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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 does "I like 'em firm and well covered," meaning?

It's a last part of the short story 'Pictures' by Katherine Mansfield. <1917> It was almost dark in the café. Men, palms, red plush seats, white marble tables, waiters in aprons, Miss Moss ...
user58207's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
67 views

If you say "who with/who for/who by/who from," do you also say "what with/what for/what by/what from?"

I know that "Who with?", "Who for?", "Who by?", "Who from?", "Who to?", and other "Who + preposition" sentences are colloquially very common ...
Sophie's user avatar
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12 votes
7 answers
4k views

People who frequently travel in planes are called…?

What do you call people who travel in a plane? I know "passenger" is appropriate but that is also true for travelling in taxis, trains, ships, and buses. Also, a passenger suggests someone ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
203 views

What is the "shorthand" (or colloquialism) to say "anything in order not to do something/this or that"?

Can't remember for the life of me rn and googling was of no help, can someone help me out?
D4RKS0UL's user avatar
  • 159
0 votes
2 answers
89 views

What is an adjective for a person who is attractive but doesn't like taking care of their appearance?

Like an attractive person but who doesn't wear make up, doesn't comb, and doesn't try to combine his clothes. Attractive in an edgy way, not caring about their look but still looking good. Being ...
Claire Perez's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
492 views

'My bad' vs 'My bag'

Over the years I've noticed a non-insignificant amount of people use the term 'My bag' to admit guilt when getting something wrong (i.e. 'Mea culpa'). For example: Happy Birthday! My birthday's not ...
Daniel's user avatar
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3 votes
2 answers
376 views

What does “turn down an empty plate” mean?

I was reading Raymond Chandler’s The Lady in the Lake (1943) and came across this quote that puzzled me: Tell Webber I was asking for him. Next time he buys a hamburger, tell him to turn down an ...
Frank Conry's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
54 views

How to characterize Machiavelli's phrase, "The ends justify the means"? [closed]

This question has been raised and thoroughly discussed: "How to characterize the phrase, 'The ends justify the means.'" I wish to add a thought. As I was writing a book for publication, I ...
Jeffsbooks's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
227 views

Are 'biggity' and 'briggity' kin?

(Motivated by the question How common is "biggety" in Southern and Midland US?) The DARE entry for briggity has the following (edited): briggity: (also brickaty, brickety, brigaty, ...
Heartspring's user avatar
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2 votes
2 answers
87 views

Does "watered up" mean you have a craving for something?

Tonight at dinner my friend from Tulsa, OK read from the menu that the university cafeteria was serving egg noodles at one of the stations. To his disappointment, they were actually serving rice. &...
gvlocke's user avatar
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-5 votes
1 answer
156 views

Do terms that end with 'mate' need to be clarified where people say 'mate'?

Do terms that end with 'mate' need to be clarified where people say 'mate'? Like while playing chess, if someone says "checkmate" in somewhere like England or Australia, is it assumed they ...
user avatar
8 votes
11 answers
5k views

Can I use the word "mill" as a synonym for "destroy"?

"Mill" is usually used to describe the process of making flour (grinding), to describe a wind or water mill, or a factory. Since the process of milling or grinding consists of making small ...
Francesco Pasa's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
120 views

When and why did we start "guessing" so much?

Nowadays it's hard to eavesdrop on an informal conversation (at least in the US) without hearing the phrase 'i guess'. Wiktionary has two relevant definitions for guess: (chiefly US) to suppose (...
Heartspring's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
296 views

'it took me a long time' vs 'I took a long time' to do x

I remember my high school teacher explicitly saying that it took me a long time to do x was the correct form and I took a long time to do x was not. In recent years, I seem to remember hearing the ...
Post Self's user avatar
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7 votes
2 answers
281 views

In the Ozarks, why was a pregnant woman "with squirrel"?

Many blog posts online claim that in the Ozarks, being 'with squirrel' was once slang for 'being pregnant.' That is, if Sally is 'with squirrel', then Sally is pregnant. They mostly cite Vance ...
Heartspring's user avatar
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5 votes
3 answers
510 views

What is the meaning (and origin) of the word 'peck' in the expression 'bomb peck' (BrE)?

Someone used the words 'bomb peck' in conversation to me yesterday and I queried what they meant. I have found the expression being used colloquially online but with no explanation of what 'peck' ...
Nigel J's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
1k views

Among younger speakers, is 'bro' now gender-neutral?

I often hear 'bro' being used in a gender-neutral manner among younger speakers (mainly teenagers), and I'm wondering about the specifics of this trend. (Or at least it seems like a trend to me.) Here ...
Heartspring's user avatar
  • 8,610
2 votes
3 answers
93 views

What is a casual and tangible term for generalizing?

What is a casual and tangible term for generalizing? For example, Don't [generalise] your experience thinking that others have the same. So far I have found "assume" which is good, but I ...
Alireza's user avatar
  • 461
1 vote
1 answer
136 views

What is the meaning of "to have" in old cartoons?

In old cartoons, particularly "Little Red Riding Rabbit" of Looney Tunes, characters say "to have" with a meaning that seems different to the modern sense. For example, in the said ...
notarobot's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
99 views

When you're using "here" in a sentence to specify a person, where do the commas go, if any?

When you use "here" to refer to a specific person, where do the commas go? Are commas around "here" correct? Because it doesn't look quite right to me... For example, Catherine, ...
Allie's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
356 views

Is "unalive" both a verb and a noun?

An emerging colloquialism that is trending at the moment is "unalive", used, for example, in the sentence: The police officer who was sued has a tendency to unalive someone he stops for a ...
ohwilleke's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
120 views

Native speakers using "house" instead of "flat", "apartment", "condo"

I sometimes hear native speakers of English use the word "house" instead of "flat" (BrE) and "apartment"/"condo" (AmE). This YouTube video with a time stamp is ...
Alex's user avatar
  • 215
5 votes
2 answers
275 views

What is the term for using a famous person's name to describe another person? [duplicate]

Names of exceptional people are sometimes used colloquially to describe other people. The most prominent example is referring to someone ironically as "Einstein" or "an Einstein," ...
Paris Geis's user avatar
8 votes
9 answers
4k views

What is a politer way to criticize someone's throwing than 'throws like a girl'? [closed]

Is a terrible thing to say. It’s not even accurate, but the picture it evokes is as specific as the verbiage is succinct. What’s a less douchey way to describe an unpracticed overhand throw? Offhand? ...
user121330's user avatar
5 votes
3 answers
1k views

When did calling someone "Einstein" ironically become common?

In “The Children” (1937) by Howard Fast, a mentally-handicapped youngster is ironically referred to as “Thomas Edison” as Edison probably was, in the USA, the best-known "smart guy". Today, ...
releseabe's user avatar
  • 603
2 votes
1 answer
100 views

What does "throw-out" mean when describing somebody's style of walking?

In chapter VII of John Buchan's 1924 novel The Three Hostages, the following sentence occurs: He told me all kinds of things about her - how she was crazy about dogs, and didn't fear anything in the ...
Duckspindle's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
443 views

Biden is both "proud dad & pop"? [closed]

I searched for Biden's twitter page and in his bio it states this: "46th President of the United States, husband to @FLOTUS, proud dad & pop." Why would he say dad & pop? Isn't it ...
Alexandros Kourtis's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
1k views

Is the use of "boot" in "it'll boot you none to try" weird or strange?

I seem to have a phrase in my head for a long time that i can't remember where I picked it up. It will boot you none to attempt this/try. The implication being that there will be no advantage or ...
Zenitsu's user avatar
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1 vote
4 answers
158 views

Less formal term for "dimensions" for something that can be measured in units

In scientific/engineering writing and calculations we use terms that are considered "dimensions" and for each "dimension" we have to have "units" when we describe them. ...
Trashman's user avatar
  • 131
0 votes
0 answers
597 views

Informal Australian use of "as" at the end of a sentence

In Australia I have heard expressions such as “It's fully stressful as.” and “All are really skux(?) as.” What is the meaning or force of this use of “as” at the end of a sentence?
Chuy CN's user avatar
  • 23
2 votes
2 answers
451 views

Usage of "suss out" in Australian English

What's the meaning of "suss out" in Australian English? (Sydney, specifically) How does it compare with "figure out"? I've heard the verb used slightly differently than normal in a ...
Chuy CN's user avatar
  • 23
0 votes
0 answers
229 views

What does it mean to "grab someone in the gut?"

Could anyone please help me know what is the meaning of "grabs people in the gut" in the following quote from Jim Collins’ Built to Last: A BHAG is a huge and daunting goal—like a big ...
Saeed Zargarian's user avatar
24 votes
7 answers
4k views

Closest equivalent to the Chinese jocular use of 职业病 (occupational disease): job creates habits that manifest inappropriately outside work

The Chinese expression 职业病 (zhi ye bing, occupational disease), when used seriously, just means occupational disease, e.g. lung problems caused by working in a chemical factory. But there is also a ...
Dan's user avatar
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-2 votes
2 answers
61 views

Meaning of "press the TV viewers' personal buttons"

In his book The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan wrote the following item in a list of ideas about how to put more science on television: Regular exposés of pernicious ...
JohnEye's user avatar
  • 378
0 votes
1 answer
68 views

Use of the word "terrestrial" as "something easier to understand" [closed]

I know that the word terrestrial originally meant something relating to the earth. But I think I've heard it being used before meaning something close to home or easier to understand in the context of ...
martian17's user avatar
  • 105
0 votes
1 answer
40 views

Is it correct to say “things are looking up for my travel plans” [closed]

Is it correct to say “things are looking up for my travel plans” to indicate that I am ready to start planning my travel after so many problems.
daffodil lavendar's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
346 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 ...
Daniel Ramsey's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
205 views

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 &...
bobuhito's user avatar
  • 127
2 votes
1 answer
205 views

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. ...
DjinTonic's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
93 views

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 &...
Charles's user avatar
  • 163
0 votes
1 answer
675 views

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://...
Ashraf's user avatar
  • 131
0 votes
0 answers
22 views

"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 ...
David Boshton's user avatar
8 votes
6 answers
3k views

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 ...
hb20007's user avatar
  • 1,744
0 votes
1 answer
3k views

"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?...
Rahul Rathod's user avatar
6 votes
5 answers
4k views

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 ...
Bumptious Q Bangwhistle's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
75 views

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 ...
Griffin's user avatar
  • 129
1 vote
1 answer
217 views

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 ...
Caitlin J. Ramsey's user avatar
0 votes
1 answer
45 views

"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 ...
Rigid AOE2's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
444 views

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 ...
Kshitij's user avatar
  • 106
1 vote
2 answers
2k views

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, ...
Lisa Beck's user avatar
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