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

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English equivalent of the French “trompe-oreilles”?

A trompe-oreilles is a valid sentence that, when spoken out loud, gives the impression of being in a foreign language or having a different meaning. Is there a similar concept in English? (Any ...
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1answer
22 views

does this sentence sound right?

"I read this novel four times in Arabic and now it’s the English edition turn"
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3answers
100 views

Alternative for “dead-end job” that is not disrespectful

A position with a company may be high paying with lots of perks, but otherwise offer no opportunity for growth. Some might consider this a "dead-end job" but that has a negative connotation. Is there ...
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45 views

What is the meaning of “Beary Important”? [on hold]

Is there some sort of connection to "bear" or "very". Why bear? Edit: https://realmomtime.com/2013/11/20/beary-important-person/
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1answer
68 views

Are these expressions to call of a particular kind of deviation right?

I am translating a material on visual sensors and having a hard time figuring out what to call this. The situation is that when the sensor senses a circle mark, sometimes it does not detect a fine ...
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7answers
16k views

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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10k views

Origin of the term “fat chance”

The phrase "fat chance" can be used as a way of sarcastically describing the impossibility of something, but where did it originate from? I've googled it several times, and it always comes up with the ...
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39 views

“I'll go with the candidate I'm used to” or “I'll go with the candidate to whom I am used?”

I'll go with the candidate I'm used to. I get that this is colloquial, but, c'mon. Ending a sentence with a preposition? However, is the alternative correct? I'll go with the candidate to whom ...
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1answer
42 views

What does “went after corruption as hard as… ” mean?

Edward Snowden on Twitter commented, Imagine if the government went after corruption as hard as it goes after guys who run filesharing sites. Priorities. What did Edward Snowden mean?
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85 views

“Like swimming in ___” honey? [on hold]

My supervisor and I had a discussion about my thesis progress this morning, and he described my writing progress: Like swimming in _____. I have no idea about the word he said, then he changed ...
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2answers
336 views

Question/Matter of definition?

A "Definitionsfråga", as it is called in Swedish, is for instance if you talk about what's good and bad, you can remark that it depends on what you mean by good and bad. You could might as well remark ...
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34 views

How do I refer the next item after the top K item?

I have the following sentence The top 10 most frequent item are {1, 2, ..., } After the above sentence, what's the appropriate way to refer to the next item? (1) The next 10 item are {,...,} (2) ...
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2answers
1k views

Origin of the expression “to do someone in”

I've seen the expression "to do someone in" for the first time today and from what I found, it means "to kill someone." Where does it come from? The trailing "in" implies something following and ...
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1answer
24 views

“More can be done yet” - correct use and position of the word “yet” [closed]

I want to say, despite the good progress, there are more that can be done. Are the following use and position of the word "yet" correct and convey the intended message? "More can be done yet." or "...
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3answers
115 views

What is the job title of these municipal officers?

In some countries, specially in Asia, some vendors spread their stuff for sale on the ground (upper picture), and thereby cause trouble for the pedestrians comeing and going. For preventing this, ...
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2answers
63 views

Usage of Too… to [on hold]

In school, I learned too... to... as an expression, like I am too tired to stand or It is too early to sleep. But sometimes I want to say something like I think 30 days on trip is good, it is not ...
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0answers
13 views

What is the name of the construct [adjective][noun]

Is there a special name for an adjective-noun phrase that denotes a specific type of thing and for which further modifiers cannot be inserted between the two? For example, "emerging technology" ...
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0answers
32 views

Using slang in formal writing [on hold]

Is it appropriate to use the expression "are you up for something" in business writing? I have a client who knows me and my family personally, but I still want to be professional when writing. So, ...
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2answers
81 views

Expression to describe self-inflicted fall from a position of strength

Twelve months ago, Mr David Cameron — the British Prime Minister in government alliance with a smaller party — won a surprise outright victory in a general election. This put him in a position of ...
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2answers
96 views

Sleeping with one's eyes open [closed]

I've once heard a person make a reference to another person as sleeping with their eyes open. I wonder if there is another way to take this expression other than literally. Thanks.
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30 views

Merchant of Venice [closed]

I don not think i have a clear understanding of Portia's speech "the quality of mercy is not starin'd" Is her speech convincing?
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1answer
42 views

“I would not prefer to” or “I would prefer not to”?

(1) Is there any difference/nuance (in mood, meaning, or something else) between "I would not prefer to" or "I would prefer not to"? (2) Which is the more/most common in usage?
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1answer
49 views

Source of “miscarriage of justice”

What may be the source of the phrase "miscarriage of justice"? I keep hearing this phrase being used for cases where an innocent has been convicted. While the phrase paints quite a picture, I'm not ...
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0answers
20 views

Confusion among Possibility, Probability and Plausibility [closed]

Possibility means ability or capacity to happen. Probability means something is going to happen. Plausibility means something has logical and/or intellectual support to happen. Is this argument right ...
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1answer
48 views

Term for “opposite” items that are actually similar [on hold]

Is there a term (like "pseudo-synonym") for things that are colloquially considered opposites when in fact they are part of the same set on a higher level? For example, "cats and dogs" are "opposites"...
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The expression “hands down.”

How did the expression "hands down" come to mean "without a doubt?"
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Around how old is “a woman of a certain age”?

"A woman of a certain age" is a common saying. It means more than "a woman of a given age", "a woman who could be any age" or "female, without respect to age". It's usage instead seems to suggest a ...
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1answer
41 views

Does “spot inspection” make sense?

We have a lot of machines located in many places in our site, and we need to define the activity that inspecting the machine running status regularly by plan in field, does the "spot inspection" a ...
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2answers
54 views

Can “take a shot at [someone]” be used as “try to court [someone]”? [on hold]

I know that the expression "have a shot with [someone]" means "to have a chance in successfully wooing [someone]". And I know that "take a shot at" might mean to have a try, but also literally ...
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8answers
24k views

Which saying is correct?

I've been having a small argument with a family member. She insists "It's no skin off my teeth" is the correct saying, though I've only heard "It's no skin off my nose" before. Which saying is more "...
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3answers
12k views

How does the phrase “Is something the matter?” make sense?

Is something the matter? I've read or heard this usage of matter many times. For instance, in The pleasure of finding things out, R.P. Feynman writes: I could tell that something was the matter. ...
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2answers
126 views

What do we call “easily readable books”?

I just wonder if there is a good expression to refer to an "easily readable book", like a simple short story or pocket book?
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0answers
51 views

“That beats everything”

I'm aware that there is an idiom "That beats everything" which is used to express surprise. My question is whether I can say "That beats everything" about something that is way better than everything ...
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23 views

Is there an expression, “to have purvey of”?

I am looking for a way to say that one "has full view of." For example: "When touring the construction site, we had ____ of the building's electrical and plumbing systems." What comes to mind is "...
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2answers
46 views

Word for different office/work “cultures”

I am looking for a word to describe differences between two groups of professional fields. Our small company is having a competition for best outside-of-work pictures. There are about 10 people in ...
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4answers
80 views

How can something be “set in stone”?

Something could be carved in stone, or etched in stone. Or it could be set in concrete or set in mortar. But if someone asked me to set something in stone, I wouldn't know how to do it, since stone ...
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61 views

How to express that two methods each have their advantages and disadvantages? [closed]

I am writing a paper comparing two methods, and they each have their own advantages and disadvantages. But saying "they each have their own advantages and disadvantages" is a little wordy. Are there ...
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1answer
103 views

What is the specific meaning of “Smoking crater?”

I'm suddenly seeing and hearing the phrase "smoking crater." I've noticed it mostly from sportswriters and commentators, usually in reference to a coach leaving a college team in bad shape, or an ...
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47 views

Please help me to give me sentence structure(grammar) detail [closed]

Please help me to give me sentence structure detail as following Nothing I did would ever satisfy my father. Like "did" <-- is it emphasizing word , it like I "do" have a problem isn't ...
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18 views

usage and example of “except on terms that…”

"He said Britain could never rejoin the EU except on terms that would not be acceptable to the country." I don't really understand the meaning of "except on terms that..." here in the sentence. ...
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2answers
203 views

Where does “the sky is falling” come from?

According to Wikipedia the common expression "the sky is falling" is from a folk tale: Henny Penny, more commonly known in the United States as "Chicken Little" and sometimes as "Chicken ...
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2answers
69 views

Confused about How to Describe Feelings

I'm confused how to describe one of my feelings. For example, I don't like drinking coffee, but I don't hate it either. I just can live without it. In my country, we would probably say "I don't have ...
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25answers
8k views

Are there counterpart English expressions to Japanese proverb, "the nail that pops up is always hammered down?

I was once reminded by Robusto-san of a Japanese popular saying, ‘出る釘は打たれる - the nail that pops up is always hammered down,’ when I complained about sequential down-votes that I received. I wondered ...
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1answer
55 views

Usage of “be cut out for”

I found that the phrase "be cut out for" is used only in negative sentences (for example, "He's not cut out for teaching"). Is it true? Or can I make a statement like "I feel like I'm cut out for this ...
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46 views

Is this correct? : “Tenji that was, died in his sisters arms.” (Kind of like 'powers that be') Also is 'have a claim to' correct' or 'hold a claim to'

Full quote for context "I have no claim to life, yet I walk. I have no claim to valor, yet I fight. I have no claim to love, yet I mourn. I am not the dragon, for Tenji Minamoto that was, died in his ...
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236 views

Where does the expression “long odds” come from? BOUNTY

In English we say an event has "long odds" if it is unlikely to happen, and "short odds" for the opposite. The question is - why? Best I have been able to get from people: Long over even (if you ...
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3answers
20k views

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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2k views

'Given a choice' vs.'If I had to choose'

Can the phrases given a choice and if I had to choose be used interchangeably? I made a statement like "Given a choice, I would do this," my original intention being to select that over the other ...
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41 views

'a same matrix' or 'the same matrix'?

Synchronizing only a seed between the local sites and fusion center can let the pseudo-random number generators generate the same matrix A. Or Synchronizing only a seed between the local sites and ...