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

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Meaning of “thwarting centuries of would be conquerors ”

I got the following sentence from one of the GRE teaching websites. But I am not able to understand the bolded part in it. Thwarting centuries of would be conquerors, the Aztec fortress of ...
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1answer
84 views

Is there a quick and easy way to pronounce “W” letter? [duplicate]

I mean, there is a well known 'substitution' for number "0" with 'ou' sound. Like, '107' in military communications will be pronounced as 'one-ou-seven'. Is there similar kind of substitution for ...
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1answer
29 views

“first applied to” - June 12th 1799 Letter by John Marshall

I do not immediately recollect any others among the old officers whom I coud name for so high an office as the command of a regiment. I am aware that those I have mentiond cannot, shoud you on ...
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1answer
46 views

In Nothing - June 12th 1799 Letter by John Marshall

He was in our late army a lieut. Colo. & he performd the duties of that office with reputation. It is probable that he may feel wounded at being offerd the same grade under others whom he then ...
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3answers
179 views

What's the meaning of “pence” in this context?

This is a comment from a discussion on The effects of exercise on depression: For severe depression, this actually is pretty much the treatment routine. Pills to get just the tiniest amount of ...
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2answers
501 views

Meaning of “You might want to sit down for this”

And thanks, too, for contacting me, because you need to hear what I have to say. You might want to sit down for this. If you’re on anti-anxiety medication, all the better. What does the ...
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2answers
119 views

I don't understand the connection in the following sentence

I have a sentence like this: But every now and then, I longed to search for a tender stalk of arrowroot, to feel the tease of a mango, just out of reach. Is the mango out of reach or are the two ...
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2answers
123 views

Does “supposedly” have a negative connotation?

Put another way, would using "supposedly" in the following sentence upset a neutral tone? A variant of qi gong is external qi gong, wherein a qi gong master supposedly directs the flow of qi ...
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4answers
224 views

Etymology of the phrase “Twenty-three Skidoo” as used in “Hey Arnold!”

The phrase “Twenty-Three Skidoo” has a very interesting and mysterious history described very thoroughly by the wikipedia article on the phrase. However, this article seems to indicate it’s usually ...
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1answer
95 views

When a Brit is refering to 'the war' which war does she mean -WWI or WWII? [closed]

As the title says, when a Brit in modern times writes 'since the war' which war is being refereed to -WWI or WW2?
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1answer
60 views

What is a “review” in this context?

What is a review said on the following passage? Physical activity is being increasingly recognized as an effective tool to treat depression. PhD candidate George Mammen’s review published in the ...
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2answers
99 views

Meaning of “getting all its ducks”

As the Nexus 5 launch nears, we’re getting one more confirmation that Google is getting all its ducks in order before pushing the big chocolate KitKat covered GO button and releases the new ...
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2answers
85 views

“be in at the end I cannot”, from G.M.Hopkins' poem

There's a great poem by G.M. Hopkins, in which I but vaguely get the meaning of the two last stanzas, stumbling at properly parsing the sentences in my mind. In particular, I don't understand the ...
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3answers
78 views

Meaning of “limbic system on two legs with waterfalls”

"it made me a limbic system on two legs with waterfalls pouring out from my armpits" Source : http://yourbrainonporn.com/what-are-the-symptoms-of-excessive-porn-use lymbic system on LEGS? pouring ...
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3answers
208 views

how to introduce a girl who is friend and not girl-friend [duplicate]

Often times I have got across situations where I have to tell a girl that "I don't have a girlfriend but there are some girls who are friends" So I was looking for the right word here or a good ...
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1answer
61 views

“Entertain of” - June 12th 1799 Letter by John Marshall

... Virginia has sustaind a very serious loss which all good men will long lament, in the death of Mr Henry. He is said to have expird on thursday last. The intelligence is not absolutely certain ...
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2answers
150 views

Meaning of “I had just finished year 10 and summer break had begun”

I had just finished year 10 and summer break had begun. What's the meaning of that year 10? Does it mean his age is 10? Or does it mean it's his tenth year of his school?
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70 views

What did Dickens mean by the phrase, 'In which heathen state of mind…' in The Haunted House?

If this should meet the eye of the gentleman who favoured me with these disclosures, I trust he will excuse my confessing that the sight of the rising sun, and the contemplation of the magnificent ...
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3answers
78 views

Jumps vs. Leaps

Does a curve in science or finance have sudden jumps or sudden leaps? We talk about a discontinuous curve. My position is that jumps is more appropriate but I might be wrong.
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1answer
272 views

Can I say “in one respect..in other respect”?

It is clear that there is only one legal system, which in one respect should be designed rationally and discreetly, not conflicting with each other, in other respect should be good in the sense ...
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2answers
760 views

What does 'provision' exactly mean in a legal document?

Now I'm asked to look at a legal document(here) and answer the question that which provisions apply to a certain case. However, I don't know what the word 'provision' means in a legal context. ...
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1answer
120 views

Can “prodigious” be used in this context?

With his prodigious English skills, he can get a decent job in a foreign company in Shanghai. (form the homework written by my student) I found the first part of the sentence problematic, there ...
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813 views

The meaning and usage of “be against this background”

The sentence I saw it in is: It was against this background that Mitsubishi approached KFC with a proposal to start a joint venture in Japan. It seems to mean "in the case", but I'm not sure and ...
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1answer
79 views

Meaning of “somewhere between reading and slough” [closed]

When the baby looked up at me from its wicker basket and winked on the opposite seat somewhere between reading and slough I became uneasy. I don't know what the meaning of "somewhere between ...
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2answers
74 views

“than such as” + Predicate

To Alexander Hamilton Mount Vernon Novr 10th 1787. ... The new Constitution has, as the public prints will have informed you, been handed to the people of this state by an unanimous ...
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1answer
51 views

Meaning of “Object” in James Madison's 1783 Letter

What is the meaning of object in the last paragraph ? Please divulge the steps and thought processes behind your deduction. I'm vacillating between these two, the first of which I'm well acquainted ...
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1answer
51 views

“which a life of Patriotism eminently entitles and quallifies, to enjoy.” - Letter from March 6th 1797 by Oliver Ellsworth

With the same ardour that I have sought the felicity and glory of your Administration, do I now implore for you in repose, those sublime pleasures from a review of the past and perspective of the ...
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156 views

Can “good” and “well” be used interchangeably?

I told someone I was doing good in my new community, and they thought I was talking about my well being. When I told them that I meant I was doing good in the community like in a helping out ...
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1answer
175 views

Meaning of “would” in “the men of Gotham would have kept the Cuckoo so that she might sing all the year”

A fairy tale begins: Once upon a time the men of Gotham would have kept the Cuckoo so that she might sing all the year, and in the midst of their town they made a hedge round in compass and they ...
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1answer
109 views

Etymology of the word “generator” when used in the context “random name generator” [closed]

I'm also curious to hear synonyms for this meaning-in-context; the idea that "this is a thing which generates other things algorithmically." Sorry for the pathetic definition that uses the word ...
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1answer
237 views

What does “would be in” mean in this sentence?

I have been learning Python programming from a book and I came across a sentence which I can't understand! When you enter this code in the IDLE, it will automatically indent, so be sure to press ...
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2answers
131 views

Meaning of “aesthetic lighting feature” in context [closed]

High-end retailers such as Tiffany and Hermes do their best to stimulate all the senses in building their brand experience, which may include aesthetic lighting features and enchanting aromas. ...
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48 views

Made + Advance and Made + Afford?

I'm flummoxed by how these bolded clauses from The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith should be parsed, structured, and interpreted. I'm not asking about its philosophy. The produce of the ...
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128 views

How is “stripping such words as remained of orthodox meanings” meant to be understood grammatically?

I was wondering if someone could help me out with a certain phrase I want to grasp the meaning of. I have two different meanings in my mind, and I was hoping that someone could point out the right ...
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2answers
60 views

The use of the term “absolutions”

I am curious as to if anyone else has heard of, seen, or used the term "absolutions." I purchased William F. Buckley, Jr.'s book The Lexicon a few weeks back, and this is one of the first words that ...
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3answers
368 views

What does this sentence mean in this paragraph?

It is often claimed-by mountaineers needless to say-that mountaineering has a more distinguished literature than any other sport or pastime.Certainly, the best of what is written in the major ...
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90 views

“Company's engineer” - What does it mean in this context?

What is company's engineer in this context? Does it refer to the stakeholders? If aircraft maker Boeing is trying to win a contract from United Airlines, it will emphasize different qualities when ...
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1answer
254 views

Meaning and etymology of “Crabbit” [closed]

What does this phrase mean? Being a crabbit is not gonna make it any easier for you.
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4answers
190 views

Meaning of “misuse of the word 'only'” in context

I am reading the book Learning Python by Mark Lutz, in which there's a passage I don't understand: I also want to thank my original editor at O’Reilly, the late Frank Willison. This book was ...
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4answers
79 views

A “friend” friend? Is that ironical?

Here is a quote from the "Lois & Clark" series: A: Who are you? B [a guy]: I'm a friend of her ["her" is another female character whom B is looking for]. A: A boyfriend, a "friend" friend ...
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2answers
82 views

Meaning of “And a more strange narrative than the two between them unfold it has not been my lot to come across”

I am puzzled by the line "And a more strange narrative than the two between them unfold it has not been my lot to come across." in Dracula. Would any native speaker be so kind to tell me its meaning? ...
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1answer
120 views

What does “Eat Lunch or be lunch” mean in this context?

I came across this phrase: The problem facing companies today is that there are too many fishermen and not enough fish in the market. It's a matter of eat lunch or be lunch - or, as stated by ...
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3answers
83 views

What's the meaning of 'deflating mots' in this sentence?

I'm graduating in translation and one of my 2nd semester's works is a movie review about Philomena. I am stuck, however, at this part: (He's an) expert purveyor of deflating mots on any subject, ...
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1k views

What is meant by the (slang) word “tool,” when used to refer to a person?

Etymonline.com gives a lot of definitions regarding an implement or instrument, specifically inanimate objects. But the word has crept into English slang in reference to people, as in "he is a total ...
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1answer
113 views

Meaning of “but if I can't do better, how is it to be helped?” [closed]

The following is an excerpt from the novel, Jane Eyre. I don't quite understand the meaning of the italicized sentence. Would someone please enlighten me on that? "It is a long way to Ireland, ...
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562 views

Meaning of “at least Dick Turpin wore a mask”

I tried to sell my stuff and one of the guys asked me if I could bargain on the item and I said no. He replied with the message, At least Dick Turpin wore a mask. What does that mean?
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171 views

Meaning of verb in infinitive phrases

I took my car to the garage to have them check the air-conditioner. To watch Uncle Billy tell this story is an eye-opening experience. What is the meaning of the verbs check and tell in ...
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126 views

What role does the phrase “the way” perform in this sentence?

Walter thought she was wonderful the way she was (1). Whatever she did, he marveled. If she espoused extreme points of view, he was impressed by her arguments; when she shocked society by ...
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65 views

Paraphrasing a context [closed]

What I can infer from the passage is, about about taking the possession by military force. Is it right? The above writing seems arduous to me to comprehend. I want to paraphrase it clearly but ...
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2answers
1k views

What does it mean to say that something is a “wash”? [closed]

I've heard the word "wash" used in unusual context, where it meant something like "a thing yielding no practical advantage". I would be interested to know if that's a correct interpretation, if there ...