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90

There are various terms for this. Once upon a time, “screen name” would likely have been the most common. However, it seems to me that this convention has been driven by the most pervasive websites. So, with Facebook et al's move toward encouraging the use of real names, “screen name” seems much less common (phrases such as “nickname” appear to be used now ...


88

Something is meta (and self referential) if it is about itself. If you substitute the word "about" where you see meta in a sentence longer than "it's meta", you will get close to the meaning, even though the sentence you make won't necessarily be grammatically correct. Some examples of meta things: in a meeting, time spent discussing the meeting itself - ...


85

To say the same thing, you can say I hope it won't be considered presumptuous to say this, but... or I don't want to sound presumptuous, but... Synonyms that you can substitute here for presumptuous are impertinent, overconfident, arrogant, bold, insolent, impudent, and of course the less formal sounding "cocky". To sound deferential, but not ...


76

If etc. occurs at the end of a sentence, then you do not add another period. It's all about apples, oranges, bananas, etc. However, if etc. occurs at the end of a clause, you can add a comma or other punctuation mark after it. I bought the apples, oranges, etc., but they were all rotten. This grammar reference gives the following rule: When ...


73

You could try "I like neither potatoes nor ice cream" though it sounds somewhat old-fashioned.


67

"Who knows?" is the simplest form. I hear it (and use it) regularly.


63

While we often think that our idea/viewpoint/product is far superior to others we encounter, the needs of the creator or other users may be divergent from our own, or what we think theirs are. We may view precision as the primary criterion, while they think ease of use is paramount. And they may be the deciders. One approach to acknowledge that another ...


56

The general term I hear most often for this is security theater. From Wikipedia: Security theater is the practice of investing in countermeasures intended to provide the feeling of improved security while doing little or nothing to actually achieve it. This doesn't necessarily come with the increase in fear, but it's often associated. An example ...


56

Verbatim: (from TFD) using exactly the same words; corresponding word for word: a verbatim report of the conversation. or literally: in a literal manner; word for word: translated the Greek passage literally.


55

"I want a pony" is a slang phrase, usually used in reply to someone's request for something impossible. From the Urban Dictionary: "We want a copy protection solution that's 100% unbreakable." "Yes, and I want a pony." In this context, it reads to me that while the author would very much like a solution to the Eurozone crisis, he doesn't believe ...


53

As an American mom whose kids I shuttled to and from soccer (along with their dad, who played basketball in HS/college), I would like to give an opinion. Baseball/football/basketball are the big three here. When my kids were very, very young, the sport for little kids was tee-ball, a version of baseball/softball where the ball is not pitched but sits on a ...


50

I upvoted David's loaded question because it's a very common usage, but on reflection I realised that's not quite right for OP's context. A loaded question is nearly always one that's asked in such a way as to force or encourage a particular answer (that the answerer might not give if the question were presented "fairly"). But a trick question is one where ...


50

The presence of a negation makes all the difference! The sentence is interpreted as: I don't (like (potatoes or ice-cream)). -> I don't (like potatoes or like ice-cream). This logic can be represented with and instead of or, if we use the negation twice: I don't like potatoes and I don't like ice-cream. Without a negation, this would go like: ...


50

As Dan has said in his comment, the comma adds gravitas. However, I believe it also changes the implication of the sentence. Complete the job, as directed could be interpreted as "You have been told to finish this task. Do so.", which says nothing about how you should perform it. In contrast, I feel the clear implication of Complete the job as ...


49

It doesn't at all mean "don't go around talking about this to anyone." It is in fact much closer to "you're welcome." When you are telling someone "don't mention it", what you are telling them not to mention is the 'thank you' itself -- you are saying "Your thanks isn't necessary. I was glad to do it, so you didn't need to mention your thanks." (Note: This ...


48

To expand a little on Claudiu’s excellent answer, there seems to be an interesting progression/evolution here: metaphor: “it’s like he was spat out of his father’s mouth” (1689). metonymy: “he’s the very spit of his father” (1825) — when the metaphor is commonplace enough, it no longer gets spelled out in full. idiom/cliché: “the spit and image of his ...


48

Probably the closest English saying to this is "The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away," which is actually a misquote of Job 1:21: And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.


46

It's what the test pilots of the time called the original American Mercury astronauts, because the astronauts were not really "flying" the craft due to lack of control surfaces or (in the beginning) even windows. "Spam in a can" is heard in the movie version of Tom Wolfe's non-fiction book, The Right Stuff. Although test pilots at Edwards AFB mock the ...


45

It means "introductory something". The allusion is to a college course with the course code 101, which in the American system and probably others indicates an introductory course, often with no prerequisites.


44

Don't just assert; support the assertion. "Testing with the Arcane Blivit dataset indicates that this implementation improves performance of the Deeble function by 20%, which improves our overall performance on that dataset by 3%. I'd be glad to repeat the experiment with other datasets to make sure this isn't an atypical result." Or explain why the new ...


43

Obviously, you are wrong. First off, I don't need to point out that the majority of everything we say or write is superfluous, redundant, or pointless. Very, very little is really "worth saying". However, it is not a rule of English (or any language) that anything that can be removed must be removed. Pointlessness and redundancy are not wrong, they are ...


42

Wikipedia actually has an article dedicated to this phrase. It says: The earliest confirmed publication is the 1866 Dion Boucicault play Flying Scud in which a character knowingly breezes past a difficult situation saying, "Excuse me Mr. Quail, I can't stop; I've got to see a man about a dog." In a listing for a 1939 revival on the NBC Radio program ...


42

It means she was young and immature. The phrase "going on" means nearing in age. My daughter is six going on seven. This means she is almost seven. If the gap is wide, it suggests either that she is precocious (18 going on 30) or immature (22 going on 16). Joe Blow has covered a lot of this already, but I feel it is important to emphasize that this ...


42

As this ngram shows, the term began to be used in the 1940's and it peaked in usage (at least in the materials Google samples) around 1960. The coining of the term to describe US and Soviet relations is generally attributed to Bernard Baruch in a speech given in 1947. He stated that it was suggested to him by H.B. Swope, the editor of the New York World. ...


41

“In political terms, secularism is a movement towards the separation of religion and government (often termed the separation of church and state).” —Wikipedia


41

We have a vulgar version here in the US: "He pulled that answer out of his ass!" A more innocuous version is "She pulled that answer out of thin air." I have never heard the thumb expression.


40

I would call that a "loaded question." A loaded question is one where the person asking it has an agenda behind it. While there are other cases where a loaded question is the appropriate term, I believe this to be one type. Of course, one can say that traditionally a loaded question has some information that forces the other person to agree to unsavory ...


38

Aside from the phrases "God forbid" and "Heaven (or heaven) forbid" which could be construed to have religious connotations, this site suggests perish the thought. On the entry for this phrase, the site writes: Don't even think of it. This expression is used as a wish that what was just mentioned will never happen. For example, "He's going to give ...


37

The comma after “job” tells us that the phrase as directed is non-restrictive. The sentence states “you have been directed to do a job”, and implies that how you do it is up to you. But if we take out the comma, Complete the job as directed. Now “as directed” is restrictive, and the sentence is saying something more severe: Do the work, and make ...


36

The current colloquial use of meta is a bit hard to pin down with a definition — it doesn’t entirely fit the concept of self-reference. It’s probably better illustrated by a couple of examples. There are lots of old jokes that begin: An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman walk into a bar… and go on to tell some story where the three people each do ...



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