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A Dictionary of Useful Phrases

Here is a collection of excellent phrases and word combinations that you can use to add spice to your writings and speech.


habit, custom, method, and fashion

handsome, exquisite, brilliant, and accomplished

harmless, innocent, innocuous, and inoffensive

harmony, order, sublimity, and beauty

harsh, discordant, disagreeable, and ungracious

hasty, superficial, impatient, and desultory
[desultory = disconnected: haphazard]

healed, soothed, consoled, and assuaged

healthy, hale, sound, and wholesome

heavy, sluggish, dejected, and crushing

high-minded, truthful, honest, and courageous

holy, hallowed, sacred, and consecrated

homely, hideous, horrid, and unsightly

honor, obedience, virtue, and loyalty

hopefulness, peace, sweetness, and strength

hopes, dreams, programs, and ideals

hospitable, generous, tolerant, and kindly

hot, hasty, fervent, and fiery

humane, gentle, kind, and generous

humble, simple, submissive, and unostentatious

He bent upon the lightning page like some rapt poet o'er his rhyme

He bolted down the stairs like a hare

He clatters like a windmill

He danced like a man in a swarm of hornets

He fell as falls some forest lion, fighting well

He fell down on my threshold like a wounded stag

He had acted exactly like an automaton

He lay as straight as a mummy

He lay like a warrior taking his rest

He lived as modestly as a hermit

He looked fagged and sallow, like the day [fagged = worked to exhaustion]

He looked with the bland, expressionless stare of an overgrown baby

He played with grave questions as a cat plays with a mouse

He radiated vigor and abundance like a happy child

He sat down quaking like a jelly

He saw disaster like a ghostly figure following her

He snatched furiously at breath like a tiger snatching at meat

He spoke with a uniformity of emphasis
that made his words stand out like the raised type for the blind

He swayed in the sudden grip of anger

He sweeps the field of battle like a monsoon

He that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed

He turned on me like a thunder-cloud

He turned white as chalk

He wandered restlessly through the house, like a prowling animal

He was as splendidly serious as a reformer

He was as steady as a clock

He was as wax in those clever hands

He was bold as the hawk

He was so weak now, like a shrunk cedar white with the hoar-frost

Hearts unfold like flowers before thee

Heavy was my heart as stone

Heeled like an avalanche to leeward

Her arms like slumber o'er my shoulders crept

Her banners like a thousand sunsets glow

Her beauty broke on him like some rare flower

Her beauty fervent as a fiery moon

Her breath is like a cloud

Her cheeks are like the blushing cloud

Her cheeks were wan and her eyes like coals

Her dusky cheek would burn like a poppy

Her expression changed with the rapidity of a kaleidoscope

Her eyes as bright as a blazing star

Her eyes as stars of twilight fair

Her eyes, glimmering star-like in her pale face

Her eyes were as a dove that sickeneth

Her face changed with each turn of their talk,
like a wheat-field under a summer breeze

Her face collapsed as if it were a pricked balloon

Her face was as solemn as a mask

Her face was dull as lead

Her face was like a light

Her face was passionless,
like those by sculptor graved for niches in a temple

Her hair dropped on her pallid cheeks, like sea-weed on a clam

Her hair hung down like summer twilight

Her hair shone like a nimbus

Her hair was like a coronet

Her hands are white as the virgin rose that she wore on her wedding day

Her hands like moonlight brush the keys

Her head dropped into her hands like a storm-broken flower

Her heart has grown icy as a fountain in the fall

Her holy love that like a vestal flame had burned

Her impulse came and went like fireflies in the dusk

Her lashes like fans upon her cheek

Her laugh is like a rainbow-tinted spray

Her lips are like two budded roses

Her lips like a lovely song that ripples as it flows

Her lips like twilight water

Her little lips are tremulous as brook-water is
[tremulous = timid or fearful]

Her long black hair danced round her like a snake

Her mouth as sweet as a ripe fig

Her neck is like a stately tower

Her pale robe clinging to the grass seemed like a snake

Her pulses flutter'd like a dove

Her skin was as the bark of birches

Her sweetness halting like a tardy May

Her two white hands like swans on a frozen lake

Her voice cut like a knife

Her voice like mournful bells crying on the wind

Her voice was like the voice the stars had when they sang together

Her voice was rich and vibrant, like the middle notes of a 'cello

Her words sounding like wavelets on a summer shore

Herding his thoughts as a collie dog herds sheep

Here and there a solitary volume greeted him
like a friend in a crowd of strange faces

Here in statue-like repose, an old wrinkled mountain rose

Hers was the loveliness of some tall white lily cut in marble,
splendid but chill

His bashfulness melted like a spring frost

His brow bent like a cliff o'er his thoughts

His cheeks were furrowed and writhen like rain-washed crags
[writhen = twisted]

His eyes blazed like deep forests

His eyes glowed like blue coals

His eyes were hollows of madness, his hair like moldy hay

His face burnt like a brand

His face was glad as dawn to me

His face was often lit up by a smile like pale wintry sunshine

His fingers were knotted like a cord

His formal kiss fell chill as a flake of snow on the cheek

His fortune melted away like snow in a thaw

His glorious moments were strung like pearls upon a string

His indifference fell from him like a garment

His invectives and vituperations bite and flay like steel whips
[invective = abusive language]
[vituperation = abusive language]

His mind murmurs like a harp among the trees

His mind was like a lonely wild

His mind was like a summer sky

His nerves thrilled like throbbing violins

His retort was like a knife-cut across the sinews

His revenge descends perfect, sudden, like a curse from heaven

His spirits sank like a stone

His talk is like an incessant play of fireworks

His voice is as the thin faint song
when the wind wearily sighs in the grass

His voice rose like a stream of rich distilled perfumes

His voice was like the clap of thunder
which interrupts the warbling birds among the leaves

His whole soul wavered and shook like a wind-swept leaf

His words gave a curious satisfaction,
as when a coin, tested, rings true gold

Hopeful as the break of day

How like a saint she sleeps

How like a winter hath my absence been

How like the sky she bends over her child

Howling in the wilderness like beasts

Huge as a hippopotamus

Humming-birds like lake of purple fire

Hushed as the grave

Hushed like a breathless lyre


See also these useful collections of phrases, similes and word groups:

  • Prepositional Phrases - Sets of paired adjectives that together add up to more than the sum of their parts.

  • Significant Phrases - aired nouns, adjectives and adverbs, which together create an impactful and vivid image of the thought you want to convey.

  • Public Speaking Sample Phrases - huge collection of examples and phrases are designed to make your oral presentations and debates more impactful and clear.

  • Business Phrases - These phrases will help you say what you mean with emphasis and let you stand out from the usual corporate memo and report.

  • Conversational Phrases - parts of sentences that you can use as building blocks for larger conversations.

  • Striking Similes - similes and figures of speech that you can use to make your writing more emphatic and vivid.

  • Literary Expressions - a vast collection of literary phrases, allusions and similes that you can use to spice up your writing and make it more impactful and noteworthy.

  • Impressive Phrases - These phrases and groups of related adjectives are meant to make an impact on the reader or listener.

  • Felicitous Phrases - Groupings of three words that fit perfectly together and use repetition to create emphasis and striking imagery.

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