It's not an idiom. And it's not a phrase. And it's not "conjunction junction"
December 17, 2010 7:29 AM   Subscribe

I'm trying to come up with titles. Where is a site that I can find uses of words that aren't cliches or idioms but common usages?

A big part of my job is to come up with titles for things. For instance if the idea was about ranges, I'd go to one of my many cliche sites and come up with phrases and idioms like "home on the range." Or if I needed something out of the box I'd go to Urban Dictionary where they'd give me anything from Ranger Danger to Ranger Beads (whatever those are).

But the title that we eventually selected was WIDE RANGE. And I thought afterwards, "Of course." It was obvious. But not one of my different saved sites had it. It wasn't an idiom or a crazy modern slang. It was a common usage of wide with another word, range.

So where would I find a site with searchable common usages? This is the missing link in my title making empire. Help me find it.
posted by rileyray3000 to Writing & Language (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Search Google Books.
posted by nangar at 7:39 AM on December 17, 2010

In the example you give, you eventually settled for a "compound noun." I did a quick search just then to see if there's any specific compound noun sites, with no luck.

But I can remember reading big, dead-tree dictionaries [often multi volume] that would list an exhaustive amount of compound nouns after the initial definition, as well as many other examples of sayings where the word would appear.

So my answer would be a huge, oldskool dictionary if you're not having any luck on line.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:39 AM on December 17, 2010

Don't know if this is exactly what you're looking for, but how about searching for the word in a corpus, such as the BNC?

Other than that, I'd go with what uncanny hengeman suggests and just get a really big dictionary.
posted by Jelly at 9:00 AM on December 17, 2010

This Concordancer/Collocation Sampler should do what you want, but the server is currently unavailable. Here is more information about what a concordancer should do.
posted by anaelith at 9:03 AM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

I keep a journal of good title ideas!

On, one of the top 100 downloads is a book called "15,000 Useful Phrases." You'll find some powerful word combinations there

I also downloaded a book with common superstitions of New England. It seemed like I was finding 5 per page. "It's bad luck to see the full moon thru a glass." So I wrote in my journal "Full Moon Thru a Glass"

I'm not at home right now, so I don't have the exact link.

I wonder where Amazon gets the search engine that comes up with "statistically improbable phrases"?
posted by ohshenandoah at 5:18 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]

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