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

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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?
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Can somebody help me to understand this love saying?

If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he and I was I...
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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 ...
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What is the meaning of “I got you”?

What does I got you mean? Does it mean Ok, I understood what you said or Hey, I know that you did that? If they are both correct, when should we use which?
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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Meaning of “one order of magnitude improvement”

There is no single development, in either technology or management technique, which by itself promises even one order of magnitude improvement in productivity, in reliability, in ...
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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 ...
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“Being incognito, I naturally add up”

I was interested in the following piece which appeared in an article titled "Let's Be Philosophical" by Russel Baker in The New York Times (January 25, 1987). It was that incident, in fact, that ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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What does “-bot” of “Obama-bot”, “GOP-bot” mean?

I came across the following sentence of the Time magazine’s article (March 22) dealing with the gaffe made by Mitt Romney’s adviser Eric Fehrnstrom who compared the frequent changes of Romney’s ...
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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 ...
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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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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 ...
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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 ...
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What is the difference between “each to one’s own,” and “a law unto-oneself”? Are they totally different idioms?

I came across two different idioms, “a law untothemselves” and “each to his own” in the scene then British Army Captain, later a global media tycoon, Dick Armstrong, plotting to rob Julius Hahn, a ...
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“Inside” or “inside of”

I've been reading this text: When you define a type, you can define static data fields within it. The bytes that back these static data fields are allocated within the type objects themselves. ...
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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.
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What does ‘government shutdown’ mean exactly? [closed]

Today's Washington Post has the article Congress, Obama Brace for Showdown as Government Shutdown Looms, which contains the following sentence: The prospect of a government shutdown appeared ...
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What does “trollpoking” mean?

The edit summary here says: cleaned up a bit, removed the trollpoking. I'm certain removing trollpoking is referring to the removal of: This answer is going to be deleted as off-topic, isn't ...
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“Dignity” vs. “respect”

Today, I read an article, and one sentence talked about treating other people with dignity and respect I had thought I understood the difference between the words dignity and respect. But then ...
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What does “binder” mean? Why did it become a political buzzword?

I’ve been seeing a lot of “binders” in recent newspaper and magazine articles dealing with the recent Presidential debates. For examples: Time magazines October 19 issues carries the article titled, ...
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What does Mitt Romney aide's remark “keep Boston off message all week” mean?

Mitt Romney seems to be haunted with the plague of gaffes of his own and his aides’. Time magazine’s (August 4) article titled “Worse gaffe than Etch-A-Sketch” reported another gaffe that Romney’s ...
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Is it offensive when using the word 'animals' (in this context)?

I have read this question on Travel.SE, and I am kinda confused about the use of the word animals in that question: These are entirely different classes of travel. Portugal+Spain is an easy trip ...
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Meaning of “to charm the skin off a snake”

This is a phrase originated from Dead Run by Erica Spindler. Hereunder is the context in the book that I googled. Rick’s Island Hideaway was the quintessential Key West bar: Jimmy Buffet on the ...
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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 ...
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difference between action and live action

In film genres I have seen and heard 2 words: 1) Action Movie 2) Live-Action Movie What is difference between these 2 words? What live represent here?
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Ambiguity of “Lindsey told Jessica that she had cancer”

Lindsey told Jessica that she had cancer. Who had cancer? Is there any rule in English to claim it definitely?
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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 ...
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Explain the choice of the verb “dip” in “dip your lights”

Does the phrase "dip your lights" mean to turn them off or something else? Why is the word dip used? Quote: If you drive with your headlights on full beam in fog, the light will just reflect back ...
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What does “several states of mind away” mean? Does it mean a strange place or something else?

In this sentence, I met him at the coffee place where I was working after I’d dropped out of graduate school out West, many states and several states of mind away from the New England college ...
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What does the phrase “a fine one” mean in this context?

In one one Daniil Kharms' short stories, Tikakeyev “insults” Koratygin by saying: A fine one you are! This causes a fight between the two. When I first read this, I didn't see the “insult”, ...
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What is the origin and meaning of the phrase “all day” when used in a commercial kitchen?

I've heard the phrase "all day" used when commanding a kitchen brigade. It's generally used in a phrase like "I need 3 filets .. all day". What does this expression mean in this context? And what is ...
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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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Is the phrase “make the grade” correctly used in this context?

I was interested in the following sentence which appeared in an article titled “How My Child Skipped the State Tests" by Robert Kulesz in The New York Times, School Book, (May 9, 2012). To be ...
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Difference between “he said something” and “he mentioned something”

(a) What is the difference between he said something and he mentioned something? Can they be used interchangeably? (b) Is it proper to respond to Did I tell you X? with Yes, you mentioned it?
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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 ...
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Meaning of “break over”

I read this in Abraham Lincoln's First Inaugural Address, The fugitive-slave clause of the Constitution and the law for the suppression of the foreign slave trade are each as well enforced, ...
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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?
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What does “Every Jewish mother will die, a fact many are not exactly famous for playing down” mean?

The New York Times (May 20) carried a review on a revue, “Old Jews telling jokes”, currently being performed at the Westside Theater, under the title “Such a tradition of humor, and this is only a ...
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Meaning of art in this context

A line from Kipling's The Last of the Light Brigade reads thus: They felt that life was fleeting; they knew not that art was long, What does art mean in this context?
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“Two people got hurt and five people died in the tragedy”

Can you say so? In other words, are deaths counted among people that got hurt? Does it make a difference if you say: Two people were injured and five people died in the tragedy. Let's imagine ...
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What does ‘alpha’ mean in the phrase, “A plea came for the President to be more alpha.”

I find the articles of New York Times’ columnist, Maureen Dowd, a treasure house of English expressions unfamiliar to non-native English learners. It’s stud with knotty expressions and new words to ...
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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 ...
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“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 ...