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I think most questions asking for an English equivalent of proverbs or sayings in other languages use 3 tags together - idiom-requests, phrase-requests and expression-requests.

An expression is defined by ODO as

A word or phrase, especially an idiomatic one, used to convey an idea.

"We have an expression, ‘You don’t get owt for nowt."

An idiom is defined by M-W as

An expression that cannot be understood from the meanings of its separate words but that has a separate meaning of its own.

What exactly is the expression-requests tag for?

There seems to be no description or tag wiki for it.

  • Hmm. Good question. Maybe we should merge some tags? I can easily see subsuming [expression-requests] under [phrase-requests]. And I'm personally not super clear on the distinction between a (set) phrase and an idiom. Does an idiom have to be metaphorical, or something? – Dan Bron Mar 21 '16 at 16:27
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    @DanBron Idioms to me are defined by the whole not being the sum of its parts. 'the whole 9 yards' is an idiom, 'don't throw stones (when you live in a glass house)' is a proverb or saying, 'See ya later alligator!' is an expression. – ColleenV Mar 21 '16 at 17:48
  • I've wondered about having multiple X-requests. The single-word-request tag has extensive documentation while many (all?) of the rest are only sparsely documented. Perhaps we should alias them all to single-word-request and rename SWR to something more generic. If I understand the tag system correctly, this allows people to type any of those aliases into the tag field, and the system would automatically change it to SWR (or whatever it's renamed to). We only need to maintain one set of documentation for the family of X-requests then. – Lawrence Mar 22 '16 at 10:34
  • @Lawrence: It's been tried before, unsuccessfully: Can we merge single-word-requests and phrase-requests? It's difficult to get even uncontroversially duplicate tags merged, let alone controversial ones. – herisson Mar 22 '16 at 22:47
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    @Lawrence I wouldn't merge SWR to anything. It should stay as is. – NVZ Mar 23 '16 at 4:37
  • @sumelic After reading that, it looks like it's popular (+13 -3), but there are 2 good reasons not to: (1) meaning tends to get diluted; and (2) there isn't (yet) a compelling suggestion for the combined term. – Lawrence Mar 23 '16 at 4:54
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    I would merge expression-requests into phrase-requests since the latter addresses colloquial phrases. Thus, they are indistinguishable from each other, so we should go with the more popular one. It's a clear distinction from idiom-requests. – Helmar Sep 4 '16 at 11:49
  • But wait, there's more: proverbs and proverb-requests, and aphorism and aphorism-requests, not to mention saying with no fewer than 216 questions tagged. At least we have no old-saws with which to lacerate essays. – choster Sep 8 '16 at 14:42
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I would merge into since the latter addresses colloquial phrases. Thus, they are indistinguishable from each other, so we should go with the more popular one. It's a clear distinction from .

As it stands in our current taxonomy we are using all the expression tags completely synonymous to phrases. Originally was intended for phrases in a grammatical sense, but the existing ~3,700 questions do not reflect that. When I updated the tag wiki I couldn't find a single good example that matched the description and I didn't change the intent of the description.

Therefore I would not only merge into , but all expression tags to their according phrase tags.

3

Yes, they should be merged (or made into synonyms or whatever the correct terminology is).

2

I am adding this answer because after seeing the question Is there an expression to describe a situation where someone could have helped you but they didn't? I came away with some confusion over the difference between and and questions in my mind whether they were the same--and found this metaquestion & answer, which addresses some of these same issues--but the suggestions to merge the two tags hasn't been addressed yet publically from TPTA, the powers that are.

Because when I clicked on the it says

This tag is for questions about expressions. Expressions are words or phrases used to convey an idea, or else a particular term used conventionally to express something. Consider if you are looking for an expression, phrase-meaning if you are unsure about the usage of a given phrase....

but when I clicked on it says

This tag is for questions seeking a phrase that fits a meaning. If you're specifically seeking only a single word, see the "single word requests" tag too.

and I thought to myself "Isn't an expression the same thing as a phrase that fits a meaning," so I went to and found no definiton of the tag, which was not helpful. So, to answer your question title, I don't know what it's for.

I looked at the number of questions under and and they both appeared substantial and the questions with these tags seem to be asking the same thing.

So my thought was to come here and ask what the difference was between the two tags (as well as point out that has no defintion. But the software suggested this question here that I am responding to as a possible duplicate, so instead of asking a new question, I'm chiming in with the suggestion that the two tags be merged or somehow differentiated, and in the meanwhile point out that the one tag has no definition. But I don't know if TPTA intend to do anything.

  • minor note: "the powers that be" (sometimes initialized as TPTB) – NVZ Nov 4 '17 at 18:46
  • @NVZ well, I know that. buy I eschew the subjunctive – AmE speaker Nov 4 '17 at 18:57
  • @NVZ and Clare: Interestingly, according to the answer to Why “the powers that be”?, the expression "the powers that be" is not even an example of the subjunctive but an obsolete variant of the plural indicative – herisson Nov 5 '17 at 1:16

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