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

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14answers
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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 ...
48
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4answers
54k views

What does “something 101” mean? [closed]

Many times I saw the phrase something 101, such as Microsoft Excel 101. What exactly does it mean?
19
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6answers
32k views

“Replace with” versus “replace by”

I often see "replace with" and "replace by" used interchangeably, but this doesn't sound right to me: I replaced that component by this one. I would use "with" in such a sentence. "By" only ...
27
votes
8answers
81k views

Is it correct to say Person A is the “spitting image” or the “splitting image” of Person B?

I understand that when trying to describe a person who has a resemblance to another, the common term is spitting image. As in: Person A is a spitting image of Person B. Here's my issue, I've ...
20
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5answers
119k views

What does “to come undone” actually mean?

I've heard this phrase several times but was given several contradictory interpretations. Please provide an exact meaning of the phase.
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5answers
11k views

“anymore” vs. “any more”

any more requests anymore requests Are these two the same? It seems that "any more requests" is grammatically correct while "anymore requests" is not. Am I right? Why are they different?
26
votes
6answers
16k views

Why do we say “I win” instead of “I won”?

For a long time I was wondering why there is I win instead of I won. I met such usage in a lot of games and movies. For me, it's logical to say I won, because this winning action is done already. I ...
7
votes
7answers
1k views

What are some of the most influential or obscure phrases and literary constructions drawn from the Bible?

I was reading through some English L & U SE questions, and happened across one asking about the origin of the phrase "Through a Glass, Clearly / A Scanner Darkly / In a Mirror, Darkly / ...
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11answers
7k views

Is there a word/term for a question where the asker knows he'll criticise any answer?

What do you call it when a person asks somebody a question when they know they'll criticise any answer regardless? For instance, a man asks you something like "If you were recruiting staff would you ...
24
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7answers
77k views

What is the meaning of “don't mention it” (in response to “thank you”)?

I read at several places that "don't mention it" is equal to "you're welcome". But for me, the word means something like "don't go around talking about this to anyone". So what is the real meaning of ...
22
votes
9answers
4k views

Is the phrase “I just sucked it out of my thumb” used in American English?

I was born and raised in South Africa. We frequently used the term "to suck out of one's thumb", implying that an answer was just a wild guess or the notion had no evidence but was rather just ...
15
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3answers
8k views

It's all downhill from here

The phrase "it was all downhill from there" seems to have two, contradictory meanings. The first indicates that things have since gotten a lot worse. For example (from ...
11
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3answers
32k views

Difference between phrase, idiom and expression [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the difference between an expression and a phrase? Difference between “phrase” and “idiom” What is the difference between a phrase, an ...
6
votes
6answers
16k 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 ...
1
vote
5answers
6k views

“The fact” vs. “The fact that” [closed]

Can you use the phrase ”the fact” without “that”? Consider the two sentences: The fact that it’s Sunday means that I can sleep all day. The fact it’s Sunday means that I can sleep all day. ...
21
votes
5answers
7k views

Is “what on earth” still commonly used in real life? Is there any alternative that is not cursing or obscene?

I'm a non-native speaker. When I was at school, we were taught that "on earth" is used for emphasis in questions such as: What on earth are you talking about? However, from my experience ...
20
votes
8answers
21k views

Origin of “Too Clever by Half”

The phrase "Too Clever by Half" is used to criticize someone for being overconfident in their thinking. What is the origin of this phrase? I read somewhere that it started as a backhanded compliment ...
16
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5answers
15k views

What does ‘Put one's big boy (girl) pants on’ mean?

I saw the phrase “put somebody's pants on’ in today’s ‘Quote of the Day” of Washington Post (July 17). It quotes the following remark of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Mitt Romney's record at ...
16
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5answers
19k views

What is the origin of the phrase “egg in your beer”?

The phrase "egg in your beer" refers to wanting a bonus or something for nothing. Its common usage is: "What do you want? An egg in your beer?" However, this does not seem to make much sense, as an ...
15
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6answers
4k views

What's the most accurate term for phrases such as “storm in a teacup” and “making mountains out of molehills”?

Are phrases such as "storm in a teacup" and "making mountains out of molehills" best described by one of these terms: anecdote proverb saying expression metaphor If not, which term is the right ...
12
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1answer
969 views

What is this an example of: “I couldn't fail not to disagree with you less”?

Eisenhower used it constantly to fend off reporters. Is there a term to describe this type of phrase?
11
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4answers
2k views

Is “incorrect facts” an oxymoron?

I've seen this so many times and it drives me crazy. The latest was the actor Paul Giamatti setting some story straight in the press about him: "It's unfortunately an incorrect fact about me and it's ...
6
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6answers
997 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
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
6
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8answers
13k 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 that ...
5
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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
1k 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". ...
5
votes
4answers
124k views

What is the origin and meaning of the phrase “bane of my existence”?

A friend recently used the phrase bane of my existence, and while I’m familiar with the phrase, I would like to know its origin and meaning.
3
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5answers
464 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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5answers
6k 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, ...
2
votes
5answers
12k views

“Out of the box” — when should I use this phrase?

I send a lot of unsolicited emails. In many of them, I ask to buy traditional advertising spots or to help conceive a non-traditional campaign. Oftentimes, I find myself describing these ...
1
vote
3answers
28k 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
15k views

What is the origin of “holy smoke”?

What is the origin of holy smoke? To what is holy smoke referring?
14
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2answers
4k 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 ...
13
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4answers
18k views

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

What is the origin of the phrase 'By the by...'?
8
votes
6answers
1k views

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 ...
7
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
7
votes
4answers
7k views

Is ‘on (in) a tear’ a popular idiom?

I was drawn to the phrase, ‘on a tear’ that I heard in audio in this week’s Barron’s magazine (June 6) reporting the good sales and profit performance of U.S. sneaker chain, Foot Locker: It says: ...
7
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
7
votes
7answers
9k views

'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.
7
votes
4answers
3k views

A saying indicating how some professionals don't apply their skills for themselves

Some made-up examples: Architect's house is always crooked. Mechanic's car is leaking Chef's breakfast is as plain as boiled eggs Is there an established saying for these situations?
7
votes
3answers
1k 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?
7
votes
1answer
6k views

What is the origin of the phrase “and nothing of value was lost”?

What is the origin of the phrase "and nothing of value was lost"? Is this from a movie, book, or show, or did it get its start on Slashdot or some other online forum?
6
votes
4answers
466 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
8k views

Origin of “spill the beans”

I believe this phrase means "to betray information". Could someone please explain its origin?
6
votes
2answers
56k views

Meaning of “hail to the king”

I can't translate that sentence, “hail to the king”. I've found something like “greetings to the king” but is this correct?
6
votes
7answers
28k 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.
6
votes
4answers
4k views

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 ...
5
votes
0answers
1k views

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.
5
votes
2answers
14k views

“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 ...