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plugging away [Apr. 17th, 2008|05:27 pm]
I love to use Google to tell me things about language, people or the world by searching for phrases and not really using the search results themselves... such as using Google to figure the correct wording of an idiom (we've all heard someone say something like "oh, I'm just pulling your rib, don't worry about it," and no one wants to be that guy).

Just now I second-guessed myself as I was answering a Facebook message and almost said "just chugging away at user emails." 'Chugging away'? Am I guzzling them down? Wtf am I talking about? Maybe it's 'plugging away'? But that doesn't sound right either, it doesn't involve electricity or any other type of 'plugging'.... Time to turn to Google for some advice. I did searches for the three possibilities I could think of:

"chugging away": 69,600 results
"chugging along": 310,000 results
"plugging away": 553,000 results

Apparently the last option is the one I was looking for. To be fair, "chugging away" gave results that were talking about wine reviews and trains, while "plugging away" gave a result from the Idiom Dictionary, which sealed the deal. But the numbers were telling. I don't want to be all sewed up in horse pies.

[User Picture]From: anotherthink
2008-04-18 08:19 pm (UTC)
Years ago, shortly before the advent of this LJ, Jesses Raber and Friedman used this technique to argue that "another thing coming" is more correct than "another think coming"; the numbers say it's about 6 to 1.
On the other hand, most of the top results for both are pages about the confusion between the two expressions! I still think this settles it.
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[User Picture]From: ashleyisachild
2008-04-19 01:59 am (UTC)
hahah, i remember this debate. this method was also used in the xkcd about how there was only one result containing the phrase "died in a blogging accident" (which allegedly may have been joyce park of uchicago and renkoo fame?)....
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[User Picture]From: sethomas84
2008-04-19 03:54 am (UTC)
Weren't you the one who said something many years ago about being "the brightest pencil in the shed" or something? I'm running out of such permutations that actually sound odd without oddly making sense.
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[User Picture]From: ashleyisachild
2008-04-19 04:58 am (UTC)
oh yeah! hahahahahahah! not the crunchiest star in the drawer, now are we? i totally forget why, but there was some mixed-metaphors-of-the-format-"not the x-est y in the z" contest on lj like 3 years ago. i wish i could find it!
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[User Picture]From: anotherthink
2008-04-19 05:21 pm (UTC)
it was on JF's livejournal, IIRC late in the summer of 2004. too lazy to look it up, but maybe you can find it via that?
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