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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6
votes
8answers
2k views

What would you call a person who is not a student, but takes interest in exploring academic topics?

A person who is not formally enrolled as a student, researcher or faculty in some university or college but who takes interest in exploring academic topics/stuff. For e.g. Such a person could be ...
5
votes
4answers
5k views

Word/phrase for a feature that could be both good and bad for something

Take this scenario: a tool has a specific feature that could be regarded as an invaluable benefit for. However, this feature, if used in opposite direction may be counterproductive. In other ...
3
votes
3answers
163 views

Describe a fallacious opinion regarding one's own ability

What's a phrase that describes a unfounded tendency of a person to think that he or she is smarter or possesses more skill than average in a competitive environment such as the stock market or say, ...
2
votes
9answers
4k 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 ...
120
votes
17answers
31k views

Is there an English idiom for trying to do two things at the same time and failing at both of them due to splitting your effort?

I'm basically searching for the opposite of putting all your eggs in one basket, where the risk is total failure because you did not hedge your efforts. I'm searching for a phrase that encompasses ...
51
votes
8answers
8k views

“To science the sh*t out of something”

In The Martian movie, Matt Damon (Watney), when left stranded on Mars with very limited resources to survive, says: Mark Watney: In the face of overwhelming odds, I'm left with only one option, ...
41
votes
8answers
204k 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 ...
63
votes
12answers
10k views

What's a less offensive substitute for “rep-whores”?

This is a frequently thrown-around term on Internet forums in general and Stack Exchange specifically. Although it conveys a lot of meaning, I'd much prefer a phrase with a less offensive origin. ...
57
votes
11answers
2k views

Is there an English phrase for an inability to actually *leave* already?

There is a Hungarian expression, küszöbgörcs, which literally means "threshold-cramp", and is used to describe that long conversation you have in the entryway, with all the guests awkwardly holding ...
44
votes
25answers
7k views

Is there a similar English phrase for this Tamil proverb - “Lavish outside home yet starving inside of it”?

In Tamil, a south Indian language, there is a saying which roughly translates into English as: Lavish outside home, starving inside of it. Background : This proverb has a mocking tone and ...
34
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 ...
58
votes
10answers
7k views

What do you call a minor flaw in a work that makes you realize how perfect/flawless it is otherwise?

For example, I was listening to an audio book the other day and the author mispronounced a word which got the audience laughing. Until that point, I didn't even know that there was an audience and ...
33
votes
14answers
11k 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
12k 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
4k 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
86k 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 ...
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 ...
18
votes
14answers
2k views

What is the expression to describe that you are surrounded and have few ways to act?

Something like "circle is narrow" (just total random)? For example I'm trapped by circumstances and don't know how to get away with that. Because every way of acting seems not to be good. Thank you ...
13
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
6
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 ...
50
votes
19answers
8k 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 ...
49
votes
10answers
5k 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. ...
18
votes
13answers
12k 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 ...
17
votes
14answers
60k 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 ...
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 ...
11
votes
10answers
3k 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
20k 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 ...
7
votes
8answers
9k 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?
3
votes
2answers
927 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
44k 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 ...
12
votes
11answers
31k 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. ...
10
votes
3answers
16k 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
890 views

Is “to anagram” an established verb?

To his amusement, Jason realized that the words Madam Curie anagrammed to Radium Came. Is the above sentence idiomatic? I am not sure if I can use anagrammed to. If this is inacceptable, what is ...
7
votes
11answers
9k 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
9answers
3k views

Word for a person who wants to impose his rules everywhere or advise

My colleague has always something to advise, whatever you eat or play and he sometimes tries to dig out information from you and again advise on it. I just hate to get any feedback from him: if what I ...
6
votes
11answers
31k 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). ...
6
votes
8answers
113k 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
2answers
391 views

After seeing how misinformed an article is in a newspaper, you flip the page and continue reading as if the rest can be trusted. What is this called?

I vividly remember reading a Wikipedia article about a named law (e.g. "Betteridge's law of headlines"). It goes something like this: "You read an article about a topic you're very familiar with, and ...
5
votes
5answers
629 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
2answers
131 views

Does the “she was found in violation of…” <-> “she was violated” equivalence have a name?

This is a follow-up to this question: Why is "violated" being used as future perfect with a person as the object? At that question, it was established that there is a jargon/slang usage of ...
4
votes
2answers
633 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
373 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
9k views

Word, idiom or expression to describe feeling full (after eating)

For example: I like how you conveniently informed us after most of us had eaten already and we are [feeling full]. The phrase in brackets sounds unnatural to me. Would you suggest how to ...
1
vote
3answers
89 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 ...
12
votes
7answers
748 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
64k 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
631 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 ...