A phrase is a group of words that make a unit of syntax with a single grammatical function.

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How did the phrase “are you nuts” come about?

What is the connection between "nut" and the character? How was the phrase "are you nuts?" used at first?
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5answers
5k views

What is the origin of idiom “Keep your hair on”?

I had a conversation with a coworker and he told me to keep my hair on. My first understanding of the idiom was that he will do something so fast that, if I was wearing a wig or something it will fly ...
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8answers
7k views

“Does it make sense?” or “Do you understand me?”? [closed]

Suppose I tell something to my companion and I want to make sure he understands me. I thought I may simply ask "Do you understand me?". But recently I heard that in such cases I should ask "Does it ...
6
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6answers
11k views

What is the difference between “Class of 2004” and “Batch of 2004”?

What is the difference between "Class of 2004" and "Batch of 2004"? I have a feeling that one means the students who joined the university in 2004 and the other means those who graduated in 2004. Is ...
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3answers
2k views

Phrasing “An hour's rest”

I was just posting a question to the Homebrewing StackExchange, and I found myself pondering the proper way to express my sentiment. I first wrote "an hour's rest", but upon review, I deemed the ...
5
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2answers
743 views

“A wrong answer” vs “the wrong answer”

In English, when presented with a list (real or imagined) or answers that could be given to a question, and the correct one is not given, we will say that somebody has given "the wrong answer". ...
3
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5answers
346 views

Question Regarding Possessives with ('s) and (of) [duplicate]

Question: Is the first one redundant and proper, or is it redundant and not necessarily correct? (1) He is a friend of Doug's. (2) He is a friend of Doug.
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3answers
5k views

“my friend” vs “a friend of mine”

I always found it weird to hear people say things like "My friend asked me to come" (with no prior mention of said friend), as opposed to "A friend of mine asked me to come". To me it seems as though ...
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5answers
5k views

Usage of “so that”

I am working on a paper, and the following phrasing was suggested: In the protein-protein interaction (PPI) network, nodes represent proteins and edges represent connections between them, ...
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3answers
17k views

What is the usual form of “Please do the needful”? [duplicate]

I was browsing the internet, and found that "Please do the needful" is not an appropriate sentence to use or write. According to this link, this sentence used to get used in South Asia. What would be ...
18
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5answers
12k views

What is the origin of “holy smoke”?

What is the origin of holy smoke? To what is holy smoke referring?
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8answers
5k views

Ripe with Opportunity? Or Rife?

The Grammarist says I should use rife with rather than ripe with. So far so good and I agree. But is there an exception for ripe with opportunity? Googlefight overwhelmingly prefers ripe, and I like ...
14
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2answers
3k views

“Broken my duck”? Is this a common idiom/phrase?

I steal this phrase from a comment on Meta Stack Overflow: yep, I think I've broken my duck or so to speak :) – Kev♦ 51 mins ago The context is one of having been basically broken into a ...
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9answers
17k views

What is the origin of the phrase “cut the mustard”?

What is the origin of the phrase "cut the mustard"?
11
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4answers
14k views

What is the origin of the phrase ‘By the by…’?

What is the origin of the phrase 'By the by...'?
8
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3answers
2k views

Where does the phrase “balls to the wall” come from?

I know the phrase means "going all out" but I can't figure out what it literally means or where it originates from.
7
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3answers
777 views

What is the origin of the phrase “to take a rain check”

I know what it means, but can't really see the reasoning of this phrase. Anyone with an insight?
6
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6answers
871 views

Why does the following phrase sound old fashioned?

"We went swimming later in the afternoon, Jack and I." I am trying to describe what is happening here by breaking the sentence down into it's basic components, but I am having difficulty doing this. ...
6
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7answers
2k views

Why does “go spare” mean “get angry”?

I don't know whether the phrase "go spare" is used in the US, but it is very common in the UK. e.g. You're an hour late. Mum's going spare upstairs! I would like to know where the phrase comes ...
6
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2answers
1k views

When a phrase ends with a period, do you put … or .. after it?

I was just reading this question: When "etc." is at the end of a phrase, do you place a period after it? And it brought to mind something similar. If a phrase ends with a . (such as e.g. or ...
6
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4answers
448 views

There is no headache strong enough, that a good coffee won't relieve

I heard this phrase today and I'm pretty sure that there is something wrong with it. I do not know if it is the grammar or the syntax or the meaning of the words. Can you please tell me what the ...
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7answers
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'Drop us a line' - letter or phone call?

According to the Free Dictionary, dropping someone a line means sending them a short message. Is this correct? I always thought it meant phoning someone, the line referring to a telephone line.
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3answers
5k views

Origin of “spill the beans”

I believe this phrase means "to betray information". Could someone please explain its origin?
6
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6answers
23k views

What is the meaning of “Many a mickle makes a muckle”?

I've heard this phrase, and don't know what a "mickle" or a "muckle" is. Hence I have no idea at all what the phrase itself is supposed to mean.
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3answers
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Is the expression 'half a percent' acceptable in formal English?

When central banks raise or lower interest rates the radio announcer will say for example: an increase of one half of one percent Informally people use half a percent instead, which is less ...
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6answers
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What does “I’m like, c’mon guys. I’m the president of the United States.” imply?

The Washington Post (April 14) reported President Obama's off-the-cuff remark during a meeting with donors in Chicago held on April 13th under the title: "Obama riffs with donors: Where are the cool ...
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0answers
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Etymology of “to coin a phrase” [closed]

Quite simply — who coined the phrase "to coin a phrase"? I'm sure it wasn't one person, but it's the origin that is of interest.
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2answers
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“Thanks for having me”

Recently, I finished my phone job interview with the phrase "Thanks for having me". It was a reply to the other person's "Thank you for your time". So, does "thanks for having me" sound alright in ...
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1answer
170 views

“How did I do this” or “how did I do that”?

Is there a difference between: How did I do this? and How did I do that? If not, is there a preferred one? If they are different, when should I choose one over the other? I am not a ...
4
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4answers
813 views

Is “since I'm” now an acceptable alternative to “since I was”?

In a recent episode of the television show Entourage, Ari Gold (a 40 year old man) says: I've known her since I'm 19. In an episode of Sex and the City, a character, who is 15, tells Carrie: ...
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3answers
12k views

What is the origin of the phrase “forty winks,” meaning a short nap?

Inspired by the question How long is a 'wink'?, I did some work on the origin of the phrase forty winks. Though the OP at the wink question mentions the phrase, it does not ask about its origin. So I ...
4
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3answers
16k views

“to a degree” vs. “to an extent”

Is there a measurable difference in meaning between the phrases "to a degree" and "to an extent" (or "to some degree" and "to some extent")? Examples: To [some degree / some extent] that is a ...
4
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1answer
3k views

What is the difference between an expression and a phrase?

I'm trying to decide what tags I should be using and realized I did not know the difference between these terms.
4
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2answers
8k views

Classify into 4 categories or in 4 categories?

Which is more correct? I am going to classify these faults into 4 categories. I am going to classify these faults in 4 categories. I am going to classify these faults as 4 categories. ...
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3answers
444 views

Is “Something in the sand” a popular English phrase?

I’m interested in the line, “Raising tax rates on the wealthy is Obama’s line in the sand” in the following lead-copy of Washington Post’s (December 4) article titled “President Obama’s tough time ...
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5answers
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What does “my point being” mean?

I have heard someone say in a conversation, "Well, my point being,,,". As an English learner, I was puzzled but assumed that it was roughly the same as saying "My point is that..." or "Here's my ...
3
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1answer
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What does “Thundering typhoons” mean?

What does "Thundering typhoons" mean? Actually it was in the 2011 movie The Adventures of Tintin.
3
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3answers
285 views

“Carrot of profits”

What does the phrase, carrot of profits, mean? The context is And for smaller companies, using the carrot of profits 20 years away isn’t likely to sway VCs who can see no further than three. A ...
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4answers
8k views

“I am working” or “I have worked almost two months at this project”?

Which one is correct? "I am working almost two months at this project" or "I have worked almost two months at this project" I want to give this meaning: I'm still working on it.
3
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2answers
585 views

“Pardon me French”

Even though the phrase pardon my French is used much more often, I do constantly run across pardon me French as well. What's the deal with that? Wikipedia does have an entry on Pardon my French, but ...
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3answers
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Are “preaching to the choir” and “preaching to the converted” synonymous

The following are acceptable expressions that I have heard: "Preaching to the choir" "Preaching to the converted" To me, both mean essentially that you are trying to explain something to ...
2
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2answers
6k views

Should I use present or past tense when referring to a (scientific) paper? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What (grammatical) tense to use when doing reference in a paper? In the two examples below, which tense is preferred? "Smith (2001) noted that ..." or "Smith (2001) ...
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3answers
218 views

The use of question formation in non-question phrases?

I have read the following text some time ago: [...] Only here can you enjoy dazzling entertainment, get the thrill of your life on the exciting rides, and be face-to-face with some of the ...
0
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2answers
341 views

Which is correct: “What is” or “What are” [closed]

How should I phrase "What is the first 5 digits of your home postal code" or "What are the first 5 digits of your home postal code?"
0
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3answers
366 views

How to describe the feeling you get when something exceedingly irritating, irritates you? [closed]

Got extremely annoyed today. But that's not the word I was looking for. I had to deliver a case of bottled water to some friends living in another dorm in our college. I have to tell you, the sound ...
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2answers
2k views

What does “in spades” mean? [closed]

What does "in spades" mean, for example in the following sentence: demand and love are both there in spades ... I guess "in spades" means "on cards" or "on the table" or exist?
32
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7answers
57k views

When your 10-year old boy says “It’s meta,” what does it mean? In what situation and of what sort of object they use this phrase?

I asked about the meaning and usage of meta a few days ago, quoting Maureen Dowd’s review of the movie, “J. Edgar” in New York Times. I received six answers. But I still don’t get a clear idea of ...
19
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14answers
115k views

Different ways to say “you're welcome” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do native English speakers respond to “Thank you”? Can “Sure” be used to respond to “Thanks”? Is “not at all” still alive and doing well? I'm getting ...
6
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4answers
50k views

Meaning of “on the same page”

Where on the scale from We are talking about the same thing to We are in agreement / We see it the same way is the phrase We are on the same page?
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4answers
2k views

Is there a name for this type of insult: “I am friends with many manly men. And Gary.”?

Is there a term or word appropriate to describe the trick of using a general term and then explicitly adding a specific term to strongly imply that the specific is not part of the general? The trick I ...