Archive for category English Language and Usage

Some interesting turns of phrase


This post continues my habit of blogging interesting turns of phrase. I’ll provide attribution if I can, but many are “lost in the mists of time” (I should add this one into this post).

“As much use as a dead marine”

Google failed to fish an attribution for this on. I’ve an inkling that it comes from a US General during the invasion of Japan at the end of  WW2. But, I could be completely wrong in this.

Something which is useless. I usually use this phrase when describing inanimate object which are broken, and cannot perform the function which they exist for.

“Rule 303”

This one comes from Breaker Morant,, specifically his
Court martial of Breaker Morant. To paraphrase the Wikipedia entry, he took the prisoners out and shot them.  The 303 “referring to the .303 calibre Lee-Enfield rifles the Carbineers carried.” Wikipedia – Court martial of Breaker Morant.

Used to describe something thing which needs to be “terminated”. I usually this phrase to describe computer systems which should be replaced, and the current, “taken out behind the shed” (and shot). 

“A bus drivers holiday”

This one’s source “lost in the mists of time”. Google could not find an attribution for this one. There is an implied, end to the phrase which is “drove around the country” or “went on a coach tour”.

Doing what you do for your work on your holidays. I use it to describe me building software for fun on my days off.

“Lost in the mists of time”

Not sure on this one either. Google turned up on quote from Margaret Thatcher (but I doubt she coined the phrase).

Something that happened so long ago, that people have forgotten it happened. Tags: ,,

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What do you call it?

This is an interesting question which I’m at a loss to what the correct answer is.

The circumstance

This occurred between myself and Russel (my guitar teacher).

We independently came to the idea the “Stair Way to Heaven”, and the introduction to the song in particular, would be the next thing which I attempted. I’m sure we have not discussed learning this piece previously.

The Question

What does on call this type of coincidence?

Options I Have Tried for Size

    • Synchronicity . This does not quite fit as it is more about connecting event, than coming to a choice at the same time from divergent perspectives.
    • Serendipity . This is more the “lucky accident” in meaning. Or, “find something, when looking for something else”.
    • Coincidence . This more of the flavour of the same time, but does not encompass the “same thought or conclusion” aspect of the situation.


Please leave a comment with your suggestion if you have a more accurate term for this type of happening.

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Interesting Phrases Encountered today

"to derail a train of thought".

Another one of those which falls into the category of "probably coined by multiple people". Google has a number of links to the the phrase. I cannot claim to be the originator of this one. Again, another colour piece of English usage.

“can’t stop the merry-go-round to paint the horses”

Another one of those picturesque phrases. This is probably unique, Google does not find it as a phrase. Again, I cannot claim to have coined this one.

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