124 votes
Accepted

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

It's a cardinal error to confuse a depiction of bigotry with bigotry itself. Yes, the narrator of the poem is racist, not only by modern standards but in the opinion of the author of the poem. The ...
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83 votes
Accepted

Should I say "ATM" or "cashpoint" in the UK?

Source: I'm in my early thirties and have lived my whole life in South East England. I would personally use the term "cash machine" (or the abbreviated version "machine", see further comments below). ...
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  • 14.6k
77 votes

Historically, did "Oh my Gosh" originate as an anti-God expression?

Quite the reverse. It's an example of a 'minced oath', where a similar-sounding word is substituted for the name of God in an expletive so as to avoid blasphemy. In 19th-century fiction, if a 'bad' ...
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  • 17.8k
65 votes
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What does President Obama's “pro-knowledge” remark mean?

Borowitz is a writer of satire, his pieces are intended to be parody. Satirical works are often characterized by one-off language and terminology, in this case the idea of being "pro-knowledge." ...
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  • 1,414
54 votes

Does English use the word ‘thou’ in any situations nowadays?

Thou/thee/thy/thine still exist in some dialects in British English. However, unless you are one of those who speak the dialect, it is not used in general spoken and written English. https://en....
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  • 28.6k
47 votes
Accepted

Is “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet” a common or respectable English expression?

It's a common, longstanding American slang idiom intended to convey that no matter what you've seen, what you are about to see will far top it (whether for good or for bad!). It has associations with ...
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46 votes

Is it common for native English speakers to confuse "18th century" with "the 1800s"?

As a first-language English speaker, my experience is that I have come to automatically associate the specific terms "20th century" and "21st century" with the 19--s and 20--s ...
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  • 73.7k
44 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

Given that a few, presumably well-read, people here have different recollections of the poem, and different interpretations, you would be unwise to make assumptions as to the effect on your audience. ...
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  • 21k
36 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

My dad (native to Oklahoma) uses it, and I picked up the usage from him. I believe I've heard my mother-in-law (native to Ohio) use it as well. The way we use it isn't a compliment. Its more an ...
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  • 18.3k
35 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

Many thanks for directing my attention to this intriguing and controversial poem from one of the Children of Empire. "A racist would not have glorified Gunga Din in the way Kipling did," wrote ...
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32 votes

What does “soft bigotry of low expectations” mean?

In context, from the rest of Charles Blow's answer to the question linked article: I suffered from this as well. At one school, the teacher never expected me to perform, so I didn’t. They even ...
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  • 1,338
27 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

There are several good reasons to avoid it as a cultural reference, at least among acquaintances or strangers: It's likely obsolete. The poem and the film are both quite old. Someone for whom the ...
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  • 1,065
26 votes

Does English use the word ‘thou’ in any situations nowadays?

To the great majority of English speakers, 'thou' only sounds like quasi-theatrical, Shakespearean, or Biblical speech. Currently, it is not recognized grammatically as anything other than an archaic ...
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  • 68.9k
24 votes

Is it common for native English speakers to confuse "18th century" with "the 1800s"?

Yes, I have seen and heard many native speakers of English make the same mistake. And it works exactly the same way in Dutch: you say de 18e eeuw when you mean 1700–1799. And Dutchmen frequently make ...
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23 votes
Accepted

What does Mr. Trump’s “inner rabbit” mean?

I read Ms Collins every Thursday and Saturday. She is one of my favorite writers. Despite my fondness for her, I will endeavour to have my answer devoid of praise or criticism of her talents, unlike ...
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21 votes
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Is “Ur-moment” a normal English expression?

Arguably, no, Ur-moment is not a “normal” English expression for most people. However, it really depends on the company you keep whether it is normal or not. That’s because ur- is indeed a ...
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  • 127k
19 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

I, along with much of my family, use this phrase regularly as a compliment for someone who possesses the fortitude to do something that I doubt I could do. For us, there is never anything insulting ...
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19 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

This poem is an explicit reference to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus: Givin' drink to poor damned souls, An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din! Yes, Din! Din! Din! You ...
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  • 304
16 votes
Accepted

Is “release one’s butt cheeks” a euphemism?

As you surmise, when entering a possibly confrontational situation, it's not unusual to transfer some of the psychic tension to your, um, pelvic core -- to clench your butt cheeks. When the mental ...
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  • 11k
16 votes

What's the informal word for a small challenge?

Dare seems to be the right word to use in this case. It may not be the actual word you are looking for but it certainly fits very well: to tell (someone) to do something especially as a way of ...
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  • 29.5k
16 votes

Is "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" still considered a compliment in English?

Well....I think I am a latecomer on this one....but I think context may be the true test of the meaning. I have a personal example....my brother, I am his sister, called me on the phone after my niece ...
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  • 169
15 votes

Should I say "ATM" or "cashpoint" in the UK?

Source: I'm in my early fifties and have lived from age 5 in South East England. In colloquial English, I've never heard anything but cashpoint or machine. Which is used depends on the context. If ...
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  • 94.7k
14 votes

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

We are confusing and conflating these forms here: 1. How do you say ... (in X)? This is asking for a word or phrase, perhaps specifying in language X. Example: *How do you say you're welcome in ...
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  • 1,213
14 votes

What does President Obama's “pro-knowledge” remark mean?

Andy Borowitz is a comedian and that article is very much tongue in cheek. 'Pro-knowledge' is not a set phrase; it means what it says, that it is in favor of knowledge. It isn't restricted to math ...
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  • 68.9k
14 votes

Does English use the word ‘thou’ in any situations nowadays?

The term "holier-than-thou" remains in somewhat common usage, probably explicitly because the "thou" sounds both antiquated and Biblical.
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13 votes

Is “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet” a common or respectable English expression?

I was a bit puzzled with the expression, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.” Isn’t this a double negative, which I learnt to be an affirmative statement in high school almost 70 years ago?. The meaning is ...
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13 votes
Accepted

What does “medical scare” mean?

A medical scare can be anything where your health was suddenly in danger. It's when you thought that there could be something seriously wrong - could be something like an emergency, but could also be ...
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  • 819
13 votes
Accepted

Does English use the word ‘thou’ in any situations nowadays?

The Only thing I can think of is if a suitor were being extremely formal in a proposal of marriage: Wouldst thou do me the honor.... It might also be used in a light teasing manner, pretending to be ...
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