This tag is for questions about the meaning of a longer passage of English.

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5answers
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What meaning “Chip on their shoulder” takes here?

The context is below. Bansal is the famous coaching center to clear Engineering Entrance test. Bansal students had a chip on their shoulder, even though they weren't technically even in a college ...
0
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1answer
52 views

what is the meaning of “ treated observation”? [closed]

what are the meanings of "treated observation" and "non-treated observation" in this context ? Further, propensity score matching is a more robust method of matching that quantitative accounting ...
0
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1answer
2k views

“Much of it is” or “Much of it are”? [closed]

I'm writing an college-entrance essay and for me it's imperative that I understand and implement the correct one of these two expressions: "Much of it is" or "Much of it are" If you need context:...
0
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1answer
74 views

Clarify an idiom in a political text

Please carefully read the text below: On 24 November, 1993, a meeting of Leftist intellectuals occurred in London under the auspices of the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), which ...
0
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1answer
189 views

'as of' in ‘Excusal as of right’

I tried to reference this, but this doesn`t comport with the context, from P151, How the Law Works, Gary Slapper. I'd guess that as of = by, but please explain or refute? ‘Excusal as of right’ ...
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2answers
14k views

Difference in meaning of “frustrated at” and “frustrated with”

What is the difference in meaning of "frustrated at" and "frustrated with" used in sentences like He is frustrated with me or He is frustrated at me When is each of these sentences above ...
49
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7answers
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What does “you will want to” mean?

I often find people (mostly American people) telling to me "you will want to do this" or "you will not want to do this". Does it mean they are telling me that I should do something (in the sense of ...
38
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4answers
223k views

Is it “peek”, “peak” or “pique”?

I have always thought the phrase was "pique my interest" as in: Her mysterious background piqued my interest. However, of late, on blogs and social networks, I have seen people using "peek my ...
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5answers
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What does “pneumatic” mean when applied to a person?

For example, in this review of the movie Unknown, Mark Kermode refers to Liam Neeson's character's wife as being played by "X-Men's pneumatic January Jones". I'm never quite sure whether this refers ...
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6answers
3k views

What did Steve Jobs mean by “Technology married with Liberal Arts” in his last speech?

The Asahi, Japan’s leading newspaper quoted the following famous closing words of Steve Jobs’ in his last speech at the iPad 2 event in March 2011 in its popular editorial column, “Vox populi, vox Dei”...
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4answers
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“my friend” vs “a friend of mine”

I always found it weird to hear people say things like "My friend asked me to come" (with no prior mention of said friend), as opposed to "A friend of mine asked me to come". To me it seems as though ...
3
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4answers
864 views

Why “science fiction” and not “scientific fiction”?

Everybody knows the term "science fiction" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Science_fiction But I am wondering why "science fiction" and not grammatically more correct form "scientific fiction"? ...
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3answers
4k views

Why is there a “mean” in “Greenwich Mean Time” (GMT)?

What's the meaning of the word "mean" in "Greenwich Mean Time"? Shouldn't we simply say something like "Greenwich Time"? I don't understand what the word "mean" is doing there.
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4answers
142k views

What does “10-4 ” mean?

I could have asked this question personally to my respected colleague who gave me a valuable answer to the question, “Is the ‘tame the infinite becoming an idiom or a popular phrase,” which I posted ...
15
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7answers
2k views

Does “woman driver” have a special meaning other than female driver?

Rush Limbaugh’s “wrong choice of word” is causing a big fuss. And I was puzzled to find the following statement of Limbaugh from www.rushlimbaugh.com that was made 4 days ago: The reaction that ...
14
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3answers
6k views

What is a “Hobbesian trap”?

A recent Economist article (see The drug war hits Central America) uses something called a Hobbesian trap like this: Central America has fallen into a Hobbesian trap: the better-off make ...
11
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2answers
17k views

How to use “I love you”?

In Italy, you have two options to say "I love you", I'll try to translate them the best I can: I love you (Ti amo.) I want you to be ok (Ti voglio bene.) The fact is that in English, both ti amo ...
8
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4answers
31k views

What does “if and when” mean, and is it the same as “when and if”?

Rather than trying to describe my beef with this idiom, I will give a bunch of successively objectionable examples. None of these are taken from real life. As I see it, if (and when) both "if" and "...
7
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2answers
27k views

When is between inclusive and when exclusive?

It seems that the exact meaning of between is very tied to its specific usage. What should I assume in a general situation about the inclusivity of between. Consider: "Pick a number between 1 and 10."...
6
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4answers
435 views

Meaning of Jo's dialog in Chapter 16 of Bleak House

A portion of chapter 16 of Dickens' Bleak House is shown below. Jo attends closely while the words are being spoken; [...] and nods his ragged head. "I'm fly," says Jo. "But fen larks, you ...
6
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2answers
791 views

What's the connection between “Holy Grail” and “Killer Rabbit”? [closed]

This article says: If there's a Holy Grail, there's a Killer Rabbit. I can understand that to be "even if there's a good solution, there's a catch to it", but what does Killer Rabbit have to ...
4
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3answers
2k views

What does “You might be better off thinking of something” mean?

I found this sentence in my programming book: You might be better off thinking of the block and the method as coroutines, which transfer control back and forth between themselves. What does be ...
2
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6answers
1k views

How does “among” vs “between” affect the meaning of this sentence from the Times?

I realize that this has been discussed elsewhere on the site, but I was interested in the use of the preposition "among" in a sentence from a story in yesterday's New York Times: Research done by ...
2
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3answers
28k views

“To this effect”

What does "to this effect" in the following sentence mean? (This sentence is in a reply of an application). However, if you are not successful, we will inform you to this effect. Does this mean, ...
2
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2answers
575 views

What does one's status being “less a blank check than an equation with multiple variables” mean?

There is the following line in a December 8 New York Times article titled “Clinton’s countless choices hinge on one: 2016”: “But being Hillary Clinton is never a simple matter, and her next few ...
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4answers
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What does “There she blows’” mean?

This question regards the sentence in the New Yorker’s (June 14) article “Lunch at Gitlitze” I quoted in my previous question, "Is “battled-hardened” correct, or just a typo?” “When we walked ...
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3answers
7k views

What does President Obama’s phrase “We don’t need to spike the football” mean?

President Obama made the following statement regarding his decision not to show dead body of Osama bin Laden to the public: "I think that Americans and people around the world are glad that he is ...
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6answers
9k views

What does “don’t pave the cow path” mean in this context?

I came across a new phrase while reading description section of a webinar topic on Operational Best Practices in the Cloud here. Excerpt: Don’t pave the cow path. Cloud infrastructure is very ...
14
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8answers
4k views

What's the pun in this “Julius Caesar” reference?

In a Blacklist episode, the following conversation takes place, the first and last speaker is the sophisticated Raymond Reddington: -'Ambition's debt must be paid'. -Julius Caesar? -One ...
10
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3answers
1k views

What does “Sleep through the Second Coming” mean?

There is the following statement in Jeffery Archer’s fiction “Kane & Abel,” in which William Kane, one of the two heroes looks at his wife sleeping soundly on bed unaware of his big problem: ...
8
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3answers
6k views

Meaning of “one order of magnitude improvement”

There is no single development, in either technology or management technique, which by itself promises even one order of magnitude improvement in productivity, in reliability, in simplicity. ...
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4answers
9k views

Difference between “voters”, “electorates” and “constituents”

I'm reading an English text about politics, and in one paragraph I found "voters," "electorates" and "constituents." Now I would like to know if they are absolutely the same, or if they have slightly ...
7
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7answers
2k views

Meaning of “No, yes …”

I'm not sure if this is something only Americans say, but it has confused me for a long time. If someone is asked a question why do some people respond with something like, "No, yes it was"? What does ...
7
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5answers
15k views

Difference between “purpose” and “goal”

What does this sentence from Star Trek: The Alternative Factor mean? Jim, madness has no purpose ... or reason ... but it may have a goal. As far as I know purpose and goal are synonyms. How ...
7
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4answers
9k views

What does “gig” stand for in “It's your gig”?

I have heard people say, "It's your gig" when they intend to say, "It's your choice after all." For example: I have said all I wanted to say. Now it's your gig. The intention is that the ...
6
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2answers
4k views

What does it mean to call something Leviathan in comparison to others?

Wordweb describes Leviathan as: The largest or most massive thing of its kind Monstrous sea creature symbolizing evil in the Old Testament A recent Economist article (see The drug war ...
6
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4answers
7k views

Which is more affirmative: “I think” or “I guess”?

In South Asia, we tend to use "I think" when we are almost sure about something; or sometimes use it ironically like in example "I think you should have done this yesterday". "I guess", on the other ...
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3answers
1k views

What is the meaning and usage of the word “very” in the following sentence?

XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language: Transformations) is a language that, according to the very first sentence in the specification (found at http://www.w3.org/TR/xslt20/), is primarily designed for ...
5
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2answers
545 views

19th century American English “slang”?

As I was doing a bit of research online I stumbled on this Children's Corner page 311 from the American Farmers' Magazine 1858. And, frankly, there are a lot of words that look totally foreign to me. ...
4
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6answers
297 views

Why is the definite article used here?

They ran to the door of the cellar, but Toto was afraid, and he ran under the bed. — Chapter 1 of The Wizard of Oz(Oxford Bookworms Library Stage 1) In this book, There is no bed that has ...
4
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1answer
221 views

What grammar pattern is used here and what does it mean?

This excerpt is from The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells. I can't figure out the italicized part. The excerpt follows: "But they take long enough to get well, don't they? ... There was my sister's son,...
3
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2answers
920 views

Is “put together” an adjectival phrase?

When someone says "He is smarter than I and she put together," what is the function of the phrase "put together"? Is it considered an adjective?
3
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2answers
7k views

Close to home = quite accurate?

Citing Wikipedia: Many actuaries were unhappy with the stereotypical portrayals of these actuaries as unhappy, math-obsessed and socially inept people; others have claimed that the portrayals ...
2
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3answers
16k views

A word to describe a situation where something said has multiple meanings? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: A word with a wide range of meanings Is there a word that describes a situation where someone says something that has multiple meanings? or can be taken multiple ways. An ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

What/who are “toy soldiers”? [closed]

There is a song called Toy Soldiers by Martika of which a part of the lyrics goes: Step by step Heart to heart Left, right, left We all fall down Like toy soldiers Bit by bit Torn ...
2
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2answers
476 views

How should I understand this “that” clause?

The following sentence is from an article of Harry Frankfurt who is a professor from Princeton University: It must be part of the point of saying that humbug is "short of lying," that while it has ...
2
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1answer
2k views

Is absence of the person needed in “On someone's behalf”?

In the middle of a conversation he had with my father, [Mr. X] asked him: “What does your son want to do in future?”. “He wants to do religious studies,” my father replied. He talked on my behalf ...
1
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1answer
143 views

Why is “no” used instead of “yes” in this conversation? [duplicate]

Monica: Is he not cute enough for you? Rachel: No! Monica: Does he not make enough money? Rachel: No, I'm just.... The conversation is taken from Season 1 Episode 24 of the sitcom ...
1
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2answers
178 views

Schedule on Tuesday

Take the following sentence. We want to schedule your appointment on Tuesday. Does this mean they want the process of scheduling to take place on Tuesday, or do they want my appointment to be on ...
15
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2answers
7k views

Meaning of “But I repeat myself” in Mark Twain's quote?

There is the following sentence in the conversation between Florentyna Rosnovski, the heroine of Jeffrey Archer’s novel, The Prodigal Daughter, who was first elected as the Congressman of Illinois and ...