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

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Usage of “shall we?”

What does it mean and where would I use it?
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6answers
1k views

Why does the following phrase sound old fashioned?

"We went swimming later in the afternoon, Jack and I." I am trying to describe what is happening here by breaking the sentence down into it's basic components, but I am having difficulty doing this. ...
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3answers
20k views

Is it appropriate to use “Hey yourself”?

I've heard this phrase in a couple of movies, it was being used like this: -Hey, John! -Well, hey yourself, Mike! Sounds pretty simple, but my question is about how appropriate is it to say ...
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8answers
110k views

Other ways to say “I'm rooting for you?”

What are other ways one can say that have the same meaning as, "I'm rooting for you?"
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4answers
162k views

What is the origin and meaning of the phrase “bane of my existence”?

A friend recently used the phrase bane of my existence, and while I’m familiar with the phrase, I would like to know its origin and meaning.
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11answers
30k 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). ...
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3answers
3k views

Phrasing “An hour's rest”

I was just posting a question to the Homebrewing StackExchange, and I found myself pondering the proper way to express my sentiment. I first wrote "an hour's rest", but upon review, I deemed the ...
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2answers
2k views

“A wrong answer” vs “the wrong answer”

In English, when presented with a list (real or imagined) or answers that could be given to a question, and the correct one is not given, we will say that somebody has given "the wrong answer". ...
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1answer
24k views

Etymology of “quick” of a fingernail, as in “cut to the quick”

Part of a fingernail known as the hyponychium is informally known as the "quick". It is referenced in the saying "cut to the quick". What is the etymology of the word quick as in reference to the ...
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4answers
863 views

Is it common to use the borrowed noun-adjective form for borrowed French phrases?

Lately, something has struck me. I've been hearing several expressions in English, some clearly borrowed from French and preserving their noun-adjective form. Some examples are: Attorney General ...
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5answers
13k views

What is the origin of the phrase “to go apeshit”?

What is the origin of the phrase "to go apeshit"? An example usage would be: And then he went apeshit over the prize he just won. Obviously there is a strong visual associated with an angry ...
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5answers
7k views

Usage of “so that”

I am working on a paper, and the following phrasing was suggested: In the protein-protein interaction (PPI) network, nodes represent proteins and edges represent connections between them, ...
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5answers
20k views

“Out of the box” — when should I use this phrase?

I send a lot of unsolicited emails. In many of them, I ask to buy traditional advertising spots or to help conceive a non-traditional campaign. Oftentimes, I find myself describing these ...
3
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2answers
715 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
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3answers
741 views

The phrase “more sharp” vs “sharper”

So I was talking to my fiancee and she said "more sharp" to which I said "you mean sharper?". This is in context of talking about her current earrings being "more sharp" then her usual ones. She then ...
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3answers
45k views

What is the usual form of “Please do the needful”? [duplicate]

I was browsing the internet, and found that "Please do the needful" is not an appropriate sentence to use or write. According to this link, this sentence used to get used in South Asia. What would be ...
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2answers
11k views

As good as it gets- grammar

I do know what "as good as it gets" means (in my language, we say "it will not get any better"). However, I do not understand the grammar here: Firstly, does the "get" mean a change of state here? ...
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2answers
4k views

“Broken my duck”? Is this a common idiom/phrase?

I steal this phrase from a comment on Meta Stack Overflow: yep, I think I've broken my duck or so to speak :) – Kev♦ 51 mins ago The context is one of having been basically broken into a ...
14
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4answers
23k views

What is the origin of the phrase ‘By the by…’?

What is the origin of the phrase 'By the by...'?
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4answers
12k views

Where does “beat around the bush” come from?

Where does the expression "beat around the bush" come from?
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6answers
2k views

What does “I’m like, c’mon guys. I’m the president of the United States.” imply?

The Washington Post (April 14) reported President Obama's off-the-cuff remark during a meeting with donors in Chicago held on April 13th under the title: "Obama riffs with donors: Where are the cool ...
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3answers
705 views

Is there a term for a product having the same name as its place of origin?

Several trade products, especially food, have been named after their places of origin throughout the centuries. To mention just a few, champagne, after Champagne, France. calico, after Calicut, ...
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4answers
10k views

Is ‘on (in) a tear’ a popular idiom?

I was drawn to the phrase, ‘on a tear’ that I heard in audio in this week’s Barron’s magazine (June 6) reporting the good sales and profit performance of U.S. sneaker chain, Foot Locker: It says: ...
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7answers
3k views

How to say “You have this much work to do because you decided to do that much” more elegantly?

I want to try word this a bit more elegantly, fancy, etc. Basically that is a reply to a co-worker who said to me in an email saying "Too much work to do!" and I want to reply to that in an ...
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2answers
3k views

When a phrase ends with a period, do you put … or .. after it?

I was just reading this question: When "etc." is at the end of a phrase, do you place a period after it? And it brought to mind something similar. If a phrase ends with a . (such as e.g. or ...
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7answers
15k views

'Drop us a line' - letter or phone call?

According to the Free Dictionary, dropping someone a line means sending them a short message. Is this correct? I always thought it meant phoning someone, the line referring to a telephone line.
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3answers
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What is the origin of the phrase “to take a rain check”

I know what it means, but can't really see the reasoning of this phrase. Anyone with an insight?
7
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3answers
12k views

Origin of “spill the beans”

I believe this phrase means "to betray information". Could someone please explain its origin?
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8answers
9k views

Where does “Going out on a limb” come from?

I know that the phrase, "I'm going out on a limb here" means either to take a risk or hazard a guess, but where does it come from? As in, what did it originally refer to before it became an idiom?
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1answer
7k views

What is the origin of the phrase “and nothing of value was lost”?

What is the origin of the phrase "and nothing of value was lost"? Is this from a movie, book, or show, or did it get its start on Slashdot or some other online forum?
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2answers
12k 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. ...
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4answers
480 views

There is no headache strong enough, that a good coffee won't relieve

I heard this phrase today and I'm pretty sure that there is something wrong with it. I do not know if it is the grammar or the syntax or the meaning of the words. Can you please tell me what the ...
6
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2answers
18k views

“Thanks for having me”

Recently, I finished my phone job interview with the phrase "Thanks for having me". It was a reply to the other person's "Thank you for your time". So, does "thanks for having me" sound alright in ...
6
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2answers
77k views

Meaning of “hail to the king”

I can't translate that sentence, “hail to the king”. I've found something like “greetings to the king” but is this correct?
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7answers
36k views

What is the meaning of “Many a mickle makes a muckle”?

I've heard this phrase, and don't know what a "mickle" or a "muckle" is. Hence I have no idea at all what the phrase itself is supposed to mean.
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3answers
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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
5k views

Is the expression 'half a percent' acceptable in formal English?

When central banks raise or lower interest rates the radio announcer will say for example: an increase of one half of one percent Informally people use half a percent instead, which is less ...
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3answers
2k views

Term for double meanings

What is the term used for a phrase that could have more than one meaning such as "This battery is free of charge"?
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4answers
1k 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 ...
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0answers
2k views

Etymology of “to coin a phrase” [closed]

Quite simply — who coined the phrase "to coin a phrase"? I'm sure it wasn't one person, but it's the origin that is of interest.
5
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1answer
7k views

What is the difference between an expression and a phrase?

I'm trying to decide what tags I should be using and realized I did not know the difference between these terms.
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8answers
965 views

encapsulating a positive thing among many negative things

Is there a phrase that encapsulates 'this is a positive thing among many negative things'? Context: I need to find a name for an article I am writing - which is about how a person turned everything ...
4
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1answer
231 views

“How did I do this” or “how did I do that”?

Is there a difference between: How did I do this? and How did I do that? If not, is there a preferred one? If they are different, when should I choose one over the other? I am not a ...
4
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5answers
3k views

Is “since I'm” now an acceptable alternative to “since I was”?

In a recent episode of the television show Entourage, Ari Gold (a 40 year old man) says: I've known her since I'm 19. In an episode of Sex and the City, a character, who is 15, tells Carrie: ...
3
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4answers
798 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
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1answer
5k 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
449 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
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6answers
9k 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
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4answers
12k 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.
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3answers
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Why does “something catch my eye” but not “both my eyes”?

I am not a native English speaker, I usually hear “something caught my eye” but never “something caught (both) my eyes”. This seems pretty strange to me. Cambridge Dictionaries Online provide these ...