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

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6
votes
2answers
372 views

His brother “hooked” him up with this bachelor party

I was watching the film "Bachelor Party Las Vegas" and one of the characters utters the phrase: His brother hooked him up with this bachelor party (emphasis mine) When I looked up hooked in the ...
5
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the meaning of “ought not”?

Consider this example: A few strong branches over water reach for what they ought not reach. Which of the meanings comes closest to “ought not” in this sentence? Is it “doesn't have to”, “should ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

“One of those is flags”

Jeff Atwood ♦ has just posted something that I'm confused about Stack Overflow, due to its size, has some unique problems. One of those is flags I'd say that those and flags are both in ...
3
votes
1answer
91 views

What's the meaning of “designs” in the clause below?

The undersigned agree that this Fee Protection is assignable and transferable to the beneficiaries, designs, heirs and assigns upon written notice of all parties, and shall not be amended without ...
3
votes
5answers
133 views

No direct object in 'give thee faithfully to follow' ? (1670 UK, Isaac Penington)

Source: Para 5, Isaac Penington to Widow Hemmings (1670), by Isaac Penington If the Lord would show thee but this one thing, -- that to use "thee" and "thou" to a particular person is proper ...
3
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
5k views

What does “Thundering typhoons” mean?

What does "Thundering typhoons" mean? Actually it was in the 2011 movie The Adventures of Tintin.
2
votes
1answer
79 views

“And yet we're meant to be educating them for it.” What does this mean? [closed]

I was watching a TED video and didn’t get a few of the sentences. I hope someone can explain them to me. So I have a big interest in education, and I think we all do. We have a huge vested ...
2
votes
0answers
101 views

Is “do something by date X” inclusive? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Does “notified by [date]” include the end date? For example, if John says: Return it to me by March 24th. Does it mean that I need to return it to ...
1
vote
5answers
3k views

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 ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Does “generosity”/“generous” - as character quality - imply connotations “giving of your OWN resources, not someone else's”?

The question is about the context attached (or rather not attached) to the term "generosity"/"generous" (defined in Merriam-Webster as "liberal in giving"). The question is, is there a ...
0
votes
1answer
73 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
votes
1answer
50 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
votes
1answer
183 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’ ...
0
votes
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 ...
0
votes
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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
6k views

What is the meaning of “twists and turns” in this sentence? [closed]

The car followed the twists and turns of the mountain road.
-2
votes
1answer
15k views

it's raining vs. it rains [closed]

I know what does it mean by saying "It's raining" but what about "It rains"? what does it imply when I say "It rains" right after saying "It's raining"? I saw it in a novel and get confused.
-3
votes
2answers
271 views

Meaning of “I've been too busy trying to keep my alleged consultancy afloat to think about illicit sex, beyond the YouTube variety.” [closed]

What does "beyond the YouTube variety" suppose to refer to here? and what does " illicit sex" mean ?
38
votes
4answers
222k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
23k views

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 ...
10
votes
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 ...
3
votes
4answers
861 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"? ...
20
votes
4answers
139k 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
votes
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
votes
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
votes
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 ...
6
votes
4answers
429 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
votes
2answers
786 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
votes
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
votes
2answers
562 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
27k 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
votes
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
votes
1answer
60k views

What's the meaning when we say “per se”? [closed]

Sometimes I read a sentence like the following one: Objective-C does not provide a standard library, per se, but in most places.. I wonder how to interpret "per se." I'm non-native English ...
32
votes
4answers
10k views

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 ...
31
votes
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 ...
17
votes
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
votes
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
votes
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
votes
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 ...
7
votes
5answers
14k 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
votes
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 ...
7
votes
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
votes
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 ...
6
votes
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 ...
6
votes
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 ...
5
votes
2answers
534 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. ...
5
votes
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 ...
4
votes
6answers
294 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
votes
1answer
214 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 ...