Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 174 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

Questions tagged [expressions]

This tag is for questions about expressions. Expressions are words or phrases used to convey an idea, or else a particular term used conventionally to express something. Consider phrase-requests and expression-requests if you are looking for an expression, phrase-meaning if you are unsure about the usage of a given phrase.

50
votes
10answers
6k views

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 ...
90
votes
13answers
70k views

Which is correct: “could care less” or “couldn't care less”?

What's the deal with the phrase "could care less"? Whilst growing up, I've always known people (parents etc) to use the phrase "couldn't care less", but I've also come across people who use the ...
8
votes
4answers
15k views

How do you call..? vs. What do you call…?

It seems an open-and-shut case, the correct version for asking the word of something in English is What do you call…? And yet the sheer number of second-language speakers of English who ask daily, ...
34
votes
12answers
108k views

Proverb or expression for a situation with two choices, both leading to a different kind of trouble

I'm searching for a proverb or expression that describes a situation which has two choices or two ways out (that is, somewhat of a forced choice) where both lead to some kind of trouble (but not the ...
117
votes
13answers
275k views

When should “no problem” replace “you're welcome” as a response to “thank you”?

I have observed a growing trend in which people substitute "no problem" for "you're welcome" as a response to "thank you". In particular, it seems to be an increasingly common response from servers ...
3
votes
6answers
15k views

In special cases, can you use “one such family are” vs. “one such family is”? [duplicate]

Is it correct to say "one such family are..." as opposed to "one such family is..." in some circumstances? Say, for instance, as used in this article on gene families: [...] One such family are ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

Tendency of using pronouns 'she/her' when talking about a random person

Reading different specifications and manuals I've noticed that more often and often pronouns she or her are being used when some unknown person's behavior is described. For example: "when user opens ...
21
votes
20answers
8k views

Are there popular English sayings to express “Big fuss, tiny result”?

The recent EL&U question asked by Mikhail about the alternative expressions of ‘To shoot out of cannon into sparrows’ reminded me of Japanese saying - 大山鳴動鼠一匹- literally meaning people find (get) “...
17
votes
8answers
18k views

Is the phrase “for free” correct?

A friend claims that the phrase for free is incorrect. Should we only say at no cost instead?
3
votes
2answers
7k views

Why are you “On a train” yet “In a car” when you are inside both vehicles? [duplicate]

Why are you "On a train" yet "In a car" when you are inside both vehicles? "On a bike" makes sense but "On a plane" seems wrong as you are actually inside the plane rather than on it.
2
votes
9answers
22k views

Is there a word for people who always act too friendly in order to curry favor with their acquaintances?

Is there a single noun or adjective for a person who is always flattering friends and acquaintances, not only to be liked and accepted but, at other times, to curry favor with them as well ? I'm not ...
17
votes
2answers
15k views

Value (in cents) of big words

I found the answer to this question interesting in that he referred to a "75 cent word". I would have called it a 50-cent word, not because I undervalued his answer but because that is how I have ...
18
votes
10answers
55k views

Is there a word to describe someone who often inaccurately uses words?

Or a word to describe the act of inaccurately using complicated or unusual words (often in an attempt to sound more intelligent)? I considered 'bombastic' but it doesn't have that quality of ...
11
votes
10answers
49k views

Is there a word for one who enjoys to eat for the sake of eating (a food hedonist)?

Does such a word exist? I don't mean to excess (IE, a glutton), but rather one who eats because he enjoys eating. Essentially, I'm looking for a word that's synonymous with "a food hedonist", or "a ...
23
votes
4answers
77k views

“It's all downhill from here”—meaning and etymology

The phrase "it was all downhill from there" seems to have two, contradictory meanings. The first indicates that things have since gotten a lot worse. For example (from http://bleacherreport.com/...
31
votes
1answer
5k views

Is there a term for a foreign word that looks like an English word but has a completely different meaning?

examples: Gift (German) = poison poisson (French) = fish embarazada (Spanish) = pregnant sauce (Spanish) = willow triviale (Italian) = vulgar parentes (Portuguese) = relatives slim (...
24
votes
12answers
4k views

Expression that means something like “killing the sheep to keep them from being kidnapped”

I'm looking for an expression that conveys an excessive risk management approach that ends up having a worse effect than what it is trying to protect against.
17
votes
8answers
6k views

Expression for a choice which isn't really one

What would be a nice short expression to describe a choice which isn't really one, in that all of its possible outcomes are ultimately equivalent despite being presented as different? My first ...
6
votes
15answers
32k views

Is there an idiom for people who boast too much?

I am looking for idioms or informal/slang/colloquial expression for some people that make you think that they are able of building a skyscraper, constructing a spaceship, playing the piano better than ...
5
votes
6answers
26k views

expression “caught between a rock and a hard place”

What is the origin and definition of the expression "caught between a rock and a hard place"? I also heard it in a situation where it could have had a jocose double sense, but I may have misunderstood....
35
votes
4answers
231k views

Should I write “that being said” (vs. “that's been said” or “Having said that”)?

I often write what "sounds" right (being not a native English speaker/writer), and I believe the expression "that being said" to be fairly common, as opposed to a more complete form like "that's been ...
24
votes
5answers
189k views

Neither do I / Nor do I / Me neither / Me either

In this circumstance, which would be the most correct / natural answer? Person 1: I don't eat meat Person 2: Neither do I / Nor do I / Me neither / Me either This says both "neither do I" and "...
17
votes
10answers
40k views

Is there a word or phrase meaning to plant my idea in someone else’s mind?

Is there a word or phrase that means to plant my idea in someone else’s mind so they think it is their own idea? Just like what happened in the movie Inception.
17
votes
9answers
72k views

Is there a shorter alternative for “Enjoy your meal”?

The French have "Bon appetit". In Belgium and the Netherlands we have "Smakelijk". Is there a short way to wish someone a good meal in English?
16
votes
8answers
2k views

Term for using “thingy-esque” phrases rather than a common word

{This question came to mind because of the recent question .. What do you call the interconnecting bits of a puzzle piece in English? } In my opinion, in English, it's reasonably common that—...
27
votes
9answers
3k views

“Saving on the parrot's chocolate is futile”

In Catalan there is an expression "ser la xocolata del lloro" that can be translated as "saving by not giving chocolate to the parrot is futile", conveying the meaning that when a household wants to ...
22
votes
8answers
69k views

Are there any expressions that describe going from a bad to a worse situation?

Are there idioms or expressions in English that describe going from one bad situation to one that's even worse? I heard "between a rock and hard place" but this describes a dilemma not really a ...
10
votes
4answers
893 views

Why am I always compelled to begin a response with “Well, ”?

Because of a certain 140 character limit I've learned where I can trim characters on responses but even after all this time I still reply with "Well, so and so . . ." and I go back and have to delete ...
6
votes
1answer
87k views

“To have a dinner” vs “to have dinner”: which one is correct?

Does one need to use the article in this case?
1
vote
8answers
117k views

Which one is correct? “A teacher of English” or “An English teacher”? [closed]

I want to know which is correct teacher of English or English teacher.
6
votes
3answers
1k views

How did the phenomenon of doubling words come about?

I am referring to phrases such as: "Do you like her, or do you like like her." Can someone provide an explanation of this? There are many more examples but none come to mind at the moment.
48
votes
8answers
517k views

Polite alternatives to “as soon as possible”

I’ve found myself writing the phrase “as soon as possible” just too often. Sometimes I wonder if it sounds a little rude. How can I convey the same meaning in a more polite way but without losing ...
54
votes
25answers
48k views

Is there a secular, non vulgar alternative to “for heaven's sake”?

I know for heaven's sake, for Pete's sake, for God's sake and for Christ's sake. All of those, however are religious references. The only non-religious equivalent phrases I know are for fuck's sake ...
9
votes
3answers
104k views

Analogue of “to the best of our knowledge”

I have seen the following formula when writing an academic article: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first work that shows how to optimize a non-submodular function for .... I like this ...
15
votes
3answers
26k views

“Through” or “to” for expression of range

16-bit unsigned short integers that range from 0 through 0xFFFF 16-bit unsigned short integers that range from 0 to 0xFFFF Which expression is better above?
11
votes
5answers
22k views

How to use “you know”

For a non-native speaker like me, I am always wondering how to use you know correctly, as in the following sentence: Alright, well, for example, like on Saturdays, y’know, what I liked to do ...
15
votes
10answers
68k views

I’m looking for a word or phrase that describes the feeling that something very bad or catastrophic is about to happen

It may be something that will happen to the person who is having the feeling but it may also be to several persons, as might occur with a highly destructive earthquake, for instance. The word or ...
12
votes
10answers
246k views

What do you call someone who always puts blame on others?

No matter what had really happened, this person will always blame and find an appearing logical/thought out way/strategy to it that, fundamentally, it's the other person who was the cause for all the ...
10
votes
3answers
596 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 ...
56
votes
25answers
12k views

Are there counterpart English expressions to Japanese proverb, "the nail that pops up is always hammered down?

I was once reminded by Robusto-san of a Japanese popular saying, ‘出る釘は打たれる - the nail that pops up is always hammered down,’ when I complained about sequential down-votes that I received. I wondered ...
13
votes
8answers
170k views

Why is “a 100% increase” the same amount as “a two-fold increase”?

and is such interpretation the norm? When something went from 4 units to 8 units, most authoritative sources seem to agree with the use of "a two-fold increase", even though what was actually ...
11
votes
9answers
20k views

How to describe a guy who is popular with girls?

Perhaps I should make it clear: - He naturally attracts girls. - He doesn't chase girls and have no intention for any relationship. - You just see him often together with girls.
17
votes
5answers
92k views

Where does “ta!” come from?

Where does the expression "ta" come from? Wikipedia has only this to say: "ta!", slang, Exclam. Thank you! {Informal}, an expression of gratitude but no additional information or links about its ...
14
votes
5answers
19k views

Other expressions for “to be the devil's advocate”?

Is there another way or expression to say: He is the devil's advocate I don't quite like this expression, and I don't know if it is a good idea to use it in a religious context.
12
votes
2answers
2k views

After seeing how misinformed an article is in a newspaper, you flip the page and continue reading as if the rest can be trusted. What is this called?

I vividly remember reading a Wikipedia article about a named law (e.g. "Betteridge's law of headlines"). It goes something like this: "You read an article about a topic you're very familiar with, and ...
8
votes
6answers
36k views

Word for someone seeming deep and intelligent, but not really being that

What is the word for someone trying to seem/be deep and intelligent, but really they are shallow, and not at all being insightful. Pedant is about rules, so that is disqualified, the closest I could ...
5
votes
4answers
43k views

Word for when two people type the same thing at the same time in chat

I have the distinct feeling there's a word often used when two people type the same thing at the same time in Internet chat contexts. Not necessarily exactly the same words, but closely related. ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Name for a type of idiom with two things joined (like “raining cats and dogs”, “bread and butter”)

I had heard, a number of years ago, that there is a name for an type of idiomatic expression in which two things are joined to refer to one thing. An example of this would be “raining cats and dogs”. ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

Is the “will” in “can and will” necessary?

Anyone who's ever seen much American film or television has heard some variation of the following sentences countless times: You have the right to remain silent. If you choose to give up that ...
48
votes
3answers
243k views

What is the purpose of using the word “why” in “why, thank you”?

I sometimes have heard somebody replying with Why, thank you. instead of Thank you. What is the meaning of the first phrase? What is the difference between the two phrases?