English Language & Usage Weekly Newsletter
English Language & Usage Weekly Newsletter

Top new questions this week:

Is there any curse/ swear equivalent for this Persian curse? " May your head be covered by soil!"

There is a curse/ swear in Persian that literally means " May your head be covered by soil" and implies that " you'd better die and be buried /be underground!"( you are not important). We use it in ...

*phrase-requests *pejorative-language *idiom-requests *offensive-language *expression-requests  
asked by Soudabeh 24 votes
answered by Sven Yargs 24 votes

A word for a military unit still functioning?

I'm looking for a word which is the antonym for a military unit being destroyed or degraded. I considered live, but that has the connotation of a single being. I considered active, but my phrasing ...

asked by Daniel R. Collins 22 votes
answered by Rathony 70 votes

Is there a word or phrase for something that one might wish exists, but most certainly doesn't?

An example might be a car that is fast, luxurious, reliable, gets great gas mileage, and is very cheap. Clearly we'd all love to own such a car, but it doesn't exist, and probably never will. There's ...

*idioms *metaphors  
asked by Bungle 16 votes
answered by FumbleFingers 72 votes

English equivalent for "Worm that lives in poison."

In my language, there's a saying which literally translates to Worm that lives in poison. It is used while judging people who keep bad company as being bad themselves. It is used to address ...

*phrase-requests *idiom-requests  
asked by NVZ 16 votes
answered by BiscuitBoy 28 votes

What are words that describe "the people" in the same way that "the machine" describes the ruling class?

The powerful ruling class has been described as "the machine", "the man", "patricians", "the establishment", and "big brother". I am looking for similar words to describe the 99%, aka the plebeians ...

*phrase-requests *antonyms  
asked by Cyrus 15 votes
answered by stevesliva 51 votes

An adjective for the condition of a used brush

What adjective best describes the weariness and disarrangement that starts to show in your toothbrush when you've used it for some time? Nothing severe; just a little out of shape: It doesn't have ...

*single-word-requests *adjectives  
asked by Fard 11 votes
answered by sumelic 24 votes

Date as a synonym for anus

In the Song "Ten Foot Cock And A Few Hundred Virgins" Tim Minchin uses the phrase "it's a sin to take it up the date, even if it's great, even with your cowboy mate". I'm not a native English speaker ...

*meaning *vocabulary *slang *ambiguity *australian-english  
asked by dzebdf 11 votes
answered by John Clifford 0 votes

Greatest hits from previous weeks:

what is the correct abbreviation for millions, billions and trillions in a financial context?

I've found answers on the web but also got conflicting answers from financial professionals (coworkers). In metric, you'd use M (mega) for million, G (giga) for billion and T (tera) for trillion. ...

*abbreviations *finance  
asked by jcollum 15 votes
answered by medica 9 votes

"Consist in" vs. "consist of"

I would like to clarify this once and for all: What is the correct use of "consist in" vs. "consist of"? "Meditation consists in/of attentive watchfulness." "The body consists in/of cells." ...

*prepositions *word-usage *vocabulary *prepositional-phrase  
asked by Shivadas 26 votes
answered by Daniel 20 votes

Can you answer these?

Alternative for "Family" when talking about a fostered child

I am currently rewriting a formal agreement regarding a fostered child. The Foster Carers have specifically asked to be referred to as Foster Carers as opposed to Parents in all correspondence to ...

asked by Adi Bradfield 3 votes

Should one hyphenate 'shoulder width' in this context?

I believe that in this context: Place your feet shoulder-width apart. it makes sense to hyphenate to avoid confusion. I see that apart is listed as an adverb in the dictionary and width as a ...

*grammar *hyphen *parts-of-speech  
asked by WilliamKF 1 vote

Why do personal pronouns always come last after a list of nouns?

Why do we always put "I" or "me" at the end of a list of nouns in a sentence. For example we would say "John, Sam, and I are going to the mall" instead of "I, John, and Sam are going to the mall" Is ...

*grammar *word-order *grammatical-structure *convention  
asked by Michael D'Augustine 3 votes
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