Sometimes I have a partial expression that's stuck in my head and I have a really hard time trying to figure out what the missing portion of it is.

For example, today I woke up with the expression "[blank] domain" in my head, with only the vague sense that it was possibly something used in a criminal or legal context. Obviously, searching Google for "domain" was utterly useless, and no matter how I phrased my query, I was unable to find the expression I was looking for. It wasn't until I searched Merriam-Webster for domain that I was able to find the missing word to complete the expression: eminent domain.

I've also had situations where the dictionary isn't as helpful. When trying to search for phrasal verbs like "gloss over", simply searching for "over" doesn't bring up the result I'm looking for.

In other cases, it's something even more general than an expression, like finding an adjective that's commonly used in conjunction with a specific noun, but that's not strictly part of an idiom or expression, like "golden opportunity" or "burning passion."

Of course, the difficulty in all these cases is that I'm searching for a two-word expression using only a single word. The problem becomes much easier to solve with just one additional word, like searching for "early bird" in "the early bird gets the worm."

So far, I haven't been able to find any resource that's good at tackling this kind of questions. The closest I've come across is phraseup, but it doesn't work for single word queries, which is precisely the kind of query I'm interested in. Does anyone know of a good tool to help track down common word combinations?


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.