6
votes
5answers
2k views

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 ...
34
votes
4answers
105k views

Which is correct, “buck naked” or “butt naked”?

"Butt naked" or "buck naked" both refer to completely naked, or do they? Where the phrase comes from I have no idea but that would be of interest. This is a phrase I am too afraid to google and ...
6
votes
2answers
5k views

Can “sui generis” be placed before the noun?

I came across sui generis in the following paragraph of today’s New York Times (April 27) Restaurant Review section headlined "Chef’s table at Brooklyn Fair." César Ramirez's restaurant in ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Should I use a “the” in front of this proper noun? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Definite article before proper nouns Do I always have to put definite article "THE" in front of the name of university? For example, Kiev National University OR THE Kiev ...
11
votes
2answers
10k views

Is there any difference between “switch” and “swap”?

Is there any difference between switch and swap?
1
vote
2answers
112 views

Could I say “I'm looking at the project”?

Someone is examining an Internet project at Codeplex.com. Can he say "I'm looking at the project 'Project name'", or it is a mistake? What is the best way to say it?
2
votes
3answers
210 views

What does “bowed them inside” means?

I've encountered phrase like "he bowed them inside" several times in different stories. What does it actually mean? Does it mean, that he very politely accompanied them inside or does that literally ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

Is the word “that” overused? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Use of “that” in a sentence Is it wrong or in bad form to constantly use the word "that" when it can be omitted? The test that she took was so difficult ...
2
votes
3answers
279 views

What does “a drifty car” mean?

What does "a drifty car" mean? Does it refer to capability of instant change in the speed of car?
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there a word that describes a person who constantly underestimates situations?

Does there exist a single word, either an adjective or a noun, that effectively describes an individual who habitually underestimates things—e.g., cost, time required, complexity?
0
votes
1answer
371 views

“preposition: a word to annoy prescriptivists with”

What is the double meaning/meanings of this?
6
votes
3answers
16k views

What does the punctuation “//” mean?

What does the punctuation "//" mean? For example: I think I owe myself a THWACK. //ashamed ... //run ... //head down I heard this is related to the comment in the programming ...
3
votes
3answers
434 views

How can I call the type of kicks in football (soccer) in one or two words?

Corner kick, free kick, penalty kick — how can I call those kicks? "Deadplay kicks", "fixed kicks"? Is there any special naming for this type of kicks?
2
votes
3answers
3k views

Which is better grammar: “courteous of” or “courteous to”?

I saw this in a document today, and was wondering about which usage is more appropriate. Please be courteous of others vs Please be courteous to others I've seen it both ways. Is one ...
4
votes
1answer
8k views

What is the meaning of “I'm a wiener”?

I have scoured out dictionaries searching for the word wiener without success. As you can notice I am not a native speaker. I usually see the this phrase as a demeaning joke on animations when some ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

What word can I say if I want to give approximate number?

What to say if I want to tell approximate number of something. What should I say? E.g. I have (around/ about/ some) 5 books. Is there a rule for number approximation?
5
votes
2answers
234 views

Can “having an affair” work both ways?

The married person in an affair is clearly having one, but is the unmarried participant? To use a well-known real-life example, Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky. But did Monica ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Obama's use of “bemused”

I generally see the definition of "bemused" to be synonymous with "confused" or "puzzled", and that it is wrong to use it as a synonym of "amused". However I tend to see it used — as Obama did ...
0
votes
3answers
7k views

What is the definition of “You're so far behind, you think you're first”?

What is the definition of "You're so far behind, you think you're first"? Should a dictionary entry of this expression be "One is so far behind, one thinks he is first"?
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Can the word “peace” be pluralised?

Fairly self explanatory question. For those that are interested, the reason I ask is because a coworker just scored 60 points against me with "peaces". Triple letter, and triple word score!
2
votes
3answers
7k views

“I would prefer [it] if the meeting [would be/was] postponed”

Because I am still in New Haven, I would prefer [it] if the meeting [would be/was] postponed. What is the correct way of saying this? I am curious as to with or without it, and would be versus was?
0
votes
2answers
140 views

“A first post” — makes sense or not?

I once knew a person who titled the first post in his blog, "A first post." It was immediately pointed out to him that correct usage is "The first post." To that he responded: Well, every blog has ...
6
votes
10answers
2k views

Idiom for restlessness

A Chinese colleague just told me of a Chinese idiom for anxiousness or restlessness. They will often refer to someone who is overly restless as an ant standing on a heated pot. I'm pretty sure there ...
2
votes
4answers
207 views

“(it) is necessary”?

Which one is correct: To perform a task is necessary to do some things. or To perform a task it is necessary to do some things.
1
vote
1answer
149 views

Which captions in English would you choose for each one of those three buttons?

I bought a globe that can turn and has a small lamp inside. Whenever that lamp is on you can see the state borders on the globe, when that inner light is off, you can only see the continents without ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

What does “by and by” mean?

There are words in the chorus of the "Preacher and the Slave" song by Joe Hill: You will eat, by and by, In that glorious land above the sky; Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky ...
13
votes
5answers
296k views

What is the best way to express interest in a job in a cover letter?

It is for a cover letter, where I want to express my interest in the position and also to indicate that my profile matches the requirement. I find the proposed job interesting and matched by my ...
1
vote
2answers
411 views

Looking for two words

I'm searching for two words or expressions. The first word or expression means a situation in which there are too many items displayed on the screen, so that they cause a burden on the user and ...
5
votes
9answers
13k views

What's the right word for “unclearity”?

My dictionary tells me that there is no such word in English. So, what word would you substitute for unclearity below (please, don't change anything else): — There is still something not clear ...
1
vote
1answer
325 views

“Bad weather doesn't exist” vs. “The bad weather doesn't exist”

Should it be: Bad weather doesn't exist. or The bad weather doesn't exist.
1
vote
2answers
215 views

Is “putting out an honest product” a valid phrase?

I don't know where I picked up the phrase seeing as Google has very few literal hits, but I want to use "I'm looking for an employer who [....] is putting out an honest product" in a job search ad. ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How does one use the adjectival noun “l'enfant terrible”?

I have seen this phrase bandied about from time to time, usually in more "academic" works; my problem is that I remember it rarely being applied to children, as a direct translation might imply ("...
5
votes
2answers
6k views

Origins of the word “terrible” [closed]

What are the origins of the word "terrible". Do the words "terror" or "terrific" come from the same roots? I am curious since I believe the word "terrible" can be used to mean "great" in French.
5
votes
8answers
989 views

Word to describe subconsciously retaining value judgments from rejected worldview

What is a single word or short phrase that means the following: the human tendency to make a judgment from a perspective one considers false? Or perhaps to make a judgment with values one does not ...
2
votes
3answers
11k views

What's the difference in usage between “install” and “instill”? [closed]

Is there actually any difference between the words? I feel like I am perfectly capable of installing a healthy fear in someone.
1
vote
3answers
4k views

Is “you” a direct object in “What can I do you for?”?

I've been told that it is okay to say "What can I do you for?" instead of "What can I do for you?" and in fact I myself have heard people say that many times. So, if it's correct, would "you" be a ...
30
votes
2answers
250k views

“Have a look” vs. “Take a look”

What is the difference between Have a look and Take a look (meaning/connotations)? For example: Have a look at the question. Take a look at the question. For some reason I only found first ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

Antonym of 'sample' ('example')

What is the antonym of the adjective "sample" (example/specimen) besides "whole"? I'd like to replace "non-sample" in the following sentence: I saved my sample code but accidentally deleted my non-...
0
votes
1answer
765 views

What does “Live goes on, Wills to a heart” mean? What is the origin of this phrase?

I saw the phrase “Live goes on, Wills to a heart ... Japan,” as the ending line of the article of Time magazine (April 6th), titled ‘A hard look at Japan’s debt problem.” Could you tell me what this ...
4
votes
2answers
16k views

How to use “for some reason” in a sentence?

Some examples (right or wrong, I do not know) He went to the store--for some reason. He went to the store, for some reason. For some reason, she went to the store. A grammatical explanation as to ...
8
votes
6answers
963 views

Attacking by “Taking the high road”

Situation: There are two political opponents running for the same position. In politician #1's commercial, he attacks #2 by pointing out flaws in his campaign or history. #2's attack is more clever. ...
9
votes
3answers
21k views

What is the origin of “sucker” and “it sucks”?

I think it is clear that a sucker means somebody who is naive or gullible, while it sucks means “it is bad”, but I wonder where these two terms come from and what they mean originally? Could sucker ...
6
votes
3answers
872 views

Which grammatical case is “him” in “I help him”, and why?

In languages which distinguish the accusative and dative cases, it is clear from the actual usage whether a divalent verb takes a direct or indirect object. For example, the German eat takes a direct ...
23
votes
4answers
74k views

AM/PM vs a.m./p.m. vs am/pm

I used to think PM/AM was correct, but at some point, I switched to using p.m./a.m. for reasons I can't recall. I know that in practical, casual writing, people tend to use whatever form is most ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Are the noun and verb forms of “badger” related etymologically?

Are the noun "badger", naming an animal, and the verb "to badger", describing the behavior of a person, related etymologically? Does the meaning of one come directly from the other? What about the ...
1
vote
1answer
351 views

Expanding “science” and “diligence” usage to direct object

I seem to have seen these phrases: to do science to do due diligence quite a bit in recent years, and they sound funny to me; I wonder whether this usage of "diligence" and "science" as ...
3
votes
1answer
291 views

“Whomsoever” as a subject

In the big-budget game Warcraft III, the following is written on a pedestal: Whomsoever takes up this blade shall wield power eternal. Is it correct to use whomsoever as a subject, as in this ...
12
votes
7answers
48k views

Where did the expression 'playing the world's smallest violin' come from?

Where did the expression 'playing the world's smallest violin' come from?
1
vote
3answers
468 views

“When X is” or “When X will be”?

I always have a tough time with this. Suppose the following: The software will be installed when the computer is ready. versus The software will be installed when the computer will be ready. ...
8
votes
2answers
182 views

A question of interpretation: single word parenthesis

To my mind this: Entity foo varies seemingly at random. is semantically equivalent to this: Entity foo varies, seemingly, at random. However, is this necessarily the case? What alternative,...

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