Questions tagged [phrase-requests]

This tag is for questions seeking a phrase that fits a meaning. If you're specifically seeking only a single word, see the "single word requests" tag too.

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287 votes
41 answers
141k views

Is there a phrase that means sleeping with someone without sex?

The phrase "sleeping with someone" often means "having sex." What is the origin of this sexual connotation? Is there a non-sexual equivalent of this phrase to express sleeping with someone without ...
269 votes
11 answers
101k views

Is there a word or phrase for the feeling you get after looking at a word for too long?

Sometimes after looking at a word for a while, I become convinced that it can't possibly be spelled correctly. Even after looking it up, sounding it out, and realizing that there's simply no other ...
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  • 6,763
136 votes
17 answers
106k views

Is there an English idiom for trying to do two things at the same time and failing at both of them due to splitting your effort?

I'm basically searching for the opposite of putting all your eggs in one basket, where the risk is total failure because you did not hedge your efforts. I'm searching for a phrase that encompasses ...
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134 votes
8 answers
24k views

What is it called when experts think they only know a small part of a topic and amateurs think they know almost all of a topic?

What is it called when experts think they only know a small part of a topic and amateurs think they know almost all of a topic?
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125 votes
6 answers
18k views

How to say "It's not rocket science" before rockets existed

Prior to the invention of rockets, was there a phrase equivalent to: "it's not rocket science"? If so, what was it? Here I am looking for a phrase that makes a comparison with a difficult job/task, ...
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  • 2,691
123 votes
11 answers
115k views

Alternative terms to "Blacklist" and "Whitelist"

My company is developing a management tool for managing SIM cards. One of the features of the tool is to block the SIM card if it's put into a disallowed device by device IMEI validation. The feature ...
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104 votes
13 answers
15k views

Is there English counterpart(s) to Japanese old saying, “Present salt to your enemy.”?

We have a popular Japanese saying, “敵に塩を送る” — literally, “present (supply) salt to one's enemy”, meaning ‘play fair and square, not taking advantage of the weak point of your rival.’ It’s different ...
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  • 69.9k
102 votes
21 answers
23k views

How to say that food is hot (temperature) without the listener thinking that I mean "spicy"?

There is an excellent discussion of spicy vs. hot here: Difference between "spicy" and "hot" However, having read the previous question, I did not see any answer that tells how to ...
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  • 1,851
94 votes
7 answers
21k views

Is there a gender neutral equivalent of “manspreading”?

Who knew that the term manspreading is considered deeply sexist? I didn't A nameless user proposed to delete the term from an answer of mine. His explanation was “remove misandry”. I had written ...
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  • 85.6k
92 votes
29 answers
25k views

Is there an American English equivalent of the British idiom "carrying coals to Newcastle"?

I'm an American living in the Netherlands who is learning Dutch. There's an idiom in Dutch that describes performing a needless/futile activity, "water naar de zee dragen," which literally translates ...
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  • 892
84 votes
28 answers
141k views

Idiom or word for a very crowded place

There is a popular idiom in Russian for describing a really crowded place: "(there's) no room for an apple to fall" ("яблоку негде упасть"). I struggle to think of anything similar in English, and ...
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  • 95.7k
82 votes
25 answers
45k views

What is deliberately using complex sentences to confuse people called?

I'm wondering if there's a word, phrase, or idiom to describe the action of deliberately confusing people by using complex sentences. For example, some politicians will throw out some big words and ...
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  • 1,622
79 votes
24 answers
18k views

A fun, catchy way to say the opposite of a 'no-brainer'?

A no-brainer is "something that requires a minimum of thought" (Merriam-Webster). I could use some help with a catchy way of saying the opposite. Sample sentence: "I have to make a decision and it ...
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  • 4,323
79 votes
23 answers
26k views

How to degender "separate the men from the boys"?

How can one degender the phrase "separate the men from the boys"? Examples of how this phrase has traditionally been used: Math teacher: "The ability to do proofs of this type is what separates ...
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  • 20.6k
75 votes
21 answers
17k views

Idiom criticizing a person who has unsolved problems but tries to give someone advice about them

Is there an idiom or expression that refers to a person who has some unsolved problems and tries to give some pieces of advice to, or guide, others for solving the same problems? We Iranians have a ...
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  • 9,187
70 votes
27 answers
97k views

Polite alternative for "none of your business"

It seems it's rude and impolite to say directly to someone "none of your business". So, what's the more gentle alternative(s) for situations in which we should say "hey, this is none of your business!...
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  • 5,095
69 votes
12 answers
12k views

What's a less offensive substitute for "rep-whores"?

This is a frequently thrown-around term on Internet forums in general and Stack Exchange specifically. Although it conveys a lot of meaning, I'd much prefer a phrase with a less offensive origin. ...
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  • 877
68 votes
8 answers
15k views

What is it called when you search for something on the internet and end up looking for other and it goes in endless meander? [duplicate]

What am I doing when I search for something on the internet and the search provides for some other interesting stuff apart from what I was looking for and I end up opening an infinite number of ...
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  • 2,909
67 votes
22 answers
40k views

Is there an idiom or typical expression for an unfunny joke? [closed]

Could you tell me some suitable idioms to express this situation: A guy told you a joke, but it's not funny at all. In Japanese, we say "He slipped" or "His joke was so cold that the air got ...
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  • 939
67 votes
13 answers
129k views

What is the term for when you become more aware of something?

For example, when you buy a car, you start becoming more aware of cars with a similar make and model. The number of that type of car hasn't increased, but your awareness of it has. Similarly, when ...
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  • 1,155
67 votes
4 answers
10k views

Is there a term for the type of misleading joke comedians such as Stephen Colbert often use?

The Late Show host, Stephen Colbert (an American talk show host, don't mind that, just think of him as some random guy you don't have to care about) quite often uses a type of joke whereby he ...
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  • 4,868
66 votes
20 answers
30k views

Phrase for a small, legitimate fix for part of a system so broken the fix is unimportant [duplicate]

Looking for a phrase/metaphor describing a situation where a proposed solution, though valid, is targeted for one of many problems in an entity plagued by so many problems as to render the individual ...
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65 votes
11 answers
5k views

Is there an English phrase for an inability to actually *leave* already?

There is a Hungarian expression, küszöbgörcs, which literally means "threshold-cramp", and is used to describe that long conversation you have in the entryway, with all the guests awkwardly holding ...
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  • 32.1k
64 votes
21 answers
25k views

What is the word for always YES (100%) or always NO (0%), never in-between

For example: 1) In statistics, this attribute will always either be 0% or 100%, never in-between. 2) The boundary is either safe or destroyed, because there is never a state where it is only '...
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  • 753
64 votes
15 answers
62k views

What non-religious expressions can I use instead of "Thank God"? [closed]

I'll give an example to help: Someone suffered a car accident, but physically the person is OK. So I say, "Thank God, they are fine."
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  • 1,508
63 votes
25 answers
16k 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 ...
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  • 69.9k
63 votes
9 answers
9k views

What do you call a minor flaw in a work that makes you realize how perfect/flawless it is otherwise?

For example, I was listening to an audio book the other day and the author mispronounced a word which got the audience laughing. Until that point, I didn't even know that there was an audience and ...
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62 votes
14 answers
866k views

More formal way of saying: "Sorry to bug you again about this, but ..."

I was wondering if there was a more formal and polite way of saying: Sorry to bug you again about this, but we still have not received a response about X .... (if we still have not received any ...
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61 votes
25 answers
60k 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 ...
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  • 20.7k
61 votes
19 answers
16k views

The act of baiting someone into (incorrectly) calling bullshit

Is there a single word, or commonly-used term, to describe the act of baiting another person into calling bullshit, when in fact you're not bullshitting? Conceptually, this either a sub-type, or the ...
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  • 28.5k
60 votes
11 answers
7k views

English proverb for "They danced, but didn't take a bow", as for failing good work on a final step

There is proverb in Ukrainian, "They danced and danced, but didn't take a bow" (Танцювали, танцювали, та не вклонилися). It is used to point out that someone has put a significant amount of time and ...
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  • 1,633
59 votes
13 answers
11k views

A skill that you have, but has little to no benefit for you

Most of us have these little things we are able to do, that are a little different or special. Maybe it is something we mostly use in laid-back social situations, to break the ice and get a laugh. ...
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  • 12.9k
59 votes
10 answers
854k 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 ...
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  • 1,515
57 votes
13 answers
8k views

English equivalent for the Persian idiom "send someone out in pursuit of black chickpeas"

"To send somebody out in pursuit of some black chickpeas" is a Persian idiom that implies 'to make or ask someone to run an errand so that you be able to have/ buy some time in order to deal with your ...
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  • 9,187
55 votes
8 answers
9k views

"To science the sh*t out of something"

In The Martian movie, Matt Damon (Watney), when left stranded on Mars with very limited resources to survive, says: Mark Watney: In the face of overwhelming odds, I'm left with only one option, I'm ...
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  • 22.3k
54 votes
10 answers
29k views

What is this method of joking about a morbid situation called?

What word or phrase could be used to describe a joke about something serious or bad? It isn't meant as humor in the typical sense, but as sort of a brave, different flavor of humor between two friends....
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  • 622
53 votes
19 answers
22k views

What is the wife of a henpecked husband called?

henpecked [hen-pekt] adjective 1. browbeaten, bullied, or intimidated by one's wife, girlfriend, etc.: a henpecked husband who never dared to contradict his wife. What is the wife of a henpecked ...
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  • 655
51 votes
16 answers
18k views

English equivalent for the Persian proverb "The mountain just gave birth to a mouse"

I'm looking for an idiom or expression to describe a well-known person/ organization/ politician/ government whose achievements in a given situation are smaller than what they had claimed or promised ...
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  • 9,187
51 votes
12 answers
10k views

Term for being unable to see glaring errors after working for some time on a task?

Back in the day, I used to do a lot of CAD drafting. There is a well known phenomena whereby your ability to see mistakes, errors, omissions or plain nonsense in your drawing diminishes sharply ...
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  • 790
50 votes
11 answers
10k views

Equivalent English phrase for "don't roll around where you've fallen"

In my language, we have a phrase which roughly translates to "don't roll around where you've fallen". It indicates that a person has said or done something stupid. Then when someone points this out, ...
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  • 716
50 votes
17 answers
9k views

Is there an expression to indicate the strategy of wearing someone down with numerous small irritations?

I would use rope-a-dope, but it's got connotations of pretending to lose that I don't need. I'm trying to describe the behavior of someone who sends twenty detailed emails a day about various projects,...
user avatar
50 votes
10 answers
8k views

Is there a term which covers ATM cards, credit cards, and debit cards?

I work in accommodation for international travelers, and people can pay with various kinds of cards: In some countries such as USA, credit cards are very common, but debit cards are not so common. In ...
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  • 7,427
49 votes
27 answers
19k views

Is there a word/ phrase to describe somebody who has devoted their life to practising something but is still not very good at it?

I need a word/phrase/idiom (either adjective or noun) to describe somebody who has devoted their life to practising something but is still not very good at it. Example: Look at Uncle, practised ...
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49 votes
9 answers
14k views

What is the opposite of the Devil's Advocate?

If I am arguing against a proposal that I may actually agree with, then I am playing Devil's Advocate. However, what if I do not necessarily agree with the proposal but am arguing for it, with the ...
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48 votes
14 answers
11k views

Is there a widely-accepted opposite of "as the crow flies"?

"As the crow flies" describes the distance between two points if one could go in a straight line without needing to follow the constraints of existing roads and paths. Is there a standard phrase for ...
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