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Touchwood, backside... 10 phrases we love to use

April 19, 2017 10:13 IST

How often do you use these phrases, asks Anita Aikara.


Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/

1. Intimate

How often have you come across an e-mail that ends with this line: Please intimate me at the earliest?

Creepy, isn't it?

At least, going by the dictionary meaning, intimate means involving a very close connection.

Wonder what the person is trying to convey by using the word in an e-mail.

We suggest you use: 'Please revert at the earliest.'

2. Touch wood

Almost every sentence in India ends with touch wood!

  • Oh! You're having a baby. Touch wood!
  • You bought a new house. Touch wood!
  • You are looking so beautiful today. Touch wood!
  • You are so lucky to have your mother living so close by. Touch wood!
  • Your husband is so supportive. Touch wood!

You also notice folks touching their heads when they utter this phrase -- does it imply that your head is made of wood?

There's nothing wrong saying touch wood. But when you keeping saying it all the time, it can get extremely annoying.

Touch wood is said to prevent bad luck. So it's important to choose when and where you use it.

3. Backside

Ever heard someone say, 'Come from the backside of the building.'

Really! How is that even possible?

Backside means a person's buttocks, the part of the human body that a person sits on.

So it's not really possible for someone to enter from the backside of the building, right?

Instead use: 'Come from the back entrance.'

4. Expired

Again, there's nothing wrong with the word expired.

But it's terribly wrong when someone says, 'My uncle expired a week ago!'

Humans don't come with an expiry date, so stop using such words in the wrong context.

Instead use: 'He's no more.' Or 'He passed away.'

5. Too

We might end up writing a thesis explaining the Indian love for the word too.

  • The gravy is too watery.
  • The sweet is too good nah!
  • This train is too crowded.
  • The salt in the gravy is too much.

This is already getting too much for us to handle!


6. Take tension

This is what one gets when you literally translate the Hindi phrase 'tension mat le .'

That's why Indians think it is okay to tell someone not to 'take tension.' Yikes!

Tension is a mental or emotional strain. It is not a pill that one takes.

Instead use: 'Don't let the tension get to you.' Or 'Don't get tense.'

7. Slippers

It could be boots, heels, stilettos, wedges, loafers, etc. But in India, it is always called slippers.

Slippers refer to a comfortable slip-on shoe that's worn indoors.

It won't be such a bad idea to widen your vocabulary and use some new words, don't you think?

8. Full

Surprised why this word features here?

Read the examples and you'll know:

  • It was raining so much I got full wet.
  • My mother keeps nagging me full time.
  • So much food was there at the party. I ate full stomach.

Indians have the tendency to attach full to their sentences even when it is not needed.

Try removing the redundant full and this is what you'll get:

  • It was raining so much I got wet.
  • My mother keeps nagging me all the time.
  • So much food was there at the party. I ate a lot.

9. Namesake

It's not the word, it's the way we use it.


  • I am doing this just for namesake.

The use of namesake in this sentence is incorrect.

Namesake refers to a person or thing that has the same name as another.

Indians tend to confuse namesake with 'for the sake of', which have different meanings.

Here the correct phrase would be 'for the sake of,' which means to do something out of consideration for someone.

Instead say: 'I am doing this for the sake of it.'

10. Rest is fine

It is an Indian way of saying everything is okay.

As you rightly guessed it, it is a literal translation of 'baki sab tik hain.'

However, there's no such phrase in the dictionary.

So until they plan on including this Indian phrase in the dictionary, let's chuck it for now!

Just say: 'Everything is okay.'

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Anita Aikara /