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

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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 ...
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3answers
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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?
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3answers
551 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
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1answer
228 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
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2answers
533 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 ...
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3answers
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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.)".
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5answers
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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 ...
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5answers
723 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 ...
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2answers
384 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 ...
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6answers
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“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 ...
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2answers
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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
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5answers
455 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 ...
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3answers
8k 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? ...
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3answers
647 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 ...
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2answers
1k 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
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2answers
309 views

Is it a standard usage of ‘blue’ to be used as a verb to mean ‘being deflated / become pessimistic’?

I was interested in the usage of ‘blue’ as a verb in the headline of New Yorker’s article, “Bibi Netanyahu’s election blues,” followed by the following lead copy: “The center-left, which had ...
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4answers
300 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
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3answers
375 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 ...
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4answers
217 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 ...
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4answers
436 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 ...
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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?
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2answers
867 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 ...
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2answers
407 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 ...
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5answers
552 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 ...
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2answers
2k views

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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5answers
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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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2answers
475 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 ...
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3answers
2k views

Specific usage of the word 'but'

The Aesop's Fables translated by George Fyler Townsend book has a line which reads as follows: ... If you had but touched me, my friend, you ... I've seen the word 'but' used this way a couple ...
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5answers
907 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 ...
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4answers
422 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
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4answers
354 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 ...
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1answer
649 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 ...
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4answers
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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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3answers
206 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. ...
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3answers
356 views

“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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3answers
346 views

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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2answers
428 views

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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2answers
816 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 ...
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2answers
139 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
333 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 ...
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2answers
950 views

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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2answers
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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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1answer
796 views

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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2answers
581 views

“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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3answers
911 views

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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3answers
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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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4answers
207 views

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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4answers
9k views

“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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3answers
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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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1answer
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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 ...