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

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5
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1answer
645 views

Is “go all coy over stg.” an idiom or simple combination of words?

I found the phrase “go all coy over reports “in the following sentence of Washington Post (May 12) article introducing CBS’s reported deal with Ashton Kutcher in replacing him Charlie Sheen as the ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Is “he is a proven commodity” a common phrase?

I find many unfamiliar phrases in readers' comments on the statements of political figures and articles on news sites these days. I can't tell if they are accepted usage. Comment posters could be ...
2
votes
4answers
9k views

Does “intense” have a negative meaning?

I always thought that intense has a positive meaning, meaning something that has no tensions, therefore an intense activity is actually a fun activity. So, what does intense exactly mean? A few days ...
0
votes
1answer
415 views

Why is this ‘loved’ italicized? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Usage of italics in writing “But I was patient. I wrote back. I was sympathetic, I was kind. Ginny simply loved me. No one’s ever understood me like you, Tom...I’m so ...
3
votes
1answer
775 views

What is the meaning and usage of the word “dense”?

I often come across people saying to each other: I don't want to be too dense here, but… What does the term dense imply in such contexts?
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Could “lolcat” be used to mean “something funny”?

The lolcat came from a problem with the Stack Overflow API. Is this usage of lolcat generally understood?
19
votes
10answers
13k views

How should “deceptively” actually be used?

I'm not sure if this is a duplicate question, but I couldn't find anything on here on the topic. I can't seem to figure out what is actually meant when using the word "deceptive," or rather, what is ...
1
vote
10answers
270 views

“High Accident Intersection”

I was challenged recently to solve this problem. An accident takes place on an intersection on a high road. However, if I was to write about this as taken place in a "high accident intersection" it ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the exact meaning of the following sentence?

What is the exact meaning of the sentence below? We can't try to get away with something in an academic paper that we would abhor in a political debate (or worse yet, in a political ...
3
votes
1answer
413 views

What does “flunked vacation and flunked relaxing" mean?

Today’s Washington Post (May 10) portrays what the SEAL who shot bin Laden looks like under the headline,. “Who shot bin Laden? Former SEALs fill in the blank.” In this article, former Navy SEALs ...
4
votes
2answers
392 views

Shakespearean discovery of the modern mind

In this interview on the TV show The Wire, David Simon (the show's creator) says: Much of our modern theater seems rooted in the Shakespearean discovery of the modern mind. [The show is] ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

What does the word “rolling” mean in “rolling grassland”?

I found the following definition of "prairie" online: An extensive area of flat or rolling grassland, especially the large plain of central North America. I understand what "flat grassland" ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Can somebody help me to understand this love saying? [closed]

If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he and I was I...
2
votes
2answers
5k views

Logic behind “at most”

Does the term 'at most' mean there is at least one?
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 ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

What does “Bit it” mean?

I came across the phrase ‘bit it’ in the quote from Washington Post’s William Branigin’s comment to support the Washington’s decision not to show the picture of the dead body of Osama bin Laden in ...
8
votes
3answers
5k views

What does “it’s not going to suck itself ” mean?

In Goa, I see tourists wearing t-shirts that have the following text on them, along with a red arrow: It’s not going to suck itself What does this mean?
3
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the exact meaning of the line, “No closure. That word should be stricken from the English language"?

I’m a little bit hesitant to post this question in view of the gravity and seriousness of the matter to those who are directly involved with the 9/11 tragedies. But as a newspaper reader, I would like ...
7
votes
3answers
16k views

What does “ad-hoc” mean?

I read some articles that used ad-hoc like an adjective. Questions: What exactly does it mean in this paragraph: Needless to say, all of that is pretty painful and error prone. Sure, once ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

What is a “feal”?

I have been reading Scott's Waverley, or 'tis Sixty Years Since, and in that book, a lawyer is describing an estate surrounding a manor house. That estate is said to include... the fortalice and ...
7
votes
4answers
13k views

“When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?”

What do delve and span mean in this quotation from John Ball's sermon addressing the rebels of the Peasant's Revolt? When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman? It doesn't seem ...
2
votes
1answer
239 views

What is the difference between “Prince William and Kate Middleton Marry” and “Prince William and Kate Middleton were married”?

In today’s New York Times (April. 30th) I saw the following line under the caption of “Royal Wedding”: “Prince William and Kate Middleton Marry: Prince William and Kate Middleton were married on ...
0
votes
1answer
161 views

What does “even the Generation is still in motion” mean in this passage?

The Beat Generation is a group of American post-WWII writers who came to prominence in the 1950s, as well as the cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired. Central elements of ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the 'alternative forms of sexuality'?

The Beat Generation is a group of American post-WWII writers who came to prominence in the 1950s, as well as the cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired. Central elements of ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

What is a “clout”?

I came across this sentence in Froude's English Seamen in the Sixteenth Century discussing the actions of Queen Elizabeth... She preferred to let her subjects discover for themselves that the ...
3
votes
3answers
796 views

What does the “leave” mean in “parental leave” and “unpaid leave”?

Reading an article on The Washington Post I found this: "The study pointed out that the United States is the only OECD country that does not have a national paid parental leave policy. Some ...
3
votes
2answers
211 views

Are phrases with implicit meanings considered incorrect/wrong?

An example phrase is ... Internet is out ... The implicit word here is "connection." The full phrase would be ... Internet connection is out ... Is the first incorrect? Is there a general ...
2
votes
4answers
602 views

What does “left the rest behind” mean in this sentence?

Sonneti are now creating for customers who left the rest behind
1
vote
2answers
208 views

Is “putting out an honest product” a valid phrase?

I don't know where I picked up the phrase seeing as Google has very few literal hits, but I want to use "I'm looking for an employer who [....] is putting out an honest product" in a job search ad. ...
3
votes
2answers
551 views

What does “one needn't stand on trifles” mean?

I'm reading "The Portrait of a Lady" by Henry James, and I found the following two sentences. "I suppose that after a girl has refused an English lord she may do anything," her aunt rejoined. ...
-1
votes
1answer
670 views

Does the word “welfare” have an abbreviation?

I was listening to a lecture about Mercantilism where I heard a word that sounded like Welf. I tried to find if this word exists but I didn't find. In the lecture I heard this: The amassing of ...
1
vote
2answers
676 views

What does it mean to be “clipping an r”? Why is that a qualification for celebrities to be invited to the royal wedding?

The Washington Post (April 24) ran an article about the royal wedding under the title, “In London, the royal wedding haters have had enough.” I was interested in the expression, “the wedding ate the ...
3
votes
1answer
911 views

What does “literary dependence” mean?

I'm reading a book titled "Map Is Not Territory" by J. Z. Smith. And in the book, it says "This suggests, without arguing direct LITERARY DEPENDENCE, a community and continuity of tradition." (p.31). ...
1
vote
3answers
260 views

Meaning of “Make what's-her-name feel special this Mother's Day.”

Especially, the "what's-her-name" part.
4
votes
1answer
19k views

“To be is to do” — “To do is to be” — “Do-be-do-be-do”: what does this mean?

To be is to do. —Socrates To do is to be. —Plato Do-be-do-be-do. —Sinatra I saw it on some shirts or somewhere. I don’t understand what it means when those sentences are put together.
1
vote
1answer
900 views

“In the middle of riddle” means what?

There is a song whose lyrics is given below... Can anyone tell what exactly "in the middle of riddle" means? At the edge of the moon there's a lonely man And he blows on his horn as strong ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the meaning of “hypos” here in this passage from Moby Dick?

Yesterday, I asked a question over at the Gaming StackExchange, and eventually received an answer whose primary thrust was this wonderfully written passage from Moby Dick: My questions are: What ...
2
votes
2answers
335 views

What does “T-securities” mean?

I came across the word T-securities in the following comment of one of readers to the article of the Time magazine (April 19) titled “Don’t worry about the U.S. debt. - The world too vested in America ...
3
votes
4answers
528 views

“Did it go down your *muffler*?”

I read a narrative where the author was talking about her childhood. She said that one day she and her father, a brother and a sister were inside the car, the kids were eating popcorn and drinking ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Difference between “keep something on”, “hang something on”, and “leave something on”

I came across three verb + on phrases in today’s New York Times article written by Maureen Dowd and titled “Stripped off Dignity”; it dealt with unpleasant airport pat-down practices. In the ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

What does “just above chance” mean?

Each classifier in the group is a “weak” classifier (only just above chance performance). What does "only just above chance performance" mean?
3
votes
3answers
928 views

Ununderstood English-language joke [closed]

In a song video made by an American acquaintance, there is a joke that I don't understand. Here is the context: "Alfresco" and "Pentaho" are two non-competing software applications that can be used ...
30
votes
4answers
72k views

“Best Before” says “11 MA 23”; is it May or March?

I bought a bottle of juice today, and the "Best Before" date it's "11 MA 23". I always see "MA" as for March, but the store staff said that was May. What is your opinion?
7
votes
3answers
4k views

“Kebabs, fruit machines, and brasses” — what do these slang words mean?

More from the British movie The Football Factory. In the following dialogue, the main character, a Cockney English speaker played by actor Danny Dyer, waxes philosophical about why he enjoys being a ...
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 ...
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 ...
1
vote
1answer
109 views

When would one write “con[struction]”?

A quote in a book contained the word "con[struction]." It was used just as the word construct would have been. Is con ever used as an abbreviation of construction? Would there be any other reason to ...
2
votes
1answer
131 views

“It's fast and in motion.”

Metro is our design language. We call it Metro because it's modern and clean. It's fast and in motion. It's about content and typography. And it's entirely authentic. In this context, what the ...
10
votes
6answers
2k views

What does “I’m like, c’mon guys. I’m the president of the United States.” imply?

The Washington Post (April 14) reported President Obama's off-the-cuff remark during a meeting with donors in Chicago held on April 13th under the title: "Obama riffs with donors: Where are the cool ...
3
votes
1answer
174 views

What do “Tea-Paw” and “Tea-Paw Tax double header” mean?

I found the word, ‘Tea-Paw’ in headlines of articles of both Time magazine (March 31) and StarTribune (March 1st). Time's headline says "The Tea-Paw tax double header," followed by the lead copy, ...