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10
votes
7answers
1k views

Is “to boil down” formal enough to be used in scientific writing? [closed]

The phrase to boil down to something can be found in most dictionaries. However, to me, it sounds colloquial to write Finding an exact solution to Eq. 1 boils down to ... A real-life ...
2
votes
2answers
57 views

Figurative usage of “astride”

Can "astride" be used in the figurative meaning of "half one on side and half on the other side"? The specific concept I'm trying to express is that a certain span of values with a certain length is ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Is “pass peach seeds” an idiom or just a figurative expression?

I was drawn to the phrase “pass peach seeds” in Thomas Harris’s novel “The Silence of the Lambs,” which I started to read last month and from whose text I have posted several questions, including one ...
-1
votes
1answer
68 views

Why We Need To Know About Hyperboles [closed]

So I realize that hyperboles exist, but in school we're taught about them as if they are truly important to what we are going to be doing in life. I realize their usefulness, but why do we need to ...
2
votes
1answer
63 views

“Should you pull a ‘Burger King’ to cut your tax bill?” - What figurative device is it?

Burger King plans to buy the Canadian Tim Hortons in an effort to cut taxes as in the following link: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/should-you-pull-a-burger-king-to-cut-tax-bill-2014-08-26 What ...
1
vote
1answer
77 views

What kind of figurative language is this phrase?

What figurative language is this phrase? Is it an idiom or personification? Or something else? I have tried to figure it out but I can't. "to drive the idea out of my mind"
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Does the word “out” carry sexual-minority flavour?

My NGO and partners are producing a feature film about Russian speakers in the world, and to explain its point as bias-breaking, we came up with the name out, that's nicely expanded in the slogan as ...
1
vote
1answer
50 views

Can an abandoned software project “gather dust”?

I was reading a blog of someone who is trying to emulate Nintendo Gameboy hard- and software as a hobby project. In the oldest post, in the following sentence: I eventually [...] bought myself a ...
0
votes
1answer
47 views

Is “pejorative” used correctly in “no pejorative bone in his body”?

He doesn't have a pejorative bone in his body. This is meant to describe a timid, non-confrontational person. Is pejorative being used correctly here, in a figurative sense?
-1
votes
1answer
85 views

What are “these lines” referring to? [closed]

Here is the context: Later I move over and talk with Jack and Wylla. Jack is leaving to head an English department down in Boise, Idaho. His attitudes toward the department here seem guarded, but ...
0
votes
2answers
367 views

What does 'fooling around' mean to a 1st Grader?

In English, when I say don't fool around with that, am I saying You are stupid! I mean, my son came back from school today with a note from the teacher: Dear Dad, I was fooling around with a ...
0
votes
2answers
207 views

What's the meaning of “emotional stake”?

What does an "emotional stake" mean? E.g: to increase the emotional stakes, I had my favorites in both.
2
votes
3answers
61 views

Is there a term for phrases which were once literal but now figurative?

We still hang up the phone, even though we really only push a button, not suspend it in a cradle. Sometimes we tape a television series, even though the DVR does the heavy lifting, not the analogue ...
3
votes
4answers
10k views

Use of “for one” [closed]

When we say “for one” in a sentence, what does it mean? I heard a sentence in a TV program where Robin Hood said: Who will bear this injustice? I, for one, will not. As I understand it, “I ...
0
votes
1answer
310 views

Is there a name for this literary device?

Is there a term that describes the act of giving tangible qualities to an intangible noun? I stumbled over a metaphor or I felt sadness condense on my skin The first one might just be ...
0
votes
1answer
149 views

Expect a dog: figurative meaning [closed]

What does this mean? I stumbled across it here: "If the design requires a million trips to the server, expect a dog." (The last sentence in the paragraph titled Efficiency.)
1
vote
1answer
198 views

What is the meaning of these two sentences in David Copperfield?

There are two sentences in David Copperfield that I don't quite understand, with regards to their (possible) figurative meaning. Chapter XIII: [...] a muslin curtain partly undrawn in the middle, ...
0
votes
3answers
220 views

Literally vs. figuratively: how literally is literally? [closed]

I'm sensitive to the fact that in light of recent events, the example discussed in this question may be unsettling to some. For that, I apologize, but I cannot think of an effective alternative. In ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

What's the figurative meaning of “the end of the line”?

Leaving aside the strong sexual connotations of the lyrics of Pulp's song "This Is Hardcore", I was wondering what is the figurative meaning of the expression the author used: "This is the end of ...
1
vote
1answer
479 views

What does “Hungarian” mean here? [closed]

I think it’s a figurative usage as a reminder of blood, but not for sure. Why is the word Hungarian used here? (He is a professional pianist who holds lessons open to the public.) When I told ...
2
votes
3answers
584 views

Is this an instance of personification or is it a simile?

I've been sometimes a little confused on how direct personification must be. For example, consider the following phrase used to describe a river: Like a snake it winds through the craggy ...
3
votes
1answer
528 views

What literary device is being used here?

The beginning of prehistoric wars is a disputed issue between anthropologists and historians. Source: http://ask.yahoo.com/20070404.html I was reading that article and I noticed that sentence ...
0
votes
2answers
982 views

Does “to flatline” only means “to die”, or can it refer to an actual flat graph?

I was looking at this ngram which features a flat line meaning absolutely no usage of the word I was looking for. I thought about describing it in these terms: The Google ngram clearly flatlines ...