PDA

View Full Version : Crazy English phrases



Mycernius
09-03-05, 17:01
I'd thought I'd inject a bit of humour and fun into the lingustic forum. Namely English words and phrases that seem strange. To kick off I shall start with one my brother pointed out over the weekend. The phrase near-miss normally implys that you nearly hit something. Surely near miss means you nearly missed it ie: you hit it. Wouldn't it be better if it was near-hit?
:-)

d3jake
09-03-05, 18:00
Who says that the English language is supposed to make since?

lexico
09-03-05, 18:33
Since you make reference to make since, I'd like to do one with make do with.
What is to make do with? To make do with something is to use an inferior substitute when the real good stuff isn't available.
For example, one Japanese presentation class was supposed to make do with catsup instead of tomato paste for making pasta sauce.
Since do carries the sense of positive action, shouldn't it be make half-do or make under-do ?

Gasoline tankers and cargo trucks carrying combustibles often bear the sign, "flammable" when it should be "inflameable." Strange folk etymology has created strange words indeed.

Damicci
09-03-05, 21:29
Gasoline tankers and cargo trucks carrying combustibles often bear the sign, "flammable" when it should be "inflammable." Strange folk etymology has created strange words indeed.

According to dictionary they mean the same thing. But inflameable is an older term. flammable is just commonly used now. Both meaning substance the can burned or set on fire.

Usage Note: Historically, flammable and inflammable mean the same thing. However, the presence of the prefix in- has misled many people into assuming that inflammable means “not flammable” or “noncombustible.” The prefix -in in inflammable is not, however, the Latin negative prefix -in, which is related to the English -un and appears in such words as indecent and inglorious. Rather, this -in is an intensive prefix derived from the Latin preposition in. This prefix also appears in the word enflame. But many people are not aware of this derivation, and for clarity's sake it is advisable to use only flammable to give warnings.

But onthe contrary inflammable can also be used ased a synonym for excited.
"He is easily inflammable/excited."

Index
10-03-05, 02:32
I'd thought I'd inject a bit of humour and fun into the lingustic forum. Namely English words and phrases that seem strange. To kick off I shall start with one my brother pointed out over the weekend. The phrase near-miss normally implys that you nearly hit something. Surely near miss means you nearly missed it ie: you hit it. Wouldn't it be better if it was near-hit?
:-)

I was under the impression that 'miss' in this case implied a failure, and so a near-miss is a success, or more accurately, a lack of failure. In other words, you almost failed or made a mistake, but luckily just succeeded.

lexico
10-03-05, 03:50
According to dictionary they mean the same thing. But inflameable is an older term. flammable is just commonly used now. Both meaning substance the can burned or set on fire.

But onthe contrary inflammable can also be used ased a synonym for excited.
"He is easily inflammable/excited."Thanks for the research, Damici! Now I now you're also into words! ;-)
But many people are not aware of this derivation, and for clarity's sake it is advisable to use only flammable to give warnings.Heehee..That's a interesting interpretation, but it makes sense for safety's sake. You don't want any misunderstanding there for sure. I'm just curious if this is another case of chicken and egg, or whether there was an actual misunderstanding that can be traced back. Was it someone's mistaken hypercorrection of inflammable-->flammable or did someone knowingly make the spelling adjustment for public safety ?
Rather, this -in is an intensive prefix derived from the Latin preposition in. This prefix also appears in the word enflame.In addition to giving emphasis to verbs, this en- in- im- prefixes also have the interesting property of turning adjectives or nouns into verbs, I noticed, with the meaning of "make+(object)+adjective," "make+(object)+like+a+noun," often used together with the Latin verb ending -ate.

1) verb->verb: endure, incinerate, incise, implore, intend,
2) adjective->verb: inflict, intense, impale, enrich, impoverish
3) noun->verb: indicate, induct, induce, inflame, impersonate, insinuate, inundate, endanger, engender, engulf, endorse, ensure, entangle, entrench, embark

The -en -on suffix has similar usage, but that probably comes from the Germanic adjective maker also present in the past participle endings of strong verbs.

1) verb->verb/adjective: reckon / smitten, striken, taken, trodden, rotten, ridden
2) adjective->verb/adjective: darken, deepen, madden, redden, sadden, whiten /sunken, drunken
3) noun->verb/adjective: beckon, lengthen, shorten, strengthen, lighten, enlighten (prefix & suffix) / ashen, earthen, golden, porcelain, silken, wooden, linen

Sensuikan San
10-03-05, 05:19
Thanks for the research, Damici! Now I now you're also into words! ;-)Heehee..That's a interesting interpretation, but it makes sense for safety's sake. You don't want any misunderstanding there for sure. I'm just curious if this is another case of chicken and egg, or whether there was an actual misunderstanding that can be traced back. Was it someone's mistaken hypercorrection of inflammable-->flammable or did someone knowingly make the spelling adjustment for public safety ?


I believe it was the latter - and I haven't checked this out, but I believe Benjamin Franklin may have been the culprit, when he was busy "simplifying" English and English spelling for the benefit of our American cousins.

If so, however, I am a little surprised (surprized ...?) with old Ben! Not only was he a colorful (colourful.... ?) old guy, but he was quite versed in English, Latin, and I believe Greek and French. But he does seem to have simplified his thinking by assuming that the "in" prefix posessed an unnecessary and 'incorrect' or illogical negative connotation that destroyed the true meaning of the word. In this regard, he was probably being a little inept ( ... but I've never met anyone who can be described as "ept" ... so...)

What the heck .... he was probably right ..... !

Suffice to say that "flammable" is always used in North America, whilst the normal term in the UK is "inflammable".

....Just a thought... !

Regards,

ジョン

lexico
10-03-05, 05:31
Thanks for the historical detail and the British-American distinction, Sensuikan San ! These bring much depth to the simple strangeness of 'flammables'. :)

Sensuikan San
10-03-05, 06:04
Hello Lexico !

どう致しまして !

Regards,

ジョン

Leroy_Brown
10-03-05, 07:47
Send it by ship, it's "cargo"

Send it by car (truck), it's "shipment"

A "wimp and a half" . . . is a whole person because a wimp is 2/3 of a person so add 1/3 to it and you get a whole.

:D :D :D :D :D

Sensuikan San
10-03-05, 08:23
That last one will have a few folks reaching for their calculators.....! :clap:

ジョン

Damicci
10-03-05, 09:41
In this regard, he was probably being a little inept ( ... but I've never met anyone who can be described as "ept" ... so...)
ジョン

Funny you mention that. I was just thinking about the root of the word inflammable considering it's suffix as stated usually denotes negative of the root word. You would think "inept" would be defined as uncapable of or lacking ept but if you look up Inept you'll find that it is the opposite of "Apt" while ept doesn't seem to be a word.


My favorite is still. Hamburger - IT'S MADE FROM BEEF! WHERE THE [email protected]#K IS THE HAM? :souka:

lexico
10-03-05, 10:52
My favorite is still. Hamburger - IT'S MADE FROM BEEF! WHERE THE [email protected]#K IS THE HAM? :souka:That's a good one. So one day this guy get's a strange burger made of cold ham, and asks, "Where's the beef?"
And I thought hamstring was funny too. How about the abusive use of Bologna sausage, and the Viennese Wiener ? I always though they were funny without knowing exactly why. And the word "to punish" supposedly coming from the Carthagean Punics seems rather far fetched, don't you think ? :)

cacawate
10-03-05, 11:21
Dr. Nick: Inflammable means flammable? What a country!

Index
10-03-05, 13:19
My favorite is still. Hamburger - IT'S MADE FROM BEEF! WHERE THE [email protected]#K IS THE HAM? :souka:

Obviously not in Germany.

Mycernius
10-03-05, 17:50
Some more:
Found missing, alone together, original copies, genuine imitation :-)

Leroy_Brown
10-03-05, 22:15
Jumbo shrimp, freezer burn :D

Leroy_Brown
10-03-05, 22:18
That last one will have a few folks reaching for their calculators.....! :clap:

ジョン

LOL! But what are they gonna do if they realize calculators can't do fractions? :D


nonpareil. I've never seen pareils

Index
11-03-05, 01:43
Complimentary gift.

Leroy_Brown
11-03-05, 04:06
An accurate estimate

Maciamo
11-03-05, 06:10
According to dictionary they mean the same thing. But inflameable is an older term. flammable is just commonly used now. Both meaning substance the can burned or set on fire.


That must be in the States because I would never use "flammable" :bikkuri:

mad pierrot
11-03-05, 06:48
I always though it was hamburger because it came from Hamburg, Germany. Not sure it it's true or not, but I whipped this off google in a few seconds:


According to Theodora Fitzgibbon in her book The Food of the Western World - An Encyclopedia of food from North American and Europe:
The originated on the German Hamburg-Amerika line boats, which brought emigrants to America in the 1850s. There was at that time a hamous Hamburg beef which was salted and sometimes slightly smoked, and therefore ideal for keeping on a long sea voyage. As it was hard, it was minced and sometimes stretched with soaked breadcrumbs and chopped onion. It was popular with the Jewish emigrants, who continuted to make Hamburg steaks, as the patties were then called, with fresh meat when they settled in the U.S.
The Origin of Hamburgers and Ketchup, by Prof. Giovanni Ballarini:
The origin of the hamburger is not very clear, but the prevailing version is that at the end of 1800' s, European emigrants reached America on the ships of the Hamburg Lines and were served meat patties quickly cooked on the grill and placed between two pieces of bread.


Anyways....

My favorites:

ATM machine.... uh, doesn't that mean Automatic Teller Machine Machine then?

PIN number.... so, it's Personal Identification Number Number?

:blush:

Mycernius
11-03-05, 18:01
If the plural of goose is geese, why isn't the plural of mongoose, mongeese?
:?
Why is Bombay Duck called Bombay Duck, whenit is a fish dish? :? :?

Damicci
11-03-05, 19:30
Nice discussion of hamburger lol

"At the drop of a hat"

"Good grief" Isn't grief a bad thing?

Index
12-03-05, 03:50
If the plural of goose is geese, why isn't the plural of mongoose, mongeese?
:?
Why is Bombay Duck called Bombay Duck, whenit is a fish dish? :? :?

Because the word for fish in some Indian dialects is daka, so people mistakenly think the dish is duck, ie. Daka Bombay.

Sensuikan San
12-03-05, 05:42
LOL! But what are they gonna do if they realize calculators can't do fractions? :D


nonpareil. I've never seen pareils

... I'm not surprised - it's adjectival ! .... means "similiar" :cool:

.... and .... I may be wrong, but I believe that at least one company (Texas Instruments ?) does indeed make a calculator that does fractions ! (Although, if I recall ... it takes a little getting used to, to enable and interpret the display ....) .....it may not be still in production,though.

This is fast becoming a most interesting thread, isn't it ! It may well have started out as a humorous gesture, but in fact it's becoming quite a (serious but fun) discourse on the main difficulties of English as a second language. The incredible number of "irregularities", the homonyms, illogical pronunciation et al .... !

Someone like Lexico is much more qualified than I am to attempt to explain this - but I'll try to give it a shot in the fewest words possible ....

Basically, English isn't a pure language at all - but a (linguistically) modern hybrid of Low German, French, Old Norse, Latin and Greek .... with a sprinkling of Goidelich and Gaelic Celtic thrown in for good measure.

It's the ultimate "pidgin" language !

Thus, the use of certain suffixes and prefixes can differ - depending upon which root language the term comes from. Whole sentences may contain a totally different vocabulary and have identical meaning - depending on wether or not they tend to being "Upper Class" (Norman French roots) or "Lower Class" (Low German roots).

Add to this the even more modern complexity of 'colonial' usage (American, Canadian, Australian/New Zealand, Caribbean, Indian ... ) usage ... and, yes ... you will have a few problems with learning English !

...but the stress is few - we're very tolerant !

We're still sorting it out, ourselves !

Regards,

ジョン

Leroy_Brown
12-03-05, 05:50
What's the past tense of "forgo"? (to give up; to do without)

Forgoed? Forwent? Forgone?

(I know the answer)

lexico
12-03-05, 06:10
What is the past tense of must ? (*motan *must *must: English majors?)
What is the past tense of beware ?
What is the past tense of "would/should/could/might" in the present/future sense ?

When the agent wills it, he will do it;
but when the agent doesn't will it, he shall do it.

Index
12-03-05, 07:11
What's the past tense of "forgo"? (to give up; to do without)

Forgoed? Forwent? Forgone?

(I know the answer)

Forwent, according to one dictionary, but forgone is also used as an adjective.

Leroy_Brown
12-03-05, 07:15
In
the English language, there are three words that end in "gry".
What is the third?

Index
12-03-05, 08:06
In
the English language, there are three words that end in "gry".
What is the third?

angry, hungry and....

Sensuikan San
12-03-05, 08:12
What is the past tense of must ? (*motan *must *must: English majors?)
What is the past tense of beware ?

OK Lexico .... I'll have a go .... !

"Must" isn't a verb - it doesn''t have any tenses !

Similiarly "Beware" isn't a true verb, either; it's a corruption or compound of "be aware of". Consequently, when used in the past tense you must use phrases like: "...had to beware of ...." , "...should have been aware of..." , "...ought to have been aware of ..." etc. etc.

(Is there a "smiley" for "I hope I'm right"?....)

Regards,

ジョン

mad pierrot
12-03-05, 15:21
Damn, what's the third?

Maciamo
12-03-05, 15:25
"Must" isn't a verb - it doesn''t have any tenses !


Of course it's a verb ! It's called a modal verb, like "can", "may", "will", "should", etc. The past of "must" is "had to".


What is the past tense of "would/should/could/might" in the present/future sense ?

would do => would have done
should do => should have done
etc.

Maciamo
12-03-05, 15:36
Damn, what's the third?

I propose "Lupin" ? :?


In
the English language, there are three words that end in "gry".
What is the third?

Ah ok !

aggry => a kind of variegated glass beads of ancient manufacture

lexico
12-03-05, 17:06
If cooked and soaked come from cook and soak, where do wicked and crooked come from ? Wick and crook ?

Index
12-03-05, 17:09
In
the English language, there are three words that end in "gry".
What is the third?

Here's an explanation of the third word puzzle. (http://www.word-detective.com/gry.html)

Do you get it?

Maciamo
12-03-05, 17:49
If cooked and soaked come from cook and soak, where does wicked and crooked come from ? Wick and crook ?

My Oxford Dic. says :

wicked => comes from OE wicca (witch)

As for crooked (adj), it obviously comes from crook (noun)

Sensuikan San
12-03-05, 19:22
Of course it's a verb ! It's called a modal verb, like "can", "may", "will", "should", etc. The past of "must" is "had to".

Oh deary me ! Egg on my face !

You're quite right - I just don't think of auxiliaries as being verbs, somehow .... Damn! English is hard...! :bluush: :blush:

Regards,

ジョン

Sensuikan San
12-03-05, 19:30
Here's an explanation of the third word puzzle. (http://www.word-detective.com/gry.html)

Do you get it?


That kept me awake all last night !

Personally - I think Leroy Brown should be thrashed and thrown out of his cottage for coming up with that one ! :biggrin:

I'm having a bad day, aren't I !

ジョン

Leroy_Brown
14-03-05, 21:26
In
the English language, there are three words that end in "gry".
What is the third?


I'm so sorry!!!!!! I ruined it. I didn't phrase it properly. It should've just said

In "The English language, there are three words that end in 'gry,'" what is the third word?

The third word in the quoted text is "language."

So sorry! :sorry:

lexico
14-03-05, 22:17
Hmm...Is there a reason you must insist on the answer being "language?" Couldn't the anwer be "English" instead ? :?

Or is the question supposed to be influenced by Japanese by having "The English language" become the sencence header as the topic ? :?

Or couldn't you phrase the question as;
Q: "The English language has three words that end in 'gry;' the first two are 'angry' and 'hungry.' What is the third word with 'gry?'"
A: "hungry."
Does that make any sense ? :blush:

Damicci
14-03-05, 22:25
oh man you guys, I have been studying the three words riddle since high school 6 years and from my understanding the origin of the riddle had nothing to do with and actual word in the dictionary
the third in the dictionary is gry it is an actual word or form of measurement but the answer to the riddle is Language because it is a trick question.


"Angry" and "hungry" are two words that end in "gry".
There are three words in the English language. What is the
third word? Everyone knows what it means and everyone uses it
every day. Look closely and I have already given you the
third word. What is it?

Answer: "language".
"The 1 English 2 Language 3"
This puzzle has circulated widely on the Internet for some
years, but usually in an abbreviated form such as "Name three
common English words ending in 'gry'", which has no good third
answer.

lexico
14-03-05, 23:01
"Angry" and "hungry" are two words that end in "gry".
There are three words in the English language. What is the
third word? Everyone knows what it means and everyone uses it
every day. Look closely and I have already given you the
third word. What is it?

Answer: "language".
"The 1 English 2 Language 3"

This puzzle has circulated widely on the Internet for some
years, but usually in an abbreviated form such as

"Name three
common English words ending in 'gry'",

which has no good third
answer.Hey, Damicci, you solved the puzzle. Without the ungarbled question, there would be no way tha riddle would work ! :wave:

Damicci
15-03-05, 00:23
Yeah thats the reason why I was like "Blahomgwtftehsuxors911!" when I saw it posted here.

Damicci
16-03-05, 11:16
Threadkill or you guys run out of "Phunky Phrases" for 300 Alex.

kekekekeke I kid I kid

Burning bridges or We'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Leroy_Brown
18-03-05, 01:53
I never liked the term "working class" to refer to people of the middle class who have blue-collar jobs.

So, if you're a doctor, you don't work?

If you're a stock broker, you don't work?

lexico
18-03-05, 02:19
Good example. How about a "working esimate." Do people do figures to get an estimate that doesn't work ?
How about "a rough estimate?" Does this imply there's something called an exact estimate ? I could go on, but it's getting repetitive.

Glenn
19-03-05, 22:28
I hate Internet Explorer. :auch: :kaioken: :banghead: :mad:

Anyway, to answer the question (for the second time), a "working estimate" is an estimate that you use as a basis for further calculations. A "rough estimate" is one that is made without much context or information, i.e. an "uneducated guess." :D

Glenn
19-03-05, 22:33
The misuse of "literally" bothers me. For instance, "the father literally sat there with his heart in his hands." Oh really? Isn't that impossible?

lexico
20-03-05, 00:26
Yes, Glenn, thanks for your definitions. Your example sounds like a case of inversion; a slip of tongue where "literally" stands in opposition to "metaphorically." Or it could it hypoerbole, but definitely has a bad taste.

BlackGirls_are_nice2
20-03-05, 00:38
What the f#$%.
It took me forever to figure that riddle out.
Anyway.....I have something that may be a little harder for some.

Do you all know the secret of this symble % ?

It has a secret.....look harder! lol.

lexico
20-03-05, 00:40
Wait, I got it ! The class of 96 ? Naughty naguthy ! :evil: :evil:

Glenn
20-03-05, 05:43
It's a 100 with the 1 turned diagonally and positioned in between the 0s. Funny, I was just thinking about this the other day.

BlackGirls_are_nice2
21-03-05, 22:29
The answer is 96.
Look closely at this percent sign. %
Do you see it?



Well this was an easy one!

Glenn
22-03-05, 10:31
So, it wasn't what I was thinking. But, 96 doesn't seem to make any sense if you're talking about percentages, which are x out of 100. Maybe it's just me though.

Kuro_Tsubasa69
22-03-05, 14:10
These ones never did seem quite right to me :souka: :

How about this, then?

I told him off.

I'll tell you what.

lexico
22-03-05, 15:02
So, it wasn't what I was thinking. But, 96 doesn't seem to make any sense if you're talking about percentages, which are x out of 100. Maybe it's just me though.It's an ice breaker, Glenn. Nothing wrong with what you say. Prolly the Indians-Arabs-Italians started using the 1/100ths in their bookkeeping which lead to the space-saving short hand like you said. But I could also argue for the duodecimal system of the Babylonians. With base 12, our 96(10) would be 80(12), and that could mean the Babylonians thought 80% was a decent cut off for a passing grade of above average; a positive outlook. ... j/k about the Babylonians, me jus' babbling. :D
@ Kuro Tsubasa69
How about this then ?
Now what ! <-- this my favourite phrase of complaint.
Look what you've done ! <-- Also very good at making the other feel guilty.
See this ? <-- "
What now ! <-- "
How's that ! <-- After a good blow, haha !
Take this ! <-- "
*Me back be gotten off of ! <-- passive of "Get off my back !"

Mal
23-03-05, 04:11
I always seem to confuse learning english speakers with:

Whats up? <-- What are you doing?
How's things? <-- How is everything?
Bring it on! <-- (challenging) Lets do it!
Get real! <-- This is difficult to explain, it can be disbelief at the last comment spoken, or it could be like telling someone you think they have no chance of doing what they claim, or it could be used to tell someone you think they are being ignorant of something as well >< It really depends on inflection and context

Glenn
23-03-05, 07:52
It's an ice breaker, Glenn. Nothing wrong with what you say. Prolly the Indians-Arabs-Italians started using the 1/100ths in their bookkeeping which lead to the space-saving short hand like you said. But I could also argue for the duodecimal system of the Babylonians. With base 12, our 96(10) would be 80(12), and that could mean the Babylonians thought 80% was a decent cut off for a passing grade of above average; a positive outlook. ... j/k about the Babylonians, me jus' babbling. :D

Thanks, but I was sure that I had cracked the secret of the percentage sign. :( Anyway, even if we did use dozenal (or duodecimal, but I'm pretty sure you read that link too :p) shouldn't we go by pergrossage? That would be the same symbols as percentage in decimal, and that would mean that % showing the one splitting the two zeros would still work. Well, maybe I'm the one who's just rambling now.

By the way, I was thinking of some new symbols to use as representations of the decimal 10 and 11 in dozenal, since "T" and "E" just don't feel right to me. For one of them I figure we could use a backwards し (or an upside-down and backwards 7), and the other I hadn't come up with anything for yet. Care to help me out? :bow:

Mycernius
23-03-05, 23:36
Heard a great one on the Radio today
'Beware of an overturned lorry coming out of Manchester'
I didn't know lorries could still move when on their side :D

Sensuikan San
24-03-05, 05:48
I heard a good one too .... here in Vancouver a couple of weeks ago ....

Radio Reporter (On a report about the Summer-like weather we've had) :

"I'm on English Beach, watching a young boy feeding the seagulls...with his father (!)".

Young Vancouver lads do the most gruesome things .....! :eek:

Regards,

ジョン

Mycernius
24-03-05, 23:45
I have just watched some American show with someone called Randy. Do Americans know that in the UK randy is a term for someone who is highly sexually motivated, as in 'He's always got a new girlfriend, the randy sod'
:?

Leroy_Brown
30-03-05, 02:26
"Laundry List"


Who the hell writes out a list to do the laundry?!?!?

"Duh, I have to do my shirts, socks, undies, towels . . . ."