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1
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9answers
594 views

Is there a metaphorical word or phrase for a potential trouble maker?

More specifically, someone who might open "undesirable doors" and fill you with profound regret for letting him/her into your life. The idiom I'm trying to find would be used in the following ...
0
votes
1answer
69 views

What figure of speech is it when we say “This meat is swimming in fat.”?

What figure of speech is it when we say: "The meat is swimming in gravy. I'll have fish instead." "Her eyes were swimming with tears." "They say he's swimming in money."
4
votes
5answers
93 views

“Not as heavy as an elephant.” Which literary device is this?

I was having a conversation with a friend today. He jokingly asked me to help him pick up a desktop printer later (he's obviously strong enough to carry one on his own - a typical desktop printer is ...
0
votes
3answers
81 views

Why does “not least” mean “notably”?

What's an intuitive derivation behind ODO's definition that helps to internalise its meaning: not least = In particular; notably I couldn't find the etymology for this adverbial phrase? Is that ...
1
vote
1answer
41 views

What kind of figurative language is this phrase?

What figurative language is this phrase? Is it an idiom or personification? Or something else? I have tried to figure it out but I can't. "to drive the idea out of my mind"
3
votes
2answers
178 views

Are “I scream” and “Ice cream” homophones, or do we have another term here?

When two phrases are pronounced alike but have different spelling and meaning, can they be called homophones? e.g. "ice-cream" and "I scream", "nitrate" and "night rate", "that's tough" and "that ...
0
votes
2answers
39 views

contempt formula when talking about something [closed]

What is the figure of speech that should be used to express contempt of something? I tried this expression and I don't know if it is suitable for that context: Main phrase: You had proposed ...
-1
votes
1answer
89 views

Using the word “So” too much that it is annoying [closed]

So, ...........I'm tired of using the word "so" and I'm tired of hearing everyone using it also! What are alternatives and how long will it be before I can make myself stop using it?
0
votes
2answers
235 views

What does 'fooling around' mean to a 1st Grader?

In English, when I say don't fool around with that, am I saying You are stupid! I mean, my son came back from school today with a note from the teacher: Dear Dad, I was fooling around with a ...
1
vote
2answers
323 views

What is unfreeze your hearts?

Stephen Colbert was taking about the CIA Interrogation Report when he said, "unfreeze your heart!" @6:12 in the video. What does that mean? How can I use that term? Does it mean, 'forget about it"?
4
votes
2answers
180 views

Can a single metaphor be 'mixed'?

M-W has the following definition for mixed metaphor: a figure of speech combining inconsistent or incongruous metaphors Hence a requirement is that a 'mixed metaphor' contains more than one ...
3
votes
10answers
486 views

Is “The Walking Dead” a personification?

Personification (or anthropomorphism) is attributing human features to non-humans. Technically, a dead human is not a human and we give the attribute of walking to the dead. So, Is "the walking dead" ...
0
votes
1answer
320 views

What is the figure of speech called when there is a conjunction of things that are actually in subset relation?

For example "animals and cats", "plants and flowers", "stars and suns" etc. It’s similar to tautology but the things aren’t synonym. Is there a name for this figure?
2
votes
2answers
51 views

Are the abbreviations IMO and IMHO synonymous to each other?

Is there a difference between IMO (In My Opinion) and IMHO (In My Honest Opinion)? You see both forms frequently being used in online conversatiosn. Do they mean the same, or is there a slight ...
-1
votes
3answers
151 views

Children caught by an adult doing something wrong, relaying the blame onto each other

Here's the basic situation: two fairly young children, boy and girl, caught by an adult after doing something really wrong (i.e., for example, breaking some sort of precious vase or something like ...
1
vote
4answers
306 views

Possession and personification

Is the act of possessing an example of personification if attributed to inanimate objects? Here, "possession" means the possession of physical things as well as the possession of virtues or qualities ...
0
votes
2answers
151 views

What is the correct grammar to use for this common style of speaking?

Oftentimes when people want to emphasize something, an idea is repeated three times, but without closing it as a full sentence. I am not sure how to write this in a formal essay. Here is my example: ...
1
vote
2answers
104 views

How would you characterize the phrase 'a more perfect union'? [closed]

My question pertains to the usage of 'a more perfect union' in its original context-- the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. I want to say that this is a metaphor, because the authors are using the ...
4
votes
2answers
94 views

Is 'to gain an advantage' a pleonasm?

The definition of "advantage" is roughly "something positive". Definitions for "to gain" are rather varied, but usually mean "to win something" with a positive connotation. With this in mind, is "to ...
1
vote
1answer
75 views

Categorization of figures of speech

Is there a clear categorization of tropes? Some talk of the four master tropes (Metaphor, Synecdoche, Metonymy, Irony), Whereas some give An extended, unsorted list of tropes Some talk about the ...
0
votes
1answer
229 views

Is there a name for this literary device?

Is there a term that describes the act of giving tangible qualities to an intangible noun? I stumbled over a metaphor or I felt sadness condense on my skin The first one might just be ...
1
vote
1answer
166 views

What is the meaning of these two sentences in David Copperfield?

There are two sentences in David Copperfield that I don't quite understand, with regards to their (possible) figurative meaning. Chapter XIII: [...] a muslin curtain partly undrawn in the middle, ...
2
votes
2answers
809 views

Meaning of a mixed metaphor from “The Gift of The Magi”?

This is from The Gift of The Magi by O Henry (William Sydney Porter). Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. (part 4, paragraph 5 in the reference ...
-2
votes
2answers
149 views

What is 'decreased activity' an example of?

People use decreased activity (for example) where decrease in activity would be more literally correct. For example, reasons for my decreased activity usually refers to reasons for a decrease, not to ...
3
votes
5answers
343 views

What is the term for a common expression that is inaccurate or misleading?

What is the term for a common expression or colloquialism that is inaccurate or misleading, such as the use of "mental math" to mean "mental calculation" or "mental arithmetic"?
8
votes
2answers
265 views

Name for phrase of words in increasing significance

I'm looking at the phrase "THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY". The thing I'm trying to think of is the joke format where you list a bunch of things and then change the last word for humorous effect. I ...
1
vote
2answers
129 views

Is unknown certainty oxymoronic?

If someone started a story thus, In a time lost, in a certain yet unknown place, is the Castle of Umberdeen ... How could an entity be a certainty and yet unknown? It does not make sense. But ...
1
vote
1answer
336 views

When can a metaphor become a double entendre

I've been engaged in debate for some days now, about a discussion in a panel of a Captain America comic book. In the comic book, Bucky, his sidekick, says that "you have been running a mile a minute ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

What's the origin of the figure of speech “call the shots”?

I'm well aware that when someone says "he's the one who calls the shots" it means that that person is the one in charge, the one who takes all the relevant decisions. But what's the origin of this ...
1
vote
1answer
228 views

Polish your mug idiom

Recently I've heard couple of interesting idioms one of which was "Make yourself scarce or I'll polish your mug". So, I was wondering is it really used like that? I've heard of "Make yourself scarce" ...
0
votes
2answers
341 views

Proverb/Idiom for Free from certain problems only to get trapped into other? [duplicate]

I am looking for a figure of speech which means something vaguely like this: "Free from certain problems only to get trapped into other" Is there a proverb or phrase for this because I am not ...
5
votes
5answers
11k views

What is a synonym for “jack of all trades, master of none”?

What is a synonym of jack of all trades, master of none? I want to differentiate it from a generalist (might have deep knowledge about everything)? On the same note, is there a better way to say ...
2
votes
1answer
826 views

Litotes: Always for Emphasis? Used for Non-committal Hedging? Any Authoritative Source?

My question is about litotes. I’m wondering if it is always for emphasis, or whether it can be a type of non-committal statement or hedging. And, is there an authoritative source that can be cited ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Change is the only constant – antithesis or oxymoron?

Change is the only constant – Isaac Asimov Can the above quote be called an example of antithesis or that of oxymoron, or neither of these? I am confused because both antithesis and oxymoron have ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is “desperacy” not an English word?

I know one says an act of desperation, but I've heard desperacy much more than I've ever heard desperation, it's like I've almost never heard desperation. Why exactly was desperation preferred over ...
8
votes
2answers
197 views

Why PBS is called Big Bird as its byname?

I found “Big Bird” being used as the byname of public broad services in the article titled,“The Red and Blue Fantasies behind the Big Bird War” appearing in Time magazine’s October 9 issue which ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Idiom for opportunistically exploiting a situation to one's advantage

I was wondering what various figures of speech could be used to describe a situation where somebody exploits a situation in order to push their own agenda. For example in Persian we have 'Catching a ...
5
votes
2answers
346 views

Talking about not talking about the topic—name of figure of speech [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a name for “I don't mean to…, but” phrases? Term for mentioning X by saying “I will not say X” I am looking for a name of a ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Can you really “See that thing in person”?

Consider the following scenario: A woman at a store is shown a dress by a clerk. After a few moments, she tells the clerk that she would like "to see it in red". The clerk would then go and ...
1
vote
4answers
602 views

Figurative expression for outrageous/unlikely/overly bold claim

What expressions could one use to qualify an expression as unlikely, to soften the impact by changing it from accusation or hyperbole into unlikely (if outrageous) conjecture? Something like "God ...
3
votes
2answers
13k views

What does “Don't call him late for dinner” mean?

What does the phrase "Don't call him late for dinner" mean? As I am very thin, I believe this is a figure of speech used to sarcastically describe someone of near fragile size. I am not sure. I am ...
4
votes
4answers
33k views

Where does the phrase “No skin off my teeth/nose” come from?

The phrase "it's no skin off my nose/teeth" is generally used to mean that something isn't much of a risk/concern. But where does it come from? Specifically with respect to teeth. What is tooth skin?
2
votes
4answers
4k views

Some, others and again others?

If I want to add a third option to the construct "Some..., others", what is the best way to put it? Some, others and again others? So: Some people like apples, others like oranges and again others ...
3
votes
3answers
655 views

Can you be literal about non-literal things?

I know many hackles have been raised over the misuse of the word literal. Let's say there are a couple of mobsters talking about a third guy who has made a minor mistake, and jokingly one says, "I'm ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Figure of Speech vs. Figure of Thought

Is there any meaningful difference between a "figure of speech" and a "figure of thought". Searching for a definition of "figure of thought" leads to many esoteric discussions relating to ancient ...
3
votes
2answers
5k views

“What to do when you live in a shoe”

Where does the phrase "what to do when you live in a shoe" come from? I was asked today why I use slow internet and responded, "What to do when you live in a shoe" as though my internet limitation(s) ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Is this an example of litotes?

In Macbeth's Tomorrow speech To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted ...
3
votes
2answers
976 views

Difference between a synecdoche and metonym?

From the definitions of these two types of figures of speech (tropes, if you will), I have always understand them to mean the same thing. Essentially, that is the usage of either a specific attribute ...
6
votes
5answers
83k views

Origin and meaning of “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”

I'm having trouble understanding the rationale behind the meaning of an American English phrase of which I just became aware. That phrase is: You catch more flies with honey than you do with ...
14
votes
3answers
738 views

“Carved from the living rock” — since when was rock ever alive?

According to Etymonline, living dates to the 14th century, and refers to "the fact of dwelling in some place," from O.E. lifiende, prp. of lifan But we hear the phrase "the living rock" used all ...