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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2
votes
4answers
154 views

“Seek his benefit at the expense of yours”. How to say that properly?

I want to say that if someone truly loved you, he would not seek his benefit at the expense of yours. How can I say that better than I did in the title of this question?
1
vote
3answers
1k views

“Pot calling the kettle black” … but what if the kettle isn't black (figuratively speaking)?

The pot calling the kettle black is a well accepted idiom in English, and has many equivalents in other languages. But there are some occasions when this phrase is not quite appropriate. When one ...
6
votes
4answers
422 views

What's the term when you ask a question which implies a lie?

I remember there was a thread here on English.SE this month where someone explained this, but I can't remember how it was called. An example: Where have you stolen this product? This question ...
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 ...
3
votes
1answer
117 views

Term for emergent system with its own logical rules/laws?

Eigenlogik in German means that a subsystem has its own set of rules determining its phenomenological behavior. E.g. in sociology, a social group of humans shows a group behavior based on rules/laws ...
5
votes
7answers
4k 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?
4
votes
3answers
806 views

What term is most appropriate when describing the infinite space of possibilities created through inductive reasoning?

In arguments contrasting the differences between deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning, it is often pointed out that deductive reasoning is, by definition, bounded by the terms described in the ...
0
votes
2answers
162 views

Is it a fashion to omit “is” as in “this a problem that can seem unanswerable.”?

I often see cases that a verb and a preposition are omitted as I posted a question the other day about the omission of “in” in the line, “Perry has had have difficulty planting doubt about Romney.” ...
4
votes
4answers
12k views

Another way to say “fulfill your dream”

What's another phrase or metaphor that means "to fulfill your dream" or "make your dreams a reality?"
4
votes
5answers
10k views

Alternative colloquialism for “Best of both worlds”?

I'm looking for a phrase that means the same thing as "best of both worlds", except isn't so overused. I'm looking for the semantics to remain intact; for example, "Awesome!!" would not be an ...
10
votes
3answers
937 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
754 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 ...
14
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
393 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
33k 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
8k 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
190 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
15k 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
576 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
168 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
349 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
601 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
8answers
3k 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
16k 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
622 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
21k 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
542 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
2k 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
327 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
125k 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
15k 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
283 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
591 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
876 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
676 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 ...
71
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
209 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 ...