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

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Origin of the phrase “mother's ruin”?

I was under the impression that the phrase "mother's ruin" came from the England in the 1800's, where many people living in London did so in absolute poverty, and gin (the so-called "mother's ruin") ...
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405 views

Does “walk back” have a meaning of ‘deny’ or 'keep distance from sb. / stg.' as an idiom?

I came across the phrase “a State Department spokesperson had walked back his (John Kerry’s) comments in the Time magazine’s (August 2) article titled, “Oops: John Kerry gaffes, Washington ...
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42 views
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2answers
59 views

Meaning of “To be”

What is the meaning of "to be hiered" ? Whether it means the person is hiered or he is yet to be hiered?
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3answers
38 views

What is another way to say the need for?

What is another way to say "the need for" in regards to mental health system reform
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2answers
34 views

Is the term “fresh and original” redundant?

I see this phrase all over the place. Fresh in this usage appears to be in the usage: not previously known or used; new or different. And directly lists original as a synonym. And original in ...
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4answers
116 views

Phrase for order is done or order received?

I am developing a mobile application, which gets orders from client and sends it to us. What I am wondering is what kind of a statement can I use in order to inform the user that we have received his ...
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2answers
39 views

The meaning of “…Identity between”

There is this sentence which I can't work out the meaning. "They have a unique identity between language and thought that means they cannot conceptualize a lie. This also means that deception, ...
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4answers
1k views

Why does “go spare” mean “get angry”?

I don't know whether the phrase "go spare" is used in the US, but it is very common in the UK. e.g. You're an hour late. Mum's going spare upstairs! I would like to know where the phrase comes ...
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4answers
45 views

Can't come up with the correct sentence

I have some trouble coming up with the right sentence for a form input where I'm asking a user's first and last name. What I'm actually trying to say is that the name the user is filling in will be ...
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2answers
25 views

Is this phrase an appositive? And what case for the pronoun - We or Us?

One of my students wrote this sentence: "We should do something, both we students and the society." When I talked to her, I said that "we" should be "us", so I wrote the sentence like this: ...
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3answers
80 views

Is this sentence correct English?

I am not a native English speaker. But I would like to know if the following sentence is correct? "Choose a password at least 6 characters long." Or should it be something like "Choose a password ...
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6answers
81 views

Word/phrase for mindfulness of health and nutrition?

I'm trying to explain that in the summer months, when there may be an inclination to hit the beach and exercise outside, some people may be more careful about what they eat and try to reignite their ...
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2answers
50 views

“Healthy” vs “healthful”— Do fruits and veggies work out?

The OED doesn't say much other than the two words have long been synonyms since the 1500s. healthful - promoting good health healthy - being in good health/condition Why do we say that ...
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4answers
588 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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4answers
49 views

Can “your reputation precedes you” be used as a negative statement?

I have always considered "your reputation precedes you" as a gesture of complement and respect. However it occurred to me if it is possible to use it for a notorious person with a bad reputation? ...
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0answers
35 views

Do these phrases have any sense? [on hold]

To besmirch the honor of mr. Johnson. When we compare mr. Johnson with mr. Jackson, we disrespect the latter one (is it understandable that 'the latter one' refers to mr. Jackson?).
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3answers
44 views

What is the English phrases for “to bet/vote on a winning candidate”?

For example, betting Manchester United rather than a newly-promoted club. This is not limited to sport and not limited to only two participants. I've heard it's "to ride on a winning horse", is that ...
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1answer
30 views

Used with permission/by permission, which is correct?

On a lot of small print notices you see things like "ABC is a trademark of XYZ Corp., used by permission" or "used with permission". To me, "used with permission" sounds correct. Is either (more) ...
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3answers
116 views

What is the origin of the slang term “get out of here” to mean “you're kidding”?

What is the origin (first recorded use) of the slang term "get out of here" to mean "you're kidding" rather than "go away" ?
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5answers
47k views

What does “Suit yourself” mean?

I found this on SO and googled the idiom "suit yourself", but I couldn't find a matching translation. The context was that the questioner was nitpicking and the answerer lost his patience.
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2answers
36 views

“It had not been working as I thought” vs. “It was not working as I thought”?

I want to convey that I recently discovered that a software code was not working like I thought it was working...I'm not sure how to phrase it correctly. Which A phrase goes with which B phrase? A1. ...
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4answers
93 views

What Does Strike a Chord Mean?

I am not a native speaker. From my reading and verbal communication, I came to believe that striking a chord means connecting to someone at an emotional level. However, I recently used it somewhere ...
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3answers
16k views

“Hot mess” meaning and etymology

A phrase has started to be used somewhat frequently over the past few years: "hot mess". I have heard it in professional journalism (albeit, admittedly, mostly entertainment and/or gossip ...
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1answer
270 views

How to use “until now/so far” in the past tenses?

I know that "until now" indicates that something changed. No messages have come until now. Now the first message arrived. But what about using it in the past, for example in reported speech or ...
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1answer
47 views

What does 'it is love' mean?

I have heard many times from many people saying 'it is love' or 'French is love' or 'Baltimore is love'. What does it exactly mean? Shouldn't they use lovely instead.?
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6answers
45 views

what's another way to say, “highly sought out”

what is another way to say " highly sought out"? I am looking for an alternative phrase for this current phrase.
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3answers
55 views

phrase: “both delighted and amazed”

Am I using this short phrase correctly? Alibi bin Baz-ar and his Beetle Train from the mysterious East had arrived and the good folks of The Forest Glade were at once, both delighted and amazed…
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1answer
31 views

Is this the correct useage of… including; but not only,

Is this the correct useage of, "every possible accessory and trimming a body could desire to adorn their costumes with, including; but not only, brightly colored ribbons, buttons, needles of brass and ...
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3answers
190 views

Why is there “the” in “oh the horror”?

I am wondering about the interjection "oh, the horror!". If it should be treated as an interjection directed to "horror" (there are similar expressions in other languages), why does it use the article ...
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2answers
39 views

to be above board

I have made 2-year apprenticeship as a multilingual correspondent. One expression that I came across but is still unclear to me is: "to be above board" or "He is above board" I have looked it up on ...
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3answers
63 views

Phrases for conclusion in an essay

I want to start my conclusion in an essay by using 'So,to sum up' or 'to sum it up,' . Do you think they are formal and stylish?
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33 views

Is it correct to sat [on hold]

is it correct to say that "John will be welcoming you all night for dinner and party"
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2answers
66 views

Is it “Bride Weds Groom” or “Groom Weds Bride”? [closed]

I am designing a wedding invitation for my friend. I want to know which of the following is the correct form to print on the invitation: Bride's Name Weds Groom's Name or is it Groom's Name ...
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1answer
58 views

Is there more than a 'double' whammy?

I have three (could grow to be more) bad reasons for a situation and I wondered if there is such a thing as a triple whammy that is an extension of the double whammy. From my research online, a triple ...
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4answers
2k views

What does ‘Rock a hat” mean?

There is the following sentence in Tina Fey’s “Bossypants": ”Don Fay dresses well. He has an artist’s eye for mixing colors and prints. He wears tweedy jackets over sweater vests in the winter ...
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4answers
109 views

Can 'I would say' always replace 'I think'?

There is a question about 'I guess' and one answer is comparing 'I guess', and 'I would say'. I would say characterizes what follows as a personal opinion or judgment: From what I know of him I ...
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5answers
2k views

Does “Chinese laundry” have any non-literal meaning?

A recent ad by Bing Lee had during its ad something like You could create a Chinese laundry with that much [washing powder]. Mum, you can't say that! Yes I can, I'm Chinese Does ...
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4answers
577 views

What does ‘Pinkie-sized’ mean?

I found the word, ‘Pinkie-sized’ in the following examples. From the definition of ‘pinkie’ as ‘small –Scottish / child talk in a dictionary at hand, and ‘small finger’ in Oxford Advanced Learner’s ...
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4answers
2k views

What does “slicker than snot on a doorknob” mean?

I have a friend from Mississippi and I've heard him use this expression sometimes: slicker than snot on a doorknob. What exactly does it mean? (I guess it's something positive but I'm not too sure ...
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4answers
4k views

When is a person called a “lightning rod”?

I am aware of the lightning rod used to protect buildings and structures. But, what does it mean to refer to a person as a lightning rod? Also, when is it appropriate to use and when should it be ...
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5answers
85 views

Is there any word alternative for “compared to”?

I'd like to find an alternative for "compared to", in order to avoid repeating the same phrase in my scientific paper. Is there any alternative for this expression?
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7answers
1k views

Word to describe a personality which has many interests?

I'm looking for a word, to be honest I'm not sure if such a word even exists, though this would be a word, or a phrase that describes more of a personality. Take this as an example: Bill works as ...
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2answers
87 views

What does ‘great conk of a nose’ imply?

There was the following sentence in a pretty old (October 7, 2013) article of New York Times titled, “A Jew not quite English enough,” which comments on the life and lifestyle of Ralph Miliband, the ...
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1answer
44 views

Why does the phrase “to take the rag off” mean to excel in the classroom?

A Collection of College Words and Customs (1851) by Benjamin Homer Hall defines to take the rag off as "to excel; to compose much better than one's classmates." I understand the phrase is quite old; ...
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3answers
58 views

A more formal way of saying “pointing out”

The goal of an edge detection algorithm is identifying pixels that belong to an edge of an object in an image ... The rest of the sentence should say something along the lines of "and point ...
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5answers
19k views

Origin of “More X than you can shake a stick at”

What is the origin of the phrase "more X than you can shake a stick at"? Every website I've seen on this basically says the same thing (e.g., http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-sha2.htm): Recorded ...
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7answers
10k views

Origin of “Too Clever by Half”

The phrase "Too Clever by Half" is used to criticize someone for being overconfident in their thinking. What is the origin of this phrase? I read somewhere that it started as a backhanded compliment ...
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4answers
3k views

Origin of the phrase “Oh, Dear!”

When something bad happens, sometimes you'll hear Oh, dear! or Oh, dear me! Why is this? Is it a shorter version of another phrase that makes sense in these situations?
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1answer
62 views

“Asked my height” or “asked of my height”?

"Asked my height" sounds strange, while "asked of my height" sounds like an overkill. "Asked what my height was" sounds terrible.