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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

6
votes
3answers
809 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 ...
6
votes
11answers
44k views

New (slang?) meaning of bass?

I have come across the song "About that bass" by Meghan Trainor, and was wondering what "bass" and "treble" mean in the chorus, which goes: Because you know I'm all about that bass, 'Bout that ...
6
votes
3answers
13k views

Why does “I am in your debt” mean the opposite of what it suggests?

I don't understand why if someone says "I am in your debt" it seems to mean the opposite of the literal meaning. The person saying this says that they are in the debt of the person the phrase is ...
6
votes
2answers
344 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
224 views

What does “might” exactly mean in the following excerpt?

This is a excerpt from Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, and I want to know the exact meaning of might regarding the context. Some say by might we mean: being allowed to and some say it ...
6
votes
1answer
181 views

“along” in “the wolf passed something along to me”

Here is a quote by Jack Nicolson from the movie "Wolf": Since it happened I feel as though the wolf passed something along to me. I wonder why is along needed in that sentence? What difference ...
6
votes
2answers
313 views

What does “Pinkest of papers” mean?

I was reading G.K. Chesterton's stories of Father Brown, and in the story "The Mistake of the Machine" (c.1914), I saw this phrase : It seemed to be an extract from one of the pinkest of American ...
6
votes
3answers
384 views

Structure of “As I passed by there looked out from it the face I showed you this afternoon”

While reading Oscar Wilde's The Sphinx without a secret, I came across the following passage: 'One evening,' he said, 'I was walking down Bond Street about five o'clock. There was a terrific crush ...
6
votes
2answers
81 views

Why does 'with' mean 'against' and not 'alongside' in phrases of opposition?

In phrases like fight with, argue with, combat with etc, why does with mean the subject is opposing the object (grammatical object, technically a human opponent)? Phrases like go with, study with, ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Is “SSA triangle problems may have zero or two solutions.” an ambiguous statement?

A test I took included the question True or false: SSA triangle problems may have zero or two solutions. SSA triangles, as was taught in the lesson, can have zero solutions, one solution, or ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Arguable (“susceptible to doubt”) vs arguable (“susceptible to being supported”)

According to dictionary.com, the adjective arguable has two definitions susceptible to debate, challenge, or doubt; questionable: Whether this is the best plan of action or not is arguable. ...
6
votes
3answers
8k 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?
6
votes
3answers
705 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
5k views

Reason vs. purpose

Just now I wanted to explain why I was doing something, then I wrote "the purpose of doing something is blablabla". Immediately I wondered why I didn't write "the reason of doing something is ...
6
votes
2answers
381 views

“If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be…” What does this mean?

I'm translating a book, which involves logic and quoted the sentence from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass: "If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ...
6
votes
1answer
278 views

'Remit' an antonym of itself?

Perhaps I don't fully understand the word, but it always confuses me. When talking about money: The money was remitted. Which means that the money was transmitted/transferred successfully. But ...
6
votes
2answers
656 views

Why can I say,'Why do you like her so much?' but not, 'Why do you like her very much?'

Why can I say,'Why do you like her so much?' but not, 'Why do you like her very much?' My answer is: 'Why' is evaluative and forces you to make (or consider) a comparison. Very cannot be used in ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

Difference between “she cut her hair” and “she cut her hair off”?

Why are we using off here? What additional meaning does it add? The meaning of off from http://tfd.com/off that suits this sentence is: "away (from a place, time etc.)".
5
votes
5answers
8k views

What does “the D word” mean in the context of discussing the pros and cons of marriage over co-habitation?

I came across a phrase unfamiliar to me, the D word, in an article of Time magazine (November 18, 2010 Issue) titled Who Needs Marriage? How an American institution is changing. The D word appears as ...
5
votes
5answers
832 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
419 views

Alan Turing’s “innings” meaning

In his 1948 essay Intelligent Machinery, Alan Turing defines a Logical Computing Machine as having: ...an infinite memory capacity obtained in the form of an infinite tape marked out into squares ...
5
votes
6answers
1k views

“Seize the night” vs. “Enjoy the night”

I was listening to "We Own the Night", by "The Wanted" and I realized the phrase "we are only young if we seize the night". Seize, in this case, sounds like enjoy, right? But, what's the contextual ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What does the expression “we are looking to you” mean?

What does the expression "we are looking to you" mean in the following sentence? Now that you have taken the test and have an understanding, we are looking to you to teach this to your ...
5
votes
5answers
550 views

How should I understand “beckon” in this sentence?

I learned the following sentence from The Economist. Perfectly efficient electric cables, more powerful generators and motors, magnetic levitation and a host of other technological wonders ...
5
votes
3answers
10k views

What does “möbius” (moebius) mean?

In Starcraft II there was a mission called The Moebius Factor. Unrelated to that, a new Futurama episode called Möbius Dick was recently released. Does anyone have any idea what does the word mean? ...
5
votes
3answers
721 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 ...
5
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “The city (Ferguson) learned too late that the well was dry” mean?

I scratched my head in understanding the meaning of the following passage in the article titled, “The tragedy of Ferguson” of Time magazine (September 1 issue). [Some excerpts appear at ...
5
votes
4answers
331 views

Meaning of “sterile perfection”

I came across the following lines: Make no mistake: the setting matters. There are many ways to listen to Indian classical music-in the private, somewhat sterile perfection of the CDs and DVDs ...
5
votes
3answers
457 views

What might “three several” mean?

The context is from a story I read recently in an omnibus (I found that link on the spur of the moment): ...were afterwards burnt to death in three several fires. I suppose three was meant, but ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

What does the phrase that 'I've all but..' mean in this sentence?

I found the sentence below in a book I'm reading: I've all but given up dating because I'm so tired of the pain and humiliation. What does I've all but mean in this context?
5
votes
3answers
447 views

What does “consound” mean?

Hello and happy holidays. While reading The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, I came across the expression "consound it" in Huck's dialogue parts. "Consound it, Tom Sawyer, you're just old pie, 'longside ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

What does “all rot” mean in here?

I expect someone lives there in secret, only coming in and out at night, with a dark lantern. We shall probably discover a gang of desperate criminals and get a reward. It's all rot to ...
5
votes
5answers
579 views

“Came undone” in this context?

I was listening to a song of Frank Sinatra's called It Was a Very Good Year. A certain part got my attention because I did not quite understand what it meant: When I was twenty-one, it was a very ...
5
votes
4answers
241 views

“Scores” = high amount? [closed]

Read a news on BBC, I have some questions regarding a word scores in this context: "A BBC team inside Syria filming for Panorama has witnessed the aftermath of a fresh horrific incident - an ...
5
votes
4answers
442 views

Is the headline of this blog correct?

Is the headline of this blog correct? Does Online Learning Offer the Same Value as Face-to-Face Instruction? College Presidents & the General Public Disagree When I read the headline I ...
5
votes
2answers
432 views

What does “sank like a Chevy Volt in water” mean?

The Mesh Report (October 11) issue disclosed President Obama was confident that he won at the first Presidential debate with Mitt Romney in the article titled “Clueless: Obama thought he won debate ...
5
votes
5answers
606 views

Is the word “all” implied by this question?

I saw a post on Programmers.StackExchange in which someone asks the question: Why do programmers [or anyone] give the "dead fish" hand shake in an interview? The responses to that question say ...
5
votes
3answers
677 views

“slap yourself five”

Any ideas about what the "slap yourself five" means in the following context? "When someone says something you disagree with, before you call that person names and slap yourself five for your ...
5
votes
5answers
7k views

Use of “Might” and “Might not”

I know "Might" and "Might not" means the lack of certainty, but is there an implied probability in the use of these terms? In other words, does "I might be coming" imply that "It is extremely likely ...
5
votes
2answers
851 views

What is a wheal?

Indulging some idle curiosity about Cornish mining I noticed that many of the mines are named wheal: Wheal Kitty, Wheal Jane and East Wheal Rose, among others. But the only dictionary definition I ...
5
votes
2answers
537 views

What does “You might want to put 30% down for yourself” mean?

In the movie Law Abiding Citizen, there is this dialog when Clyde is having meal in the cell at about 48 minutes: Clyde: Oh, excuse me, waiter? [The waiter looks at Cyde] Clyde: You ...
5
votes
2answers
966 views

What does ‘a woman with seriously good hair’ mean? Is “Good Hair” primarily applied to American-African ladies?

Further to my question about the use of ‘MFF’ on New York Times article ( Jan.29 ) titled “As State of the Union Nears, Congress Plays Musical Chairs,” I have a question about the meaning of the ...
5
votes
2answers
258 views

What did “eating 'mad cow'” mean in the 1800's?

In the December 1885 Lippincott's Magazine article COOKHAM DEAN, about an artistic area 40 miles up the Thames from London, Margaret Bertha Wright (an American author) wrote: Probably nine-tenths ...
5
votes
3answers
454 views

What did “make love” mean in the 1920s?

This 1921 article gives "Ten Pointers for Domestic Happiness". Pointer V reads: Make love to your wife; continue to be her sweetheart. Neglect begets indifference that is fatal to married life. ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

She was carrying twins and a bulky bag in her hands [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Using verbs with multiple meanings I am not sure if this is Indian English but the verb carry is often used in India to speak of a pregnant woman and often without an ...
5
votes
4answers
485 views

What is the meaning of the phrase “we-find-each-other's-lame-jokes-funny vibe”?

I learned the specified phrase from the book "Revolution 2020" by "Chetan Bhagath". I didn't like the we-find-each-other's-lame-jokes-funny vibe between Raghav and Aarti What is the meaning of ...
5
votes
5answers
3k 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
4answers
376 views

What does “Japan-lite problems” mean?

It’s pity to learn our own country is viewed as a bad example for other countries not to follow. I found the word “Japan-lite problems” in the article of Time magazine (August 25 issue) titled “Six ...
5
votes
1answer
678 views

What does Mitt Romney’s “I only spent four years as a governor? I didn’t inhale,” mean?

I was arrested by the former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney’s remark, “I only spent four years as a governor. I didn’t inhale,” made in the Republican Presidential candidates debate on Fox News ...