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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

17
votes
5answers
24k 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

What does “when you’re talking to the cool kids around the water cooler” mean?

The DOM is what you call bits of rendered HTML when you’re talking to the cool kids around the water cooler. What is the meaning of the when statement ("when you’re talking to the cool kids around ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

What does ‘make a buck off’ mean?

I found the phrase ‘make a buck off’ in the following lead copy of the article of Time magazine (July 15) titled ‘Carmaggedon: It May Be a Bust, but It's Already a Bonanza,’ reporting the chaos caused ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

What does “heavy” mean in this sentence?

The site is a little bit slow because of installed heavy zencart application What's the meaning of heavy in the above sentence? Does it mean the application is too large or something else?
4
votes
1answer
337 views

What does ‘“I don’t know if there’s a cloud name for where I am right now,” mean?

Christian Lopez, a New York student who retrieved Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit and simply returned the ball to the Yankees shortstop was lauded for his honorable and unselfish act. He became the ...
5
votes
4answers
27k views

“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 ...
0
votes
3answers
67 views

Looking for the way to read a sentence containing a conjunction and a plural

How does grammar tell me to parse this sentence: Visualize the relation between two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects. Are we being asked to visualize the relation between two-dimensional ...
6
votes
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
votes
2answers
474 views

What does the “north of the northbridge” mean?

What does the "north of the northbridge" mean? Source: http://duartes.org/gustavo/blog/post/what-your-computer-does-while-you-wait I tried Googling it but nothing came up. Is it even a common phrase?...
0
votes
2answers
3k views

What does “You have successfully split a hair that did not need to be split” mean?

What is the meaning of the following sentence? You have successfully split a hair that did not need to be split. Source: this post on the Programmers Stack Exchange.
2
votes
4answers
8k views

“I'll see you” is the same as “I'll miss you”?

In a drama, there is a goodbye scene and the dialogue between sister and brother like below. sister: Thanks, Kevin... I guess it's that time. brother: I'll see you, Sis. Don't get lost. (his ...
1
vote
3answers
664 views

What does “a slightly overblown cartoon figure” mean?

“Harry! Good-o!” said Bagman happily, looking around at him. “Come in, come in, make yourself at home!” Bagman looked somehow like a slightly overblown cartoon figure, standing amid all the pale-...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

What does “you and the rest of the world” mean?

I sometimes see ‘you and …’ in English, for example “you and the other nine”, “You and your big mouth!”. This makes me sensitive to you and something. “Okay,” said Harry slowly. “But … are you ...
2
votes
1answer
225 views

What does the “that little bubble of accidental arrogance” meaning? [closed]

... as you initially did, that their design was just behind. It's nice to see an idea that pops that little bubble of accidental arrogance. The above sentence is from Nick Johnson's blog on ...
3
votes
2answers
365 views

What is a 'snake-oil program'?

What is a snake-oil program? Source Stay Safe Online article
4
votes
2answers
678 views

“Lots of milk and sugar” or “lots of milk and (lots) of sugar”

When asking how someone wants their tea, they reply: "lots of milk and sugar". Is that to be interpreted as "Lots of milk and sugar" or "lots of milk and (lots) of sugar" according to the rules of ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

Expression “that's the top and bottom of it”?

What is the meaning of the expression "that's the top and bottom of it"? In which situations can be used?
1
vote
3answers
190 views

“Or so say scientists in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.”

The sentence is from the transcript of a podcast: What does a bookworm have in common with a black-tufted marmoset? They both like a little quiet. Or so say scientists in the Royal Society journal ...
1
vote
3answers
297 views

Please explain constructions in the following paragraph

I took the following sentences from the book, "Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century" I bolded particularly confusing parts and would appreciate some explanation. Europe is still in the ...
1
vote
3answers
713 views

What does “shot” mean in this context?

Another shot before we kiss the other side. This is from Lady Gaga's recent song, "Edge of Glory." A subtitled video can be seen here. This is probably better than just reading the lyrics.
3
votes
6answers
15k views

What does the saying “any time now” really mean?

Any time now Nana will show up with the cookies. What is the meaning of "any time now"? Should "any time" be one word or two? The words seem to conflict and are sort of nebulous because now refers ...
6
votes
3answers
12k views

What does this mean: To be thus is nothing; But to be safely thus

This is taken from Shakespeare's Macbeth, and I am having difficulty comprehending what this means. Can someone please put it into normal English, with all explanations?
3
votes
3answers
5k views

Is 'quiescing' a valid word? What does it mean?

What does quiescing mean in the following context? Quiescing a Database http://download.oracle.com/docs/cd/B19306_01/server.102/b14231/start.htm
1
vote
4answers
370 views

“He is to resist the vulgar prosperity that retrogrades ever to barbarism”

In the quote, "He is to resist the vulgar prosperity that retrogrades ever to barbarism" What does resist mean? to tolerate to protest What does vulgar prosperity mean? obscene prosperity ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

What does “should something happen” mean?

What is the meaning of should loss occur in the following text? Backup and recovery procedures protect your database against data loss and reconstruct the data, should loss occur. The ...
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
788 views

Is ‘beetle-black eyes’ expressing their owner’s character?

Hagrid's real intention, however, was to talk to Harry away from the rest of the class. He waited until everyone else had set off with their skrewts, then turned to Harry and said, very seriously, "So ...
0
votes
1answer
642 views

What is a G2K company?

What is a G2K company? I assume G2K does not mean good to know. SMB/SME companies don't have the resources to hire 1-3 social managers, incorporate listening and engaging platforms like a G2K ...
2
votes
2answers
420 views

Meaning of “he takes the cross of making his own”

For the ease and pleasure of treading the old road, accepting the fashions, the education, the religion of society, he takes the cross of making his own, and, of-course, the self-accusation, the faint ...
0
votes
1answer
726 views

Meaning of “intriguing” in the following sentence

Reading comprehension is one of the most important parts of any management entrance examination and a bit intriguing as well. Does it mean: Challenging? Interesting? Provocative? All these ...
3
votes
1answer
680 views

Would one call this situation ironic, sarcastic or …? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What are the similarities and differences between “irony” and “sarcasm”? Say I buy myself a CD of an album titled Scratch and the actual CD has a ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Meaning of “build-up”

What does "build-up" mean here: Many hair products contain chemicals which can cause build-up, resulting in dull hair or a change in perceived texture.
1
vote
1answer
682 views

Meaning of “cut loose and cause havoc” in the following sentence

When Uncle Fred suggests to his nephew a visit to a suburb, once an estate owned by an uncle when he was younger, Pongo is amazed and relieved, believing the suburbs do not hold anything like the ...
5
votes
3answers
402 views

Meaning of “bulging with Pongo's lunch” in the following sentence

From Uncle Fred Flits By by P.G. Wodehouse: The meaning of bulging by dictionary is: protruding part, a sudden increase in number or quantity, and last is: an advantage. I don't see any of these fit ...
3
votes
2answers
743 views

Meaning of “I've been doing this long enough to drink”

Here is the context I've been a software developer for twenty-one years -- among other things, that means I've been doing this long enough to drink! ;-) But seriously, though, I can't imagine ...
3
votes
2answers
513 views

Meaning of “Almost every kinky kind was being had and enjoyed.”

I saw this sentence in NYT OP: "Almost every kinky kind was being had and enjoyed." What does the part in bold mean? What grammar rules pertain to it?
14
votes
6answers
116k views

What is meant by “pun intended”?

I am not a native speaker of English. I came across many articles which used the phrase "pun intended". In many cases I am not able to grasp the meaning of the sentence as what this phrase mean in the ...
7
votes
5answers
76k views

Usage of 'Dear All' [duplicate]

Is it correct to use "Dear All" at the beginning of the e-mail, when you are writing to more than one person? It seems so informal to me. Is there any better way?
2
votes
1answer
3k views

What’s the meaning of ‘they don’t make them like that’?

(As an incredibly beautiful girl with silvery hair crossed the Hall, many boys gaped at her.) "I’m telling you, that's not a normal girl!" said Ron, leaning sideways so he could keep a clear view ...
14
votes
9answers
64k views

What does “double-down” mean when used in a context other than Blackjack?

I saw the phrase “double-down” in the following sentence of the Washington Post article (June 28, 2011) titled “Why Michele Bachmann is no Sarah Palin.” “Palin is notorious for doubling-down on ...
1
vote
1answer
754 views

What’s the meaning of ‘smooth chin’?

“Well … it is amazing,” said Bagman, rubbing his smooth chin and smiling down at Harry. “But, as you know, the age restriction was only imposed this year as an extra safety measure. (…The rest is ...
4
votes
4answers
6k views

What is the origin of being in “hot water”?

When a person is suspected of doing something that is wrong, they are said to be in "hot water". Why? Did law breakers long ago have hot water thrown on them for their punishment? Were they dunked in ...
4
votes
2answers
294 views

Meaning of “the body soon learns to stand down in the face of fat”

The following is from the transcript of a podcast. Dieters can choose from an array of snacktackular options in which sugars and fats are replaced by artificial, low-calorie substitutes. That ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Meaning of “poured it on and poured it out”

In this part of the song "2 Out Of 3 Ain't Bad " by Jim Steinman, I cannot understand the phrase "poured it on and poured it out": ... And maybe you can cry all night But that'll never change ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Meaning of “two out of three ain't bad”

In this song's lyrics, I cannot understand the phrase "two out of three ain't bad" : ... I want you, I need you But there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you Now don't be sad 'Cause two ...
15
votes
7answers
9k views

Difference between “commit suicide” and “suicide”

One of the examples in my English composition book (for learning to write my language's sentences in English) was "Why he committed suicide under such a good circumstance is an unsolved question.", ...
4
votes
3answers
17k views

“Punctuality is the politeness of kings.”

Can someone please explain the meaning of: Punctuality is the politeness of kings.
6
votes
3answers
282 views

Is “latte” a countable noun?

I have learned that liquids are uncountable, except for measurements such as "three cups of water." So, does "three lattes" in this context refer to three cups of latte?
9
votes
1answer
1k views

“You were already having been going to do that!”

From one of the Futurama episodes: Farnsworth A: You people and your slight differences disgust me. I'm going home. Where's that blue box with our universe in it? Farnsworth 1: Oh, ...
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Meaning of “The most I ever did for you, was to outlive you, / But that is much”

What did the poet mean by the following lines? The most I ever did for you, was to outlive you, But that is much. — Edna St. Vincent Millay I am not able to understand the meaning completely,...