17
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “A.C. or D.C.?”

In Heinlein's A stranger in a strange land, there is a moment when nurse Jill kisses Martian man named Mike and another man, Jubal, puts a comment on it. It comes as follows: “Son,” he said, “you ...
4
votes
2answers
831 views

Meaning of 'a third leg'

When Dr. Barclay was called, I was surprised. I had expected an elderly man, but he was only in the late thirties and good-looking. Knowing Elinor, I wondered. Except for Fred, who had no looks ...
3
votes
3answers
935 views

What is the meaning of “paint it black” and when to use it?

I stumbled upon the phrase "paint it black" in a tv series (Elementary) and was wondering what does it exactly mean? Also, in which situations would you use it normally? Except when you tell the ...
3
votes
3answers
455 views

“The Moving Finger writes even in Heaven.”

Following is an extract from a Rabindranath Tagore story called, "A Wrong Man in Workers' Paradise". I need help in understanding the contextual meaning of a line in it. The story is about a man who ...
2
votes
2answers
57 views

Meaning of “we're rather flat” in context

From Yellow Slugs by H.C. Bailey: He went to the room where Eddie lay. The doctor was there, and turned from the bedside to confer with him. “Not too bad. We’ve put in a long sleep. Quite quiet ...
2
votes
1answer
165 views

does 'A' in 'Easy A' (movie) mean “ei”?

English is not my first language. I have just watched the movie Easy A. I understood its content a little bit but I don't understand what the title means. I often hear many Native English speakers ...
4
votes
2answers
169 views

What does “sheafs” mean in “The rays cut straight sheafs”?

This sentence is from Atlas Shrugged, depicting rays of light running through coils of steam enveloping a building: The rays of a few strong lights cut straight sheafs through the coils. Could ...
1
vote
2answers
128 views

What does 'to be maxed out' mean?

I want to understand what Chandler means when he says he's maxed out after thinking he's embarrassed by his bunny costume.
0
votes
1answer
218 views

Does “but one” mean “only one” or “except one”? [duplicate]

Does "but one" mean "only one" or "except one"? This phrase shows up in the song "Love is an Open Door" from the movie "Frozen". The relevant line is "Our mental synchronization can have but one ...
0
votes
2answers
72 views

Is “…written by the author it claims to be and not by someone passing themselves for them” correct?

I have a question to this sentence: Sometimes you need to know if the book was really written by the author it claims to be and not by someone passing themselves off as them. Is that correct? I ...
1
vote
1answer
132 views

What does “keeping someone in shoe leather” means?

In the following sentence: Unless your work is pro-bono, you should make sure that your customers keep you in shoe leather. What does "keeping someone in shoe leather" means?
4
votes
1answer
237 views

'Complete a confusion' — expression or confusion?

Is complete someone's confusion a popular expression that makes sense? This expression pops up so often I wonder I am missing something here. Does complete here mean to 'resolve'/ 'clarify'? ...
0
votes
2answers
204 views

What's the meaning of “turning the state of the art to the state of the practice”?

What's the meaning of "turning the state of the art to the state of the practice" in the following context: "We have the resources, the professional experience and the background to deliver turnkey ...
0
votes
1answer
261 views

“What a shame!” versus “Such a shame!” [closed]

I would like to know the difference between "What a shame!" and "Such a shame!"". When do I use one or the other? I am Brazilian, so I don't know exactly how to use them.
1
vote
1answer
68 views

'Happy Christmas to all, all be epicures too.'

'Happy Christmas to all, all be epicures too.' Can anyone explain what, if any, precisely means, or adds, 'all be epicures too' after 'Happy Christmas to all'? Is it idiomatic English?
2
votes
2answers
2k views

“For one thing” — meaning in context

I know what "for one thing" means. But sometimes idioms are used in such a way that gives non-native speakers a hard time to understand their meaning. I encountered the following passage: She ...
2
votes
2answers
391 views

Meaning of “top” in “to sleep as sound as a top”

From "The Early Bird", by George MacDonald. A little bird sat on the edge of her nest; Her yellow-beaks slept as sound as tops; Day-long she had worked almost without rest, And had ...
0
votes
1answer
115 views

To “fling oneself on his/her face” — expression

What does this phase "fling oneself on his/her face" mean in the following context? Winston promptly flung himself on his face.
2
votes
1answer
169 views

What is the meaning of “the green and blue of the crops”?

I'm reading the My mother never worked essay by Bonnie Smith-Yackel. In the other fields, when the oats and flax began to head out, the green and blue of the crops were hidden by the bright yellow ...
0
votes
2answers
872 views

Meaning of “You might want to sit down for this”

And thanks, too, for contacting me, because you need to hear what I have to say. You might want to sit down for this. If you’re on anti-anxiety medication, all the better. What does the ...
0
votes
1answer
103 views

When a Brit is refering to 'the war' which war does she mean -WWI or WWII? [closed]

As the title says, when a Brit in modern times writes 'since the war' which war is being refereed to -WWI or WW2?
1
vote
3answers
971 views

Meaning of “at least Dick Turpin wore a mask”

I tried to sell my stuff and one of the guys asked me if I could bargain on the item and I said no. He replied with the message, At least Dick Turpin wore a mask. What does that mean?
1
vote
3answers
209 views

What does “in s****” mean in the following context?

I was reading a short story when I stumbled across the following sentence. "[H]e overheard his dad say it wasn’t worth its price in shit." I was a bit surprised with the negation. I'm used to ...
1
vote
1answer
185 views

What is the difference between “Have got sb by the balls” and “Sb being over a barrel” in describing somebody in predicament?

I found two intriguing idioms in a pair in the following sentence of Jeffery Archer’s “The Forth Estate” (page 592) that I came to the last part at length. A media mogul, Dick Armstrong (seemingly ...
5
votes
2answers
936 views

What is the difference between “each to one’s own,” and “a law unto-oneself”? Are they totally different idioms?

I came across two different idioms, “a law untothemselves” and “each to his own” in the scene then British Army Captain, later a global media tycoon, Dick Armstrong, plotting to rob Julius Hahn, a ...
-3
votes
1answer
3k views

Meaning of “as it was” in context

What does it mean "as it was" in this context? She was awakened by a shock, so sudden and severe that if Dorothy had not been lying on the soft bed she might have been hurt. As it was, the jar ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

What does 'trout-shouldered' mean?

In an episode of the television show Archer one character refers to another as being "trout-shouldered." “This pathetic, trout-shouldered excuse for a boom operator is Chet Manly." What might this ...
0
votes
1answer
139 views

Meaning of 'take it to the hoes'

I came across the following sentence: You can just take it to the hoes on Broadway if you need to get your freak on. And not only can I not understand the phrase 'take it to the hoes' but I also ...
2
votes
1answer
88 views

What are “shrewd turns”?

In John Webster's play, The Duchess of Malfi, Antonio says of the Duke: He never pays debts unless they be shrewd turns, And those he will confess that he doth owe. I really don't understand ...
-2
votes
3answers
539 views

Meaning of “I'm a disaster” [closed]

What does disaster mean in the following sentence? I'm a disaster.
2
votes
3answers
9k views

What is the meaning of “six ways from Sunday”? [closed]

This is a line from the book Test Driven Development by Kent Beck: Fortunately, we are well rested and relaxed and unlikely to make mistakes, which is why we will go in teeny-tiny steps, ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

What's “kind of shot that horse in the face” in Easy A?

In the film, Easy A, Olive has a conversation with her parents like this: OLIVE: What would my punishment have been otherwise? DAD:  Bed without supper, I guess. OLIVE: But I'm already ...
0
votes
4answers
514 views

“Yeah, no, I agree” meaning

This is a passage in the movie The Social Network at 01:14:49: Mark says: "Yeah, that reminds me, we're gonna need more money, Wardo." Eduardo replies: "Yeah, no, I agree. More servers, more ...
1
vote
2answers
150 views

What does “side four” mean?

I recently saw this sentence by Lou Reed: Anyone who gets to side four is dumber than I am. On Flavorwire: "The Funniest and Meanest Things Bands Have Said About Their Fans" What does "side ...
0
votes
1answer
743 views

Meaning of “as close as you can get with safe sex”

What does "as close as you can get with safe sex" mean? I read this sentence in "Hannibal" from Thomas Harris, the original is Our informant's close to the family situation, like, he's very ...
1
vote
1answer
630 views

Meaning of “Blunt instrument” [closed]

I am having difficulties trying to understand this sentence: In some respects, Courses of Action are the more basic of the two. In and of themselves, however, Courses of Action tend to be rather ...
2
votes
5answers
9k views

Meaning of “all retch and no vomit”

I heard of the expression "all retch and no vomit" for the first time, and the references I could find by googling it are not really clear to me. Here is the context where I found it: What we are ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Is Saturday night before or after Saturday? [closed]

People sometimes write something like "let's finish this work by Saturday night" or "let's meet on Saturday night". Which day and time do they mean? Is it short for tonight, and then it's on Saturday ...
3
votes
2answers
757 views

Is “get one’s pants off” a popular idiom or an eyebrows-raising slang?

I came across the phrase “get one’s pants off” impossibly in association with Confucius analects in the following sentence which I found in a website, but forgot to jot down the source: What kind ...
3
votes
1answer
504 views

What is the meaning of “the dogs live in clover”?

I was reading an issue of Atlantic Monthly from 1919 and encountered the following paragraph: There is no further context, as these are (according to the article) translated conversations and ...
3
votes
3answers
7k views

What is the context of Mark Twain's “If you don't like the weather…” quote?

It seems well-accepted that the quotation If you don't like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes. was said or written by Samuel Clemens, a.k.a. Mark Twain. (At least two ...
0
votes
0answers
84 views

What does “grandfathered in” mean? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “I'm only grandfathering you in because of Serena.” Over here, Jeff says something using the expression "grandfathered in." What does that mean and how ...
-1
votes
1answer
559 views

What is the meaning of “I don't need no stinking counters”?

The context is this video at timeline 43:26 seconds . That's too fancy for me. I don't need no stinking counters. What does this mean? Is it an American or British expression?
8
votes
2answers
1k views

What does poking with a stick mean?

Please see the context from this blog of Joel Spolsky: Since you have to poke at Windows Calculator with a stick, it doesn't have to be as fast as Excel. What does he mean by poking with a ...
1
vote
3answers
427 views

What does the phrase “Bolting for the Door” mean? [closed]

I was watching this video and at 41:05 secs the professor uses this phrase Bolting for the Door . Does it mean that students will get bored or it will be too difficult for the students such that they ...
2
votes
6answers
3k views

What does “don't shoot yourself in the foot” mean? [closed]

What does "Don’t shoot yourself in the foot" mean? Unfortunately, most salary decisions are based on perceived performance, not on actual performance. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.
-1
votes
1answer
2k views

What does “a pop” mean? [closed]

when we say "For entertainment, she couldn’t go to the movies at $8 a pop", what "a pop" means?
7
votes
4answers
7k views

What does “clutching at straws” mean? [closed]

In the following context: I'm clutching at straws here. I'm trying to imagine how a woman could fail to be offended by being called a "hole". What's meant by "clutching at straws"?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What does the expression “we are looking to you” mean?

What does the expression "we are looking to you" mean in the following sentence? Now that you have taken the test and have an understanding, we are looking to you to teach this to your ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

What pair of words can be combined with “worth every penny” as an idiom?

When I was listening to AP Radio News of Eagle 810 (Far East Network), the only English language public radio broadcasting service available in Japan, together with members of a local English Speaking ...