1
vote
2answers
316 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"?
2
votes
2answers
679 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
299 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"?
1
vote
2answers
2k 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 ...
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 ...
3
votes
2answers
608 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
73k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Meaning of a quote in movie Casino Royale (2006)

Vesper Lynd: There are dinner jackets and dinner jackets; this is the latter. And I need you looking like a man who belongs at that table. Here what does the line "There are dinner jackets ...
3
votes
7answers
3k views

Is “New and Improved” an oxymoron?

It irritates me that advertisers often claim a product is "New and Improved". Surely, if something is new (ie, has not existed previously), it can't be improved! And vice versa!
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What is funny in this paraprosdokian?

I was reading the wiki page about paraprosdokians when I come across this sentence. One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas, how he got in my pajamas, I don't know. What is funny about it?
3
votes
1answer
307 views

Does a road that “snakes” always imply a “winding” road?

If one says that a road snakes, does it necessarily imply that the road is winding? Or can it also express that the road is long and stretched out?
4
votes
4answers
372 views

Can snow be dry?

Disclaimer: There are a lot of questions packed in but their answers are interdependent. Different textures of snow can be described as "wet" and "dry". Considering that water is the quintessence of ...
3
votes
1answer
164 views

Literal echelons?

Merriam-Webster and the OED list only figurative senses of the word echelon (i.e. military formations and organizational ranks). Would it be incorrect to use it in the literal sense of the French word ...
4
votes
3answers
16k views

“Money for rope” … meaning and derivation?

I was listening to John Lennon's song "Gimme Some Truth" just now, and in it there's a recurring line "money for rope." I never thought about it much before, but it strikes me this has to be some ...