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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15
votes
11answers
3k views

Word or phrase for “it won't change anything, but we'll protest anyways”

There exists a phrase or device, somewhat akin to the parables of Paul Bunyan or John Henry, when your efforts at protest are futile against a struggle, but you are compelled to struggle against it ...
30
votes
7answers
4k views

Phrase when you offer someone something but it's really them who are paying for it

In Dutch, there is an idiom iemand een sigaar uit eigen doos geven, which literally means to give someone a cigar from [their] own box. The idiom is used when you offer someone something, but it's ...
0
votes
1answer
55 views

Membership equivalent of “if and only if”

Is there a phrase similar to "if and only if" for quantities? Something equivalent to this: "This procedure will generate one of these, and only one of these."
0
votes
0answers
57 views

Is there a more accurate way to describe “short vowels” and “long vowels”?

I was taught in primary school about "short vowels" vs "long vowels". Although it is a simplistic way to teach children, it is also inaccurate, because the sounds are different, not just longer and ...
0
votes
0answers
28 views

How to succinctly refer to the elements of a Cartesian product of multiple lists?

I want to say: each element from the Cartesian product of the given lists in less words. Something like each combination of elements from the given lists gets closer, but at the expense of ...
0
votes
1answer
52 views

A word of phrase for a specfic feeling

I cannot think of any word or phrase that gives this feeling; perhaps there is none: a feeling of empathy for another's position, and feeling as though one should apologize for one's actions, ...
1
vote
5answers
163 views

Unambiguous alternitive to “to consider sth. offensive” [closed]

Main Question I consider [noun] [adjective]. usually means that I arrived at the conclusion that [noun] has the property described by [adjective]. However, when the adjective is offensive, this ...
2
votes
6answers
143 views

Idiom or slang to show you're scared and/or sorry

Is there any idiom, phrase or slang you use when you have done something wrong and you want to show you are really sorry? Whether you are deeply sorry or you're just saying that because you are ...
0
votes
3answers
443 views

Another way to say “open to public view”

Is there another way to say The article was open to public view. I want to describe a blog posted to a webpage.
4
votes
6answers
233 views

Nuances of comparable

English is not my native language and I am unsure of the nuances of the word "comparable". In the sentence: It is not expected that the power-effectiveness will equal the effectiveness of ...
4
votes
6answers
124 views

More Casual and Succinct Way to Say “John's Areas of Expertise”

I am creating a user profile page, and one of the sections will contain a list of the subject areas in which the user has had the most activity and up-votes e.g. User a has answered the most questions ...
-1
votes
4answers
158 views

How to describe the face one makes when feeling sorry for someone?

How to describe the face one makes - like pressing together of lips to form a straight line - when they feel sorry for a person but have no solution to offer? The kind of face that says, "sorry, mate. ...
0
votes
1answer
29 views

What is the correct form [closed]

"Strange by no means, the bus is actually faster than the train" or "Strange as it may seem, the bus is actually faster than the train." Thanks!
5
votes
6answers
241 views

It was your choice; idiom or expression [closed]

Is there an expression or idiom used when someone has done something that hasn't had the desired result after being warned about it, to mean "It was your choice and now it's the result"? Like he can't ...
1
vote
1answer
51 views

how to say that the ring has a stone [closed]

I want to tell in the story something like "Every ring had either red or blue stone in it". But I don't like that facility. Is there a way to say it better? The full set of sentences looks like ...
0
votes
1answer
58 views

Best way to phrase a 2 x 2 list

I'm working on the website for a theater that teaches improv classes and sketch classes, and also features improv shows and sketch shows. The front page of the website lists: "Improv and Sketch ...
1
vote
2answers
77 views

How to say that a research topic is applicable for different purposes?

I want to say that my research topic is applicable for different purposes, or I can do a lot of things with my research work, or I have worked on a research topic which has a lot of application. How ...
2
votes
2answers
98 views

Word or phrase stronger than “most likely”?

Imagine this context: After we replaced the monitor, everything was fixed. Therefor the monitor was most likely the source of the problem. I feel like given the right context, "most likely" ...
2
votes
3answers
215 views

More concise expression for “time it takes to perform an action”

Is there a more concise expression for "time it takes to perform an action", where an action is anything that can be done by someone or something? The expression would be used in a list of ...
4
votes
3answers
131 views

Word/short-phrase for “word that should not exist”

Rich Halls famously coined Sniglet as any word that doesn't appear in the dictionary, but should Is there a word/short-phrase for a word that does exist, but shouldn't? Examples: He ...
9
votes
4answers
514 views

Word for “Vicarious Shame”? (Spanish: “vergüenza ajena”)

In Spanish, vergüenza ajena describes the embarrassment you feel on someone's behalf. Say, a person stands up and sings horribly, or a man makes a fool of himself trying to pick up a woman. It's an ...
2
votes
4answers
260 views

Phrase for decision-making while considering two antagonistic effects

Let's say, you are going to buy a computer. The fast ones with good hardware are expensive. When you lower your budget, the hardware quality is worse, so you will end up with a slower one. You need to ...
3
votes
3answers
131 views

Word for the opposite of a [thing]-snob?

Looking for a word or phrase that implies you are not picky about the thing in question. As in: Do you have any coffee? I'm out of coffee grounds, the only thing I have left is this half ...
0
votes
1answer
75 views

Is there a word for “specify/determine something in terms of something else”?

I am attempting to translate a greek document and there is a concept that doesn't seem to translate to a given english word; one that I know at least. It more or less says: " Fiscus -a legal term- ...
4
votes
2answers
187 views

A word spoken rarely or never

I would like to know an unambiguous term used to designate words that are spoken vanishingly rarely, if at all. Words that are never spoken, _________, illustrate the fundamental difference ...
2
votes
6answers
92 views

More compelling way to describe something as “The Next Big Thing”

What is a more compelling way to say "The next big thing in X".? It will be describing a technology company that is "disrupting" (also too much of a cliche) the industry.
0
votes
2answers
61 views

Is it right, or better way, to say someone “denies themselves agency”

I'm trying to express the idea of someone who consistently underestimates his own contributions or his ability to impact a situation, despite having high self esteem. This is due to seeing themselves ...
4
votes
12answers
579 views

Word or short phrase to describe an individual who does not tend towards extremes of emotions?

I'm looking for a good way to express the concept of someone whose natural predisposition tends towards less extremes of emotion than the average person; they get less sad when bad things happen, less ...
0
votes
1answer
64 views

How do I efficiently and specifically say that an item from a waiting list has been approved?

The title of the question illustrates my point. "Approved" is not really a clear definition of what I am attempting to say. Imagine a booking system. If a user requests to book an entity on a given ...
0
votes
3answers
161 views

Phrase for when someone leaves a group/place in an unusually quick manner

For some reason I remember the phrase "that sounded runny" used when someone leaves a group/place in an unusually quick manner. But apparently that is incorrect. Can anyone help me with the correct ...
5
votes
5answers
110 views

Is there a pithy phrase describing the state where two or more people are reduced to pointless, petty criticisms of each other?

I'm looking for a succinct way to describe what I believe is a semi-common situation, both in online discussions and sometimes in real life (e.g. with siblings during long car trips): when a ...
3
votes
1answer
72 views

A Phrase for 'Looking to Ceiling in Frustration.'

I am writing a short fiction, and I have a scene where my main character, pressured for time and being presented with a maddening dilemma, looks to the ceiling in frustration. Literally, he just looks ...
3
votes
6answers
158 views

Is there a pejorative word for “poor” that can be used in a self-deprecating way?

I was trying to translate Portuguese-language expression pé-rapado into English, which literally means "grated/rasped/shaved foot", but that probably makes no sense in English. I'm not sure those ...
1
vote
6answers
157 views

Any idiom/phrase/expression to describe this attitude?

There is this person I know who always gets excited at the slightest of the things. They give a person too much credit than they deserve for simplest of the things they do. Not that I think there is ...
-2
votes
3answers
70 views

What's the general term for something to which things can be assigned?

So I'm writing a Rails app where you can assign tasks to either people or teams, using polymorphism. However, I need to give the polymorphic interface a name -- I was originally going to use ...
1
vote
6answers
219 views

Someone who does “mundane or repetitive work” for you?

Trying to come up with the name for a new product I am working on. This tool will help hiring managers with their repetitive or mundane work. Something related to hiring or recruitment could also work ...
1
vote
3answers
69 views

Expression/word for talking about a seemingly different subject for a while?

Let's say you give a presentation where you intent to talk about A, B and C. But before you get to talk about B you feel that since it's a subject in a field not everyone in the audience might be ...
0
votes
2answers
597 views

Replacement for “this means that …” [closed]

I often write texts where I offer an explanation of some issue followed by a paragraph discussing the implications for the reader. I generally start those paragraphs with "this means": [Longer ...
5
votes
1answer
64 views

How to express that a musical composition you wrote is your own

I am describing a composition that I wrote for an English project that I have to write a paper on. Would "self-written composition" be correct? Or "self-composed composition", "personal composition" ...
0
votes
2answers
52 views

Better phrases to describe “taking A-levels” or any other course

What phrase should I use when writing about my qualifications? I feel like saying e.g. "I am taking A-levels" sounds informal (A-levels is the examination students in England take). What other verb or ...
16
votes
10answers
2k views

What is the offline equivalent of “clickbait”?

There is a common Internet marketing strategy called clickbait or clickbaiting which involves: Provocative or sensationalistic headline text that entices people to click on a link to an article, ...
2
votes
2answers
71 views

Is there a name for a counter that tracks time since an event last occurred?

I'm looking for a single word or short phrase to describe a counter that increments to show how much time has passed since an event occurred. A great example is a "days since last injury" counter. ...
0
votes
2answers
59 views

How to name a team within IT organization based on its roles [closed]

How would you call a team within an IT organization, which has very broad but relatively shallow knowledge about the specific product (compared to its developers) and is responsible for this product's ...
2
votes
4answers
223 views

Single word/idiom for a changed man

Here is my story. 10 years ago today, my dad said to me, "I want you to become a better person." before he passed away. I was a bad boy hanging around with bad boys damaging things and fighting with ...
6
votes
4answers
611 views

Is there a word or term used to categorize words that are unnecessary to conform with grammar rules and don't add to the meaning of a sentence?

In the following sentences, "that" is unnecessary: He claims that he was at the library yesterday. The professor believes that Terry Stops are practiced unconstitutionally by the police ...
3
votes
5answers
308 views

What is the expression for being unwilling to pay a (small) fine rather than spend much more to avoid it? [closed]

The example in my mind is an entire Myth book where the heroes go on a huge adventure trying to recapture a fugitive because they have been deemed "responsible" for its escape. After many hardships, ...
2
votes
2answers
57 views

Describing a relationship that is related via a third party?

How do you describe something where A does not cause B, but C causes A and B. What would you call the relationship between C and A/B and the relationship between A and B? I'm sure there's some ...
3
votes
1answer
62 views

Phrase describing reading only fragments of a text

I'm looking for a phrase to describe reading only those fragments of a text/paper/book/etc. that I need to know i.e. not reading the whole thing but only a part of it that will be useful to me. I've ...
3
votes
3answers
94 views

Is there a better phrase than “rules list” to imply something you need to read without carrying bureaucratic/procedural connotations?

I'm looking for a substitute word or phrase for "rules list." I find this phrase has a key problem: it carries heavy bureaucratic or procedural connotations, and can dissuade people from joining the ...
21
votes
6answers
2k views

When someone can speak a language very well, they are “fluent”. What if you can only understand it?

When someone can speak a language very well, they are fluent. Is there a word to describe a situation where you can understand the language when spoken to you perfectly, but just can't speak it as ...