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 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?
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4answers
15k 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.
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1answer
1k 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 ...
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5answers
18k 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
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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 ...
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3answers
7k 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?
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8answers
62k views

Distinction: “What can I do you for?” vs. “What can I do for you?”

Usually, when being served the phrase "What can I do for you?" is used but sometimes I also hear "What can I do you for?" in quite the same context. So is there a difference or is it just a slip of ...
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5answers
5k 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? ...
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5answers
2k 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 ...
13
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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. ...
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10answers
11k 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 ...
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3answers
66k views

Does the casual use of “a la ___” in English preserve the French meaning?

In English, we use a la carte and a la mode, but it is also common for people to add their own word to the basic construction. For example, one might comment on someone's dancing: He showed us ...
11
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2answers
10k 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 ...
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6answers
29k 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
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3answers
9k 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?
7
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3answers
40k views

What does “what's the catch” mean?

It sounds like a marketing term. Does it mean "However there are some points to take note"?
6
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4answers
327 views

“This type of element” or “This type of elements”

I hope this question is not too basic. I recently edited a question and was accused of correcting a phrase that was grammatically correct to a phrase that is now wrong. The context is: I have ...
6
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2answers
17k 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?
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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?
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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
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2answers
9k 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
19k views

“Interested in knowing” versus “interested to know”

I am interested to know if, for some, there is a subtle difference between the two phrases in the title. I am equally interested in knowing if there is a subtle difference.
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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 ?
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2answers
38k views

Origin of burning ears

Ive often heard people say: "Your ears are burning." Specifically after someone hearing people talking about him or her. I'm curious what the origin of this is. There's got to be an interesting ...
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3answers
25k views

The difference between a clause and a phrase?

This question What is the difference between a phrase and a clause? has an answer, with no embedded examples. The link it provides is not longer active, giving a 404 page not found error. Please don't ...
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1answer
9k views

Correct usage of “of which”

I have two books, of which one is borrowed. Is this correct? Is there such a phrase?
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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” ...
2
votes
1answer
366 views

“List of tasks” or “tasks' list”

Which of these forms is better: list of tasks or tasks' list? Another question is whether I should use an apostrophe or not (tasks's list vs tasks list). Other phrases which are similar to this, but ...
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3answers
2k views

The meaning of “Even if I should”

Consider the following: Even if I... Even should I... These all mean the same thing, right? What about Even if I should... Does that have the same meaning? "If you should ever," is ...
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2answers
407 views

What does one's status being “less a blank check than an equation with multiple variables” mean?

There is the following line in a December 8 New York Times article titled “Clinton’s countless choices hinge on one: 2016”: “But being Hillary Clinton is never a simple matter, and her next few ...
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6answers
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What is the American word for 'tea-towel'?

On a tour from Australia to the states my wife asked me to stop at the gift store and buy memorable fridge-magnets and tea-towels. Everywhere I went, none of the store attendants seemed to know what ...
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6answers
4k views

Phrase: “Colder than a witch’s kiss!”

The following was used in a radio broadcast (The Adventures of Harry Lime, 14th December 1951, episode 20 “An Old Moorish Custom”) as Harry was hit on the back of his head with a rifle butt by a giant ...
20
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17answers
5k views

What's an idiom for something that you've heard many times?

I'm trying to write something for my blog, and I need an idiom that will replace me saying, "I've heard people say that all the time, it's the same old story."
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2answers
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What does “velvet-rope-poor” mean?

There was the following sentence in the New York Times (February 8) article titled, “Azerbaijan is rich. It wants to be famous.”: “Oil-rich, velvet-rope-poor Azerbaijan, a country about the size ...
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7answers
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What does “It’s sorta meta,” mean?

Maureen Dowd wrote a review on the recently released movie, “J.Edgar” directed by Clint Eastwood in New York Times November 12 issue under the title, “Dirty Harry meets dirtier Edgar.” Apart from the ...
15
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5answers
522 views

“The whole nine yards”

What is the origin of the phrase "the whole nine yards"? Is it a reference to some game of sports I am not familiar with (as a continental European)?
13
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3answers
13k views

Where does the phrase “the bee's knees” originate from?

So the phrase "the bee's knees" approximately means "it's fantastic" (my definition at least!). But how did this phrase come about?
12
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7answers
1k views

Other ways to say “I have a bad hunch”

I'm looking for ways to say "I'm having a bad hunch", or more like a bad feeling about something upcoming. The gut-wrenching feeling that something bad will happen.
12
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5answers
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What does “What price [noun]?” mean?

I've come across phrases like "What price freedom?" a lot. I speak British English and it doesn't read nicely to me. It seems some words are missing. Does it mean "What is the price of X?"? Where did ...
11
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6answers
22k views

Correct usage of “to coin a phrase”

I've always thought "to coin a phrase" means to invent a phrase or be the first person to use it. Today I came across this usage by a reporter for the Lancashire Telegraph The Burnley board are ...
10
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3answers
1k views

What does “Sleep through the Second Coming” mean?

There is the following statement in Jeffery Archer’s fiction “Kane & Abel,” in which William Kane, one of the two heroes looks at his wife sleeping soundly on bed unaware of his big problem: ...
10
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4answers
3k views

Is ‘Take something cum grano salis’ a popular phrase? Can I use it in casual conversation?

I came across the phrase, ‘cum grano salis’ in the article written by Chris Cillizza, a political pundit in the August 8th Washington Post’s article under the title ‘GOP smells blood in Presidential ...
10
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4answers
607 views

What exactly is “noonday night”?

In answering the question Is there a term for “midnight” that is like “noon”, I came across the phrase noonday night listed as a synonym for midnight in my copy of Roget's International ...
8
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5answers
9k views

Where does the phrase “in good nick” come from?

The term "in good nick" meaning "in a good condition" came up in conversation and I realised I had no idea where it came from. Searching online seems surprisingly fruitless- there are several roots ...
8
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3answers
4k views

Meaning of “one order of magnitude improvement”

There is no single development, in either technology or management technique, which by itself promises even one order of magnitude improvement in productivity, in reliability, in ...
8
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3answers
9k views

What does ‘Camel gets his nose under the tent’ mean?

In the article of New York Times co-ed columnist, Maureen Dowd dealing with Republicans’ objection of the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ under the title, “Mad Men and Mad Women”, I came across an ...
8
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1answer
5k views

What does “Faustian bargain” mean?

In an article I see this phrase "Faustian bargain". Both I and my teacher were unable to translate or understand it. Can you help me and explain this phrase? Context: The reason for linking all ...
8
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3answers
3k views

What's the story with the British use of “miss not having” vs. “miss having?”

This one has bugged me for years. When an American English speaker wishes to express regret that Joe doesn't come around any more, they would typically say, "I really miss having him around." It ...
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4answers
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“In regard to” or “in regards to”

Is it incorrect to say either of the following? In regards to your previous email In regards to your previous emails I was asked this by a non-native speaker, and after thinking about it I ...
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3answers
536 views

Is there a term for a self-fulfilling sentence?

I am wondering if there is a term for sentences that describe what the sentence accomplishes. For example, the phrase "I'm warning you." The sentence simultaneously does the warning and says it is ...