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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

3
votes
3answers
314 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
7k views

Is it a “driver license” or a “driver's license” or a “drivers license” or…what?

I've often wondered why my Ohio license is called a "driver license". It is awkward to say it like that. Wouldn't something like driver's license be more appropriate? Or driving license (like ...
5
votes
5answers
4k views

Is “hell of a” positive or negative?

I find it a very curious thing that the phrase "hell of a" seems to be suitable to describe both good and bad things. e.g. It was a great party. We had a hell of a time. vs We sold the ...
3
votes
4answers
470 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
296 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
622 views

Looking for etymology or information on the alternate meaning of “I don't care to X”

Unless I'm mistaken, in most of the English speaking world, the phrase "I don't care to X" indicates that the speaker prefers not to do the particular activity. However, as I was reminded during a ...
0
votes
1answer
40 views

* times (adjective) than [duplicate]

I keep reading the phrase 10 times lighter than..... or similar. This quote is current: "Plastic containers are cheaper to make and 15 times lighter than glass ones, says Dairy Crest". This can not be ...
0
votes
0answers
21 views

Is it “a spyglass TO the past” or “a spyglass INTO the past”

I'd like to use the phrase XYZ as a spyglass (in)to the past. as title for a publication on a scientific method that allows me to infer knowledge about the past from data available now. E.g., the ...
0
votes
1answer
37 views

Use of the word “definitive edition”

Can I use the phrase "definitive edition" to explain that a product has the most up-to-date and highest quality in the field as opposite to mean "last edition of the same series"? Thank you for your ...
10
votes
3answers
34k views

What does ‘Brace yourself’ really mean?

I saw an article titled ‘The Rise of Chinese Cheneys’, written by Nicholas Kristof, with a lead copy China today resembles the Bush era in America: Hard-liners are ascendant. Brace yourself in ...
8
votes
5answers
10k views

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?
1
vote
7answers
793 views

word/phrase for “treating the problem rather than the symptom”?

Is there a word that mean's the equivalent (or close to) the expression "treat the problem rather than the symptom" ? If not, is there a concise way to say this? For example, in discussing ...
2
votes
1answer
146 views

What does “A Gossip Girl in Sweet Valley with traveling pants” mean?

In the 2010 film Easy A, there is an exchange between several characters: Rhiannon: Aren't you supposed to be like, eternally in love with him, and shit? Olive Penderghast: Yes, I believe ...
0
votes
2answers
514 views

What's the meaning of “should we be interested”?

I contacted someone and he replied: ... I've passed your information along and someone will get back to you should we be interested. After sending him another message he replied: ... ...
0
votes
1answer
52 views

I am all attention [closed]

Is there a phrase in English I'm all attention or I'm all ears, which indicates that the speaker is listening to the person he/she speaks to very carefully?
1
vote
1answer
254 views

Origin of “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”

One of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (according to Stephen Covey) is: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood What is the origin of this phrase? My guess is that it was ...
0
votes
3answers
100 views

How to ask somebody for explanation politely

Which form is more polite and more acceptable for correspondence: For example I am do not understand something and want to get more information about it. Could you please explain... or Could you ...
5
votes
5answers
7k views

Where and when did “Bucket List” come to mean what it does today?

I'm not sure I had even heard the term "bucket list" until the movie came out. I get the feeling though that the term long predates the movie. Can anyone identify how "bucket list" came to mean what ...
3
votes
5answers
2k views

Is “Give you into trouble” correct

My wife often uses the phrase "I'll give you into trouble if you do that again" and it seems to be reasonably common in western Scotland, however I can't find any way for it to be grammatically ...
3
votes
3answers
939 views

Origin of “tail over teakettle”?

"Tail over teakettle" is one of several similar phrases to describe a tumble or fall. But where/how did this originate? A few web searches give me pages where people use the phrase, and one of the ...
1
vote
1answer
99 views

What is a Tent pole moment?

At a marketing meeting a speaker used the term tent pole moment. I have no idea what she meant. Is anyone familiar with the phrase?
1
vote
2answers
78 views

Origin of phrase “pulling for you”

When somebody is going through a difficult life situation, people will commonly say, "We're pulling for you." Where did this term come from? It sounds rather strange!
2
votes
1answer
142 views

What is the origin of the phrase “wind your neck in!”?

I was wondering if anyone could shed some light on the origin of the phrase in title.
0
votes
2answers
50 views

What does “hold on to your hair” mean?

What does this phrase mean? hold on to your hair
1
vote
4answers
87 views

Is there an antonym for the idiom “…remains to be seen” [closed]

I was using "...the truth remains to be seen" in a sentence when I realized I meant the opposite of this. I'm looking a phrase antithetical to this idiom, that follows the same (empirical) line of ...
0
votes
2answers
29 views

“My response to be aligned with yours”

Let's say me and a colleague are going to a meeting and I want to make sure his responses to the questions raised are similar to mine, that we are in agreement and we will responde in a similar ...
6
votes
3answers
6k 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
3answers
2k views

'last but foremost' - mixture of 'last but not least' and 'first and foremost'

I found '...last but foremost...' with google in some texts, which seems to be some combination of 'last but not least' and 'first and foremost'. Seems to suggest that while something is mentioned ...
2
votes
3answers
48 views

postmodifying phrase/under the leadership of [closed]

Are these sentences correct: Such activities found favor with the social democrats under the leadership of Schmidt. Such activities found favor with the social democrats , under the leadership of ...
0
votes
1answer
96 views

Not too expensive vs affordable

I'm building a website and I need to choose between 'not too expensive' and 'affordable'. The sentence: Reliable, stable, secure, great support and of course not too expensive! or Reliable, ...
7
votes
8answers
3k 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
745 views

'Sometime back' or 'Sometimes back'?

How should I decide between "sometime back" and "sometimes back"? Sometime back I received a call from Mr. X Sometimes back I received a call from Mr. X Which sentence is correct?
1
vote
3answers
72 views

proper word or phrase for 'already eaten or drank by other person/animal' [duplicate]

Is there a single word or a short phrase to better describe a consumable item (e.g. drink or food) that has already been nibbled or sipped at? The relevance of this word or phrase would be in a ...
0
votes
1answer
49 views

Is there a noun form for “fine-grained”?

For example I want to say: ...the level of (fine-grained in noun) that is needed... I wonder if the word "grainery" will work.
1
vote
2answers
65 views

Using 'send' in passive voice

You are sent this e-mail because... Is this correctly worded or does it sound weird? I ask because I think I've seen similar wordings, such as "you are being sent X because Y", but I'm not at all ...
1
vote
1answer
30 views

Phrase: give pause

What exactly does the phrase give (sb.) pause mean? Is it just a simple shortening of the following?: give pause to someone (or give someone pause for thought) cause someone to think ...
5
votes
6answers
31k views

Original Meaning of Blood is thicker than water, is it real?

I recently read that the phrase "Blood is thicker than water" originally derived from the phrase "the blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb", implying that the ordinary meaning ...
2
votes
1answer
73 views

“Rule the Roast” and “Rule the Roost”

John Ayto, Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms (2009) has this entry for "rule the roost": rule the roost be in complete control The original expression was rule the roast, which was common ...
10
votes
2answers
782 views

“Try to save” or “try saving”

Are both try to save the file and try saving the file grammatically correct? If so, is there any difference in meaning?
0
votes
1answer
71 views

He didn't so much as thank me OR to thank me?

I have heard both ways 'He didn't so much as thank me' and 'He didn't so much as to thank me'. Which is correct and is the other wrong or can it be used colloquially? Thank you.
0
votes
2answers
117 views

I will learn better English — should it be “I will learn English better.”

Somehow, I think "better English" is incorrect, because I think there isn't better English; English is English. But I hear this phrase from other ESL students a lot. Is this correct way of saying it? ...
1
vote
2answers
387 views

What did Kate mean when she said: “(…)? Or did Big Pussy and Meadow miss you too much?”

In the 2014 film “The Other Woman”, there is an exchange between several characters Phil: Who's this? Carmela: I'm Carmela, Kate's decorator. Phil: Oh. Really? When did you fire ...
0
votes
2answers
62 views

“As I go” expression

Could anyone please tell me what "as I go" means? Like in the following context: I will fill it out as I go.
0
votes
3answers
215 views

Is it ever correct to call someone “Great British”?

People from Britain are referred to as British. However I recently learned that Britain is not technically the same as Great Britain. Source 1 Great Britain and Britain do not mean the same ...
14
votes
6answers
4k views

What does “soft bigotry of low expectations” mean?

There was the following question from a reader and the answer by Charles Blow under the headline, “Your Questions, Answered” in the Opinion Page of May 7 New York Times. I invited you to ask me ...
3
votes
3answers
8k views

Why is “Garden Leave” so called?

"Garden Leave" is a fairly common British term. According to wikipedia: Garden leave describes the practice whereby an employee who is leaving a job (having resigned or otherwise had his or her ...
0
votes
2answers
44 views

Meaning of “playing of favorites”?

I am came across this phrase in a CR presentation (slide #19). What is its meaning? Equanimity – Less “playing of favorites” with people, compassion
5
votes
2answers
278 views

Is "grit and resolve” a popular phrase?

In the article of Time (May 5th) titled “Obama aspire to do Big Things,” I noticed Press Secretary Jay Curney used the word, ‘grit and resolve’ followed by “(and) not in a John Wayne way, but in a ...
5
votes
4answers
805 views

Bless your heart

Is "bless your heart" something only used by old women in the South (all I've ever heard)? Or is it ever appropriate for a man to use it without seeming unmanly? Does the term always have ...
0
votes
1answer
31 views

Why not “virtual estate” instead of “screen real estate”?

In English usage in many disciplines, like articles on Web designing, people frequently use the word "screen real estate" or "viewport (browser window size) real estate" or even "mobile or browser ...