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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.

8
votes
3answers
4k views

“drop the penny”

I was wondering what "drop the penny", "help get the penny to drop", or things similar mean? All I can understand is that it must be a metaphor. For example: simply trying to repeat things in ...
10
votes
1answer
10k views

What is the origin of the phrase “and nothing of value was lost”?

What is the origin of the phrase "and nothing of value was lost"? Is this from a movie, book, or show, or did it get its start on Slashdot or some other online forum?
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 ...
10
votes
1answer
21k views

Why do we call cinema The Seventh Art?

Why do we call cinema The Seventh Art? Why not sixth or fifth?
6
votes
1answer
5k views

The Meaning of “Crew Expendable”? [closed]

In a game (Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare), when a soldier (Gaz) asks his commander (Captain Price) about the "rules of engagement," he is answered "crew expendable." As they are fighting on a ship, ...
5
votes
7answers
37k views

Origin and meaning of “The eagle flies at midnight”

The eagle flies at midnight. What's the origin and meaning of this idiom?
10
votes
4answers
12k views

Is “bad loser” a valid expression?

Is the expression "(someone is a) bad loser" valid? If it is valid, is it equal to "sore loser", or does it have a different meaning and/or use?
10
votes
3answers
15k views

How to use the expression “lo and behold”

How should this expression be used, and what is its origin?
6
votes
2answers
24k views

“bibs and bobs” - what does it mean and where does it come from?

Just exactly what is a bibs and a bobs? And where the heck did that expression come from, anyway?
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Just wanted to “confirm my hunch”

Someone replied to me with: "Just wanted to confirm my hunch." What is this expression usually used for?
1
vote
1answer
22k views

“I was going to” expression. How to use it correctly?

I was going to pick you tomorrow from the airport (not a big deal to me, really), but remembered that tomorrow I'll be teaching the class, which ends at 8. in above example, I am trying to say ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

Is “fake teeth” correct?

Is the phrase "fake teeth" correct? I googled it and found out that it is used. But my English tutor says that this phrase is incorrect and the book from Hillside Press had this phrase as a mistake. ...
8
votes
5answers
5k views

Does “see you this weekend” in email express “will write another email this weekend”?

Perhaps people will think that I'll physically visit them?
7
votes
4answers
3k views

The origins of “Who da Man”?

This is a hard one to look up. Where (and when!) did the expression "who da man" start? My guess is it started either in written form after the popularization of the internet (because that would jibe ...
21
votes
3answers
16k views

Which is correct: “Set up something” or “Set something up” or “Setup something”?

As a programmer, I often have to use this expression: Set the application up. or something like that. But I'm not sure what the correct grammar is, and what this grammatical area is called in ...
10
votes
4answers
19k views

What is the origin of “Couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo”?

This picturesque expression, meaning 'not a very good shot with a rifle' or (of a footballer) unable to score any goals, has cropped up a few times recently in my reading. Does anyone know where it ...
32
votes
3answers
111k views

Which is correct: coming down the “pike” or “pipe”?

Is the expression coming down the pike or coming down the pipe? I’ve always used pike, but I’ve heard a few people use pipe recently. I can see how both could make sense, but which is correct?
2
votes
5answers
13k views

Isn't “behind your back” in front of you?

We've all heard the phrase that usually goes along the lines of "blah blah did something behind my back". I've always thought that from your back's point of view, anything behind you is in front of it ...
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?
10
votes
3answers
3k views

What does “if only” mean?

Like in this sentence: The influence of the Titnaeus among early philosophical thinkers was pervasive, if only because it was the sole dialogue available in Europe for almost 1,000 years. (...
19
votes
5answers
31k views

What is the origin of “holy smoke”?

What is the origin of holy smoke? To what is holy smoke referring?
8
votes
3answers
6k views

What is the etymology of the expression “so far, so good”?

What is the etymology of the expression "so far, so good"? Why is the meaning of "so far" in that phrase different from the meaning it has in "it's so far"?
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 ...
44
votes
4answers
316k views

Is “yay or nay” an acceptable alternative to “yea or nay”?

Is "yay or nay" an acceptable alternative to "yea or nay"? I have seen it several times in recent weeks, enough to make me wonder whether it is an emerging usage or just a common typo.
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
16k views

When should one use the “recent past”? How much time should have passed?

When we can use "recent past"? How much past time qualifies for "recent past"?
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 ...
18
votes
5answers
63k views

Which is correct: “standing on line” or “standing in line”?

I'm curious to hear from folks in the the Northeast United States (or anyone, really) an explanation of why "standing on line" seems preferable to "standing in line" in the US northeast. I imagine ...
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 ...