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

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double whammy usage for two good things?

The phrase "double whammy" is used in a situation where two bad things happen but can it be used in a situation where two good things happen? I didn't know "double whammy" is used in a situation with ...
2
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5answers
372 views

“Have some reason you” or “Have some reason why you”

Can the "why" be removed from the phrase "have some reason why you?" Example: Do you have some reason you ____? vs. Do you have some reason why you ____? Are these both grammatically ...
0
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1answer
515 views

“No reason why” as a standalone phrase or a sentence

Can you come up with an example, in which "No reason why" would be one separate sentence, perhaps, a short answer in a dialogue. (So, such constructions as "There is no reason why we shouldn't..." ...
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2answers
465 views

“The reason why” v.s. “The reason for why”

Which of the following is to be preferred, and why? The reason for why the grass is wet is that it rained last night. The reason why the grass is wet is that it rained last night.
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1answer
61 views

Two-part phrases: official term? [duplicate]

In English we have some phrases like: Make like a banana — and split Make like a tree — and leave With these kinds of phrases sometimes the second part is left unsaid; if you say, "make like a ...
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2answers
48 views

What does “as poll nears” mean? [closed]

I just read The Jakarta Post I've got this: "Prabowo changes style in campaign as poll nears" what is the meaning of 'as poll nears', I've got some guesswork and I am not really sure about it, ...
2
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1answer
32 views

Is the usage of among in “Some philosophers are addressed, among who Deleuze, Derrida,…” right?

I would like to know whether my usage of among in the following sentence is correct or not: Thus, a dialogue is developed with some philosophers who discuss and unfold the concept of ‘being’, ...
3
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2answers
51 views

Resident advisor: an advisor who resides or someone who advises residents?

Google assures me that there's a position at various postsecondary institutions called "resident assistant", "resident advisor", or "resident adviser". This is a student who lives in a dormitory and ...
3
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1answer
65 views

Are both “from the offset” and “from the outset” correct?

I had always seen that phrase as "from the outset", but recently I saw somebody writing "from the offset" (meaning "from the beginning"). Dictionary.com claims that "offset" can be a synonym for ...
15
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3answers
5k 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 ...
4
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2answers
2k views

What is the origin of the phrase “zero, zip, zilch, nada”?

In the TV show Batman: The Animated Series, the character of Joker said the phrase "zero, zip, zilch, nada". Looking at Google results for that phrase, it seems to be more widely used, so I assume the ...
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2answers
245 views

What does “fraction of Blue Book value” mean?

On this page : http://boston.craigslist.org/i/autos the fourth point of "How to recognize a vehicle scam attempt on CL" What does "fraction of blue book value" mean?
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3answers
632 views

What does the phrase “taking a bath with the crowd” mean?

I recently heard the phrase "taking a bath with the crowd" and that apparently it's a common idiom in many European languages. I found several results for the phrase on Google, but none that explain ...
2
votes
2answers
225 views

What's meaning of “get to the meat of”?

For example, "let's get to the meat of the problem"? When could I use this phrase? Does this mean "let's get to the most important part of the problem"?
7
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5answers
4k views

What does “If she smokes, she pokes” exactly mean?

What does part she pokes of phrase If she smokes, she pokes exactly mean?
7
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2answers
1k views

What does “Serve red meat to the crowd" mean?

I found the phrase “serve up red meat to the crowd” in the following sentence of Washington Post's article titled “Michele Bachmann steals the show in Iowa”: Michele Bachmann served up red meat ...
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6answers
24k views

Origin of “More X than you can shake a stick at”

What is the origin of the phrase "more X than you can shake a stick at"? Every website I've seen on this basically says the same thing (e.g., http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-sha2.htm): Recorded ...
2
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4answers
66 views

What does “make the last word on word” mean?

I found the article of New Yorker magazine dealing with U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia’s scrupulousness of the usage of words under the title’ “Salia’s word game” very interesting as an ...
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6answers
164 views

Word/phrase similar to bluster

I am looking for a phrase similar to bluster. Something like “he saw her ???? fade away”. I'm looking for a phrase that describes fake arrogance or sizing somone up and trying to show them that they ...
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1answer
82 views

No longer valid vs. Invalid [closed]

There is a subtle or perhaps more than subtle difference between the phrases "no longer valid" and "invalid". Can English experts elaborate with examples where one should be used and not the other.
4
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2answers
1k views

What is the spelt-out form of “What gives”?

I noticed the phrase “What gives?” in the following lines of the article of Washington Post (August 29) article, titled “Is Ron Paul being ignored?” “And yet talk to almost anyone in politics — ...
4
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2answers
1k views

Introductory phrases like “to tell the truth”

What is the difference between the following introductory phrases? To tell the truth Frankly speaking To be honest Are any of the phrases more old-fashioned or formal than the others ...
0
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1answer
38 views

What's the difference between 'part of' and 'a part of '? [duplicate]

I usually see these sentences containing 'part of' or 'a part of' ,like 1.An apartment or compartment is part of a larger whole. 2.He spends at least a part of his time in reading. What's the ...
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6answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “often mistaken, never in doubt”?

What is the meaning of "often mistaken, never in doubt"? In what context is the phrase used?
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4answers
115 views

Does “run around” also mean “run away”?

I got a note from a fortune cookie, which says: " Never gonna run around and desert you" I was wondering what does "run around" means here. Similar to runaway?
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3answers
87 views

Put down a downpayment

Is it correct to say "to put down a downpayment"? Or should it be "to put down a payment"? But that doesn't really emphasize that it's a downpayment it could be a payment of any sort. Or maybe just ...
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3answers
49 views

What does the phrase “for want of means” mean? [closed]

I came across this phrase in the following passage: Two instances of such forays have been particularly noted by scholars. In his essay “Of the Affection of Fathers to Their Children,” Montaigne, ...
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2answers
110 views

Where did the phrase “washing one's hands of” originate?

I know that the phrase "to wash one's hands of" comes from Pilate in the Bible, Matthew 27:24: When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water ...
3
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1answer
218 views

What does “Emergency blame game” on Iraq mean?

New Yorker magazine (June 14) reports as follows under the headline, “Senator, John McCain calls for emergency blame game on Iraq.”: “Citing the deteriorating situation in the war-torn nation, ...
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3answers
984 views

Should the phrase “Man up” be considered offensive?

Liverpool Football Club have recently released a list of banned phrases, that they want the fans to avoid using. (Read the story) One of these phrases is "Man up". Why is this phrase considered ...
3
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5answers
324 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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6answers
893 views

One's brilliant vocabulary and a tendency to show it off [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What’s a big-vocabulary word for someone with a big vocabulary? There are people who are blessed with a remarkable knowledge of vocabulary and diction – people who can ...
3
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1answer
88 views

Where does the phase “buy it” (to die) come from?

In English, the verb "buy" can be used to refer to somebody's having been killed, usually in the past tense; for example: Harry bought it in World War 2. Where does this phrase come from?
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2answers
82 views

Opt for, to be up for (and to be down for)

What's the difference between I opt for the party and I'm up for the party? And, to make it more complex, I'm down for the party. But I'm especially interested in the first two.
2
votes
1answer
351 views

Words for a person who imposes [closed]

I need a few words that describe a person who is imposing, in a context of overstaying his welcome. Someone that is present unwelcomed and you can't do your usual routines until the person is gone. A ...
0
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3answers
311 views

Synonym for “call bulls--t”

I am writing a column for publication in a widely circulated newspaper, and would like to use a phrase meaning something like "call bullshit". I can't think of one that captures the meaning so ...
2
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4answers
179 views

Is there an English equivalent of this common Maldivian Proverb meaning “to do something carelessly or perfunctorily”?

The proverb is "Amaa buneethee fara-h dhiy-un" which basically translates to "To walk along the shore (the point of which is to collect cowrie shells which were used as currency among seafarers and ...
3
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3answers
123 views

A phrase that captures the concept of making oneself falsely appear to be guilty for purpose of discrediting another party

Perhaps this is more of a trope, but I'm looking for a phrase or word in English that describes the situation where: (a) "Party A" consciously performs actions that establish a false expectation of ...
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10answers
6k 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 ...
4
votes
5answers
6k views

Where did “the price of tea in china” come from?

Usually when someone does not think your current statement has to do with the conversation at hand they can ask, "What does that have to do with the price of tea in China"? Where did that form of ...
2
votes
1answer
61 views

What kind of phrase is this? [manically across the stage]

In the sentence: At the beginning of the play, the entire cast dances maniacally across the stage. What kind of phrase is [manically across the stage]? Is it an adverb phrase, prepositional phrase or ...
0
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1answer
94 views

Is “per E-Mail” an English phrase

Is it correct to say: "I'll send you this file per E-Mail"? Or "Please send me this file per E-Mail"? I know most people say "I'll send you this file by E-Mail" or "Please send me this ...
4
votes
3answers
11k 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 ...
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4answers
11k views

What is the etymology of “giving [it] the old college try”?

What is the etymology of giving [it] the old college try? In particular, is it referencing an old ritual that might have percolated amongst alumni of the old and prestigious New England ...
7
votes
5answers
26k views

“Hot mess” meaning and etymology

A phrase has started to be used somewhat frequently over the past few years: "hot mess". I have heard it in professional journalism (albeit, admittedly, mostly entertainment and/or gossip ...
0
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7answers
160 views

Word meaning “without my asking”

There is a specific word meaning 'without my asking' and I cannot seem to recall it whatsoever. Used in a sentence: "she told me all about her personal life 'without my asking."
8
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3answers
7k views

Difference between “Excuse me” and “Sorry”

What is the difference between "Excuse me, ..." and "Sorry, ..."? When do we use one or the other? For example, when you haven't heard the speaker, or stepped on someone's foot or accidentally ...
0
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1answer
96 views

Hurt someone and say “sorry” - Is there a word to describe this type of behaviour and/or people? [closed]

People unintentionally hurt others whilst in the middle of an argument, it could happen anywhere: in public or even in the privacy of one's bedroom. When they finally realize their mistake, they end ...
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1answer
73 views

Is the phrase ''a little bit'' superfluous? [closed]

What's the point of saying both words if one of them already implies a small amount of something? Doesn't it seem a bit redundant?
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0answers
41 views

Which phrase shall I choose, “take part in the project of or process of”?

Although it was compelled to enter the modern world by the Western countries, now China is taking part in the project of modernization more actively and has completed many great achievements in the ...