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

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Is ‘Set one’s hair on fire’ a popular English idiom?

Yesterday’s (September8) New York Times carried an article titled ‘Setting Their Hair on Fire’ which was written by economist, Paul Krugman. It is followed by the following sentence: “First things ...
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Doubt about the subject in this phrase: I, me, or myself?

At the end of the evening, the bar was almost empty, with only [I/?] and a very cheerful and pleasant lady I met in the last minutes of the meeting. What is the correct form in this case? My ...
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A phrase for “extremely bad luck”

Is there a (short) phrase or idiom meaning that someone had extremely bad luck? In the context of a sports match: as you would have a "perfect game" or the even more specific "perfect hand" (when ...
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Is “Less than perfect” always used in a sarcastic and negative way?

I always use the phrase less than perfect in a sarcastic way, meaning that something is not good at all. For example: My date was obviously less than perfect. She was late and in a hurry, and she ...
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Phrase for asking the obvious

In my language when a question is asking something really obvious we are using a phrase that if translated means: What is making a "meow meow" sound on the roof/rooftop? Is there an equivalent ...
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What do I have to say when I enter into a house?

In Italy when you want to enter inside the house of a stranger or also of a friend you knock at the door and say, "Permesso?" meaning, "Can I enter?" or "Do I have the permission to enter in your ...
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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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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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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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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? ...
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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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Is there a more concise way to describe this hairstyle? [closed]

Is there a more concise way to describe this character's hairstyle, other than 'a bun, with parted bangs and tassels framing her face'?
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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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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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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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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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The meaning of “This is it”

Does "this is it," mean "this is the end?" How is this possible?
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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 ...
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2answers
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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?
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“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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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 ...
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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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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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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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'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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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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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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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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What is the origin of the phrase “hunky dory”?

What is the origin of the phrase “hunky dory”?
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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 ...
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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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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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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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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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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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“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?
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Meaning and origin of “Get someone's shirt out”

I was wondering to myself about the word "shirty". It seemed so curious a word. After all, what did its meaning have to do with shirts. "Were the two words even related?", I wondered. So I looked up ...
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The meaning and origin of “hedge your bets”

What exactly does it mean? And what is the origin of the phrase "hedge your bets"?
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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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“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 ...
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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?