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
3answers
903 views

What's a good opposite of “keep track”? [closed]

How can I say the opposite of "keep track"? I was trying to keep track of something but something happened and I lost the track. I'd like to say "lose track". Is it possible to say it this way or is ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Were there any other synonyms to “sustainability” before the 80s?

The German word for sustainability, Nachhaltigkeit, arose (according to Wiktionary) in the 18th century. Ngrams shows this. I was wondering if the concept of sustainability did not exist before ...
23
votes
12answers
2k views

Expression that means something like “killing the sheep to keep them from being kidnapped”

I'm looking for an expression that conveys an excessive risk management approach that ends up having a worse effect than what it is trying to protect against.
1
vote
2answers
608 views

Is it correct to say 'Do one thing' when asking somebody to do something?

In Indian English, sometimes we say things like this: 'Do one thing. Take a left turn there'. Basically, I am asking somebody to do something, which comes in following sentence. What's the better way ...
1
vote
7answers
8k views

A phrase like “Good effort!”

Does the phrase "good effort" imply failure? Like, even though you failed, it's good that you gave it your best shot? I'm looking for a phrase like "good effort" that does not imply failure. It would ...
13
votes
12answers
5k views

What's an idiom for doing something in an unnecessarily complicated way?

For an example, I'll quote C.S. Lewis' The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: One day the cat got into the dairy and twenty of them were at work moving all the milk out; no one thought of moving the cat. ...
6
votes
6answers
382 views

“Not hindered with any knowledge”

In Dutch we use the translated equivalent of not hindered with any knowledge to indicate somebody without any knowledge on the subject. It is not necessarily negative. It can mean that somebody is ...
3
votes
2answers
29k views

Alternative word of extensive/broader experience

I usually see "I have extensive experience" or "I have broader experience" in resume. I want to know an alternative way to express that "I have much experience and great knowledge in something"
6
votes
6answers
7k views

Alternatives to “Constructive Criticism”

I'm a big fan of constructive criticism, but I'm afraid that the term has become a cliche - or even a buzzword! What are some good synonyms for it?
0
votes
6answers
1k views

Alternatives to the term “crash course”

I am trying to find alternatives to the term crash course, in reference to a training session that intends to get you started with a topic quickly.
0
votes
2answers
189 views

Can I say “Draw a triangle around the strawberry”?

Can I say "Draw a triangle around the strawberry" when I want someone who is reading a book, in which there is a picture of a strawberry, to draw a triangle in that book in such a way that the ...
6
votes
9answers
13k views

What is an idiom/slang for “someone who pretends to be good when they're not”?

This is not from real life, but from a movie on my local TV. A character in the movie is really bad, but when she talks with others, she pretends to be an innocent/ good woman. I want to know how to ...
3
votes
3answers
568 views

Can “Can you, please, help me” be followed by “as to which”?

Can "Can you, please help me" be followed by "as to which"? For example, Thanks for telling me which button on that website I need to click. Well, I clicked on the needed button, but what I ...
1
vote
1answer
164 views

how can I phrase the future possible applications of a technology?

I'm writing an overview for a paper, and want to let the reader know part of the outline: ...in the last paragraph I want to mention the possible future applications one can reach/accomplish with ...
1
vote
1answer
328 views

“Guess the animal” or “Guess what animal it is”?

A child is talking to another child: "Hey! Guess what animal it is. It is white and black and has a long neck." or "Hey! Guess the animal. It is white and black and has a long neck." ...
3
votes
4answers
575 views

Is it okay to say “I can play the piano by music notes”?

Is it okay to say "I can play the piano by music notes" (meaning that if you gave me a sheet of paper with some music notes on it, I would have no problem reproducing that piece of music by looking at ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

What is the meaning of “I don't give a damn for someone that can only spell a word one way.”

What does it mean when a person says "I don't give a damn for someone that can only spell a word one way" when talking about give and take relationship? The situation goes like this: My friend ...
6
votes
7answers
2k views

What is a word or expression to describe anxiety about the passing of time?

What is a word or expression to describe a feeling of anxiety about the passing of time? I am not referring to boredom which refers to not having anything to do or being dissatisfied with what I'm ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

A better way to say “enrolled in a program” to signify the difficulty of attaining admission in the face of stiff competition?

I'm trying to write a personal statement in which I've to account for my past educational experiences. One of my courses is from a prestigious institute in my country, where its difficult to attain ...
6
votes
11answers
15k views

Is there a word similar to “condolences” that doesn't involve death?

This is related to the recent entry in the web comic xkcd: http://xkcd.com/945/ I never say, "I'm sorry," because people interpret that as if I feel at fault, when I don't. I've been simply saying, ...
10
votes
8answers
602 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
19k views

More formal way to say “follow up”

I am writing a formal letter and want to say "I am following up with you regarding..." but I need to say it more formally.
12
votes
5answers
4k views

Other expressions for “to be the devil's advocate”?

Is there another way or expression to say: He is the devil's advocate I don't quite like this expression, and I don't know if it is a good idea to use it in a religious context.
1
vote
3answers
512 views

Word or phrase to describe banging finger downwards to demand something

I'm trying to find a short and sweet phrase to describe the following action. A man is upset. He is demanding for something to be done. He reaches his hand forward, his finger pointing downwards, ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Phrase or idiom for funnelling efforts in wrong direction

What one phrase or idiom describes situations (see examples below), in which people funnel their efforts in the wrong direction? A boy wants to have a cup of coffee, so he buys a notebook in a ...
0
votes
3answers
3k views

What could I say instead of “raise the roof”?

What is another way of saying, "raise the roof"? This slang phrase means something like, "get noisy and have a good time at a party," but it doesn't sound correct for some reasons. Why is that? What ...
3
votes
8answers
1k views

Word or phrase meaning “working hours have ended, and it's time to go home”?

What word or phrase is used to signify that the work day has ended?
2
votes
7answers
1k views

“Deus Ex Machina” for Misfortune

I'm looking for a word or phrase like "deus ex machina," but to describe misfortune rather than resolution. It needs to communicate that the situation "came from out of nowhere," and/or feels ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Is describing someone as “higher-educated” awkward?

I’m updating my résumé and would like to convey in a condensed manner the fact that I have a Masters degree in a particular branch of the humanities (politics and society of the Middle East, but ...
1
vote
3answers
318 views

Better way to say “repeat sequentially”

I'm trying to say "it counts the number of times a given value repeats sequentially" in a list, meaning it finds the maximum number of times a value occurs in a row in a list. I know there's a word ...
35
votes
13answers
117k views

More formal way of saying: “Sorry to bug you again about this, but …”

I was wondering if there was a more formal and polite way of saying: Sorry to bug you again about this, but we still have not received a response about X .... (if we still have not received any ...
31
votes
5answers
14k views

Replacement for “God forbid”

I wanted to use the phrase "God forbid" the other day, but really wanted to avoid the religious connotations that may come along with it. I was stumped while thinking of a replacement or variation. I ...
2
votes
3answers
280 views

What is the practice of pricing goods at numbers such as 3.95, 69.90, 198 called? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the term for pricing items just below a significant value (e.g. $19,995) It is common on price tags to use $3.95 instead of $4.00 to make items appear cheaper. ...
2
votes
2answers
550 views

A concise term for staking territorial claims

I'm looking for a word or phrase specifically used to refer to the act of placing a flag to claim new territory. I'm specifically referring to claiming land in the name of some sovereign, though a ...
3
votes
7answers
846 views

Expression for advantages of solution being disadvantages of alternatives

Is there some expression for situations where you can conclude that a solution's advantages are the same as the disadvantages of alternative solutions?
1
vote
6answers
3k views

Common antonyms to “happy ending”?

I know you may specify to something like tragic, open end to describe actually what the end is like. But do English critics/reviewer in movie magazines use a common term for movies with bad/evil ...
2
votes
4answers
644 views

Meaning of “rallying call”

I searched for an English translation of the German term Durchhalteparole, meaning to appeal to a group of followers to hold out (especially in politics), but having the connotation of being a ...
68
votes
28answers
9k views

Is there an American English equivalent of the British idiom “carrying coals to Newcastle”?

I'm an American living in the Netherlands who is learning Dutch. There's an idiom in Dutch that describes performing a needless/futile activity, "water naar de zee dragen," which literally translates ...
1
vote
2answers
205 views

Term for someone who calls herself negative things that are not true

What is the correct term for someone who usually says negative things about herself (that she is fat,ugly or dumb) even though she knows that she is not?
6
votes
8answers
1k views

Express an ability not to do something

How would I express my ability not to do something? "I cannot dig" means that I definitely cannot dig. But how do I express my ability not to dig? The first thing that comes to my mind is "I am able ...
0
votes
1answer
171 views

Equivalent for “at the heart of our society” [closed]

I want to say "XXX is at the heart of our society," but I feel it's such a cliche! Any suggestions for a somewhat equivalent sentence?
3
votes
10answers
3k views

Is there an expression for creating something from start to finish (e.g. grain to bread)

Maybe this is not really the right place to ask this, I hope I will not be penalized for asking this. I am a webdeveloper, and I do most of the stuff myself, from the basic idea, till the final ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the “superlative” way of expressing “thank you”

On rare occasions, you are in a situation where a simple Thank You seems like you're undermining the other person's help. You know, instances where you are too grateful to express your feelings of ...
5
votes
7answers
961 views

A word or phrase for something that seems modern but comes surprisingly from the past?

A few examples of this "future in the past" phenomenon: SR-71 Blackbird aircraft (1964). Douglas C. Engelbart's "Mother of All Demos" (1968). World's Fair: Columbian Exposition (1893). ...
8
votes
6answers
12k views

What is the word/phrase for someone between expert and novice?

I come across various people within my field (software developer) and people who are related to my field (the marketing/business people). Many a time when I want to opine or express my ...
4
votes
8answers
52k 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?"
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 ...
-4
votes
1answer
560 views

Word to describe pushing a chair under a table

Is there a word or a short phrase to describe the action of pushing a chair under a table?
1
vote
3answers
603 views

Phrases similar to “what would you do?”

I'm looking for common phrases similar to "What would you do?" I'd like any phrase that signifies the call to action to make a difficult hypothetical decision. For example, "Take your pick" is a ...
1
vote
6answers
2k views

What is an expression, phrase, or word that describes service being fast?

Basically, I want to say this: I went to that place for brunch with my girlfriend last weekend, the service was pretty fast, and the food was good too. I want to say that the service was good in ...