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

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8
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4answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “Already wet, aren’t they? Little squirts!”?

“Peeves, get down here NOW!” barked Professor McGonagall, straightening her pointed hat and glaring upward through her square-rimmed spectacles. “Not doing nothing!” cackled Peeves, lobbing a ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

Meaning in context and grammar

From Narnia book 1 chapter 1: "Is Mr Ketterley really mad?" "Well either he's mad," said Digory, "or there's some other mystery. He has a study on the top floor and Aunt Letty says I ...
4
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2answers
822 views

What's the meaning of “six words away”?

What's the meaning for "six words away"? I heard it repeatedly in the movie Coach Carter. Edit: In the scene in a bus, when the coach blasts the team for sneaking out to a party without informing ...
3
votes
2answers
100k views

What does “run of house” mean with regard to hotel room type

I have seen a room type at a hotel like below; Family Room 2 Bedrooms & Living Room Run of The House Everything is OK except the Run of The House thing. What does it exactly mean here? ...
8
votes
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 ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

How to understand “like it or not”?

This is from the transcript of a podcast. How many times has it happened to you: you’re sitting around watching a rerun of Friends and you think: Man, if only I could catch a whiff of that ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

What does “wound up” mean in this case?

What does "wound up" mean in this case? And is it treated as adjective? In The Magician's Nephew from C.S. Lewis's Narnia series: "Alright, I have then," said Digory in a much louder voice, like ...
1
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2answers
176 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 ...
1
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2answers
2k views

“It’s the height of the season”?

The question is from the transcript of a podcast: Mmmm, blueberries. It’s the height of the season, and I’ve been tossing a handful onto cereal, into pancakes or just straight into my mouth. I ...
2
votes
2answers
578 views

Is “gets” the correct tense to describe a continuous process in “John gets mentored on a daily basis”?

John gets a mentor to guide him throughout his life. — OR — He gets mentored on a daily basis. I believe this is just as acceptable as the simple past: John got a mentor to guide him ...
2
votes
2answers
920 views

Meaning of “set such store” (not a shop)

I can't understand this sentence: No other professor in Great Britain set such store by being called Professor. In this case store is not a shop or a place to store something. I guess that the ...
4
votes
3answers
625 views

What does “wicking” mean in “aircraft quality wicking”?

I read the following from an aircraft magazine where it describes a product: XXX Product is Aircraft Quality Wicking!! The product is a polishing product that one can use to polish something ...
1
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3answers
2k views

What does “which” mean in this sentence?

This sentence is from a transcript of a podcast: The researchers say that even mammals that breed year round—which should offer protection against seasonal shifts—may still feel the impact of ...
8
votes
1answer
301 views

“But winter babies are more likely to die before they turn one.”?

The question is from the post here. I don't understand what does the last sentence mean here. The Chillinghams can give birth all year, not just spring and summer like most U.K. mammals. And the ...
4
votes
2answers
6k views

Meaning of “pragmatic” [closed]

What is the meaning of pragmatic in this example? Another C construct, the #pragma directive, is used to instruct the compiler to use pragmatic or implementation-dependent features. A most ...
15
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6answers
4k views

What is implied in calling someone “Citizen”?

In many dystopian stories, people call each other citizen. In other contexts too, I'm thinking Citizen Kane for example. Why? What is implied here?
5
votes
1answer
5k views

It's a little low on grist

In the movie Easy A, Emma Stone's character has the following conversation with her parents: Mother: What's the rumor mill churning out these days, anything interesting? Girl: You know, not ...
4
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3answers
3k views

In the sentence “Each time you sleep with someone, you also sleep with his past,” what does “past” mean?

I saw this sentence in a website: Each time you sleep with someone, you also sleep with his past. What is the 'past' mentioned here?
3
votes
3answers
621 views

What does “crowding out” mean?

The risk is at some point, the bond market vigilantes are going to wake up in the U.S., like they did in Europe, pushing interest rates higher and crowding out the recovery. What does "crowding ...
3
votes
1answer
199 views

“I'm all mashed up inside.”

I'm all mashed up inside. Inside the Lost (TV series) a guy named Boone who got desperately injured imparted his physical situation to the doctor with the above sentence. The guy prefers to die, ...
3
votes
1answer
308 views

“Touring team” vs. “Exhibition team”

When we are not playing competitive games, our three touring teams play against three exhibition teams. What do the bold terms mean?
1
vote
1answer
485 views

Usage of 'yesterday' for future [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: I need <something> yesterday? For couple of times, mostly in movies, I realized that yesterday is commonly used for future. Here is an example sentence: I want ...
62
votes
10answers
7k views

What's the difference between the adjectives “strategic” and “tactical”?

I recently read this sentence: It was a strategic move rather than a tactical one. I have trouble interpreting it. Can someone help?
1
vote
2answers
155 views

“The odor of strong rum made a greasy pass through the room.”

I found the sentence as a ldoce sample sentence for "odor". The odor of strong rum made a greasy pass through the room. "... made a greasy pass through the room". What does the writer mean? ...
26
votes
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.
4
votes
2answers
5k views

Damage vs. Damages

The word damage is non-count and its plural turns into a different definition (court-awarded money). Am I incorrect in thinking that damages can also be used to indicate various types/kinds of damage? ...
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 ...
7
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3answers
634 views

“I was fresh out of pies to throw at you”

The sentence was in Lost (TV Series). I got the overall meaning of the sentence. But what does it exactly mean? [SAWYER pointing a gun at JACK] JACK: Trying to be funny? SAWYER: Yeah, I ...
11
votes
7answers
1k views

Can I use the term 'America' to signify just the United States?

I write legal marketing materials. Does the term 'America' signify Canada + USA + Mexico, etc. to readers abroad or will they know that I'm talking specifically about the USA?
3
votes
1answer
7k views

What's the meaning of “plays in the minds of someone”?

What's the meaning of the phrase "plays in minds of someone". For example, in the sentence below. The significance of the IELTS is a fact that plays in the minds of hopeful migrants like Mr. ...
1
vote
3answers
5k views

What does it mean : to cut it anymore?

I was reading in Wall Street Journal that says: ..., the company BlackBerry just doesn't cut it anymore. What does the phrase mean?
3
votes
2answers
412 views

What does ‘Lower oneself for farewell swim’ mean? Is this a sport related jargon?

I saw the phrase “(Donnie) Welsh refrained from lowering himself for a farewell swim,” in New York Time’s sport article (June 3rd) titled “Ungainly Knicks Lose a Man of Elegance.” The article starts ...
2
votes
3answers
519 views

Do English speaking people jeer at big feet?

(Harry, Ron, and Hermione were walking through woods at night. Then Ron yelled with pain. When Hermione threw the light over him,) Ron was lying sprawled on the ground. “Tripped over a tree ...
2
votes
1answer
13k views

“is it me, or…” meaning and usage

What does "is it me, or..." mean? Examples: Perhaps it is just me, but I find Intel's ultrabook pitch somewhat confusing. Is it me, or is this a bug?
3
votes
3answers
769 views

What does “vipers” mean here?

Yeah, the cut throats and the pigs. But who wants all that blood spilled, judge, huh? Isn't there a simpler way of not pissing off the big vipers?” – Al Swearengen From the show Deadwood What ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

What are “excess deaths”?

Study Claims Iraq's 'Excess' Death Toll Has Reached 655,000 Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/10/AR2006101001442.html
1
vote
2answers
10k views

Grease quote explanation “Pinkslips ownership papers?”

My son loves Grease and watches it over and over. So I am starting memorizing it all, but there are some phrases I don't understand. Please explain exactly what this part means (it is before the car ...
10
votes
6answers
75k views

What does “dirty” mean in relation to a drink?

I saw in a movie a girl asking for a "very dirty" drink. Did she want higher alcohol content? I searched definitions of dirty but I couldn't find any related to a drink.
2
votes
3answers
9k views

“May I come in?” is misleading?

Yesterday I saw a lesson of English on TV. The teacher asked to some people to translate (from Italian) some expression. One is: "What can you say to a person to invite him into your office?" and lot ...
4
votes
3answers
785 views

I cannot understand what's being asked here

What are the ways in which the universal, inclusive conception of French nationalism was tested by a (racially-conceived) particularistic, exclusive one? I'm at loss, I don't know what's being ...
2
votes
3answers
408 views

Should I use “vue de l'esprit” in English?

I'm a French-native-speaker. I'm not sure in which cases the French expression vue de l'esprit should be used, or if it should not be used. Is there any general case or rule? For example, I have a ...
22
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6answers
159k views

Meaning and usage of “bite me”

I often come across the phrase bite me in many TV shows. What does it mean and is there a specific context in which this phrase can be used?
6
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3answers
1k views

What are the differences between “mimic” and “copy”?

I found this thread on wordreference.com in which it is claimed that "mimic" has frivolous connotations and "copy" has derogatory connotations. Specifically I am wondering how this distinction may ...
17
votes
10answers
6k views

“Do you want to live forever?”

There's a famous story about a Marine sergeant at the Battle of Belleau Wood shouting "Come on, you apes. Do you want to live forever?" It's been attributed to several people; a character in ...
9
votes
4answers
14k views

Meaning of “No dark sarcasm in the classroom” [closed]

The phrase is, of course, from one of the good Pink Floyd songs: Another Brick In The Wall. I always wonder what could it possibly refer to in the context of the song and in general context. I mean, ...
4
votes
2answers
4k views

What is meant by the phrase “Charlie Brown management”?

Recently I came to hear the term "Charlie Brown management" in a news article. I tried searching the net on this term, but didn't get anything useful. Please help me to decipher this idiom.
3
votes
2answers
355 views

What does “non-authors” and “canonical redirects” mean in this sentence?

Prevent sniffing out user names of non-authors by using canonical redirects? What does canonical redirects and non-authors mean?
2
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4answers
317 views

Is there any difference in meaning between these sentences?

A: Positive and negative numbers cannot satisfy the condition. B: Positive or negative numbers cannot satisfy the condition. C: Non-zero numbers cannot satisfy the condition.
3
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1answer
356 views

Is this letter censuring or just being sarcastic?

This is a letter by physicist Richard Feynman to his university's student newspaper. I am a non-native english speaker and I have trouble understanding in what spirit this letter was written them, is ...
3
votes
1answer
4k views

Meaning of the counting rhyme “Eenie Meenie Miney Moe”

Counting rhymes are as we know, used for determining who is it.So last week, we were playing chili-chili-water, and my friend told me that the counting rhynme "Eenie Meenie Miney Moe" actually had a ...