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

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4answers
374 views

On the subject of “bring up” and “raise”

When you use the verbs to bring up and to raise, can those verbs take university as their subject? For example, (1) This university brought me up. (2) This university raised those students. ...
6
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3answers
708 views

“Institution” and “facility”

Do you use institution for a university building? There are three institutions in this campus. According to Longman Dictionary, an institution is "a large building where old people, ORPHANs, ...
6
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3answers
4k views

What does “programming in a vacuum” mean?

I'm not sure what that exactly means. Why do people use the term vacuum like this? Please advise.
3
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1answer
342 views

“Vacation days” or “days off”

What is the right expression: vacation days or days off?
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2answers
1k views

What situation do you use ‘if I need persuading’ in?

I can understand need persuading virtually means need to be persuaded, but once it’s implanted in a sentence as the form of “if I need persuading”, I can’t figure out what the speaker is saying. In ...
0
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1answer
4k views

Is “study major subject” correct?

Is "study major subject" correct? Accoding to some dictionaries, there are some alternatives to "major": special field (of study), specialty and major. In addition, I'm not sure whether I should ...
10
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1answer
16k views

“Toe the Party Line” or “Tow the Party Line”? [closed]

When I have seen this expression written, it is usually as "tow the line" as if the subject were a tugboat. I have always thought that "toe the line" made more sense as a fighting expression, where ...
0
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2answers
709 views

“Minutes of meeting” or “Minutes meeting”

What is the right expression, "minutes of meeting" or "minutes meeting"?
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3answers
2k views

Horse of a different color

I recently heard someone use the expression "Now that's a whole different bag of dog food". While highly unusualy, the meaning was well understood by the audience. I know there is an actual idiom/...
4
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1answer
391 views

Is “burning (something) in effigy” used only for representations, not the actual thing?

The phrase "to burn (something) in effigy" means: To burn or to hang an image or picture of a person, as a token of public odium. Would it be appropriate to use this phrase about an inanimate ...
5
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3answers
3k views

Meaning of “to believe the impossible”

Does to believe the impossible mean to believe that everything is possible to believe that something seemingly impossible is actually possible something else?
12
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2answers
9k views

Value (in cents) of big words

I found the answer to this question interesting in that he referred to a "75 cent word". I would have called it a 50-cent word, not because I undervalued his answer but because that is how I have ...
11
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3answers
2k views

How to speak mathematics [closed]

I've been asked to give lectures on electromagnetism in English, but I encounter many problems trying to express mathematical formulas since they are written and I do not know how to read them. Are ...
8
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3answers
13k views

Why are the “hands” of a clock called “hands”?

Why are the hands of a clock called hands? To me, this makes little sense; they do not resemble hands in any way, and if anything body-part related, they should be arms. So why are they called hands?
0
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4answers
1k views

“Has much nature” or “is very green”

If we want to say that Our college has a lot of trees and flowers in a somewhat abstract manner, which is better? Our college has much nature. There is much nature in our college. ...
0
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2answers
3k views

How about 'play cute' or 'play adorable'?

I wonder if 'play cute' or 'play adorable' is frequently used to stand for 'act cute/adorable' in spoken language. It seems easier to google out 'act cute/adorable' instead of 'play cute/adorable'.
2
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1answer
610 views

What is the story behind “Get off my lawn”? [closed]

Often when someone wants to make a point that they are really experienced in the field they say something along the lines of, "I've been in this line of work for as long as your age, get off my lawn ...
6
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2answers
1k 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
247 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
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2answers
308 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
10k 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”. ...
1
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2answers
504 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
972 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
679 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
773 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
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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
95k 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, ...
10
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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
105k 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 ...
24
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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
213 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
739 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
502 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
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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 ...
3
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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 ...
1
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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
44k 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
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3answers
86 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 ...