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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0
votes
3answers
165 views

How to describe an unsmooth hill?

I have a really quick and dumb question here. I need to describe a distribution. I have difficulty with explaining an unsmooth hill. If you see the picture, after the peak there is a hill but it ...
3
votes
2answers
743 views

Word or short phrase meaning “Happening on the same day as”

I'm wondering if there is a conventional word or short phrase meaning "happening on the same day" -- similar to "at the same time" but implying same day without implying that the events are ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

More common/informal way of saying “as is the case with…”?

Example: As is the case with the path, there's only one cliff. (Meaning there's only one path and only one cliff.)
1
vote
2answers
626 views

How to describe the movement of a dress when the person twirls around?

My friend put on a gown and then started twirling and moving around. The dress started to swirl around... I want to eloquently explain this. Can someone please help me with this? "My friend started ...
2
votes
5answers
1k views

How to refer to the upper, flat part of a cliff?

A cliff is basically divided in two parts: the "flat" surface where you stand and then fall. What do you call the former? Here's an example of the desired usage: There were two climbers on the ...
3
votes
4answers
115 views

“Gastronomy winds”?

I'm trying to find a way to translate a title with a direct translation "Gastronomy winds blowing from X". I don't think it sounds pretty in English, plus can't find a better alternative other than ...
1
vote
1answer
47 views

Can we state “over the course of next six years”? [closed]

Does this sentence read correctly? Please advise. This implementation plan started in January 2014 and is scheduled to be rolled out worldwide over the course of next six years. Thanks, Mahi.
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 ...
37
votes
14answers
6k views

What can be used as formal euphemism of “hack”?

I'm writing a technical document, and I need to convey the fact that we had to find a non-optimal, non-orthodox solution that was adopted as the best available alternative (a hack) to solve an ...
3
votes
3answers
161 views

What's the word for spotting flaws in news articles you are expert in, but happily accepting reports in other fields?

I'm sure I came across a "syndrome" to describe this. Say you're an expert in physics, and read an newspaper article where the reporter has completely misunderstood the Large Hadron Collider. You ...
2
votes
2answers
203 views

Word or phrase that describes when a fictitious character quotes real writing/speech etc

Is there a word or phrase to describe when a fictional character quotes/references something that exists in the real (our) 'universe' (but can also therefore exist in the fictional 'universe'). Either ...
0
votes
6answers
304 views

Word like “giving up” but that implies shifting to something else? [closed]

Example: I began searching in the zoology section. But I didn't find what I wanted. [...], I shifted to veterinary medicine. I think using giving up would mean giving up on the whole thing. It ...
2
votes
3answers
229 views

Word for deliberately taking the literal rather than implied message

What is the word for understanding someones implied meaning, but being completely pretentious about it and taking their words for what they literally said?
3
votes
1answer
131 views

Is there a term for a grammatical construction like “Exhibit A”?

Is there a term for names that consist of a noun or noun phrase followed by an ordinal letter or numeral? For example: Exhibit A The Land Before Time IV Patient Zero Perhaps ordinal proper noun or ...
2
votes
1answer
547 views

Is there a word or phrase for “running away from home to avoid an arranged marriage”

In the olden times, a woman would need parental consent to get married, or worse, her groom would be chosen by her father. As a consequence of such element of culture, she would sometimes run away ...
2
votes
4answers
192 views

Not true in general, but possibly true in some cases

Is there an abbreviation, an English or a Latin expression for "not true in general, but possibly although not necessarily true in some cases"? I suppose such a phrase may be used frequently in law ...
1
vote
2answers
110 views

Word to describe ideological based giving? (outside of tithing, more specific than charitable)

I'm looking for a word that describes "a group of people that give to others that Share similar beliefs Promote a related cause Serve as a good example of what the group believes in" Consider that ...
2
votes
5answers
370 views

idiomatic phrases for *the threat to go to the police*

Let's imagine a situation. One dog's master set his pit bull on his neighbour. This dog bared teeth and did not allow the neighbour to get into his car. The dog frightened this man to death. The man ...
1
vote
4answers
207 views

Word or phrase for “Normal for that person”

I am looking for a single word, or phrase, meaning that this is the state that this person is normally in. In context I have a sentence: "Now, {As was normal for her}, she was smiling with ...
2
votes
5answers
518 views

Meryl Streep is a ______? (as a big compliment)

It's a specific word or small phrase that I can't remember, and it's killing me. It was probably an Oscars ceremony, and someone boldly introduced her as a “xxxx”. It was the highest of compliments, ...
1
vote
3answers
168 views

What's a common way of referring to the “tool” a person used to commit suicide?

For instance, a gun, a rope, or the like. What's the common way of referring to them? Assuming the suicide attempt of the person who used them was successful? Example sentence: We kept grandpa's ...
3
votes
4answers
329 views

Other ways to say 'I plead insanity'

I am writing a one act play about a trial. The evidence is piled against the defendant, and he wants to plead insanity. What are other ways of stating that? What are other ways to refer to that plea? ...
2
votes
4answers
924 views

What do you call the wave-like bumps that are formed in damanged aluminium surfaces?

Example: I'm referring to the wave-like bumps on that dog house's roof. What do you call them?
1
vote
4answers
77 views

People with similar traits

I am curious as to whether there is a noun or some other, more suitable expression for that group of people which shares my personality type. I often use 'people with same traits or personality'.
1
vote
5answers
273 views

A word or short phrase for 'better in every way'?

When we're comparing two or more things, there are times when we have to weigh the advantages or disadvantages of each one. There are other times when one of the things is better for every way in ...
0
votes
2answers
137 views

Of course… Also of course

Simply put: do we have a good way of expressing "also of course" when we have two "of course" statements concerning a preceding statement? Not so simply put: "of course" can be useful to express a ...
1
vote
1answer
126 views

Term for Making a New Word that is the Same Part of Speech as its Root

Recently, I've been noticing that in casual speech people often unwittingly create new words from standard English words that are (a) of the same part of speech as the standard word and (b) meant to ...
1
vote
6answers
415 views

Forcing someone's choice through malicious or careless timing

Let's say Alice needs Bob to make a decision between options 1 and 2. Bob would prefer 1. However, Alice asks Bob at such a time he cannot choose 1, so he is forced to pick 2 except in all but the ...
1
vote
1answer
126 views

How to convey the meaning of “ordering a mess of papers and books”

How do English people convey the meaning of the action of tidying up a great unordered amount of sheets of paper, books, and notes in a single word or phrase?
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 ...
0
votes
1answer
188 views

In which or at which? [duplicate]

Whether the integration of the refugees into the local community can be feasible depends on the manner in which and the rate at which this happens. Or Whether the integration of the refugees into ...
0
votes
3answers
105 views

What do you call those little explosions you see in barbecues and bonfires?

I'm not talking about the one caused by grease, but the one that occurs spontaneously. A little puff that sends thousands of sparks around.
1
vote
8answers
3k views

Is there an adjective for someone who has a “sense of entitlement”?

When someone has unreasonable expectations and feels that he is owed by others, this trait is described as a "sense of entitlement". But how do you refer to the person who has this trait other than ...
2
votes
4answers
3k views

What do you call a person who doesn't believe in something but still saying things about it? [closed]

What do you call a person who doesn't believe in something but still saying things about it? For example let's say Mario doesn't believe in God (he is an atheist) and something bad happens to Mario ...
0
votes
3answers
318 views

What's a term for “useless numbers or data”?

I'm looking for a single word or short phrase that can describe any numbers or statistics that have very little practical value, and are useful only to the extent of "hey look, a number!" Here's an ...
0
votes
3answers
99 views

Word Request: A word that would describe how seconds (or other unit) relate to minutes (or other unit)

For example, if I had the sentence: A minutes ______ are seconds. What word would work here? It would also fit in the sentences below. A byte's _____ are bits. A byte is split up by eight ______ ...
11
votes
2answers
263 views

What's the term for not specifying race or gender when it is the majority?

In one of my English literature courses, my professor talked about how minority writers are often "marked" by a qualifier, while majority writers are unmarked. For example, Langston Hughes is often ...
0
votes
4answers
217 views

Word for Inability to Write

When school's off for more than three or four days, I usually don't write much (I prefer to type at home!) and so when I come back and hold my pen[cil], my fingers refuse to move like they normally ...
24
votes
11answers
6k views

Is there a word or expression for when someone passionately wants something, and then discovers afterwards that it's different from how he imagined?

Is there a word or expression to describe when someone passionately wants something, eventually gets it, and then discovers that it isn't what he thought it was? For example, suppose that John is a ...
1
vote
3answers
239 views

Word to describe ideology of unfettered belief in rational self-interest

I'm looking for a word that captures the ideology of believing everything can be traced back to rational self-interest. I know that this is a form of weak altruism, and that many ideas of economic ...
1
vote
1answer
130 views

how can I use “fewer” and “more” with numbers?

I have never heard anyone use words "fewer" and "more" when talking about the fact that a certain number of items is greater than a certain number of other items by a constant. For example if the ...
4
votes
3answers
217 views

What's the opposite of “further down” in “further down the road”?

Suppose that there is a road which is 1000 meters long. I enter the road and after 500 meters I see Matthew. Matthew says: "James is walking somewhere further down the road". Then I drive further and ...
5
votes
7answers
1k views

Alternatives to the expression “poor man's <noun>”

I'm looking for a more politically correct substitute for the expression "poor man's", meaning an inferior improvised or makeshift substitute. Usage examples: "Guncotton is the poor man's TNT" "Poor ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Term for Bowing at the End of a Play

I'm looking for the best term (or phrase) to describe the act of bowing to the crowd while onstage at the end of a play or performance. I came by the terms "encore" and "curtain call", but I'm not ...
5
votes
2answers
272 views

Something like antonym for “dependent”

Let's suppose I have two objects – A and B. They are a pair. I mean that we will name them considering them one logical unit. For example: If I call A as "driven," then B will be called ...
0
votes
3answers
237 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
158 views

What do you call a full monopoly?

What word or phrase is best used to describe a monopoly in all economies - basically having a monopoly in everything. For example, Company X has a monopoly in Food, Technology, Communication, ...
0
votes
1answer
148 views

mistakes in set phrases; “…you have to celebrate the victory of your spoils…”

Is there a word for mistaken use of a set phrase? For example, I heard an interview with an athlete in which he said "...you have to celebrate the victory of your spoils." Of course, this is not how ...
2
votes
2answers
815 views

Word that describes a repeating pattern across orders of magnitude of scale

What word describes the notion of a simple pattern repeating itself across a multitude of scales? For example, consider Gravity. The forces of gravity are present at the quantum scale (atoms attract ...
1
vote
2answers
92 views

Phrase for a guest enforcing their culture/rules on the hosts

Imagine a certain Bob from Somethingistan whose native culture forbids wearing hats. Now Bob immigrates to Somelandia where it is perfectly normal to wear hats. However, not only does Bob not wear ...