for a CD with a carefully picked playlist you made for a particular person, often given as a gift?
3
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3answers
1k views

What does military plane’s escort (of an American Airlines flight) was “out of abundance of caution”’mean?

I listen to AP Radio News, and I heard the following report on September 12: “Two military planes were sent to intercept an American Airlines flight headed for New York from Los Angeles after reports ...
2
votes
2answers
280 views

Meaning of a saying about the difference between L.A. and New York [closed]

What is the meaning of the following? The difference between L.A. and New York is that in New York when you get robbed, you see the gun... UPD: Below is a part of the original discussion: ...
12
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7answers
19k views

Origin of the of the phrase “feeling blue”

Where did the expression "feeling blue" come from?
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5answers
3k views

“Vitriol” vs “caustic comments”

In choosing whether to use the expression He spewed his usual vitriol or He spewed his usual caustic comments does one carry more weight than the other?
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3answers
795 views

Is there a more abstract word for infrastructure?

I am thinking a lot about infrastructure these days. My definition of infrastructure is "something, which facilitates other things, but does not by itself fulfill the need of a person". An example is ...