Questions tagged [colloquialisms]

A colloquialism is a word or phrase used in everyday conversation, but generally avoided in formal speech and writing.

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What are some colloquial expressions we can use with the word MORTGAGE? [closed]

The title says it all. I'm hunting for some everyday expressions with MORTGAGE which are totally fine for everyday English but wouldn't be normally used in legal context. Thanks a lot!
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Common names for head-to-head single-elimination tournament rounds (knockout, sudden death, competition, bracket)

Head-to-head knockout tournaments are common across a number of areas (various sports, games, and best-of contests for music/art/flag types, for example). This has resulted in many tournaments having ...
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12 votes
2 answers
206 views

Does anyone know the expression "Aye Gannies" (or perhaps the spelling is "I gonees")

Growing up in the Missouri Ozarks we had a neighbor named Hicks who used this expression. One of Mr. Hick's frequent and unique expressions was, “I Gannies” (the “a” was short). The only other times ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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What verbs can stand alone in "We _____ your time is valuable"?

While on hold today by phone, a recording regularly told me, "We appreciate your time is valuable". Is this correct English? I know that there are special verbs, like "know" or &...
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What is the earliest example of "tops/at tops" for "at the most," and is it now more common outside of AmE?

The OED's entry and earliest citation for tops are: plural tops n. (also at tops) at the most, at the latest. Usually finally. colloquial (originally and chiefly U.S.). 1956 ‘B. Holiday’ & W. ...
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What is a simple way to express Class vs Instance?

In object-oriented programming, the concepts of "class" vs "instance" exist. The "class" defines the properties of the object (its behavior and attributes), while the &...
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By the look/looks of things

https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/by+the+look+of+things Example from idioms dictionary: "The detective said that, by the looks of things, she is probably hiding out somewhere." https://...
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"Data is" or "Data are"? Which for which context? [duplicate]

"The data are highly useful in uncovering..." "Data is key to medical research." Both are phrases which are used. Are both correct? It seems to me that the second, which in my ...
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6 votes
5 answers
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Word or phrase which means purposely playing below your skill level?

I am looking for an idiom or expression which can be used to describe the action of someone deliberately playing below their skill level. For example, a pool or billiards expert missing a few shots on ...
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"Something's wrong" vs "Something wrong" [closed]

I need this to provide a warning message in my software. "Something's wrong" seems more appropriate to my ear, but I have seen people using "Something wrong". Are they both correct?...
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6 votes
5 answers
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What is the meaning of the phrase to "wake up dead"

There are two examples I can think of, both music related. The first is "Is anybody going to San Antone" by Charley Pride: Sleepin' under a table in a roadside park, a man could wake up ...
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1 answer
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Name for "filler" words that potentially convey lack of self confidence [duplicate]

There are plenty of internet search hits for "filler" words, and how not to use them. I'm not asking about these. I would like to know if there is a name for language that people use which ...
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What is the origin of the phrase "eating on"?

My husband's family uses the phrase "eating on" as in "we have been eating on these leftovers for several days." This isn't a phrase my family uses, and honestly, I find it evokes ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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"Being beaten to it by a week"? [closed]

I was watching this: video 0:26, and got lost about what he was saying. Roughly, what I heard was: "Another criterion is that it should be something that few other people are doing, because there ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Meaning of this piece of dialogue in The Call of the Wild?

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1 of The Call of the Wild by Jack London: Yet his time came, in the end, in the form of a little weazened man who spat broken English and many strange and uncouth ...
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What does "Do you know how to party?" mean? [closed]

I was actually wanting to know how to say this in Spanish when I realized that I didn't have a clear definition of it in my own language — English. My knowledge of this phrase comes from colloquial, ...
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What is the usage and etymology of phrases such as "Grumpy McGrumpface"

There is a bunch of phrases such as Grumpy McGrumpface Fatty McFatface F***y McF***face Sh***y McSh**face all with some thousand google hits, Trumpy McTrumpface, or software such as Bloaty ...
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Is "standard" an archaic synonym for an athletic team or club?

This was passed along to me (native US speaker) by a non-native speaker. A school in the UK asks for the following details... Games Teams and Standards Extra-curricular Activities ...in their ...
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What’s the origin/etymology of “mm-bye”?

As said to end conversations (especially on the phone): mmm-bye. When and how did this form/usage start?
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"is there such a thing as" - is this a colloquialism?

I've been asked to edit a scholarly paper intended for publication, written by a non-native English speaker. Somehow I'm just not sure whether "such a thing as" is colloquial or not. I ...
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12 votes
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Naturalness of expressions like "Me and Adam have discovered ....." in conversational English [duplicate]

I heard an American radio personality, university graduate, was saying below. "Me and Adam have discovered a lot of weird things since we came to Japan." My question here is not about ...
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Verbs and pronouns in action phrases e.g. me: *smiles* [closed]

An action is usually a verb phrase surrounded in asterisks to show that someone is doing something. When an action is written, why is it using the third person verb conjugation even though the subject ...
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Does any of the following sound metaphorically correct?

"This data has been sitting on my hard drive for years." OR "This data has been sitting in my hard drive for years."
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Color and inverted sentence?

One of my colleagues asked me the other day why can we say both the following? Red is my favorite color. My favorite color is red. Yet, we cannot say Red is his house. when his house is red. What ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Why is there no comma after "no" in "thanks, but no thanks"?

I understand that colloquially there's no comma before the second thanks in the phrase Thanks, but no thanks. But, strictly logically, this would mean: Thanks, but I have no thanks for you; ...
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The adverb "why" at the end of a phrase

I found the following phrase in the wild and as an ESL speaker it piqued my interest: So people who become Social Media influencers can get lucrative deals with companies why? What's up with the ...
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Using "studied for" in this sentence considered wrong?

I use Grammarly from time to time since I'm not a native speaker of English. I wrote this sentence, I studied for an exam, sat down in the exam hall, realized that it wasn't the exam I studied for. ...
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What is the opposite colloquial expression of eating cheap?

I heard people using colloquial expressions like "I like to eat cheap". What is the opposite colloquial expression of eating cheap? Is it eating expensive? I tried googling "eat expensive", but found ...
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How colloquial or formal is "every other day/week/month"?

I was recently involved in a friendly yet heated debate over "every other week" and "every other month" being or not formal enough for contract terms and conditions, or being colloquial terms. "The ...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Everyday alternatives to future perfect tenses [AE]

Every grammar book has a section about Future Perfect tenses, but as this article and the comments point out, I don't really hear this type of language constructions from Americans (including in an ...
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"Unfortunate Son" meaning?

My wife recently came upon the will & testament of some long past relatives. In these documents the man leaves several slaves for the care of his "Unfortunate son". The term "Unfortunate Son" is ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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Colloquial usage of "for to" instead of "in order to"

Earlier today I was talking to a friend and said something like I'm gonna buy carrots for to make stew. After my friend finished chastizing me for this obviously wrong grammar, I decided I was ...
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Why does "for that" change the meaning if combined with "up," but not with "down"?

(1) I'm up for that = someone stating their own interest/availability for what "that" refers to Bob: "Hey, wanna go get coffee?" Zack: "Yeah man, I'm up for that." (2) I'm up = a) a person ...
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Slang etymology of "up" and "down" in phrasal verbs [duplicate]

In this, "to be" is the base verb, conjugated in the first, singular, present tense "am". The verb is then put in a contraction with first, singular, pronoun "I" to create "I'm". This contraction is ...
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When people say "think tall thoughts"

During small talk I heard someone say, Think tall thoughts. That might help. when another person was complaining about being short-heighted. I checked online information, but I still need some ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Looking for synonymous expressions for - to throw someone away like a used toothpick

In my native (Georgian) language we have this colloquial saying - throw someone away like an eaten apple, meaning- to get rid of someone after having taken advantage of him/her in a dishonest way. I ...
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What is the etymology of saying "when" to stop pouring or serving? [duplicate]

I was wondering: What is the origin of asking someone to say "when" (to mean "enough") while they are serving food or beverages?
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1 vote
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Colloquially Shortened Sentences [duplicate]

Colloquially, people tend to speak in "shorter sentences" and leave out words like pronouns and verbs such as do, be and have, especially when it's clear who or what they're talking about. They might ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Is there any standard syntax for the colloquialism “it’s ___ is what it is!”? [closed]

I really struggled to find any instance of this phrase online; it’s difficult to search. Does it have a comma (i.e. “it’s ___, is what it is!”)? How would you write this verbal colloquialism down? (...
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3 votes
3 answers
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Expression implying passivity due to familiarity

What is the proper term for an expression that implies passivity due to familiarity? As in "Oh that's just old Aunt Kathy" "Ah yes, the old 'dog ate my homework' excuse". Looking for a term to ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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I'm looking for a specific idiom/metaphor used in a business context

I work in business and I have a vendor providing a service and product for me. The vendor is self-reporting that what they are providing is correct and accurate (versus a third-party auditor ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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What is the origin and meaning of 'lookit'?

A recent English Language & Usage question (Information about "lookit") noted that a number of dictionaries do not have entries for the word lookit. I checked Merriam-Webster's Third New ...
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Is *on par* colloquial?

I need some more synonymous constructions for equal, identical, the same in context such as Models A and B performed essentially equal on task X. Is on par a valid replacement for equal/ identical/ ...
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1 vote
3 answers
10k views

What is it called when someone types a random string of characters in an online conversation? [duplicate]

We can often see in online group conversations messages composed of random letters like "fjqofudnelfi" as a response to something surprising or unexpected. Is there a name for this kind of "behaviour"...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Last time/The last time

I went to a drug store and said: I took this cream from you guys THE last time. Is 'the' necessary? Is there any difference between 'last time' and 'the last time' Similar problems: THE last time I ...
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Colloquial reductions of TO in sentences

Lately I read again my old English book and find out something that I don't understand. It's about Colloquial reductions, the book says that there are two ways to pronounce "to" in the sentences: /tə/ ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Is saying “X it is” too informal a response for a casual workplace environment? [closed]

When choos­ing be­tween op­tions, peo­ple of­ten say X it is. For ex­am­ple: Dick: What do you want to eat? Jane: I want pizza. Dick: Pizza it is. I am cu­ri­ous whether say­ing X it is is just ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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Debygawd Cap-en! Where does this phrase come from?

I sought out this site because I need help finding the origins of a word/phrase that my family uses. We are from Southern Maryland, USA. The exclamation in question is 'debygawd.' I do not know how to ...
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2 answers
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phrases for with/without sauce, with/without side dishes [closed]

I want to use entree dishes in some metaphor. Essentially I want to oppose having just the bare main element of the dish, to having it with thick sauce or dressing, or alternatively, with many side ...
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I use "man" referring to male friends...what should I use when talking with a girl?

Just like I asked in the subject line, I'm pretty lost in this, as I wouldn't know how to say a sentence like the following, speaking with a fem
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