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4
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2answers
15k views

What does “Don't call him late for dinner” mean?

What does the phrase "Don't call him late for dinner" mean? As I am very thin, I believe this is a figure of speech used to sarcastically describe someone of near fragile size. I am not sure. I am ...
4
votes
4answers
38k views

Where does the phrase “No skin off my teeth/nose” come from?

The phrase "it's no skin off my nose/teeth" is generally used to mean that something isn't much of a risk/concern. But where does it come from? Specifically with respect to teeth. What is tooth skin?
2
votes
4answers
5k views

Some, others and again others?

If I want to add a third option to the construct "Some..., others", what is the best way to put it? Some, others and again others? So: Some people like apples, others like oranges and again others ...
3
votes
3answers
714 views

Can you be literal about non-literal things?

I know many hackles have been raised over the misuse of the word literal. Let's say there are a couple of mobsters talking about a third guy who has made a minor mistake, and jokingly one says, "I'm ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Figure of Speech vs. Figure of Thought

Is there any meaningful difference between a "figure of speech" and a "figure of thought". Searching for a definition of "figure of thought" leads to many esoteric discussions relating to ancient ...
3
votes
2answers
6k views

“What to do when you live in a shoe”

Where does the phrase "what to do when you live in a shoe" come from? I was asked today why I use slow internet and responded, "What to do when you live in a shoe" as though my internet limitation(s) ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Is this an example of litotes?

In Macbeth's Tomorrow speech To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, To the last syllable of recorded time; And all our yesterdays have lighted ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Difference between a synecdoche and metonym?

From the definitions of these two types of figures of speech (tropes, if you will), I have always understand them to mean the same thing. Essentially, that is the usage of either a specific attribute ...
6
votes
5answers
102k views

Origin and meaning of “You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar”

I'm having trouble understanding the rationale behind the meaning of an American English phrase of which I just became aware. That phrase is: You catch more flies with honey than you do with ...
14
votes
3answers
806 views

“Carved from the living rock” — since when was rock ever alive?

According to Etymonline, living dates to the 14th century, and refers to "the fact of dwelling in some place," from O.E. lifiende, prp. of lifan But we hear the phrase "the living rock" used all ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Difference between female and male usage [closed]

What explains the difference of a de facto larger frequency of vowels of one writer compared to another? In the statistics data I examined, a vowel had higher probability in the text from the female ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

What is the name of this figure of speech?

I've been reading Nevil Shute books recently, and they are set in late-1940s Britain. As a consequence, the characters are always using expressions such as "frightfully good", "terribly good" and ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Meaning of a quote in movie Casino Royale (2006)

Vesper Lynd: There are dinner jackets and dinner jackets; this is the latter. And I need you looking like a man who belongs at that table. Here what does the line "There are dinner jackets ...
20
votes
5answers
2k views

“A whole nother” way of looking at things

People say this so much (instead of "another whole" way, etc.) that I wonder how it got started. How did "another whole..." get changed to "a whole nother..."?
6
votes
3answers
8k views

“At the drop of a hat”?

Where does the figure of speech "at the drop of a hat" come from? I understand the phrase means "Immediately; instantly; on the slightest signal or urging. (Alludes to the dropping of a hat as a ...
0
votes
4answers
420 views

Is the meaning of “This is it” figurative?

The phrase "kick the bucket" is a figurative phrase - it means "to die", although using it does not imply any actual kicking or any actual buckets. The question I am asking is if the phrase "this is ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Meaning of “non-normative”?

What's the meaning of "a non-normative document"? Does "non-normative" mean "casual"? What's the significant difference between a normative document and a non-normative one?
5
votes
1answer
306 views

What rhetorical device is “she wears mink all day and fox all night” using?

What rhetorical device is the following statement using? She wears mink all day and fox all night. It's not a pun, it's not a syllepsis. Is there a word for false-puns of this sort?
19
votes
5answers
5k views

Of the difference between zeugma and syllepsis

I am confused about what is the relative meaning of zeugma compared to syllepsis, both in its current meaning and possibly in former understandings of these words. The New Oxford American Dictionary ...
9
votes
3answers
29k views

What is the difference between “metaphorical”, “allegorical”, and “figurative”?

What is the difference between metaphorical, allegorical, and figurative?
3
votes
7answers
4k views

Is “New and Improved” an oxymoron?

It irritates me that advertisers often claim a product is "New and Improved". Surely, if something is new (ie, has not existed previously), it can't be improved! And vice versa!
11
votes
3answers
25k views

What is the difference between metonymy and synecdoche?

What is the difference between metonymy and synecdoche?
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What is funny in this paraprosdokian?

I was reading the wiki page about paraprosdokians when I come across this sentence. One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas, how he got in my pajamas, I don't know. What is funny about it?
12
votes
1answer
858 views

What is this an example of: “I couldn't fail not to disagree with you less”?

Eisenhower used it constantly to fend off reporters. Is there a term to describe this type of phrase?
3
votes
1answer
326 views

Does a road that “snakes” always imply a “winding” road?

If one says that a road snakes, does it necessarily imply that the road is winding? Or can it also express that the road is long and stretched out?
2
votes
4answers
459 views

Which is larger a “chasm” or a “gulf?”

For the meaning: figurative: a profound difference between people, viewpoints, feelings, etc. Is a chasm or a gulf generally interpreted as being a larger difference? A: The gulf ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

Is “Mecca” capitalized when used figuratively?

Waleed made his pilgrimage to Mecca. This is a given. But I would write: Bombay is India’s entertainment mecca Is this correct, or is Mecca capitalized in its figurative use, as well?
3
votes
2answers
785 views

Where can we find anacoluthon nowadays?

An anacoluthon <...> is a rhetorical device that can be loosely defined as a change of syntax within a sentence <...>. Grammatically, anacoluthon is an error; however, in rhetoric it is a ...
4
votes
4answers
383 views

Can snow be dry?

Disclaimer: There are a lot of questions packed in but their answers are interdependent. Different textures of snow can be described as "wet" and "dry". Considering that water is the quintessence of ...
3
votes
1answer
164 views

Literal echelons?

Merriam-Webster and the OED list only figurative senses of the word echelon (i.e. military formations and organizational ranks). Would it be incorrect to use it in the literal sense of the French word ...
6
votes
3answers
22k views

“Money for rope” … meaning and derivation?

I was listening to John Lennon's song "Gimme Some Truth" just now, and in it there's a recurring line: ". . . money for rope." I never thought about it much before, but it strikes me this has ...
14
votes
2answers
7k views

Where does the phrase “Scare the Dickens out of…” originate from?

Where does the phrase "Scare the Dickens out of..." originate from? And does it refer to Charles Dickens?
14
votes
1answer
6k views

Similes and Metaphors - are similes a subset of metaphors?

I've always been taught that metaphors and similes both draw a parallel between two disparate ideas/thoughts/objects, but that a simile is a more explicit comparison using the word "like" or "is", ...