Questions tagged [phrases]

This tag is for questions about phrases in the linguistic sense. In linguistics a “phrase” is a group of words that make a unit of syntax with a single grammatical function. Use [phrase-requests] if you are searching for a phrase.

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5 views

What is the origin Of the expression “there is no denying him”?

When speaking about biological offspring, what is the origin of the phrase “there is no denying him?”
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3answers
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Is “Call for somebody’s head on a plate” a popular idiom? What is its origin?

I saw the phrase “Call for sb’s head on a plate” in the following sentence of The New Yorker magazine’s article (January 20) titled “Newt and His Wives,” reporting that Gingrich was in a furor when ...
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Is is grammatically correct using the verb cut on teeth

Is it grammatically correct to use the verb cut on teeth. I cut the apple using my teeth Or I cut the meat using my teeth
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2answers
3k views

Does the phrase “but although” work together?

I have the sentence: "But although you hate me now, I believe that you will forgive me over time." I'm not sure if the phrase makes sense because the words are essentially the same word. Any help?
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Is “there's plenty of X” known to be a “code phrase” to mean the exact opposite?

Every time I hear somebody or something (such as a website) claim that there is "plenty of" something, I always find that the exact opposite is actually the case. For example: Q: If I don’t have ...
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2answers
63 views

Word for “under the support/help and protection of”

"Homes of a particular community vandalized by the goons under the support and protection of police." How can I say this in a better way? The police was with the goons. Goons got full support and ...
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1answer
43 views

what does the phrase “loosen the reins on” mean? [closed]

In the sentence "I'm far less afraid of loosening the reins on students as far as getting up and moving around the room or speaking out or getting off track.", my understanding is " I'm not afraid of ...
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0answers
52 views

Who this part refers to?

I’d like to ask about the sentence I’m not sure about in The Engineer’s Thumbs by Conan Doyle. .. that of Mr. Hatherley’s thumb, and that of Colonel Warburton’s madness. Of these the latter may ...
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9answers
19k views

Word meaning “without my asking”

There is a specific word meaning 'without my asking' and I cannot seem to recall it whatsoever. Used in a sentence: "she told me all about her personal life 'without my asking."
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4answers
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Can “the rubber meets the road” be used as a stand-alone phrase to mean “stop disaster in its tracks or keep it at bay”?

I didn't know the idiom, "the rubber meets (hits) the road." So I was drawn to the passage, “When it comes to Ebola, the rubber met the road at the Firestone rubber plantation” appearing in NPR’s (...
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2answers
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Ambiguous line from Browning's My Last Duchess [closed]

A heart – how shall I say? – too soon made glad, Too easily impressed: she liked whate’er She looked on, and her looks went everywhere. Sir, ‘twas all one! My favor at her breast, ...
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1answer
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What does “on the nose” mean in the context of horse racing bets?

In the very end of the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "On the Nose" (~1957), the main woman calls her horse race bookie on the telephone and places a bet: Well, I'd like to put two dollars on ...
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2answers
2k views

What is the meaning of the phrase 'to the extent to which'

The following is an excerpt from the newspaper 'The Hindu'. The Supreme Court on Friday gave the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) “a last oppotortunity” to withdraw a November 2016 Disclosure Policy ...
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1answer
46 views

Is the phrase “Ya, boss” an insult? [closed]

The phrase, “ Ya, boss,” is a senior executive’s response to his direct subordinates on occasion. Executive is male, subordinates are female. Aside from the fact that the supervisor thinks he is ...
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2answers
6k views

“replace with” vs. “replace by” in the sense of substituting strings

Given that both prepositions are acceptable in general contexts with a slight deviation in usage, meaning, and voice ("Replace with" versus "replace by" has a too wide scope), let ...
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4answers
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What is the word for trying to do someone else's job, to get them fired eventually?

I have been searching a lot for this, but can't find the expression. I'm wondering if there is a phrase that is used a lot for this. At work, it happens a lot in many organizations that people try to ...
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4answers
8k views

Origin of “queer as a clockwork orange”

While reading a recent Ken Follet novel, I came across the following, spoken in a gay bar set in early sixties London: "I am queer as a clockwork orange, a three-pound note, a purple unicorn, or a ...
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7answers
75k views

Origin of the expression “Dead to rights”?

I was watching a TV show and this term was used. I am familiar with the definition, but I was wondering the origin of the phrase. It does not make sense to me if taken literally. Reference
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2answers
6k views

Why is it “knife” in the idiom, “Before you can say knife” though there are many shorter words than knife?

I saw the phrase, ‘before you can say Dow-Jones Index’ in the following sentence of JefferyArcher’s novel, “Not a penny more, Not a penny less.” Scotland Yard’s Fraud Squad Detective Inspector, ...
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0answers
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Is “My teeth chatter” a form of personification? [closed]

Is the phrase "my teeth chatter" (due to the cold) an example of personification? Teeth can't literally chatter, but they can make a chattering noise, so I am a bit torn on this one.
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16answers
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“Soccer mom”: why soccer?

...why not football mom, baseball mom, or basketball mom? Soccer mom, as far as I can tell, is an American term made popular during the 1996 presidential elections, used to describe a key demographic ...
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1answer
89 views

“The 1800s” versus “the 19th century”?

As a non-native English speaker, who never says "Xth century" in my language, phrases such as: In the late 19th century, they invented a lot of cool stuff! ... always forces me to stop and think ...
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1answer
88 views

“Take off”, “head off”, “leave”. What else can be used to politely indicate that I am leaving [closed]

I got a feeling that it is rude to say "I'm gonna leave" or "I'm leaving". Is it really impolite? And the term "take off", I have only seen it used on the series "Friends". Most of the time, it is ...
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1answer
64 views

Phrase for when there is no point in speaking because you'll be met with excuses or rebuttal

This question doesn't fit because the excuses/rebuttals may be valid, the point is the responder will immediately set about looking for them and doesn't really care if they're fixable obstacles or ...
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2answers
1k views

What is the meaning of “later on the day”

The sentence is Please note that only candidates who actually pass the tests will receive a notification by email later on the day. I would like to ask that "later on the day" is when? Is that ...
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1answer
94 views

What is the meaning of “shoot the average”?

Could someone explain the meaning of "shoot the average" in the context below? I didn't change the median age of the group that much, but I think I really shot the average. Edit: This came from ...
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6answers
3k views

Did the expression “nothing to get hung up about” derive from “Strawberry Fields?”

In American English, I recognize the expression "nothing to get hung up about" as an idiom meaning, "nothing to worry about." Based on some googling, it seems like in British English the phrase "...
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0answers
23 views

Is there a term to generalize the renowned, classic sentences

For example, sentences like "There is a first time for everything".
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0answers
21 views

Usage of maverick as an adjective for a thing [duplicate]

I saw on Google the formulation: "the maverick of the sea scrolls…". Would it be better, equivalent or incorrect, instead of saying for example "the maverick of frameworks", to say "the maverick ...
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3answers
23k views

Is the expression 'Never Meet Your Heroes' an adage?

When the expression "Never Meet Your Heroes" is used, is it used as an adage? If so, what is its origin? In other words, why should we not meet our heroes?
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2answers
51 views

Phrase to indicate that science progress isn't linear [closed]

The historical progress of the sciences is never linear, as one may infer when reading the logically-ordered, neatly set series of theorems, assumptions, etc, before reaching the final demonstrations ...
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7answers
1k views

What is the origin of “on the way”?

Consider "on the way." (As in "are you coming home?" "we're on the way.") Is the origin from something relating to "way" meaning a lane or roadway, or, is the origin something relating to the ...
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1answer
26 views

“Like never before” or “Like you have never done before”

I am a not a native English speaker. But the term "Manage Teams like never before" which our company thinks about using for advertising our software sounds strange to me. Wouldn't it be better to ...
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2answers
24k views

Early usage, you can take the boy out of the country

Regarding the common English form, You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy... (Meaning - "This boy remains a bucolic rube even though he moved from ...
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4answers
23k views

“at the cost of” vs. “at the expense of”

I usually use "at the cost of", but my editor made it "at the expense of". For example, the following sentence: The counts in Table 2 are all based on implementations that are optimized for ...
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2answers
305 views

What is the merit of calling a verb phrase a clause?

Traditionally, a clause is defined as consisting of a subject and predicate. In Oxford Dictionary, it is defined as: A unit of grammatical organization next below the sentence in rank and in ...
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2answers
61 views

The use of the phrase ‘all but’ in this context

“So far, 686 people have been tested in the U.K., with all but three negative” In this article, the use of the phrase ‘all but three tested negative’ doesn’t make sense to me. In my head it should ...
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2answers
509 views

on provision of seven (7) days written notice

I was reading a legal contract and came across this sentence about the termination of the contract: This Agreement may be terminated by either Party on provision of seven (7) days written notice ...
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0answers
22 views

Search engine for English idioms? [migrated]

I am looking for a resources which can provide related English idioms/phrases. For instance, if I were looking up 'to help out', I would find 'to pitch in', etc. Does any such resources exist online (...
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0answers
36 views

Is “for all I know” without may/might/etc. “correct”? [duplicate]

I have seen "for all I know" used in both of the following forms: For all I know, he may as well be Santa in disguise. For all I know, he's Santa in disguise. From what I've understood so far, both ...
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1answer
1k views

Antonym of “crème de la crème”

The phrase "crème de la crème" means to be the best of the best. Is there a phrase that means the opposite of this, that is, to be the worst of the worst? The phrase doesn't have to come from French.
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0answers
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When to use “on the basis of” vs “based on”

From the ACS Style Guide Effective Communication of Scientific Information (pg 52): Choose “based on” and “on the basis of ” depending on your meaning. Phrases starting with “based on” must ...
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2answers
50 views

Picking out Noun Phrases

Pick out the phrases from the following and state their kind:- 1) I have found the key to his secret. According to my Wren and Martin textbook, to his secret is the Adjective Phrase describing the ...
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3answers
2k views

Explanation of a quote from The Great Gatsby

I've decided to catch up on all the books we should have read in high school, but before I get to Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, and Brave New World, I'm starting with The Great Gatsby by F. Scott ...
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5answers
17k views

“I'm on the brew”

A conversation between two Scots: — What do you do for a living? — I'm on the brew. Assuming that I have the phrase right, what exactly does "on the brew" mean here? Based on the context, I ...
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0answers
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Word or phrase to describe anything that seems trivial but can be indicative of something important

When I say “anything” I could be referring to a comment, an interaction, a symbol, or an action. I’m not sure how to explain this without using examples. In hospitals, doctors often identify patients ...
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2answers
45 views

How to describe factors leading to a negative event?

Being a non-native English speaker, I am looking for an appropriate verb/phrase to describe the negative event as consequence of two health factors. My best shot is "precipitate"; however, I am ...
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2answers
49 views

In “Some statement. This!”, what does the “This!” mean? [closed]

I have seen a expression or phrase of the following form: Some statement. This! The "This!" seems to be something like an acknowledgement. Is there a more verbose explanation or translation of it?
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1answer
70 views

Meaning of Pudding of a young man

Could someone explain what the pudding means here. I'm a bit confused. From the stammering and awkward conversation, she had with Haroun that day Naveed discovered to her consternation that her ...
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1answer
27 views

Is “make it to the X” time-sensitive? Also, is “make the X” a synonym for that? [closed]

If somebody arrives at X and says "I made it!", does it mean they are happy they have arrived at X in time or because they arrived there at all? Is there an inherent time-sensitivity in these words? ...

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