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66

Copying from my comment to @Mitch's answer I think that rearranging the deck chairs is applicable in a scenario when someone tries to correct a doomed situation, cosmetically. In the scenario mentioned, I feel that “fiddling while Rome burns” might be a slightly more apt phrase.


62

The classic: Rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.


57

overfamiliar [Farlex] - taking undue liberties and b. Unduly forward or brash; offensively presumptuous: She displayed an overfamiliar attitude toward her superiors. [AHDEL]


55

Although straight is used, that can also simply mean unmixed with anything else, but it can be chilled with ice. The unambiguous word would be neat, meaning no ice and no other drinks mixed in. See also this cocktails.about.com link for a short explanation: Neat typically refers to a undiluted shot of liquor served at room temperature. Up or Straight ...


46

In the given example, I would find both the behaviour, and the person committing it, to be presumptuous: (Of a person or their behaviour) failing to observe the limits of what is permitted or appropriate However, this could sound somewhat reserved, and definitely doesn't have any bite. As the question is a request for something specific and informal, ...


42

This is an example of metanalysis: taking two words that occur in close proximity, and re-analyzing them so that the word boundary changes position. In this case, the common phrase an other is reanalyzed as a nother, which then allows the insertion of the word whole to give a whole nother. Metanalysis has happened several times in English, the most common ...


35

First of all, I want to acknowledge that Kosmonaut’s answer is a good summary of what is called “quotative like”—use of the word like to introduce a quotation. As he explains, it fills a unique role in English not easily replaced by other words. However, what I wanted to note is there is a difference between quotative like and “filler like”. Filler ...


35

It should be the first: "Y'all" In contractions, apostrophes represent where letters were taken out. "Y'all" is a contraction of "you all". the "ou " was taken out, so you put an apostrophe were it used to be, giving you "y'all".


35

Anything can be offensive, or not. Offense is in the mind of the subject, and may take intent of the speaker into account. In my particular culture (Western Canadian Anglophone Caucasian, which overlaps with lots of other cultures, especially throughout North America), at this particular time (2010's, but extending back for quite a few years), I would ...


33

I can't think of any other examples at the moment, but I can offer a few interesting comments. The word like in the sense you are using it is a discourse particle to indicate a possible mismatch between words and meaning. This was first noted by Schourup (1985). Compare the difference: John said, "what are you, crazy?" John was like, "what are ...


33

It seems to be an extension of taking notes. From "The Language of Photography" http://www.source.ie/issues/issues2140/issue22/is22artlanpho.html To photograph exists alongside to take a photograph, to take a picture, and so on. This is an extension of a broad meaning of take 'to obtain or set down', as in taking notes or statements, 'to set down or get ...


32

@Mitch & @Jogabonito's answers are perhaps more apt, but someone who sweats the petty things while neglecting the larger problem may also be considered "penny wise and pound foolish."


30

Yes, "my bad" is a proper English phrase. It is an apology; when you say "my bad", you're basically saying, "I admit a mistake" or "my fault, sorry for that". Wiktionary says: (colloquial) (idiomatic) My fault; mea culpa. Yes, I realize the humvee isn't supposed to be parked in the heirloom flowerbed. My bad. It also links to this Language ...


30

Piece of junk refers to something that is cheap, shoddy, or worthless. It can be used as an oject as in "This piece of junk won't boot." or a modiying adjective as in "This piece-of-junk computer won't boot" (with or without hyphens). Related adjectives can be used with the name of the device. These include: "Junky", "shoddy", "trashy", "lousy", ...


27

Contraption (often paired as infernal contraption) refers to any mechanical or electronic device for which the author has some contempt. Gizmo can similarly be employed to mock some needless or useless technological contrivance, but it is not inherently negative. I can call something a gizmo to suggest I am overwhelmed by its complexity, or simply because I ...


27

From: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hamlet "Full Definition of HAMLET: a small village" "Examples of HAMLET she always longed to return to the quiet hamlet where she had been born" For the more relaxed requirements of the edited version of the question, how about: "This 'town' he lives in is actually the size of Dogpatch."


25

It's proper English slang. I wouldn't go so far as to say it was proper English. It will certainly be effective in irking English teachers, haters of textspeak, and other grammar purists!


24

Recently heard the phrase: He's making the beds while the house is on fire! Which seems to be fitting for your question.


23

Sometimes words you may consider not gradable are used as gradable. "Very pregnant" means last months of pregnancy, belly extremely bulged, movement impaired - a girl within first trimester can work at most jobs just fine. One who is very pregnant needs a lot of help. When you simmer or boil your pasta, it's just boiling. If the water splashes all over the ...


23

The term "chubby" would generally be only used to refer to babies or small children and even then some parents may take offense. Some positive terms used to describe a pleasantly plump woman (in order of safety: safest to use first): Curvaceous: (esp. of a woman or a woman's figure) Having an attractively curved shape. Rubenesque: plump and sensuous ...


23

Paper weight Implies that it is good for nothing other than holding paper in place.


22

Nowadays, "to boot" is simply an idiomatic way of saying "moreover, on top of that" (see e.g. Wiktionary). Originally, it comes from Old English to bote. As Etymonline explains, in Old English bot meant "'help, relief, advantage; atonement,' literally 'a making better,'" from Proto-Germanic *boto, which is also where the word better comes from.


22

In addition to the point made by Ronan, I think take belongs to the group of verbs that are semantically empty and are often christened delexical verbs. We often like to represent actions as nouns, often for maintaining an easy rhythm in speech. So we 'take a walk', 'have/take a bath', 'have a read', 'have a look', 'take a dip', 'give a shove', 'give a ...


20

My take is that "burn up" comes from some sense that the thing is used up (fuel is used and is gone). "Burn down" means the thing has "burned down to the ground" in that all structure and support is gone. One might say that "all my stuff was burned up in the fire when my house burned down." You'd be less likely to hear "my house burned up," but it is not ...


19

The correct form of the idiom is: first things first Things is plural here. You could imagine having a put before the idiom: put first things first let's put first things first you should put first things first This clarifies the plurality of things. So, her thinking is actually fact!


19

Interestingly enough, Etymonline suggests that it has nothing to do with cheese: "cheap, inferior," 1896, from Urdu chiz "a thing," from Persian chiz, from O.Pers. *ciš-ciy "something," from PIE pronomial stem *kwo- (see who). Picked up by British in India by 1818 and used in the sense of "a big thing" (especially in the phrase the real chiz). By 1858, ...


19

Well, let's take the pedantry a step further and consult some references. Dictionary.com provides the following set of definitions: adjective proceeding, made, or occurring without definite aim, reason, or pattern: the random selection of numbers. Statistics. of or characterizing a process of selection in which each item of a set has an equal ...


16

The Merriam-Webster Online dictionary give these senses: literally 2 : in effect : virtually <will literally turn the world upside down to combat cruelty or injustice — Norman Cousins> with the following usage note: Since some people take sense 2 to be the opposite of sense 1, it has been frequently criticized as a misuse. Instead, the ...


16

Some discussion here http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com/2007/03/cheers.html Personally, I think it's more usage than demographics. 'Thanks' expresses more gratitude. 'Cheers' to the guy who passes the salt, 'thanks' to the guy who donates a kidney. 'Thanks' also has more gravitas (though less than 'Thank you'). An interviewer is unlikely to ...



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