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

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“This is actually true” vs. [sic]

I often find myself in need of a short expression, to emphasize that what I just wrote (not quoted) is actually true. In cases of paradoxes or illogical truths for instance, like The Monty Hall ...
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2answers
174 views

Is the phrase “you can’t wait for your life to begin” a pattern phrase?

In Jeffery Archer’s popular novel, “Kane & Abel,” there is a scene where William Kane, a brilliant student of St. Paul’s and one of two leading characters of this novel seduced by the wife of the ...
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6answers
3k views

How can I say “not any time soon, but it won't take a long time either”?

I was writing an email to a client about a feature we plan to eventually release, maybe in a couple months, but they want some of the functionality now. I initially wrote: If there's something ...
3
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2answers
632 views

Is “stepmother treatment” Indian English?

When I googled stepmother treatment, I found that it was mainly used in India to refer to neglect, disregard or inattention. Most of the other non-Indian links talked about the literal treatment by ...
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1answer
15k views

“personal issue”, “private issue”, “personal affair”, or “personal business”?

I need to send my boss mail explaining that because of a personal issue I need to handle, I can’t attend the conference. Which of these phrases would best express that I have my own business to deal ...
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4answers
488 views

Where does the phrase “fall into two camps” come from?

"People fall into two camps" is a common phrase used to describe two groups of people with opposing or different views. Where does it come from?
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2answers
4k views

“integer multiple” vs. “integral multiple”

Nine is an integer multiple of three. Nine is an integral multiple of three. Which is more common? If both are accepted, what's the subtle difference between them?
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1answer
321 views

What do you call a statement like “How to perform a change of ownership” [closed]

What do you call a statement similar to the following? "How to perform a change of ownership" I wish to request user input by asking a question such as: "Please enter your title in the ...
6
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1answer
413 views

What does the phrase “Lady-Macbethed” mean? [closed]

Colonel Hampton snorted contemptuously. Senile dementia! Well, he must have been senile and demented, to bring this pair of snakes into his home, because he felt an obligation to his dead ...
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1answer
370 views

In the phrase “common sense”, in what sense of the word is “common” used?

As I understand it, there are several definitions of common, but I can't find any source that can highlight the etymology of the phrase. The linked definitions are pretty rigorous, but a less strict, ...
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1answer
328 views

Origin of “no such thing” idiomatic phrase

The risk of asking this question could be like asking the question What is the origin of the phrase "I love you", or "I need a shower", etc which grew out of spontaneous language use. Anyway, I ...
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1answer
200 views

What is the etymology behind the phrase “bad dope”?

What is the etymology behind the phrase "bad dope", as in these examples: "This efficiency stuff is bad dope when it makes a man forget his meals!" HEADLINE: "Computer given bad dope" Bad Dope: “But ...
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1answer
1k views

What is the difference between “combine A with B” and “combine A and B”? [closed]

I wonder the difference between combine A with B and combine A and B so that I can use the phrase correctly. Thanks a lot!
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4answers
24k views

What does “The Pink Elephant in the Room” mean?

I know someone who keeps using the phrase "The Pink Elephant in the room". I know that phrase "The Elephant in the room". Is this the same thing? Does it mean something different?
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1answer
133 views

What is the meaning of “He was a myth made man”?

I can't understand the meaning. Is it "He was a mythical person" or "He was a myth that became a man"?
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1answer
1k views

Expression “I can / can't tell the things”

I'm French and have sometimes/often difficulty understanding certain expressions. Presently, I'm not sure of the sense of the following phrase: I can tell the things that lies in this sentence ...
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4answers
883 views

What does “ Rape someone's mind” mean? [closed]

Can we use of it to express violence by words and talks against another one or trying to impress him/her by advertisement against his/her own willing? Is it formal or informal? For example: Mona ...
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1answer
1k views

“Not so much” at the end of a sentence

I've occasionally seen "not so much" used at the end of a sentence. For example, Jeff Atwood saying Some community feedback is useful. Others, not so much. Doing a symbolhound search for "not so ...
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5answers
451 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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1answer
244 views

What does the phrase “trying to snow” mean? [closed]

What does the phrase trying to snow mean? E.g., Trying to snow the audience ... I think it is more of a slang usage. I am looking for a meaning other than weather related.
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3answers
1k views

usage of “yet to be”

Can I say He is yet to be a murderer. to mean the he is not a murderer, but very soon he will be one?
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1answer
184 views

Differences in the Semantics of Three Tri-Part Phrasal Verbs

What are the subtle semantic differences in the following three tri-part phrasal verbs: (1) be up against (2) come up against (3) run up against
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2answers
1k views

What does “velvet-rope-poor” mean?

There was the following sentence in the New York Times (February 8) article titled, “Azerbaijan is rich. It wants to be famous.”: “Oil-rich, velvet-rope-poor Azerbaijan, a country about the size ...
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1answer
10k views

What does 'back-stopping' mean?

We have a tender document, and it lists how the offer should be proposed. Basically this is split into 3 sections: Rationale Strategy Details of Proposal Under section 2., there is the below ...
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1answer
1k views

Idioms and Phrasal Verbs

By definition an idiom is an expression or phrase that cannot be understood by the sum of its parts. There are, of course, many idioms that we can understand by virtue of their transparency like "shed ...
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3answers
766 views

What does “Beyoncé was outed for lip-synching” mean?

I’m interested in the usage of “out” as a verb in the phrase “She was outed for lip-synching” in the following paragraph of Time Magazine’s (February 5) article titled, “A lesson in crisis ...
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1answer
4k views

Meaning of the phrase “I am all ears” [closed]

I was going through Stack Overflow and I noticed this phrase. I am all ears Is it some spelling error of "I am all yours" or does it mean something like "I am eager to listen"? What is meant by ...
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3answers
722 views

“Loosen up”, “tighten up”

"To loosen up" means "to become not nervous". Could the phrase "to tighten up" be a good opposite and mean "to become nervous"?
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4answers
750 views

“Most” vs. “most of”

During most of history, humans were too busy to think about thought. Why is "most of history" correct in the above sentence? I could understand the difference between "Most of the people" and ...
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3answers
814 views

“in a word” vs “in a sentence”

In a word, you are wrong! In a sentence, you are wrong! Which is more natural? I feel "in a word" is more common than "in a sentence", but "you are wrong!" consists of three words rather ...
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1answer
2k views

How to express “From the point of view of Information Theory”?

I would like start a sentence with "From the point of view of information theory, ...", but this sounds a bit uneloquent to me. Can I say, "From an information theoretical point of view, ...", or ...
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3answers
156 views

Etymology of “come up with”

Does anyone know the exact origin and date of use of the English tri-part phrasal verb, "come up with"? It was started to be used around the early 1900s in the States, but what is the origin of its ...
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7answers
1k views

Ruining something for someone else (spoils of war?)

Lately I've been thinking of a saying that describes the following: Ruining something for someone else, for the sole purpose of it not being useful any more to the other party, even though you do ...
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3answers
10k views

“I am going to attend” vs “I am attending”

Which of these two statements seems to be more appropriate? I am attending a meeting tomorrow. I am going to attend a meeting tomorrow. I am quite not sure which one to use.
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5answers
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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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2answers
2k views

“to further assist [you]” — Split infinitive or fixed VP?

From a descriptive standpoint (and the problem that English has at least two words in an infinitive), I understand why the split infinitive is becoming more acceptable, but is there any other excuse ...
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10answers
6k views

“You get what you deserve nothing more nothing less”

In this world we reside, what we acquire depends on what we can acquire. In other words, if we have the money to, we can buy a house; if we have the necessary educational qualifications to, we can get ...
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3answers
28k views

How do you say “hands-on experience” with this technology to an interviewer?

Generally, I would tell an interviewer that I have "hands-on experience" with this technology, by which I mean that my experience in this field is very limited, but quite efficient and knowledgeable. ...
2
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3answers
861 views

Alternative expression for saying “piece of someone's mind”

Sentence example: I am really upset and frustrated with one of my friends. So when I meet him next time around I will definitely not hold myself back and give him a piece of my mind. What ...
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2answers
614 views

What does “pay you out” mean?

I came across the following passage of text in one of the original Thomas the Tank Engine stories, and realised there was a phrase in there that I didn't understand. "Be careful with the coaches, ...
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3answers
277 views

The phrase 'give you me'

There was another sentence that I wasn't sure about: "Rather, O blessed one, give you me boldness to abide within the harmless laws of peace, avoiding strife and hatred and the violent fiends of ...
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2answers
64 views

Can 'it' be used plurally?

Can 'it' as a pronoun refer to many different imperative verbs? For instance, in the sentence: Abide by thy customs, thou excellent one: grind thy corn, drink thy water, praise thy cooking,-- if ...
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1answer
224 views

Does this stylistic guideline have a name?

The principle would be something like: Avoid a long modifying clause that creates distance between your subject and verb For example, according to this guideline, the sentence One of his uncles ...
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2answers
126 views

What is the meaning of “idiot-proof”? [closed]

What is the meaning of "idiot-proof", as in: Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce ...
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5answers
2k views

What is a more politically correct way to call something a “Red-Headed Step-Child”?

I can't use the phrase "second-class citizen" either. This is for a professional blog post, so I'd rather stay away from "red-headed step-child". I can't use "second-class citizen" because I'm ...
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3answers
454 views

Can you buy things “for cheap”?

The first line of this news story says: Call it space grave robbery for a cause: imagine scavenging defunct communication satellites for their valuable parts and recycling them to build brand new ...
3
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0answers
21 views

Being capable enough to do something “in anger”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is “used in anger” a Britishism for something? My boss keeps using the terminology "Doug knows X but maybe not enough to use it 'in anger'", where X is a skill, ...
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7answers
2k views

Meaning of “down on me” in the Janis Joplin song

What does 'Down on Me' mean in this Janis Joplin song? Down on Me Well, down on me, Lord, down on me. I said it looks like everybody in this whole round world, Yeah hey yeah all right, is ...
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3answers
240 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 ...
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2answers
368 views

“In the figure below” or “in the below figure”?

I frequently encounter this in technical documents and I am wondering which one is correct. In the figure below or In the below figure