Hot answers tagged

147

You need not be a wizard. wizard: a person who practices magic; magician or sorcerer. a person of amazing skill or accomplishment: a wizard at chemistry. (Random House) But one need not be a wizard to foresee by now that the outbreak of a revolutionary movement on the Communist order, in a Europe laid waste by a long war, will result in an era of ...


82

Around my office, such a problem is called a Heisenbug, a pun on the name of the great physicist Werner Heisenberg, who first described the observer effect (the rule that observing any phenomenon will change it) and the uncertainty principle (the rule that you can know either where something is or how fast it is going, but not both). The frustrating thing ...


78

You don't have to be a genius appears to have been used in the early decades of the 20th century. Ngram shows examples of its usage before the 1930's. From Popular Science. June 1919: You do not have to be a genius. If you have a liking for drawing and develop it intelligently, there are many opportunities for you in this profitable professian. ...


66

I would suggest moving target. Longman online (3) says: a moving target something that is changing continuously, so that it is very difficult to criticize it or compete against it


56

In business context, I would say, "Finish the project when (whenever) it is convenient for you before the deadline". I have never heard someone say, "Please finish it as late as possible" which would be understood as the speaker wants you to finish the project at the latest moment before the deadline. But, if you say "when it is convenient for you", it ...


49

You've hit the nail on the head - this is very widely used in British English, at least. Fig. to do exactly the right thing; to do something in the most effective and efficient way. You've spotted the flaw, Sally. You hit the nail on the head. Bob doesn't say much, but every now and then he hits the nail right on the head. (-- from ...


47

You could call that a "carrot on a stick". It refers to a carrot dangled in front of a beast of burden by a stick held by the rider. The similar "carrot or the stick" phrase refers to giving someone either a reward or a punishment. Here is a write-up describing the two phrases. http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/carrot.html


45

Consider, chase rainbows : to waste your time trying to get or achieve something impossible (usually in continuous tenses) Cambridge Idioms Dictionary [go on a] wild-goose chase a wild or absurd search for something nonexistent or unobtainable any senseless pursuit of an object or end; a hopeless enterprise Random House [go on a] snipe ...


45

I would say "at your convenience". This gives the impression that the person should complete the work but within the time period he is comfortable and fits into his schedule. E.g., Please complete the project at your convenience, but keep in mind the deadline.


43

Consider the phrase aptly named: A dog called Snoozy who lies around on the couch all day is aptly named... (http://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/aptly) aptly named/described/called etc: named, described etc in a way that seems very suitable The aptly named Skyline Restaurant provides spectacular views of the city below. (Longman) We ...


43

Such a task would be tantalizing. This is derived from the Greek myth of Tantalus, one of the sons of Zeus. After stealing ambrosia from Mount Olympus, Tantalus was punished by the gods to stand in the underworld for eternity by fruit trees such that he could never quite reach the fruit. As described in the Encyclopedia Britannica these goals would move ...


42

Going right along with the theme established by Chenmunka, there is also the sisyphean task. This is derived from the Greek myth of Sisyphus, an ancient king of Ephyra/ Corinth. After being boastful and deceitful, Sisyphus was punished by the gods to roll a rock up a hill in the underworld, only to watch it immediately roll back down, and having to ...


42

I think in certain contexts moving target could work: an idea or situation that continuously changes as you are trying to deal with it (M-W) something that is always ​changing, making it ​difficult to ​count, ​describe, ​achieve, etc. (Cambridge Dictionary, suggested by DCShannon in comments)


39

I would call it an "elusive" problem. elusive adjective: 1: tending to evade grasp or pursuit 2: hard to comprehend or define 3: hard to isolate or identify (Merriam-Webster online)


38

It's not an Herculean task. i.e. not requiring tremendous effort, strength, etc. by reference to the twelve labours of Hercules (latin) or Heracles(greek). From Wikipedia 1748, Tobias George Smollett, The Adventures of Roderick Random "He replied in a dry manner, that I would find it a Herculean task to chastise everybody who should laugh at my ...


36

An intermittent problem. stopping or ceasing for a time; alternately ceasing and beginning again. TFD starting, stopping, and starting again : not constant or steady. MW e.g. "My new car has been having an intermittent battery problem." "The forecast is for intermittent rain." "The patient was having intermittent pains."


36

Of a certain age: who are not young: Adults of a certain age might want to spend a couple of hundred dollars more for a larger monitor that will be much easier on their eyes. Usage notes: used to avoid saying middle aged or old. Used also in a humorous sense: Somebody of a certain age: used to avoid saying that a ...


35

You've clipped the phrase in the wrong place. You should be asking, "What does the phrase 'make light of' mean?" Here is the definition of this idiom according to Wiktionary: To regard without due seriousness; to joke or disregard inappropriately. So, your given example basically states: The question is disregarding or trivializing whatever ...


33

I think the correct word is intermediate, as @Rathony mentioned. It's also a noun, so He is an intermediate is perfectly OK: intermediate (noun): one that is in a middle position or state. (AHD) intermediate noun [countable] [plural intermediates] a student, player etc who has not yet reached an advanced level (Macmillan Dictionary) One ...


33

The question is a little unclear about the request. Some readers have interpreted it as "finish at any time you like", some as "finish any time you like, as long as it is before the deadline" and some as "start as late as you can, while still finishing before the deadline." I have read it as the latter meaning. This is not an unusual approach in projects - ...


31

Sounds like a gremlin An imaginary mischievous sprite regarded as responsible for an unexplained problem or fault, especially a mechanical or electronic one: a gremlin in my computer omitted a line Oxford Dictionaries Online For a longer discussion, see this article in Wikipedia Also, there is a wonderful dramatization of the gremlin effect in ...


30

Wild goose chase: (via dictionary.com) Definition: a wild or absurd search for something nonexistent or unobtainable Example: a wild-goose chase looking for a building long demolished


26

I'm from the UK and "Sitting in a queue" is a perfectly normal thing to say. Sometimes the word "sitting" can be used to mean "staying in one place" (like you might sit an object on a table). In this sense, people might say that they were "sitting in the queue for hours", even if they spent the entire time standing up: "sitting" in this usage means that ...


26

Slacktivist Wikipedia defines it as: ... a portmanteau of the words slacker and activism. The word is usually considered a pejorative term that describes "feel-good" measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little physical or practical effect, other than to make the person doing it feel satisfied that they have contributed. This may ...


26

"chasing rainbows" seems like a good choice. trying to achieve something that is not possible or practical TFD e.g. He wanted to go into show business, but friends told him to quit chasing rainbows. I'm always chasing rainbows Watching clouds drifting by My schemes are just like all my dreams Ending in the sky... (lyrics by Joseph McCarthy) or ...


25

To say something "calls itself" something is an informal, fairly common subtle way to express scepticism, reservation, doubt or disdain about something; particularly, the validity of its name. It's similar to prefacing "self-styled" or "so-called". If I was to say "In English, Nerima calls itself Nerima City" in conversation, I'd be implying that Nerima ...


25

"X of a certain age" is an intentional vagueness, specific sounding euphemism that is entirely context dependent, on both general culture and the conversational topic, but is more often lately used to mean barely more specifically, later middle age. As a euphemism, it is directed non-specifically to a target range of age that is undesirable or otherwise not ...


24

I think the phrase you are looking for is "It's Greek to me" but used in the negative, "It's not Greek." This phrase predates Shakespeare's use in Julius Caesar, and in my opinion is the closest fit. If this kind of exchange happened in Victorian London I don't think it would be anachronistic: "I'm thinking of purchasing a motor carriage but I'm not sure. ...


23

I happen to like Repairman's Syndrome, where the presence of someone in the know makes the thing work.


23

Catch-22 To use it in a sentence, "It's a catch-22" or "It's a catch-22 situation" From Google's definition of Catch-22: a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions. "a catch-22 situation" (Paraphrased very slightly) from Wikipedia's Catch-22 (logic): A catch-22 is ...



Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible