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

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Alternative to “double entendre”?

Does anyone know another word or way to say double entendre — in the non-bawdy sense of the word — as this phrase was only invented in the latter 1600's and so not around when Shakespeare wrote his ...
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6answers
3k views

end-to-end alternatives

I just received an email that included the phrase soup-to-nuts meaning "end-to-end." Are there any other alternatives to this? eg cradle-to-grave? I want to include some in the reply email.
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2answers
374 views

Has the term ‘weapons of mass distraction’ gotten currency as a metonym for web sites and lowbrow mass media contents?

I found the term ‘weapons of mass distraction’ in the article titled “Social Networking in the 1600s” in the Sunday Review section of June 22 New York Times, which begins with; “Social networks ...
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4answers
55k views

Does the phrase “who's in?” or “I'm in!” exist in (informal) English?

I really think I've heard it in some American sitcom/sitcoms, meaning something like participating in. "I want to play football. Who's in?" — "Great idea, I'm in!" Does it really exist, or am I wrong? ...
5
votes
1answer
17k 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 ...
5
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5answers
11k 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 ...
4
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10answers
750 views

Phrase meaning “North, but not directly North, from here”

I have 40 characters to give hints to users about the location of a "prize" (Broken up into two lines of 20 characters.) There is some ambiguity when I send the following hint: The prize is somewhere ...
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2answers
2k views

Shotgun and front seats in the car

What does "calling shotgun" have to do with reservation of a seat near the car driver?
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5answers
10k views

What does “fly by the seat of one's pants” mean?

Reading a book, I came across an expression I really can't parse. For some developers, the invocation of the word plan is cause for alarm. Endless meetings with pointy-haired bosses creating ...
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7answers
7k views

The meaning of “This is it”

Does "this is it," mean "this is the end?" How is this possible?
4
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2answers
31k views

What are the implications of “at my disposal”

I found myself using the phrase "[something] is at my disposal" as a way of indicating that a particular resource is available for my use. My question arises from the word disposal. It seems to ...
3
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2answers
802 views

Is “put together” an adjectival phrase?

When someone says "He is smarter than I and she put together," what is the function of the phrase "put together"? Is it considered an adjective?
3
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2answers
273 views

“Credulous” - Formal Use

What is the basic meaning of Credulous , in which context it will be the best to use instead of "willing to believe" ? How formally we can use "Credulous" ?
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4answers
18k 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.
2
votes
2answers
158 views

Psychological term or phrase for experiencing the world via the senses

I am looking for a psychological term or phrase for experiencing the world via the senses. (I am particularly interested in visual, auditory and thermal stimuli.) I am not looking for the word ...
2
votes
8answers
25k views

What do you call a person who motivates or inspires?

My choices so far: motivational source inspirational source source of motivation source of inspiration Being a non-native speaker, I don't know which one to use. What I want to say is that ...
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11answers
4k views

What are non-ironic English expressions used with a meaning opposite to their literal meaning? [closed]

The phrase lowest common denominator is a phrase that has a meaning opposite to its literal meaning. Are there any other phrases like that? What is the term used for such phrases? Edit: Obviously, ...
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1answer
183 views

About two mutually related, future actions [closed]

Is it correct to say: "I will do that thing when I will talk to him."?
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2answers
9k views

'Depend upon' or 'depend on' [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which phrase is correct: “dependent on” or “dependent upon” Is there a difference between the usage of 'depend upon' and 'depend on' or is one ...
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8answers
4k views

Do you hang up a cellphone?

When you disconnect your phone, you hang up. Does this phrase apply to your cellphone?
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4answers
6k views

Origin of “rub someone the wrong way”

What is the origin of the idiomatic expression rub someone the wrong way? Is it correct to use the idiom in reverse, i.e. rub someone the right way, possibly meaning to calm or to please?
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6answers
36k views

What is the origin of the phrase “hunky dory”?

What is the origin of the phrase “hunky dory”?
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5answers
10k views

Why does someone “pull my leg”?

Someone was pulling my leg the other day (meaning, attempting some mild or humourous deception), and I wondered about the etymology of this phrase. Does anyone know when it originated, and why it ...
11
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5answers
2k views

What is the origin of “tall tale”?

A tall tale is a folkloric story that is generally wildly exaggerated and told for the amusement of the listeners. Tall tale tellers usually claim some sort of personal involvement in the story. I ...
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2answers
5k views

What is the origin of phrase “for fun and profit”?

Sounds like something a snake oil salesman on the wild west could come up with. Can the origins be traced? Edit: In a transcript of a state trial from 1798: What did you give it him for? Did he ...
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7answers
7k views

Meaning of the phrase “the wrong side of history”

I've just realized I don't understand what this phrase means. What does "Gaddafi is on the wrong side of history" mean? Does it mean he's about to die, or something else? Here's the relevant ...
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4answers
1k views

Where does the term “cold calling” originate from?

Did it exist before The Telephone - has it always been associated with 'sales'? Here is an example.
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4answers
8k views

Where does “beat around the bush” come from?

Where does the expression "beat around the bush" come from?
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3answers
52k 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 ...
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5answers
7k views

What does “pray” mean in phrases like “pray proceed”?

Is this an archaic form of "please proceed"? I have never heard in in speech but sometimes it appears in novels. My version of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is full of it, apparently in place of ...
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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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7answers
46k views

What does the phrase “ungodly hour” really mean?

When I hear people speak of "this ungodly hour" they are usually complaining about being awake (or especially working) earlier than they are accustomed. But why is this called ungodly? It would seem ...
8
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6answers
1k views

Is there an aphorism for doing a self-defeating act?

Is there a witty turn of phrase that indicates one's performing an act that, in its doing, undermines, contravenes, or obviates itself? This question relates to a similar idea, but I have it in my ...
8
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6answers
56k views

What does “to take someone at face value” mean?

What does this mean? I hear it often, but not sure what its meaning is. I think it means to believe what they are saying without proof.
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6answers
24k views

Alternative to the phrase “not to mention”?

Despite knowing how the phrase "not to mention ..." is often used, it still grates on me to use it because I am in the act of "mentioning" even as I use it. I found it helpful to read the origins of ...
7
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7answers
866 views

What do you call a circular paved protuberance added to a paved street?

I used to own a house located in a modern suburban street with a circular protuberance, a circular paved (tarred) surface appended to the paved street it was part of. Four houses with their gardens ...
7
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1answer
250 views

Is it okay to say “that which”?

I know that there are certain times to use "that" (for restricting the noun) and certain times to use "which" (for adding information). How about "that which"?: Truth is that which conforms to ...
7
votes
1answer
419 views

“The proverbial wedding ring”?

In old books, I keep coming accross the saying, ...is so transparent it could pass through the proverbial wedding ring. What does this mean?
7
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2answers
7k views

The meaning and origin of “hedge your bets”

What exactly does it mean? And what is the origin of the phrase "hedge your bets"?
7
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4answers
22k views

Difference between “On your mark, get set, go” and “Ready, steady, go”

Watching Kipper with my son tonight, I was struck by the phrase "Ready, steady, go!" I don't often hear this sequence. In my upbringing, it has been mostly "On your mark, get set, go!" I had ...
7
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7answers
7k 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?
7
votes
2answers
8k views

Where does “pull it off” come from?

"to pull it off" was at one time used meaning "to win." And in sentences such as, I don't think you can pull it off. , it often implies the idea of "success." But how did this expression ...
7
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5answers
12k views

What does “hit me like a two-by-four” mean?

What does this sentence mean? This observation hit me like a two-by-four Source.
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3answers
3k views

“Cheese and rice”?

A new girl started at the office, and she's quite a peculiar character. She moved here from Alabama and is definitely the excitable type. Every office has one I guess. One thing she says every now ...
6
votes
11answers
7k views

Idiom for the phrase “someone who gets what he deserved”

Is there an idiom for someone who gets what he deserved? Like someone receiving punishment for his evil deeds or someone getting awarded for his good deeds?
6
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4answers
775 views

What is the grammar behind “Thanks be to God”?

What is the grammatical interpretation of the phrase? I don't understand what verb tense or voice is used.
6
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3answers
3k views

On the brink/verge/edge of

With on the brink/verge/edge of, is there a distinct difference between these, or do they have more or less the same meaning? Which one is the most informal? Is it all about context?
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votes
4answers
5k views

What's the correct term for potato chips?

In school I learned to say crisps but I don't want to mix it with french fries. So what's the correct term to use, and what synonyms are there?
6
votes
5answers
13k views

What does ‘play a blinder’ mean? Is it a popular phrase?

I came across the phrase ‘played a blinder’ in the following paragraph of the New York Times’ December 12 article, titled “British Euro Farce,” dealing with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s veto ...
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votes
2answers
2k views

Why is “stuck in a rut” different from “stuck in a groove” in meaning even though “rut” and “groove” are akin as a line of track?

I found the expression “the economy remains stuck in a rut,” in the article titled ”What would Maynard Keynes tell us to do now – and should we listen?” which appeared in October 10 issue of New ...