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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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50 views

Can I say "Whatever You did do"? [closed]

I am trying to write an English song and "It does not matter what you did do" perfectly fits the rhyme scheme while "...what You have done" does not. Can I say the first? Does it ...
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1answer
30 views

"Something's wrong" vs "Something wrong"

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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1answer
1k views

What is the standard tag question after a statement containing "I should have ..."?

Whenever I use "I should've done _____", I like to add an extra part to the sentence looking for confirmation as in "I know, right?", where "right?" is the part asking for confirmation. My question ...
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2answers
1k views

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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6answers
3k views

What is the origin of suffixing "-ass" to adjectives?

I am spending one month in the US and it seems that everything is "big ass", "lame ass", and "crazy ass". What is the purpose of modifying every adjective with "ass&...
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1answer
125 views

Is there any standard syntax for the colloquialism “it’s ___ is what it is!”?

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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6answers
19k views

Where did the expression, "I can't win for losing" come from and what does it mean

I was thinking this expression the other day when it seemed that the odds were stacked against me. I thought, why do I use the words, "can't win for losing"? What it that actually mean? Where ...
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1answer
2k views

Are "kinda", "sorta", "oughta" and "sposta" acceptable in formal writing?

I get that sorta, kinda, sorta-kinda (this one I quite like though) oughta and sposta imitate speech but it still niggles me to find them "in print", especially when the overall tone is formal. ...
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6answers
6k views

How infrequent is “a non-zero chance”?

I misinterpreted the expression “a non-zero chance” as an emphatic way to stress that there was no possibility or likelihood of something happening. there is a non-zero chance that they will pay ...
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2answers
2k views

When did it become fashionable to drop t's in certain words?

I first noticed certain video bloggers pronouncing button as "BUH-ehn", with a distinct glottal stop between syllables, sounding like an overt attempt to avoid enunciating the "t". While button is the ...
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4answers
537 views

What's the origin of "dinkum"?

Dinkum as a noun means work, especially hard work. As an adjective, like fair dinkum, it means honest or genuine. Other than saying it's chiefly Australian and New Zealand, the OED simply says "...
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2answers
78 views

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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3answers
12k views

Why the use of 'clock' in the following sentence?

"Bob clocked Joe right in the nose." In this sentence, "clocked" indicates that Bob punched Joe directly in Joe's nose. How did 'clock' come to be used in such a way? Is it colloquial/vernacular to ...
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5answers
2k 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 ...
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1answer
55 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 ...
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11answers
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Idiom: People caring about minor stuff while something terrible is happening

Imagine a situation in which the whole place is on fire, a bomb is about to explode, everyone is running for their lives and someone is checking his looks on the mirror... pretty inappropriate for the ...
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1answer
66 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 ...
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1answer
34 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 ...
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3answers
13k views

What does this phrase mean: "they just can't keep their hands off the cookie jar"?

What does the following sentence mean? They just can’t keep their hands off the cookie jar I came across this sentence in a movie. It explores racial tensions in the American society, discriminated ...
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1answer
105 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 ...
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2answers
9k views

Sugarcane or Sugar cane? [duplicate]

Is there a difference between "sugar cane" and sugarcane? Is sugarcane wrong? What is the gramatical rule for joining two names like that? I have found 13.500 entries on google for sugarcane, but 16....
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1answer
2k views

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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2answers
283 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, ...
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2answers
1k views

Is the colloquial euphemism "to be volunteered" recent?

When someone is forced to volunteer for something, he or she can be said to be volunteered. For example, if a manager asks an employee, could you volunteer to perform task X, then the employee may ...
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2answers
55 views

"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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2answers
399 views

Double Dutch jump rope

What is the action the two people holding the jump rope in Double Dutch perform on the rope? Twirl, swing, turn, hold, whirl . . .? What word do you think best describes this action; and what is the ...
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3answers
7k views

Should I say "declutter" or "unclutter"?

Which verb is more appropriate (and older) for clearing out my desk: declutter or unclutter and why? I should declutter my desk I should unclutter my desk Dictionary.com defines ...
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2answers
34k views

"What's going on?" vs. "What's happening?"

Is there a semantic difference between What's going on? and What's happening? Can they be used interchangeably?
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3answers
235 views

How do you parse "hair do"

Is "do" understood as a noun or verb in "hair do"? Asking this in search of "to make do". Bonus points if it can be related to German Tolle "tuft [of hair], that ...
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4answers
173k views

"Calling dibs" - what does it imply?

The term "to have dibs on something" or "to call dibs on something" plays a recurring role in American film and television (e.g. How I Met Your Mother), so it gets exported a lot. Wikipedia describes ...
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3answers
10k views

What is the meaning of “bedshaped”?

I was listening to a song called 'Bedshaped' by the English band 'Keane'. But, I couldn't find any meaning of it from any dictionaries. Maybe I can guess, but I would like to make sure about this. ...
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1answer
1k views

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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8answers
67k views

Word for someone who does not like/want to get a job or do anything in life?

In Portuguese, my native language, we have a lot of words for this kind of person, like mandrião, calaceiro, calaça, indolente, malandro, etc. We have also lighter words like preguiçoso that is the ...
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3answers
1k views

"I have been Jessica" shouldn't it be "My name is Jessica"

We went to an electronics showroom, where we chatted with a sales girl. She explained some technical stuff about the things we were interested in. When she had finished explaining, she said "By ...
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4answers
3k views

Why does common usage of "random" feel so incorrect?

I am bothered by the modern usage of the term "random", and am wondering if "it's just me" or if there is a reason for my being discomfited. Take for instance, this lovely bit: ...
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1answer
73 views

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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5answers
2k views

Difference between "thrown under a bus" and "thrown to the wolves"?

Is there any difference between the phrases "thrown under a bus" and "thrown to the wolves"? As far as I can tell they mean basically the same thing, but the "bus" phrases came into existence after ...
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3answers
69k views

Is the question/greeting "How're you going?" correct usage?

I was just wondering if the question/greeting "How're you going?" is correct usage? I know it's more prevalent in Australia because I live here and have heard it very often. I guess the ...
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5answers
3k views

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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7answers
35k views

Is it acceptable to begin a declarative sentence with "Am"?

I want to know firstly if it's grammatically correct to start a declarative sentence with "Am". For example: Am excited about the game today. Secondly, if it is grammatically incorrect, then I ...
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1answer
44 views

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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3answers
25k views

Is the sentence "I want to take a rest" wrong?

I heard that we should use "I want to rest" instead of "I want to take a rest." I also heard that "I want to take a rest" is not a sentence a native speaker would use. Is that correct? Should we ...
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2answers
129 views

What meaning of/phrase based on the verb to call is used in "I call [noun]" (for instance bull****) and considerations with count nouns?

Sometimes you hear people say something like "I call [noun]", mostly with bullshit ("I call bullshit"; and there's also a question on the site with shenanigans). It feels like an opinionated statement ...
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5answers
4k views

Root and meaning of the phrase 'couple two three'

I'm not even sure where and how I picked up this phrase: 'couple two three'. It basically means 'a few' but I'm curious about its origins. It almost seems similar to 'might could' in that there is ...
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2answers
74 views

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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2answers
56 views

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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0answers
43 views

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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2answers
296 views

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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2answers
5k views

What does "Yeah, you did" mean?

This has been a question since I watched the episode Ted Mosby, Architect [HIMYM, Season 2] long time back. Yesterday I came across this again and I still don't get it. What does "Yeah, you did&...
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2answers
81 views

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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