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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10
votes
15answers
562 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
8answers
5k 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
636 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
7answers
5k 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
7answers
4k 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
7answers
400 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
324 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 ...
4
votes
8answers
69k 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?"
2
votes
5answers
128 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
146 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
9answers
1k views

Someone who just thinks they know what they're talking about

What is a word or phrase that means a speaker (or writer) is talking about something they know very little about, but they think they know more than they do? An example: If you read diet message ...
2
votes
1answer
104 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
3k 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
136 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
126 views

Synonym for “Fellow Sufferers”?

They agreed to stay connected for hours in their provisional support group, looking for answers in their counterparts. I want to change the bold part to say that they all shared the same problem. ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Words for “a bit sad” and “a bit happy”?

Are there words or other phrases for "a bit sad" and "a bit happy"? Thank you! Edit: I'm sorry for the confusion. I wanted at least two words: one for "a bit sad" and one for "a bit happy". Thanks ...
0
votes
3answers
115 views

another way to express readiness for something

I am trying to express the idea that I am ready to begin in a way that is personal and not excessively formal or stilted. I have overused ready to begin something form. Other ways to do so can ...
-1
votes
1answer
110 views

Word for 'Lacking a subject'

The poet Medbh McGuckian often lacks subjects in her sentences, for example: "From behind the moon boys' graves \ bleed endlessly" ~ From Love Affair with Firearms She doesn't ever define the ...
210
votes
37answers
82k 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 ...
33
votes
6answers
122k views

Polite alternatives to “as soon as possible”

I’ve found myself writing the phrase “as soon as possible” just too often. Sometimes I wonder if it sounds a little rude. How can I convey the same meaning in a more polite way but without losing ...
16
votes
11answers
2k views

Is there an equivalent of “reverie” where one is lost in unpleasant thoughts?

To say "the noise outside shook her from her reverie" implies she was lost in pleasant daydreams. What if she was lost in worry or unpleasant thoughts? Is there an equivalent term (single word or ...
30
votes
14answers
5k views

Is there a verb for remaining silent?

Dutch has the verb zwijgen, which means remaining silent. Ik zwijg means I remain silent or I say nothing. It is also often used as an imperative, similar to shut up. I have been discussing this ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

What do you call a Q&A user who posts a question but never checks back?

I have searched for a term that describes users who post questions and then disappear without trace. These users will post and write their questions in a great flurry, sometimes ignoring the basic ...
10
votes
4answers
847 views

People who sell their virginity for money

I'm Vietnamese and I'm writing an essay about prostitution. I want to ask the word to express properly the people who sell their virginity for money. In Vietnamese, we use a phrase literally means ...
48
votes
24answers
6k views

Are there counterpart English expressions to Japanese proverb, "the nail that pops up is always hammered down?

I was once reminded by Robusto-san of a Japanese popular saying, ‘出る釘は打たれる - the nail that pops up is always hammered down,’ when I complained about sequential down-votes that I received. I wondered ...
21
votes
8answers
1k views

What is a better way to name “The Wrong Question”?

On StackOverflow.com I often find that people ask questions about problems that arise due to poor design choices (typically due to a lack of knowledge about the particular programming language). For ...
18
votes
13answers
8k views

What do you call a sick person who is lying in bed?

Some conditions require that a person lie in bed all the time until recovered. Is there a name for such conditions or people experiencing them at the moment? For example, I am currently <bed ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there a name for how the Irish use so, so?

There is an Irish English structural usage of the word so, that is I think unique to Ireland. Are we going to the cinema, so? Where is the dog, so? The word so is unneeded and seems to mean ...
15
votes
9answers
5k views

Is there a term for simultaneous snow and rain?

I'm from Australia where we don't have so many kinds of precipitation. I'm familiar with these: rain hail snow sleet As I understand it, sleet refers to frozen rain but I'm not totally familiar ...
12
votes
10answers
18k views

Idiom/phrase which means “to pretend not to understand or know”

Sometimes (well, often) people pretend not to understand what's going on (or pretend not to understand what the other person means, etc.) when in fact they do perfectly well. For example, Person A ...
11
votes
8answers
2k views

Is there an idiom that corresponds to the Hungarian expression “fall off the other side of the horse”?

There's a Hungarian phrase that can be literally translated as something like "fall off the other side of the horse". (The literal implication is either that instead of falling off this side of the ...
10
votes
8answers
666 views

English term for pre-thinker?

I was searching for an English translation for the German Vordenker. Basically a person, often a scientist, who began or further significantly developed a new concept or theory by contributing ...
6
votes
10answers
2k views

How to describe useless conversation?

Is there a word or concise English expression for the kind of discussion that is heated, perhaps a bit contentious or pretentious, but ultimately off-topic, vague, or too abstract to be useful? A ...
6
votes
3answers
459 views

What is the name of the moment when the detective solves the mystery or realizes who the murderer is?

In many Whodunit mystery stories, there's a scene when the detective (e.g., Hercule Poirot) discovers (or overhears) the final clue (or a phrase another characters says) that makes this detective ...
6
votes
5answers
338 views

Can programmers be called code authors?

Can programmers be called code authors or any other term similar in meaning to a book author?
5
votes
1answer
464 views

An event that occurs only once

What do you call an event that occurs only once in its environment? For instance, birth and death are two events that occur only once in the lifetime of a living thing. I am looking for a word or ...
5
votes
3answers
24k views

What is a more formal way to say “Don't get me wrong”?

I think the phrase "Don't get me wrong" in conversation means, "I'm about to say something that you might misunderstand, so don't." I'm looking for a similar phrase that sounds better when speaking ...
4
votes
11answers
13k 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). ...
47
votes
18answers
6k views

The act of baiting someone into (incorrectly) calling bullshit

Is there a single word, or commonly-used term, to describe the act of baiting another person into calling bullshit, when in fact you're not bullshitting? Conceptually, this either a sub-type, or the ...
33
votes
9answers
4k views

Person who pretends to not understand unless one speaks in exactly the words they expect [duplicate]

I just realized there are some people around my workplace who always try to correct me when using a certain word, saying that that's not how I should speak, and I should use other words (the ones ...
29
votes
17answers
8k views

Opposite of 'Midas touch'?

I'm wondering what word or phrase could be used for the counter examples of 'Midas touch' effect. The Midas touch, or the gift of profiting from whatever one undertakes, is named for a legendary ...
15
votes
12answers
35k views

What is the English word closest to Japanese “Ganbatte,” the word for encouraging people who are in disaster, or challenging a severe ordeal?

In Japan, after experiencing the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake, “Ganbatte” which contains all sense of “Cheer up, Bear up, Keep your chin up, Be courageous, Do your best” became the password of ...
13
votes
8answers
2k views

What do you call a frustrating and inexplicable ending?

I used to be a fan of the TV show Dexter, I say “used to be”, because until the last season it was a thoroughly enjoyable (and) guilty pleasure of mine. However, season 8 ruined it for me. The twists ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Word for “food only partially eaten”

Is there a single word to refer to a food item which has been partially eaten or tasted by someone? To elaborate, let's say there is a bowl of noodles on the table, and someone took a spoon of ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

What do you call a slip of the tongue in writing?

Is there any phrase or word that can be used to describe a slip of the tongue that happens in writing? Calling it a slip of tongue directly feels awkward, especially when the written text is never ...
9
votes
24answers
4k views

More emphatic term for “Expert”?

I've hit a wording problem in the controls for a game that I'm writing. I need two nouns with increasing emphasis for someone highly skilled in a given area. "Expert" is an obvious choice, so I need ...
9
votes
5answers
924 views

Words describing the pat acceptance of a thought or practice simply because “that's how it's done.”

I believe that several words or phrases exist to describe the practice of thinking in a certain way or performing a certain action simply because "that's how it's always been done." Another way of ...
8
votes
5answers
1k views

Expression for “Respect them and suspect them”

There is a Hebrew expression explained here: A common Hebrew expression is "Respect them and suspect them". We should always act in a respectful way towards others, but that doesn't obligate us to ...
6
votes
8answers
879 views

Non-pejorative term for behaviour that discriminates against people based on their birth place [duplicate]

A big theme of the UK May 2014 MEP elections is immigration - there is a great deal of political rhetoric about it that I would describe as racist or xenophobic, but I don't think either term is ...
6
votes
4answers
580 views

Analogue of “most recent” for events in the future

In the context of a listing of events that are time-based, it is common to use "Most Recent" to describe a listing of events ordered by date, in descending order, with the upper limit being today's ...