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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3
votes
5answers
71 views

Provoking indecision?

Is there a word that describes someone or something that provokes indecision? "Divisive" is close to what I'm looking for. But that is generally used to describe a person or topic that splits people. ...
5
votes
7answers
2k views

Word for a leader who rules from behind the scenes?

What would be a word for a leader who rules from behind the scenes? The most obvious one to me seems "puppeteer" but I feel like it has this strong implication of "direct control" to it which does ...
3
votes
1answer
93 views

Is there a word or phrase for when you break a word in a different place to give a different meaning?

I'm thinking similar to a compound word, but you could break the word at a different or multiple places. Granted I cannot think of a real-world example, but I have included two situations where this ...
0
votes
4answers
118 views

Word to describe a question with multiple exact correct answers

Not completely sure, but I don't believe ambiguous would qualify for the exact situation I am thinking of, though perhaps I am over thinking this in general. I have a question in a short story I am ...
52
votes
13answers
10k views

What's a less offensive substitute for “rep-whores”?

This is a frequently thrown-around term on Internet forums in general and Stack Exchange specifically. Although it conveys a lot of meaning, I'd much prefer a phrase with a less offensive origin. ...
6
votes
3answers
97 views

Is there a convenient way to say “despite and (actually) because of” in English?

I am looking for the English version of a common phrase from intellectual German, where sentences sometimes begin with trotzdem und gerade weil which could be directly translated to despite and ...
1
vote
1answer
55 views

Is there a word for excessive use of articles?

I'm correcting a report translated into English, and the previous version has "a" and "the" articles stuck to every noun and name. While writing a comment expressing my discontent with this misuse of ...
15
votes
8answers
797 views

A wife who knows and accepts her husband's infidelity

What do you call a wife or woman who knows their spouse or partner is unfaithful but pretends either to (1) not care or (2) to not know? In this scenario it's important that the cheating spouse or ...
1
vote
4answers
118 views

Looking for a word describing “habits which lost their original purpose”

I know there is a certain word which could describe rituals/habits which are being practiced despite the fact they lost their original purpose. I saw it in context of practicing some religious ...
13
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
768 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
13answers
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
86 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, ...
0
votes
2answers
233 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
89 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
34 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
115 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
178 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
127 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
18 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 ...
6
votes
5answers
407 views

What is a note that gives a preliminary information before the main part called?

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 a preliminary information (in general). However, it ...
2
votes
1answer
54 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
104 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
146 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
837 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 ...
33
votes
9answers
4k 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
99 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
65 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
123 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
83 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
117 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
120 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
11answers
5k 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
45 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
120 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
76 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
60 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
57 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
75 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
165 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, ...
3
votes
2answers
3k 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
193 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
105 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
2k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
594 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
10answers
432 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
99 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
119 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
136 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
178 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.