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

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2answers
9k views

Classify into 4 categories or in 4 categories?

Which is more correct? I am going to classify these faults into 4 categories. I am going to classify these faults in 4 categories. I am going to classify these faults as 4 categories. ...
3
votes
4answers
542 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
6k views

What does “my point being” mean?

I have heard someone say in a conversation, "Well, my point being,,,". As an English learner, I was puzzled but assumed that it was roughly the same as saying "My point is that..." or "Here's my ...
3
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1answer
4k views

What does “Thundering typhoons” mean?

What does "Thundering typhoons" mean? Actually it was in the 2011 movie The Adventures of Tintin.
3
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3answers
362 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 ...
3
votes
6answers
6k views

What is the structure in “as best you can”?

I instinctively translate it "as best as you can", however this makes no sense. What is the real structure behind this phrase? I'll include an Ngram to illustrate the historical presence of this ...
3
votes
4answers
10k views

“I am working” or “I have worked almost two months at this project”?

Which one is correct? "I am working almost two months at this project" or "I have worked almost two months at this project" I want to give this meaning: I'm still working on it.
3
votes
2answers
623 views

“Pardon me French”

Even though the phrase pardon my French is used much more often, I do constantly run across pardon me French as well. What's the deal with that? Wikipedia does have an entry on Pardon my French, but ...
2
votes
4answers
111 views

Does one open a browser “on” a URL?

Can I say: It opens the browser on the URL [X] meaning that something is opening the browser with the URL [X] already typed in and loading?
2
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3answers
8k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
9k views

Should I use present or past tense when referring to a (scientific) paper? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What (grammatical) tense to use when doing reference in a paper? In the two examples below, which tense is preferred? "Smith (2001) noted that ..." or "Smith (2001) ...
1
vote
3answers
245 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
225 views

taller than any student or taller than any other student

Which of the following sentences is correct? a) 1. John is taller than any student in his class. 2. John is taller than any other student in his class. b) 1. No student is taller than ...
0
votes
2answers
527 views

Which is correct: “What is” or “What are” [closed]

How should I phrase "What is the first 5 digits of your home postal code" or "What are the first 5 digits of your home postal code?"
0
votes
3answers
818 views

How to describe the feeling you get when something exceedingly irritating, irritates you? [closed]

Got extremely annoyed today. But that's not the word I was looking for. I had to deliver a case of bottled water to some friends living in another dorm in our college. I have to tell you, the sound ...
-1
votes
2answers
5k views

What does “in spades” mean? [closed]

What does "in spades" mean, for example in the following sentence: demand and love are both there in spades ... I guess "in spades" means "on cards" or "on the table" or exist?
34
votes
7answers
84k views

When your 10-year old boy says “It’s meta,” what does it mean? In what situation and of what sort of object they use this phrase?

I asked about the meaning and usage of meta a few days ago, quoting Maureen Dowd’s review of the movie, “J. Edgar” in New York Times. I received six answers. But I still don’t get a clear idea of ...
24
votes
2answers
67k views

Why do we say “to boot”?

Here's an example of the phrase "to boot": My wife made a disgusting looking dinner, and it tasted awful to boot! The implication of the "to boot" is that the fact that the dinner tasted awful ...
6
votes
4answers
74k views

Meaning of “on the same page”

Where on the scale from We are talking about the same thing to We are in agreement / We see it the same way is the phrase We are on the same page?
6
votes
1answer
10k views

“Logged-in”, “log-ined”, “login-ed”, “logined”, “log-in-ed”, “logged in”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “log in to” or “log into” or “login to” This following question, where and how to append "-ed", is not addressed in thу "possible ...
25
votes
4answers
2k views

Is there a name for this type of insult: “I am friends with many manly men. And Gary.”?

Is there a term or word appropriate to describe the trick of using a general term and then explicitly adding a specific term to strongly imply that the specific is not part of the general? The trick I ...
6
votes
1answer
16k 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 ...
77
votes
15answers
12k views

“Soccer mom”: why soccer?

...why not football mom, baseball mom, or basketball mom? Soccer mom, as far as I can tell, is an American term made popular during the 1996 presidential elections, used to describe a key demographic ...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

Free as in 'free beer' and in 'free speech' [closed]

This phrase is all over the internet. They will say that something is free as in 'free beer' and free as in 'free speech'. I have never really understood this. Are these the examples of two different ...
18
votes
6answers
3k views

What's the opposite of eye candy?

What's the opposite of eye candy? I heard someone say, "Eye broccoli," but that's not very accurate to those of us who love broccoli. Any other ideas?
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13answers
3k views

What word or phrase means “a loss of what was on your mind”?

Sometimes, in the middle of a conversation, a "loss of mind" can affect the speaker. What is the word for that situation and that person ? Are there more specific terms or phrases than: the loss ...
12
votes
8answers
714 views

Is there a name/term for phrasing something such that to disagree implicates yourself?

For example: Now available in all good stores. . . where to not agree to stock an item suggests that your store is not good, or: All rational people agree that. . . where to refuse to ...
12
votes
4answers
13k views

Why does “do you read me” mean “do you hear me”?

Why does "Do you read me?" mean "Do you hear me?" This phrase is used (in movies) during radio communication, for example.
10
votes
3answers
58k views

What is the meaning of the phrase ‘in timely fashion’?

It was very disturbing to learn that Google will not open source Android 3.0 in timely fashion. What is the meaning of in timely fashion?
9
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3answers
3k views

Who will say “Age before beauty” more often? Man or woman, young or old?

We Japanese don't have the humourous and witty phrase like "Age before beauty," as you have. We only have simple and dry expressions, "Please" or "Please go first." However, I recently noticed ...
7
votes
3answers
6k views

Why do we say “right-hand side”?

This question is in reference to the use of the word "hand" in "right-hand side" (and applies equally to the left). My question is what does "right-hand side" say/imply that "right side" doesn't?
46
votes
4answers
58k views

Origin and exact meaning of the phrase “I have to go see a man about a dog”

I hear my older coworkers use this idiom/phrase occasionally. It seems possibly to be a humorous way to get out of a conversation. Even as a native English speaker, I've never figured out the exact ...
20
votes
5answers
4k views

The origin of the term “Baker's Dozen”?

There's a "hot question" at the moment about the use of the apostrophe in the phrase Baker's Dozen, and it got me to wondering: where did this phrase originate? Did bakers really offer 13 in a dozen? ...
14
votes
5answers
1k views

A word like “hundreds” but for multiples of 10 [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to use “tens of” and “hundreds of”? Take this example: Hundreds of pieces were used to create it. What if the amount were something ...
12
votes
7answers
24k views

Alternative to “Merry Christmas” [closed]

The common greeting for the new year is I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Since Christmas has religious roots, it may not be suitable for people who are not religious. ...
12
votes
10answers
9k views

“Out of pocket”?

I'm increasingly hearing the phrase "out of pocket" used in America as a colloquialism to mean "away from the office", "unavailable", or "incommunicado". I apologize for not replying sooner; I ...
11
votes
8answers
2k views

Is there an idiom that corresponds to the Hungarian expression “fall off the other side of the horse”?

There's a Hungarian phrase that can be literally translated as something like "fall off the other side of the horse". (The literal implication is either that instead of falling off this side of the ...
11
votes
1answer
962 views

Through a Glass, Clearly / A Scanner Darkly / In a Mirror, Darkly / etc

I've seen a pattern in a couple of titles. Asimov has a book called "Through a Glass, Clearly". Philip Dick wrote "A Scanner Darkly". Star Trek has the episode "In a Mirror, Darkly" Agatha Christy ...
10
votes
5answers
15k views

“If” vs “Only if” vs “If and only if”

If I said: Yell only if I fall. Would the person have to yell once I fell? Sources of confusion Wikipedia This guy
10
votes
2answers
7k views

How to use “I love you”?

In Italy, you have two options to say "I love you", I'll try to translate them the best I can: I love you (Ti amo.) I want you to be ok (Ti voglio bene.) The fact is that in English, both ti amo ...
9
votes
6answers
26k views

Can “Sure thing” mean “You're welcome”?

I'm looking for different ways to say "you're welcome." Is "sure thing" one of those ways? If it is, then how? I looked up its meaning and it doesn't seem to make sense as a replacement for "you're ...
8
votes
3answers
8k views

What is the origin of the phrase “stand on your head and spit wooden nickels?”

Where does this phrase come from? Was there a time in which it was in popular use? Is it an American English phrase?
6
votes
2answers
15k views

What does “somebody plays things close to the vest” mean?

I heard this phrase in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" and also found it online by googling it. What does the phrase mean?
5
votes
2answers
2k views

“Spit and baling wire”

I just heard the phrase: "spit and baling wire". I cannot find it anywhere—can you help give me a reference, the origin...and the meaning?
4
votes
11answers
12k views

Phrase for something that is always out or reach/you almost have but never can get

I believe there is a two-word phrase for something that is always just out of reach for you and which you cannot ever seem to get. (It is not Tantalus or anything having to do with Tantalus, please). ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

“Feel it in my bones”

Does "Feel it in my bones" sound natural? I have never seen or heard any native speakers use something like that, except in a subtitle of a movie I watched long ago. What are other phrases, or common ...
4
votes
2answers
8k views

What's the meaning of the expression “Grab a hold”?

What does it mean to "grab a hold"? There is a song by Cyndi Lauper that says If you wanna grab a hold, let it go...
4
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4answers
1k views

Is there any online phrase dictionary available?

I use WordWeb which is available online for vocabulary. But, is there any equivalent for getting the meaning and origin of phrases ?
2
votes
1answer
7k views

Correct usage of “of which”

I have two books, of which one is borrowed. Is this correct? Is there such a phrase?
2
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4answers
1k views

“Sick and tied” and “sick and tired”

What is the difference between phrases "sick and tied" and "sick and tired"? Is the first phrase correct? Possibilities (summary from comments): The standard phrase is definitely “sick and tired” ...