The statement that I want to make is:

"Impostor syndrome" ... why does this (conjunction of words) sneak into every text I read these days?

What is the right or best expression for "conjunction of words"? In the statement I don't want to refer to the syndrome itself, but rather to the expression. If it was one word instead of two I would want to say

... why does this word sneak into every text I read these days.

However, writing

________ why do these two words sneak into every text I read these days.

would miss the point, because it's not these two words that sneak into every text at various location but rather their conjunction.

  • 3
    I think the word you're looking for is "phrase"
    – fjack
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 15:33
  • Thanks. But does phrase not require a minimal amount of grammatical structure... something that can stand by itself?
    – Marlo
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 15:48
  • If you define "phrase" only as a grammatical structure, then Impostor Syndrom is a basic Noun Phrase, with the first noun modifying the second, similar to Police Station or Muffin Tin. But the word "phrase" has broader meanings, including "a brief expression". See Merriam-Webster: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/phrase
    – fjack
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 17:28
  • expression, term, compound word, buzzword, ...
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 17:29

2 Answers 2


The obvious choice is to call it an expression:

A word or phrase, especially an idiomatic one, used to convey an idea.
Oxford Dictionaries

(In fact, you've already used this in the question.)

Alternatively, you can call it a phrase.


A word I actually only started using after following this site is collocation:


1 Linguistics
The habitual juxtaposition of a particular word with another word or words with a frequency greater than chance.
‘the words have a similar range of collocation’

1.1 count noun A pair or group of words that are habitually juxtaposed.
‘‘strong tea’ and ‘heavy drinker’ are typical English collocations’

2 The action of placing things side by side or in position.
‘the collocation of the two pieces’

There are actually dictionaries, such as OzDictionary, that are devoted to collocations.

(Ironically enough in terms of this answer, that site doesn't list "imposter syndrome" as a collocation—the closest it located for me was "Californian syndrome." However, any such resource is only going to list common collocations, not ones that you might be personally noticing.)

  • Thanks @Jason Bassford. This is a great word, that will do the job. And thanks for the reference to the OzDictionary.
    – Marlo
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 18:00
  • "imposter syndrome" is not a collocation, it's a name for a specific syndrome. Would you say that "Down's Syndrome" is a collocation? No, it's not, it's a medical expression, it's a name for a genetic disorder.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 18:49
  • A typical collocation are things like "upstairs bedroom" instead of "upper floor bedroom" or "twin beds" instead of "two single beds"
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Sep 8, 2018 at 18:52

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