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

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What is the origin of “tall tale”?

A tall tale is a folkloric story that is generally wildly exaggerated and told for the amusement of the listeners. Tall tale tellers usually claim some sort of personal involvement in the story. I ...
2
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1answer
73 views

What is the origin of the phrase 'touch wood'?

The Internet says 'Touch wood is an example of a superstition: something that we do in order to have good luck. It is not based on human reason or scientific knowledge, but is connected with old ideas ...
2
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1answer
55 views

To address a stranger on street [closed]

Preparing for our honeymoon in the USA, I am wondering what is the most appropriate way to address someone (a stranger) on street, e.g. to ask for a piece of advice. I can imagine that Good day ...
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2answers
6k views

Where does the phrase “crazy like a fox” originate?

If you say that someone is "crazy like a fox", it means that their behavior appears to be insane or nonsensical at first glance, but there's actually something very clever and subtle to it that's ...
0
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1answer
64 views

What does 'to lose countenance, with a good countenance' mean?

I know countenance means appearance, behavior, and composure. What does the phrase 'to lose countenance, with a good countenance' mean?
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1answer
62 views

Is “save some trouble” a correct phrase?

Today a friend of mine asked me to teach her how to fix her computer. The procedure was a little too technical for a layperson so I asked her out so that I can fix it for her in person, that she can ...
3
votes
1answer
549 views

Word for a friend you have never met?

Can anyone provide "emotional" word/phrase for a "friend" you have never met, but it feels like you really know him? I won't mind even if it was in a language other than English. :) Update: Would ...
-2
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1answer
30 views

Keep the good work up

When my boss says "Keep the good work up", what shall I reply to him? I have said "thanks", is that a good answer?
8
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5answers
19k views

Is it “just as soon” or “just assume”?

If someone says a phrase that sounds like: I'd just as soon you don't get in an accident, so I'll call you later. Are they actually saying "just as soon" or "just assume" or something else?
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2answers
8k views

the phrase “from now on” to be used in similar phrases

All of us know that "from now on" means starting from now, for example: From now on, all of us have to turn our mobiles off. But is this term assignable to such phrase? From lesson three on... (I ...
0
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1answer
25 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 ...
0
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1answer
43 views

What does “a bit unfortunate” mean?

I'm translating dialog with "bit unfortunate" phrase: Sasha:"It's a bit unfortunate about Antony's final take." (final take corresponds to final record in sound-recording studio. He had a lot ...
3
votes
2answers
23k views

What is a more eloquent way to say “I hope I'm not asking too much”?

I've been emailing back and forth with another professional who has been very generous in sharing a workflow developed at their institution. This professional has gone to great lengths to answer my ...
14
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7answers
763 views

Fear of incrimination by inaction

During the Chinese cultural revolution, students assaulted their teachers. During the French liberation, Nazi collaborators were shaved in the streets. The perpetrators are often described as being in ...
2
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1answer
59 views

Term or Phrase for “Listening without Understanding”

Is there a word or a phrase that describes someone listening to somebody else speak to him without understanding what is being said while acting like he's getting it?
2
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4answers
2k views

Etymology of the phrase “Twenty-three Skidoo” as used in “Hey Arnold!”

The phrase “Twenty-Three Skidoo” has a very interesting and mysterious history described very thoroughly by the wikipedia article on the phrase. However, this article seems to indicate it’s usually ...
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2answers
51 views

What is “the layers of experience” ? I'm confused about this phrase

Can anybody help me to describe "the layers of experience" in the context below. The author was talking about the similarity between the early human and the modern human. i'm very confused about the ...
0
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1answer
61 views

What does “right round toward” mean?

Can anybody help me to describe the meaning of "right round toward", especially in the bold sentence of the context below. Context: Within two years, Deng was the most powerful man in China. Deng's ...
0
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1answer
45 views

what does “there was wild talk” mean?

Can anyone help me to describe the meaning of using "There was wild talk about the end of history" in the context below ? (what does "wild talk" mean exactly?) Context With the Cold War over, there ...
3
votes
1answer
11k views

“Off on a tangent” vs. “off tangent.”

Tonight I heard someone say, "We're going off tangent here." I take this to be a mistaken conflation of "off on a tangent" with "off track." However, is a shift occurring? Is "off tangent" ...
2
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1answer
71 views

The Cask of Amontillado by Edgar Allen Poe

What is the meaning of the following phrase from "The Cask of Amontillado" By Edgar Allan Poe? A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the ...
2
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4answers
871 views

Phrase for order is done or order received?

I am developing a mobile application, which gets orders from client and sends it to us. What I am wondering is what kind of a statement can I use in order to inform the user that we have received his ...
0
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2answers
38 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 ...
0
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0answers
44 views

appropriate phrase for expressing close distances toward a person

Imagine this scenario: You are having a conversation with someone about a tropical fruit which you have seen the picture of it(on the internet or something) and you do know the name of it, but you ...
0
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2answers
35 views

“Let's bring it down in scale a bit”, What does it mean?

Context (Source: History of the world by Andrew Marr - Episode 8) This is a big story (The author indicates the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima). Let's try and bring it down in scale a bit. It made me ...
0
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3answers
119 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 ...
0
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1answer
30 views

What does “a curious mix of a man” mean?

Context The top-secret American operation to build and use the atom bomb would challenge the humanitarian values on which democracy is built. It was led by one of the most intriguing minds of the ...
2
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1answer
42 views

'Later' of 'See you later'

See you! See you later! Is there any nuance by adding later or not?
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2answers
8k views

What does it mean to “draw a line under something”?

The intuitive answer to me would be to "emphasize" something. This explanation seems different from others I've seen, however, that say it means to "finish something". Help on this?
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6answers
15k views

What is the etymology of “Tough titty”

This is a phrase I've heard used on several occasions by different people. I'm interested about what it's origins are, and whether it should be considered rude. Essentially it means "That's tough ...
2
votes
2answers
80 views

What does playing the anchor role mean? [closed]

Can someone explain to me the meaning of the following phrase: You have to be more responsible, because you are going to play anchor role in the new project. My manager said this to me. How ...
3
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4answers
8k views

Word for a thing with positive and negative consequences

What word can I use for a thing with positive and negative consequences? For example, taking a cab rather than driving has its advantages and disadvantages.
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11answers
5k views

[S]he has the ears of a …?

Often, when overheard from far away, I find myself saying/thinking: [S]he has the ears of a hawk! Which doesn't really make sense as hawks aren't particularly well known for their sense of ...
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1answer
48 views

What does one mean by “Ethical norm”? [closed]

I have been given a topic for writing an essay on ""Ethical norms with regard to Fundamental Rights "". I can't understand the meaning of this topic, please help.
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6answers
3k views

Does “walk back” have a meaning of ‘deny’ or 'keep distance from somebody / something.' as an idiom?

I came across the phrase walked back from time.com: a State Department spokesperson had walked back his (John Kerry’s) comments in the Time magazine’s (August 2) article titled, “Oops: John Kerry ...
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2answers
80 views

The meanings of the expressions “big air quotes” and “might as well”

I wrote to my friend: "Are you available sometime between the 27th of January and the 3rd of February? I plan to stay in Tokyo for a week to take part in a musical event and then unwind a little." ...
2
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5answers
12k views

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 ...
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vote
5answers
104 views

Can the word “bully” be used as an “adjective”?

I want to write the sentence: Bill helped him when he needed to overthrow the current leader, who is a bully. Is there anyway to make that sentence flow better? For example, can I somehow use ...
10
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2answers
2k views

Is there a “universal use” English equivalent of the Japanese ubiquitous greeting, “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu”?

I think some of you might have heard of the Japanese word, “Yoroshiku onegaishimas” - literally translated as “Please be nice to me” and its shortened form, “Yoroshiku.” “Yoroshiku onegaishimasu” or ...
0
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2answers
181 views

Is there any difference between “told to” and “told to do so”

I will release a new version when I'm told to. I will release a new version when I'm told to do so. Is there any difference in the meaning of the two sentences? Which one would I use in an ...
2
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2answers
454 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
133 views

Can “above mentioned” be a noun?

The above mentioned regulations do not apply to the conditions defined here. Is it possible to use the phrase above mentioned as a noun with the definite article "the" in English? The above ...
3
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3answers
61 views

What does 'straighten sombody out' mean?

I'm reading "Book Thief" by Markus Zusak and reached following paragraph: As far as dispositions go, hers wasn't really enviable, although she had a good record with foster kids in the past. ...
3
votes
3answers
61 views

Woe is me - what does it mean?

What exactly does the phrase 'Woe is me' mean? A google search returns many results ranging from FML to just having a bad day. There are many references to the phrase being grammatically incorrect and ...
1
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1answer
117 views

is it correct to use 'often a times'?

Does the phrase "often a times" exist? If so, what is the correct way to use it? Would the following sentence be correct? I have seen him loafing about in the streets often a times.
3
votes
3answers
13k views

What is the origin of the phrase “Never Put a Hat on a Bed”?

I came across the phrase "never put a hat on a bed" while playing Google Feud. It was the top result for "Never put a _______". I looked it up, and found out that there's a superstition that says that ...
2
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2answers
67 views

What is “Only not quite” [closed]

Context Zimmermann dreamed of changing the world. And he would. Only not quite in the way he intended.
0
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2answers
35 views

Is “not actual” in “potential, not actual harm” an adjective phrase or an adverbial phrase?

I think this affects comma placement, right? If it's an adjective phrase modifying harm, then I think it would be: "potential, not actual harm" If it's an adverb phrase modifying potential (by ...
0
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1answer
36 views

What is the use of this phrase “..there is a case to be made that..”?

Can anybody help me describe this phrase ? i don't understand what the author mean. Context Zimmermann dreamed of changing the world. And he would. Only not quite in the way he intended. Indeed, ...
0
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2answers
56 views

Making an appointment [closed]

What phrases do you use to make the most nearest appointment with a doctor? For example: When is the next available appointment? or When is the (nearest, closest) appointment?