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Questions tagged [expressions]

This tag is for questions which a dictionary cannot answer asking the meaning of a particular expression.

42
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6answers
9k views

Does the English language have a word explaining a song in your head that you can't stop singing?

Sometimes after listening to a popular song you can't stop repeating it in your head. Is there any term for this in English? You can't say the same in Russian using one word.
32
votes
4answers
164k views

What does “Nailed it” mean?

I came across a few combinations of 'nailed it' or 'nailed down' in various contexts. According to the blog-posts, it seems to be widespread on the internet. However, I have never heard these ...
29
votes
9answers
14k views

Is “She is under the shower” a proper English sentence?

There is currently a debate on Duolingo about the proper translation of a sentence to English (the original language isn't the point of this question). The sentence, literally translates to "She is ...
27
votes
4answers
11k views

Was it impolite for me to say “That's alright” when someone ran into me? Are there any better expessions?

I was travelling on a crowded bus. Someone suddenly ran into me and touched me when the bus stopped suddenly. The man said sorry to me. I did not get angry because I could see there was an auto ...
25
votes
10answers
28k views

Is 'no more' used to mean 'dead' in English?

Do the English or the Americans use no more to mean 'dead'? For example, do they say "He is no more" to mean "He is dead"?
25
votes
3answers
3k views

Meaning of “8 going on 48”

I don't understand what this expression means: Little adults are the children that parents describe as 'eight going on forty-eight'.
23
votes
3answers
8k views

“I immediately got her with child”?

In th English translation of The Kindly Ones, a 2006 novel by Jonathan Littell set during World War II and its aftermath, the narrator states: the source I picked a woman from a good family; she ...
22
votes
9answers
16k views

Phrases that express “afraid of wife” in English

Are there any English idioms that are used to describe a man being afraid of wife? In Chinese there are lots of ways to express it, formal ways, condescending, or colorful. Please describe the ...
22
votes
7answers
11k views

English equivalent of “garam” (warming) food?

I want to know how we say in English when we want to say that almonds or other dry fruits are "hot" for our body. I am an Indian, and in India, we use the word garam which literally means hot in ...
21
votes
5answers
14k views

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is (not?)

I've bumped into the following expression a few times already: If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. To me, the correct way to say it would be: If something seems too good to ...
21
votes
6answers
93k views

Difference between “in time” and “on time”

I have an appointment at 8 and I arrive there at 7:55, is it "on time" or "in time"? What about "the nick of time"?
17
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “Stands the wind in that quarter” mean?

I'm reading Mark Twain's The Prince and The Pauper and have come across this sentence in Chapter 23, after the woman has told the court that her pig is worth eight pence and is about to leave when an ...
17
votes
4answers
4k views

Is “Can I help you” a suitable expression for offering help to a stranger?

A friend of mine, who is local to Japan, noticed someone from abroad with a folding map who looked lost, and would like to know whether or not she could say "Can I help you?". She had overheard the ...
16
votes
7answers
4k views

Contrary of “As its/their name indicates”

In English we sometimes use the expression "As its/their name indicates" to express the fact that the name of a concept/object/etc. bears part of its meaning, e.g.: As their name indicates, ...
15
votes
9answers
6k views

An appropriate term for an overly by-the-rules person

In Swedish, we've got a term that loosely translates as paragraph jockey. It refers to a person, often a clerk or a referee, who is following all the rules, prescriptions and agreements ad absurdum. ...
15
votes
6answers
237k views

What's a professional synonym for “would love to”?

I frequently use the expression "I would love to" when I write e-mails to request things from the other party. As in "I would love to have a call to discuss..." I feel like it conveys humility, ...
15
votes
4answers
178k views

“Hope this help” or “Hope this helps”?

Good evening all, I often see people write "hope this helps" at the end of a communication, especially when they are trying to answer other people's queries about computer problems. Recently, my ...
14
votes
4answers
7k views

When can you respond with “affirmative”?

When is it appropriate to respond with "affirmative"? Could some examples be provided? This dialog has been taken from Knight Rider TV series season 2 episode 15: Michael: KITT, analyze these tire ...
13
votes
1answer
3k views

What's the meaning “be from money”?

I've searched online dictionaries but I couldn't find the meaning of be from money. The example is: To anyone who doesn’t know who Matthew is, they just come across as a well-heeled, ...
13
votes
3answers
33k views

How to decline a help offer politely

I was just wondering how can I decline a help offer politely from someone whom especially I don't know very well. For example, I am moving in a new house and a neighbor sees me carrying boxes and ...
13
votes
2answers
4k views

Some of you will have met me before vs Some of you met me before

I really do not get how "will" and past infinitive is used here. This comes from an example in a textbook, explaining usage of will in assumptions: Some of you will have met me before. I wonder, ...
13
votes
3answers
15k views

How is “any more than” used to compare two different situations?

In the following quote by Billy Sunday Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than going to a garage makes you an automobile. Can anyone please explain/elaborate the usage and ...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “beat free” (or “can't beat free”) mean?

The Impossible Book – Hey, let’s go for a walk or something! – Oh, I’m kind of busy here… – Busy bee as always. What are you doing? Reading again? Let me see the title. – It’s a ...
12
votes
3answers
11k views

“As a child” vs. “When I was a child”

As a child, I was allowed to watch as much television on Saturday and Sunday mornings as I pleased. When I was a child, I was allowed to watch as much television on Saturday and Sunday mornings as I ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

Why can't I use “Neither” and “Nor” in this sentence…?

A month ago, I gave a comic introduction about me in my English class. During my flow of words, I told, "...I have neither a brother nor a sister". Everyone laughed at me all of a sudden. The ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

What are “industrial chops”?

I've seen the expression industrial chops in a few texts, but looking at them all, and seeing the definition of chop in a dictionary did not provide me a clear meaning. In this way, 3D printing is ...
11
votes
4answers
7k views

What's the meaning of “farmer by trade”?

In the National Geographic Society's Answer Book: Fast Facts about Our World (2010), edited by Kathryn Thornton, I found this line, but didn't understand the meaning of farmer by trade: "Wilson A. "...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

What is the equivalent expression for this Italian phrase?

In Italian, when somebody speaks using words that are too erudite, too formal, or too complicated for the context, we say "parla come mangi" (literally, "speak as you eat"). What phrase should I ...
11
votes
2answers
8k views

What does “gas and alcohol don't mix” mean?

I have heard the expression "gas and alcohol don't mix" from the Egyptian president Muhamed Morsy. What does it mean?
11
votes
1answer
3k views

What does “stop whacking off” mean?

Today my boss came by my desk and told to me "stop whacking off, when will phase 2 of the project be completed?" What does "stop whacking off" mean? I did not know how to respond. What is an ...
10
votes
5answers
1k views

An expression for comparing things accurately in English

I am looking for an idiomatic expression to describe the comparison of things which is so true and vivid. For example: A: "Mainland China and Taiwan are like brothers fighting each other for who ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

What does the expression “right on the tip of my tongue” mean?

After googling, I'm not really sure what exactly it means. I have two conclusions: It means that I don't remember an easy word or a name right now although I already know it and I was able to ...
10
votes
3answers
4k views

A person lacking money who shows off a lot

There is a proverb in our language which is used when someone tries to show off and pretend to be very rich and also try to spend much money, and somehow prepare well-brand clothes to keep up with the ...
10
votes
5answers
169k views

Have a nice travel?

I am looking for some kind way of replying to an email when the other person is saying that he will be traveling and asks for more time to complete something. It appears that "Have a nice day" could ...
10
votes
5answers
4k views

Is “thirty past seven” acceptable?

If it is seven thirty, we can also say "half past seven". I am wondering whether "thirty past seven" is acceptable.
10
votes
3answers
7k views

“Take advantage of” and “make the most of”: What is the difference?

For example, if I'm looking forward to spending a month in Spain, I could say: I will take advantage of the opportunity to learn Spanish. I will make the most of the opportunity to learn ...
9
votes
8answers
5k views

A situation where your friend or your neighbor offend you, that you wish to have no more interaction with them

I need an expression or a phrase—even if it is an idiom (to make it stylish)—commonly used by English native speakers to express a situation where your friend or your neighbor offend you so much that ...
9
votes
4answers
13k views

When do you use this expression 'I am not a fan of '

I understand the meaning when it is said like 'I am not a fan of Indian food or horror movies' Here, you are a fan of things like movies, food etc. but I do not understand why it is correct to ...
9
votes
2answers
5k views

“What's up with him?” vs. “What's with him?”

I'd like to know if there is any difference between these two phrases when they are used for expressing the feeling that you think something is wrong with somebody. He's acting very weird. What's ...
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Does the saying “speaking English like a Spanish cow” exist in English?

In French we have an expression which is: Parler (une langue, l'anglais par exemple) comme une vache espagnole which literally translates to: Speaking (a language, like English) like a Spanish ...
8
votes
8answers
7k views

Is there any expressions related to eyes which means extremely tired in English?

In Chinese, we use an expression which literally "I'm so tired and my eyes could only focus on one point (or my eyeballs can not move anymore)" after a long workday to express that we are extremely ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

I can't take you anywhere!

I don't understand this sentence. "You haven't spilled your coffee again! I can't take you anywhere!" I guess that not spilling the coffee is a good thing, but the expression " I can't take you ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

When I decided to stop saying something

I cant easily come up with a verbal expression I can use when I decided to stop talking about something because it's a sensitive topic, for example. One expression I can think of is 'I'll stop talking ...
8
votes
5answers
4k views

What do you call it when someone searches through your stuff?

This is one of the things that I don't really know the proper name for, because I've never heard anyone say it, but I know how to explain it. Let's say a toddler is searching through your backpack, ...
8
votes
4answers
5k views

Explanation of “does there exist”?

I wrote in a forum: Does exists any other approaches? Someone suggests me to write: Does there exist any other approaches? I made some researches on the web and I found that the latter ...
8
votes
3answers
57k views

“Here you are & Here you go”

When somebody asks you for something and you give it to them, which expression is correct or more common? eg., My little sister plays with toys and she wants to give one of her toys to me. So what ...
8
votes
6answers
10k views

An adjective to describe a pregnant woman's swollen belly?

I can't find any good English adjective for the stomach of a pregnant woman. For example, how does one say this naturally: "Her belly looks bigger than a month ago. I guess she is expecting soon."
8
votes
2answers
482 views

What does an expression “there + a verb” mean?

I'm curious whether it is correct to replace such sentence as "There is an interesting file in the root directory" with "An interesting file is in the root directory". I think the phrases are ...
7
votes
7answers
3k views

Does a native speaker say “recharge oneself”?

If I feel I'm lacking some kind of skills and I'm desperate to learn something, can I say "I need to recharge myself"?
7
votes
2answers
54k views

I hope you'll recover

How to wish a sick person to recover from the illness? I'm interested in the expression for informal usage.