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
5answers
822 views

Is there a word better than “exotic” to describe languages that are little known and little studied but have many speakers?

I'm looking for a word to describe languages which are not easy to study or find books about in Western Europe or North America. On example language, which I'm currently immersed in, is Georgian, ...
26
votes
17answers
16k views

Word/phrase to mean something that just happens once

What is the word/phrase to mean something that just happens once? For example, I have often been told/expected to do this and not to do that. I become aimless and gradually lose the idea of who ...
12
votes
9answers
197k views

Any other good way of saying “Happy Birthday”?

Quite a few of my friends are having their birthdays in the coming weeks. I feel a little awkward posting plain words like "Happy Birthday" on their Facebook pages. I've decided I should come up with ...
2
votes
3answers
356 views

Is “at a time” correct?

I would like to find a way to express the meaning of "at some time". For example: I think everyone has his study or working rhythm at a time. This rhythm varies for different person, and may be ...
4
votes
2answers
311 views

What is the name of combination, in error, of similar or related words? (E.g.: segueway)

Is there a technical term for combination, in error, of similar or related words? This question is prompted by the following malapropism or solecism, from an article by Elizabeth Montalbano in ...
4
votes
3answers
303 views

What's a good term/phrase for things of a specific branch everybody should know?

There are a lot of questions on SE asking what a professional in a specific branch should/has to know? What are common short terms/phrases one can use for tagging/searching such ...
1
vote
4answers
396 views

Is “Technical skills precisely” appropriate for a list of specific technical knowledge on résumé

If I am going to put the list of specific technical knowledge on a résumé, is it appropriate to use the term "Technical skills precisely", or is there a more appropriate term to use?
4
votes
2answers
490 views

Is there a single word to describe a combination of a projected video and a live stage performance?

We're developing an entertainment module for a conclave. The format agreed upon is this: an audiovisual is projected on the screen, but is punctuated by live performances on the stage. For example, a ...
4
votes
3answers
218 views

Possibilities to combine “drop-dead” with an adjective

What adjectives can you combine with drop-dead to emphasize? There's drop-dead gorgeous, can you also combine others like "nice" and "simple"?
2
votes
4answers
256 views

Is there an idiom for “can take truth unprettified whatever it is”?

Here's the scenario: I screwed something and that caused some real harm. Now another person could just tell me, “Dude, you screwed X and this caused this and this harm," but instead he will try to be ...
10
votes
4answers
4k views

How to abbreviate “and other things”?

Which short phrase or abbreviation could I use here to mean and other things? The medulla oblongata controls respiration and cardiovascular rhythm ____. Etc. would not fit as it carries the ...
1
vote
6answers
742 views

A word meaning the opposite action of recruiting

If I was starting a club for cool kids only, I would recruit all the cool kids by, for example, actively seeking them out and convincing them to join the club. To keep the uncool kids out of my club, ...
3
votes
5answers
1k views

Word or phrase for clumsy, inaccurate expression

I'm seeking a word or phrase useful for referring to a bad sentence which clumsily, inaccurately and ambiguously attempts to express an idea or concept. Bad-sentence example: "We do a ...
2
votes
4answers
156 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
428 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
118 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
822 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
164 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
13k 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
11k 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
961 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
791 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
9k 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
6k 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
399 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
35k 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
191 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 ...
7
votes
9answers
16k 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
583 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
359 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
610 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
17k 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
634 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
22k 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
568 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
4k 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?