This tag is for questions seeking a phrase that fits a meaning. If you're specifically seeking only a single word, see the "single word requests" tag too.

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33
votes
15answers
7k views

What's it called when you lose contact with reality when watching a movie?

Sometimes, when I watch a (real good) movie, I feel like the movie "sucks me into the screen". I feel that I am really inside the movie, really watching real persons acting in real situations. I do ...
33
votes
14answers
10k views

What is it called when something appears so obvious, no one expects it?

I honestly can not think of any examples that cannot be countered. Perhaps something like if a person brought a weapon out in the open to an airport - no one actually thinks it would be a weapon ...
18
votes
10answers
10k views

Is there a word or phrase meaning to plant my idea in someone else’s mind?

Is there a word or phrase that means to plant my idea in someone else’s mind so they think it is their own idea? Just like what happened in the movie Inception.
17
votes
8answers
3k views

Is there an English idiom for Bengali idiom “সবজান্তা গামছাওয়ালা”(wise towelsman)?

In the Bengali language there is an idiom, "sobjanta gamchawala" (wise towelsman), meaning a man whose occupation is merely to sell towels, but claims to know everything and gives valuable advice on ...
13
votes
5answers
80k views

Popular alternatives to “thank you”

The context for my question might be a bit strange. I have stuttering and therefore I have some difficulties pronouncing some words starting with particular phonetics. And I've found that if a ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the term to describe someone who deliberately drives into oncoming traffic?

According to http://www.cracked.com/article_23248_6-foreign-words-so-dark-there-are-no-english-equivalents.html (warning: sarcasm), there is no English equivalent for "Geisterfahrer", or someone who ...
5
votes
11answers
1k views

Is there any equivalent for 'amorous affairs' that is very informal?

I'm looking for a way of saying “having amorous affairs”. Ideally it should indicate a married man fooling around with younger women, and the expression should be informal, humorous, in low register ...
48
votes
10answers
4k views

Is there a term which covers ATM cards, credit cards, and debit cards?

I work in accommodation for international travelers, and people can pay with various kinds of cards: In some countries such as USA, credit cards are very common, but debit cards are not so common. ...
22
votes
11answers
5k views

What do you call an 'unselfish' action made with a selfish reason?

There are many examples of this, and I'd like to give a few: A person who puts a lot of effort to help the community and earns reputation points. But that reputation is the motivation behind helping ...
17
votes
9answers
1k views

Is there any idiomatic expression with the meaning “show all the hidden stuff”?

Which idiomatic phrase can be used to express 'showing all the hidden stuff' (it's supposed that nobody should find that out, some scandal things)?
16
votes
7answers
1k views

A wife who knows and accepts her husband's infidelity

What do you call a wife or woman who knows their spouse or partner is unfaithful but pretends either to (1) not care or (2) to not know? In this scenario it's important that the cheating spouse or ...
16
votes
14answers
52k views

Is there a term to describe speech that has a hidden meaning but is not sarcastic?

I want to describe how someone is saying something but hidden behind their words they are blaming the person they are talking to. It's kind of like sarcasm but not quite as strong. With sarcasm the ...
11
votes
10answers
2k views

Is there a word (or phrase) that describe a series of mishaps/misfortunes in one's life?

I don't mean something like 'many hardships' or 'several tragedies'. I'm looking for a word or short phrase that would describe just a really rough spot or time frame in someone's life. For instance, ...
10
votes
10answers
15k views

Word meaning crying, but not crying?

You know when you see something touching and moving and you feel like tears are about to come out of your eyes, yet you're able to barely control it; how do you describe this feeling or state? i.e. I ...
10
votes
13answers
1k views

Word or phrase for 'a much hyped discovery which later turns out to be insignificant or of no value'

In the company where I worked before, the team of specialists which handled customer dissatisfaction issues often came up with seemingly brilliant solutions which would initially appear to be key ...
3
votes
2answers
857 views

Word for phrases that are examples of what they describe

Is there a word (or phrase) for phrases that are examples of what they describe? For example, "You the verb" to tell someone they forgot a verb in an online posting, or "spacesmakethingseasiertoread". ...
2
votes
6answers
37k views

What do you call a person who always has a pleasant smile on his face?

What do you call a person who always has a pleasant smile on his face. Is there anything better than calling him a "Pleasing personality"?
19
votes
7answers
1k views

Someone who appears more of an expert than they are [duplicate]

I believe there is a term for a person who uses 'expert sounding' terminology and exudes confidence, even when their actual abilities are significantly short of their 'presentation'. Using 'wine' a ...
11
votes
11answers
26k views

Is there an expression that means something bad as a precursor to something good?

If someone is the bearer of bad news you might say, Don't shoot the messenger. If you have something that seems unfortunate at first but ends out wonderful you might say it's a blessing in disguise. ...
9
votes
3answers
14k views

Word or phrase for literally and figuratively?

Say, for example, you and a group of people were all sailing out in the ocean and something happens...then you say, "I guess we are all in the same boat" You are literally in the same boat with ...
6
votes
6answers
9k views

Short, Politically Correct word for Native Americans [closed]

No more than four syllables, more PC than Indians. EDIT: I arbitrarily chose four syllables because any more seemed like a mouthful. I like to be PC and not have to stumble over 6+ syllables.
6
votes
8answers
8k views

What would you call a person who doesn't like questions being asked of them?

My sister says I ask too many questions, such as "What have you been up to lately?" She is the only person who says that. What do you call a person who doesn't like questions being asked?
5
votes
5answers
612 views

What do you call it when a name/word is better known by a pejorative?

A while back, the US Congress passed a bill called the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”. The bill quickly became known as “Obamacare”. During the time prior to when cannabis was made ...
4
votes
11answers
27k views

Phrase for something that is always out or reach/you almost have but never can get

I believe there is a two-word phrase for something that is always just out of reach for you and which you cannot ever seem to get. (It is not Tantalus or anything having to do with Tantalus, please). ...
4
votes
2answers
606 views

Words that define a type of word and also obey that definition [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is a catchy word that means (non-)self-descriptive There are plenty of names for word sets: synonyms: words that have the same meaning palindromes: words that ...
3
votes
1answer
281 views

Is there a word or phrase for when you break a word in a different place to give a different meaning?

I'm thinking similar to a compound word, but you could break the word at a different or multiple places. Granted I cannot think of a real-world example, but I have included two situations where this ...
1
vote
3answers
85 views

Word choice for hierarchical groups of data: data point → data set →?

A data point is a single unit of information. A data set is a collection of data points (also known as a data series). Is there a word for a collection of data sets? I don't simply want to use ...
17
votes
12answers
3k views

What is the expression for the process of getting over the loss of a loved person?

The term mourning usually refers to the sorrow felt because of the death of a person: Great ​sadness ​felt because someone has ​died: Shops were ​closed as a ​sign of mourning for the ...
12
votes
7answers
694 views

A term for products whose “secret” features are well-known (but not publicized)

What do you call those household items whose selling features are purportedly practical, functional and ‘innocent’ but instead are often bought for completely different, and sometimes ‘naughty’ ...
11
votes
8answers
55k views

Academic way of saying “On the other hand”

I have two paragraphs in my paper, the previous paragraph ends with This shows that TF-IDF is still an important feature for text analysis task and my next paragraph starts with On the ...
10
votes
15answers
606 views

Is there a pejorative alternative to “improvise”?

I'm looking for a word or phrase that implies improvisation in a negative context. "Jury rigging" comes to mind, but I'm in need of a term that can't be mistaken as anything but pejorative. The ...
7
votes
5answers
736 views

Is there a word for “What might have been”?

Context: You made the decision not to see a person any more. The relationship was good, you were both happy with one another but the one main stumbling block (for you) in the relationship was never ...
7
votes
5answers
599 views

A laudatory expression for “an expert in grammar”

All too often, the 19th century scholars who wrote volumes on English grammar are today accused of being pedantic; persnickety; puritanical and prescriptivist poppycock grammarians. In the 21st ...
7
votes
4answers
754 views

What is the English counterpart to 'Binboyusuri' - keep jiggling one’s legs during conversation sitting on the chair?

There are persons who keep jiggling their legs sitting on the chair during conversation or being interviewed. This motion is annoying and seen as the indication of the speaker’s tension, weakness to ...
7
votes
3answers
11k views

“expecting a baby”

Can I say "we are expecting a baby" when my wife is pregnant or does that sound funny to native English speakers, saying it as a man? (In German, the phrase has become somewhat common, but it stills ...
7
votes
10answers
8k views

word that means: causing a paradigm shift, new era, revolution

I can't think of the word and it's driving me nuts. I'm looking for a word that can be used when some technology is discovered, way of thinking, or even event happening that causes a big change in ...
6
votes
4answers
764 views

What do you call someone who is addicted to a Q&A website?

I was looking for a term for someone who is addicted to a Q&A website but I came up with general terms like nethead, cybernaut, netizen, internet addict etc. You can think of adjectives like ...
6
votes
7answers
661 views

What are “good men that do nothing” called?

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." -Edmund Burke Is there an idiom, phrase or preferably a single word that we can call people that could have helped ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Word or phrase for “one needing to see it to believe it”

What's a word or phrase that could be used to describe a person who needs to see the evidence for a claim in-person before believing it?
5
votes
3answers
3k views

Idiomatic saying for “just over” and “just under”

Is there an idiomatic saying to say that a distance is about x kilometer, including the connotation of "a little bit more than" or "a little bit less than" as "just over" and "just under" respectively ...
5
votes
8answers
99k views

Other ways to say “I'm rooting for you?”

What are other ways one can say that have the same meaning as, "I'm rooting for you?"
5
votes
7answers
6k views

Words to describe something that does not reach your expectations for it

Which word(s) would you use in a situation such as the one below, to make the sentence sound logical, natural and complete? You told me we were going to a nice park. We've spent almost two hours ...
4
votes
2answers
366 views

What is the name of combination, in error, of similar or related words? (E.g.: segueway)

Is there a technical term for combination, in error, of similar or related words? This question is prompted by the following malapropism or solecism, from an article by Elizabeth Montalbano in ...
3
votes
2answers
202 views

Polite alternatives to “Whatever you say” [closed]

I wish to convey that “I will comply with your request, because I have to, although I am extremely offended that you made such a request.’ in a more concise (or passive aggressive) phrase. How? I am ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Word for a male that prefers female companions (no slang such as “pimp”)

I am looking for a word describing a man who has a lot of female friends, and who prefers female friends. I was "Wikipedia surfing" (going through Wikipedia pages and clicking on links found within ...
2
votes
6answers
473 views

Is there a term for when just by saying that something is broken and showing it to someone fixes the issue?

This seems to be a common enough occurrence that it would merit its own phrase. I imagine it might be some sort of subset of Murphy's Law. But it's specific enough that Murphy's Law doesn't quite ...
2
votes
3answers
221 views

Is there a synonym for “day” that can go with “at night”, “at dusk”, “at dawn”? [closed]

I need a word (ideally) or phrase that means "daytime" that can be used in a sentence "the event happened at dawn/dusk/night/day" "The event happened at day", and "The event happened at daytime" ...
2
votes
1answer
125 views

Is there a better name for this than “emphatic and”?

In semi-poetic writing, I have had occasion to deviate from the standard prose list practice (interpose commas or semicolons between items, with an "and" preceding the final item), by utilizing a ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

Idiom to describe something that has little to no effect?

I'm looking for an idiom to describe something that has a negligible effect. The only similar question I found here was: An idiom meaning someone's doing something useless and has no result at ...
1
vote
6answers
468 views

Something that is impossible but has happened [closed]

I would like to know if anyone knows the word for something that should be impossible but has happened. An example is the Big Bang Theory. It shouldn't have been possible but something happened for us ...