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0
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4answers
208 views

How does “not least” mean “in particular; 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?? I ...
2
votes
4answers
102 views

“Freedom is slavery” and “Ignorance is strength” - What kind of rhetorical strategy is this?

What kind of rhetorical strategy (or fallacy?) is it when someone uses words with opposite meanings and combines them in what seems to be a contradiction? In George Orwell’s 1984 we can find: ...
14
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2answers
7k views

Where does the phrase “Scare the Dickens out of…” originate from?

Where does the phrase "Scare the Dickens out of..." originate from? And does it refer to Charles Dickens?
3
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2answers
32 views

What figure(s) of speech or expression are in play here?

I recently heard a somewhat poetic song lyric that I couldn't pin down. The writer says of a failed relationship: We broke a diamond with our bitter words. I get diamond as a metonym for ...
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votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
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9answers
5k views

“Childlessness is hereditary in our family” What do you call a statement containing a contradiction such as the example?

This kind of sentence is usually absurd and may or may not be recognized as such by the person who utters it. She will regret it till the day she dies, if she lives that long! "Aren't you going to ...
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4answers
520 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 ...
11
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3answers
25k views
6
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3answers
22k 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
525 views

What is the origin of “in a jiffy”?

What is the origin of "in a jiffy"? Etymology online Dictionary says origin unknown but speculates that it was slang (cant) for lightning and dates it as 1785. Wikipedia agrees but adds that the ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Meaning of “non-normative”?

What's the meaning of "a non-normative document"? Does "non-normative" mean "casual"? What's the significant difference between a normative document and a non-normative one?
1
vote
1answer
160 views

“The only witness is a prostitute!” What do you call this type of rhetoric in English? [closed]

The defense attorney: “…and finally, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, my client can never be considered legally guilty unless the prosecutor can prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. And, ...
1
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2answers
62 views

Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Is there a term for a word like Democratic in Democratic People's Republic of Korea? The key point here is that the word is being used precisely because it's false. It has something in common with a ...
11
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2answers
2k views

What kind of rhetorical strategy is it when someone points out a potential sticking point in his proposition before anyone can criticize it?

e.g. "I know some of you might consider this question general reference, but think of all those people who will be reading it all over the world and how it will enrich our data bank." "Of course we ...
1
vote
1answer
35 views

What figures of speech are common in “roasts”? [closed]

When a celebrity or personality is "roasted", lots of bad things are said about and to the (un)fortunate guest; at the end usually there is a change in mood and the person is acknowledged by the ...
14
votes
1answer
6k views

Similes and Metaphors - are similes a subset of metaphors?

I've always been taught that metaphors and similes both draw a parallel between two disparate ideas/thoughts/objects, but that a simile is a more explicit comparison using the word "like" or "is", ...
0
votes
2answers
93 views

What is the term to describe the use of “City Hall” in “you can't fight City Hall”?

I know there's a word to describe the use of the words "City Hall" in the common phrase "you can't fight City Hall", where "City Hall" = "the office of the mayor of the city", but I can't remember ...
0
votes
2answers
228 views

What's the meaning of “emotional stake”?

What does an "emotional stake" mean? E.g: to increase the emotional stakes, I had my favorites in both.
3
votes
3answers
713 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 ...
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vote
9answers
962 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
100 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
160 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 ...
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
90 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
303 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 ...
19
votes
5answers
5k views

Of the difference between zeugma and syllepsis

I am confused about what is the relative meaning of zeugma compared to syllepsis, both in its current meaning and possibly in former understandings of these words. The New Oxford American Dictionary ...
5
votes
5answers
14k 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
42 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 ...
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votes
1answer
146 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?
3
votes
10answers
759 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
2answers
402 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
1k 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?
1
vote
2answers
338 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
275 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
60 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
175 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 ...
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votes
2answers
176 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
350 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
178 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
145 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
107 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
89 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
102k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
15k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
238 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, ...
3
votes
2answers
1k 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
438 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"?
9
votes
2answers
282 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
142 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
470 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 ...