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

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10answers
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Idiom: People caring about minor stuff while something terrible is happening

Imagine a situation in which the whole place is on fire, a bomb is about to explode, everyone is running for their lives and someone is checking his looks on the mirror... pretty inappropriate for the ...
79
votes
13answers
46k views

Which is correct: “could care less” or “couldn't care less”?

What's the deal with the phrase "could care less"? Whilst growing up, I've always known people (parents etc) to use the phrase "couldn't care less", but I've also come across people who use the ...
27
votes
12answers
43k views

Proverb or expression for a situation with two choices, both leading to a different kind of trouble

I'm searching for a proverb or expression that describes a situation which has two choices or two ways out (that is, somewhat of a forced choice) where both lead to some kind of trouble (but not the ...
96
votes
13answers
161k views

When should “no problem” replace “you're welcome” as a response to “thank you”?

I have observed a growing trend in which people substitute "no problem" for "you're welcome" as a response to "thank you". In particular, it seems to be an increasingly common response from servers ...
3
votes
6answers
7k views

In special cases, can you use “one such family are” vs. “one such family is”? [duplicate]

Is it correct to say "one such family are..." as opposed to "one such family is..." in some circumstances? Say, for instance, as used in this article on gene families: [...] One such family are ...
17
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8answers
7k views

Is the phrase “for free” correct?

A friend claims that the phrase for free is incorrect. Should we only say at no cost instead?
18
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10answers
31k views

Is there a word to describe someone who often inaccurately uses words?

Or a word to describe the act of inaccurately using complicated or unusual words (often in an attempt to sound more intelligent)? I considered 'bombastic' but it doesn't have that quality of ...
16
votes
8answers
3k views

Expression for a choice which isn't really one

What would be a nice short expression to describe a choice which isn't really one, in that all of its possible outcomes are ultimately equivalent despite being presented as different? My first ...
12
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2answers
8k 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 ...
26
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3answers
106k views

Should I write “that being said” (vs. “that's been said” or “Having said that”)?

I often write what "sounds" right (being not a native English speaker/writer), and I believe the expression "that being said" to be fairly common, as opposed to a more complete form like "that's been ...
16
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2answers
1k views

Tendency of using pronouns 'she/her' when talking about a random person

Reading different specifications and manuals I've noticed that more often and often pronouns she or her are being used when some unknown person's behavior is described. For example: "when user opens ...
13
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9answers
31k views

Is there a shorter alternative for “Enjoy your meal”?

The French have "Bon appetit". In Belgium and the Netherlands we have "Smakelijk". Is there a short way to wish someone a good meal in English?
26
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9answers
2k views

“Saving on the parrot's chocolate is futile”

In Catalan there is an expression "ser la xocolata del lloro" that can be translated as "saving by not giving chocolate to the parrot is futile", conveying the meaning that when a household wants to ...
10
votes
4answers
657 views

Why am I always compelled to begin a response with “Well, ”?

Because of a certain 140 character limit I've learned where I can trim characters on responses but even after all this time I still reply with "Well, so and so . . ." and I go back and have to delete ...
2
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2answers
2k views

Why are you “On a train” yet “In a car” when you are inside both vehicles? [duplicate]

Why are you "On a train" yet "In a car" when you are inside both vehicles? "On a bike" makes sense but "On a plane" seems wrong as you are actually inside the plane rather than on it.
2
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9answers
7k views

Is there a word for people who always act too friendly in order to curry favor with their acquaintances?

Is there a single noun or adjective for a person who is always flattering friends and acquaintances, not only to be liked and accepted but, at other times, to curry favor with them as well ? I'm not ...
50
votes
25answers
24k views

Is there a secular, non vulgar alternative to “for heaven's sake”?

I know for heaven's sake, for Pete's sake, for God's sake and for Christ's sake. All of those, however are religious references. The only non-religious equivalent phrases I know are for fuck's sake ...
20
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20answers
5k views

Are there popular English sayings to express “Big fuss, tiny result”?

The recent EL&U question asked by Mikhail about the alternative expressions of ‘To shoot out of cannon into sparrows’ reminded me of Japanese saying - 大山鳴動鼠一匹- literally meaning people find (get) “...
19
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5answers
72k views

Neither do I / Nor do I / Me neither / Me either

In this circumstance, which would be the most correct / natural answer? Person 1: I don't eat meat Person 2: Neither do I / Nor do I / Me neither / Me either This says both neither do I and Me ...
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.
12
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9answers
8k views

How to describe a guy who is popular with girls?

Perhaps I should make it clear: - He naturally attracts girls. - He doesn't chase girls and have no intention for any relationship. - You just see him often together with girls.
6
votes
4answers
598 views

How do you call..? vs. What do you call…?

It seems an open-and-shut case, the correct version for asking the word of something in English is What do you call ... ? And yet the sheer number of second-language speakers of English who ask ...
5
votes
13answers
15k views

Is there an idiom for people who boast too much?

I am looking for idioms or informal/slang/colloquial expression for some people that make you think that they are able of building a skyscraper, constructing a spaceship, playing the piano better than ...
8
votes
6answers
4k views

Word for someone seeming deep and intelligent, but not really being that

What is the word for someone trying to seem/be deep and intelligent, but really they are shallow, and not at all being insightful. Pedant is about rules, so that is disqualified, the closest I could ...
5
votes
4answers
11k views

Word for when two people type the same thing at the same time in chat

I have the distinct feeling there's a word often used when two people type the same thing at the same time in Internet chat contexts. Not necessarily exactly the same words, but closely related. ...
12
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5answers
8k views

Other expressions for “to be the devil's advocate”?

Is there another way or expression to say: He is the devil's advocate I don't quite like this expression, and I don't know if it is a good idea to use it in a religious context.
6
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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”. ...
6
votes
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.
2
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1answer
12k views

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 misunderstood....
10
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3answers
54k views

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 ...
14
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5answers
295k views

rule of thumb for 'however' in the middle of the sentence?

What is the rule of thumb for using 'however' in the middle of the sentence? For example: Some people disagree with this theory, however, as it's never been proven right.
16
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5answers
33k views

Which is correct: “standing on line” or “standing in line”?

I'm curious to hear from folks in the the Northeast United States (or anyone, really) an explanation of why "standing on line" seems preferable to "standing in line" in the US northeast. I imagine ...
11
votes
5answers
10k views

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 ...
8
votes
5answers
12k views

What is the origin of idiom “Keep your hair on”?

I had a conversation with a coworker and he told me to keep my hair on. My first understanding of the idiom was that he will do something so fast that, if I was wearing a wig or something it will fly ...
8
votes
7answers
17k views

Is there a word for one who enjoys to eat for the sake of eating (a food hedonist)?

Does such a word exist? I don't mean to excess (IE, a glutton), but rather one who eats because he enjoys eating. Essentially, I'm looking for a word that's synonymous with "a food hedonist", or "a ...
8
votes
4answers
12k views

Is the construction “It allows to …” proper English?

I frequently encounter phrases like this: "It allows to apply these features to customisable sets of fonts". My question is whether this is proper English or not? In my mind, "it allows the ...
6
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1answer
15k views

Is it all right to use “in hopes of” to mean “with the aim of”?

Recently I browsed through the definition of hope in New Oxford American Dictionary (provided by Apple in the dictionary app) to double confirm with its usage as I answered a word-choice question and ...
5
votes
4answers
14k views

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.
24
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4answers
2k views

Why is “head over heels” used as if it were exceptional rather than commonplace?

Most people spend part of each day standing, and if they have normal anatomy their heads are over their heels in this position. Even sitting or lying down, the head is higher than the heels (if not ...
10
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9answers
55k views

Is it 'Close to the chest' or 'Close to the vest'?

Apologies if this is a duplicate, I am just curious. Are they both valid? Which originated first?
5
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5answers
2k views

What would be an English equivalent for the Mexican Spanish word tocayo? [duplicate]

In Mexican Spanish (not sure if other Spanish speaking countries use the word too) we call "tocayo" to those people that share the same name as us (but not necessarily the same last name i.e., Juan ...
4
votes
2answers
5k views

What are “up” and “down” in “up there” and “down there”?

"Up there" and "down there" are two of the most frequent expressions that I, myself, use often. I really don't know whether they are just expressions used to refer to a place to go ("I went down ...
2
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1answer
50k views

“To have a dinner” vs “to have dinner”: which one is correct?

Does one need to use the article in this case?
13
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3answers
5k views

“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 ...
6
votes
3answers
967 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
votes
7answers
2k views

“I'm only grandfathering you in because of Serena.”

In Gossip Girl Season 4 Episode 19 "Petty in pink," Blair says the following sentence to Serena's cousin Charlie after she tried to explain to both of them about her plan. I'm only grandfathering ...
3
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6answers
1k views

Is the “will” in “can and will” necessary?

Anyone who's ever seen much American film or television has heard some variation of the following sentences countless times: You have the right to remain silent. If you choose to give up that ...
2
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3answers
6k views

How did the use of “could of” and “should of” originate, and is it considered correct? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is “of” instead of “have” correct? It bothers me that so many people use could of, would of, should of instead of could've or could have, etc. For instance, I have seen ...
1
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1answer
234 views

Word or phrase for capitalizing pronouns referring to gods

Some publications capitalize He, Him, etc., when referring to a god. What is this practice called? 'Proper noun' is rather generic.
238
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38answers
93k views

Is there a non-sexual phrase for sleeping with someone?

The phrase "sleeping with someone" often means "having sex." What is the origin of this sexual connotation? Is there a non-sexual equivalent of this phrase to express sleeping with someone without ...