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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13
votes
6answers
3k views

Alternatives to “break a butterfly on a wheel” [duplicate]

The phrase "to break a butterfly on a wheel" is very evocative, but I can't bring myself to use it: I find the "wheel" too disturbing. So: what are some good alternatives? (For those who are ...
1
vote
2answers
58 views

How should I refine “XX is widely used internally”?

I'm trying to express that a mechanism is used both internally and widely. So I tried This mechanism is widely used internally but I'm using two adverbs that surrounds a verb, looks ...
3
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the contrastive phrase of “little to no”?

An example question of the usage of little to no: Idiom to describe something that has little to no effect? I understand that the phrase little to no effect means little effect, or worst, no effect. ...
9
votes
12answers
1k views

Historical or literary examples of misguided or botched attempts to help that end up causing harm [duplicate]

I'm looking for examples from history, folklore, literature, movies, or pop culture, of situations in which a person or group attempted to do something helpful but, due to their own poor judgment, ...
1
vote
6answers
207 views

Word or phrase for “example earlier than the concept”

Which English word or phrase can be used to express consisely that a particular thing or occurrence can be seen as an example or instance of a general concept, for which now there is a term, ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

Is there a verb that describes speaking with a full mouth?

I am looking for a verb that describes speaking with a full mouth, like a child asking something at the dinner table before swallowing, because they are so anxious/curious for the answer. Anything ...
3
votes
2answers
229 views

Is there a word/phrase for using an expression which is directly translated and makes no sense?

I'm looking for a word (or a phrase) to describe a particular phrase or idiom which is directly translated from a foreign language and makes no sense in the language it's translated to. For instance, ...
0
votes
2answers
50 views

Terser, tidier way to say you'd like “no further progression of [someone's] macular degeneration”

I'm editing a church prayer sheet, and one of the requests is that someone's specific eye disorder won't keep getting worse. The original phrasing, unfortunately, was pretty awful: "Pray for Macular ...
1
vote
2answers
267 views

Word/phrase that means “secondary” without implying a lack of importance [closed]

Trying to think of a word or short phrase to describe something as being secondary but without implying that it is unimportant.
4
votes
2answers
809 views

Adjectives to describe a big human achievement vs. a quick achievement

Premise: It took 13 years and 3 billion dollars to sequence the first human genome by scientists. What would be an adjective to describe this feat? However, now a new software can do the ...
0
votes
4answers
180 views

Exhortation to “be successful”? [closed]

I just bought a smoothie and the barista wrote the Spanish phrase "Éxitos" on my cup. My Spanish-speaking colleagues tell me this is wishing me success. I'm trying to think of an analogous English ...
0
votes
1answer
39 views

'Starting with the' or 'starting the' & 'from at least OR at least from'

Which one would be correct, a. We will be starting with the interview process on 5th October OR b. We will be starting the interview process on 5th October 2 a. You should get coins at least ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

What do you call a note that gives preliminary information before the main part?

I'm looking for a single word (if not, a natural phrase) for a note that you write before starting the main article/part/question etc. It can give preliminary information (in general). However, it ...
2
votes
1answer
62 views

“Branching Factor” in military and industrial organizations?

In math, branching factor measures the (average) number of descendants in a tree; e.g., the branching factor of a binary tree is 2. How is the same number called when applied to the military (usually ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Alternative for “particularly interested” [closed]

What are other formal ways of saying "I'm particularly interested in..."? In this case it's for use on cover letters for CVs. The synonyms for "interested" offered by the thesaurus don't seem ...
5
votes
2answers
215 views

English play on: (Chinese) “enemies and lovers are pre-destined to meet”

Wondering what phrases English has similar to this Chinese idiom. ABC Dictionary (GoogleBooks): 183. (lit) [If we/they/you were] not rivals/enemies, there would be no encounter. (fig) ...
1
vote
7answers
967 views

Shorter way of saying “Uncertain of what was going on”?

I saw a shadow fumbling inside my closet. [...] , I screamed. I thought of the word confused but I think it doesn't have enough intensity. Is there a word/phrase that means uncertain of what was ...
36
votes
9answers
5k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
207 views

Idiom or word for someone who opens their mouth and closes their ears in discussions? [closed]

Some individuals are not interested in listening to your opinion, and it seems like your idea either has no value to them, or they already know what you are about to say, and they talk over you or ...
0
votes
2answers
181 views

Phrase “In my spare time” [closed]

In an office environment answering a customer with the response "I will work on your project in my spare time". I feel there is a more professional way to answer. Suggestions?
2
votes
4answers
344 views

Words or phrases of teacher of teachers

Is there any specific word or phrases to describe teacher of teachers? If not, how do I express this idea? More precisely,someone who train people to be teachers on their fields. Thank you very ...
0
votes
1answer
249 views

Words or phrases to state that taking factors into consideration at first place.

Are there any words or phrases to state that taking factors into consideration at first place? For example, maybe before I start to write a patent, I take potential rivals, expected costs and ...
3
votes
4answers
282 views

Single word or phrase - conspiratorially exchanging glances

Is there a single word or a phrase for conspiratorially exchanging glances when someone does something inappropriate?
0
votes
2answers
251 views

What is a term for having a “small” name for something that's actually “large”?

For example, referring to a 7 feet tall, 450 lb man with the nickname "Tiny".
1
vote
12answers
46k views

A word to describe not caring (socially and publically) about other people's feelings

What is the word to describe someone who does not care about other people socially and publicly, that is a word or phrase which could describe behaviors such as littering, cutting in a line, talking ...
1
vote
2answers
113 views

“Degree of Proximity” or “Proximity of Blood” or “Relation Proximity”?

I'm translating a civil record to English, which has a table of information about a family registry. One of the titles is "Degree of Proximity", however I'm not sure which of the expressions suits the ...
1
vote
2answers
364 views

A direct, ironic response to “How are you?” indicating that the person is in a bad mood [closed]

Imagine person A asks person B, how B is doing. B is doing bad and he or she is upset with the question (after all, nobody wants to admit that he or she is screwing his or her life up). What kind of ...
0
votes
3answers
200 views

Verbs or phrases to buy something which are specifically for sale later?

what is the verbs or phares stating that shop owners buy something which are specifically to be sold in future, chefs buy some ingredients which are specifically used to make foods to sell, or ...
1
vote
1answer
242 views

semantic difference for the forms: “x of y” vs. “x of the y” vs. “y x”

As a non-native speaker, I have a problem understanding the difference in meaning of the following forms: "… of …" "… of the …" "… …" To be more specific, let me give some instances: "theory of ...
0
votes
3answers
136 views

Phrase for “putting one's plans into action”

I am looking for a phrase, metaphor, or cliche to mean "putting one's plans into action". I am using it in the following sentence. As the events of the play proceed, however, Hamlet becomes ...
2
votes
1answer
125 views

In what sort of rhyme do matching consonants precede last stressed vowels?

Is there a term for the sort of rhyme or near-rhyme that subsists between such words as repose and propose? For these seem to me less truly to rhyme than, say, vision and decision. In the latter pair, ...
1
vote
2answers
659 views

Synonym for “dream life”? [closed]

I have been unable to find a good word (or 2-word phrase) to convey the idea of "dream life", by which I mean "the possible future state of my life in which I experience even more fulfillment, health, ...
7
votes
2answers
66k views

What is a more formal alternative for “pros and cons”? [closed]

The phrase I'm looking for is on the tip of my tongue, I'm sure it exists I just can't think of it. This is for an essay title, and if the essay is good, a journal paper.
1
vote
1answer
1k views

What is the common name/word for movies,games,songs,books etc? [closed]

English is not my main language, I am trying to find a word or a phrase (2 or 3(!) words maximum) to make a reference to these actions for an article. What is the common name for these kind of ...
4
votes
4answers
390 views

A good term for something that sustains itself via a positive feedback loop?

So just for context, I would like to pose the hypothesis that the US dollar is the strongest currency because it is the global reserve currency and is the global reserve currency because it is the ...
3
votes
10answers
19k views

Word or phrase for one who tries to benefit from everything someone else does [duplicate]

I am trying to find a good word or phrase to describe someone who (or the act of someone which) tries to benefit from everything someone else has or does. The context is, on a personal level. For ...
15
votes
5answers
704 views

Is there a term for when an allusion to a source becomes more well-known than the source itself?

I’m looking for a word or phrase to describe when Source B quotes or references Source A, and then Source B becomes so much more well-known than Source A that people attribute the source of the quote ...
5
votes
12answers
594 views

Noun or phrase similar to clone with positive connotation?

I'm searching for a noun (a single word if possible) or phrase that conveys that one thing functions the same as another externally, even though the internals may differ. Nouns such as copy, a clone, ...
1
vote
2answers
186 views

Word/phrase for “lingering memory of an unpleasant event”?

The first word that came to me was aftermath. But it doesn't quite do it. Because aftermath refers to the "lingering" effects and what I'm looking for is the memory, the shadow. Is there a ...
0
votes
3answers
428 views

Word/phrase for “things that are too much for us to bear”

I have a theory. We created laughter to protect us from things that are too much for us to bear. I'm sure there's a word or a shorter phrase for the bolded part.
1
vote
8answers
395 views

Word/phrase for remarks which often have a dark feel to them but whose meanings are not readily apparent? [closed]

I know someone who has a tendency to make strange remarks whose meanings are not readily apparent, remarks which often have a dark feel to them, but which are left unexplained, as if to hide ...
1
vote
2answers
431 views

Word or Phrase for Identical Twins with Opposite Personalities? [closed]

Looking for an apt word or phrase for physically identical twins with opposing character traits? Example: one twin tends to be very organized, and the other tends to be very disorganized, etc.
18
votes
15answers
6k views

Is there a word or term to describe when someone focuses on a specific example, rather than the problem at large?

For those who don't play video games, there's a growing trend in the industry called "Microtransactions" - a small fee the player can pay for certain things in game. Usually something small, such as a ...
3
votes
2answers
563 views

Formal alternative for “take on board”

Two men are having a conversation. A is plying B with numbers and other technical details, but talks so glibly and rapidly that B does not properly "take on board" the information which A is ...
1
vote
5answers
824 views

Word to describe what an academic degree is “in”

I am trying to describe the individual components of a a list of academic degrees: AS Accounting AS Marketing BA Sociology BA Economics BS Accounting/Finance BS ...
10
votes
10answers
2k views

Is there a word for something loved by the masses but whose true value is lacking?

Is there a general word for someone or something popular or loved by the masses but that has not been proven to be effectual (like how some would use the term "pop psychology" pejoratively)? Examples ...
1
vote
5answers
904 views

Word(s) for a person who degrades other people's work/efforts anonymously

Word(s) for a person who degrades other people's work/efforts anonymously. meta: I really want to know since this sickness is wide-spread across Internet. To me, this is a filthy mix of ...
5
votes
4answers
891 views

Is there a word for being able to type without looking?

Is there a word for the ability to type without looking? ex: Because bob is _______ he can watch the lecturer and type simultaneously.
7
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the English idiom for eventually getting it right after many mindless attempts

I made up an idiom that I think describes what I want to say quite nicely: "If one shoots enough arrows at the target, one is sure to hit the bull's eye." An actual English idiom I know of that ...
6
votes
8answers
1k views

Word meaning “open to being persuaded by a strong argument”?

To be used in a phrase like "especially civil, thoughtful, and ___ expressions of differing beliefs" (this is closest to the primary use case) or "especially civil, thoughtful, and ___ ...