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

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Homograph challenge [closed]

My friend said the other day, "I hate when a sentence starts with the word polish, because you don't know whether they mean polish or Polish." polish (v) - to make smooth and glossy Polish (a) - ...
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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 ...
6
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3answers
735 views

What does 'Ibid' mean in this context?

Someone I know got a interview call letter part of which read as this: .. you are requested to appear for the ibid interview .. What does ibid mean in this context?
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3answers
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What does “here's to someone/thing” mean?

I got an email from an instructor today. Towards the end of email she says: "Here is to finishing off the semester in a positive way." What does that mean?
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4answers
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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?
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2answers
984 views

What does Mitt Romney's “Telephone Tips: ‘Just Left,’ 25 cents; ‘On His Way,’ 50 cents; ‘Not here,’ $1; ‘Who?’ $5.” mean?

There was the following paragraph in Maureen Dowd’s article titled, "Mitt Romney is the president of white male America” in November 10 New York Times: Maybe the group can retreat to a man cave in ...
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3answers
791 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 ...
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5answers
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What's the meaning of “bootstrap”?

Can anyone explain the meaning of "bootstrap" to a Spanish Speaker? Here is some context: One aspect of ... (something) ... is the need to bootstrap the configuration.
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1answer
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Finished off the night “with a rubber”

Reading the diary of a doctor in Canada, 1845-46, often refers to "having a rubber" at the end of the day which seems like a nightcap. Does anyone know why the word rubber is used?
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2answers
628 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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2answers
759 views

What's the connection between “Holy Grail” and “Killer Rabbit”? [closed]

This article says: If there's a Holy Grail, there's a Killer Rabbit. I can understand that to be "even if there's a good solution, there's a catch to it", but what does Killer Rabbit have to ...
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4answers
727 views

How to interpret this text from year 1847?

If context is needed, I'm happy to supply it.. The sentence I want to rephrase: Some selection of this kind has for some time been imperatively called for, by the wants of the gardener, farmer, ...
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3answers
469 views

What does “quadrants” mean in an article stating that Obama's birth facts “do not seem to matter in many quadrants of Republican Party”?

I found the word quadrants in the opening of a New York Times Opinion column, titled This Just In… President Obama Is an American Citizen. Its opening paragraph: President Obama is not a ...
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2answers
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What does “lift their skirts … and grab the eyeglasses right off someone's face” mean?

From Gavin De Becker, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence (1998): "That's true," she said. "Every day I have to predict what the kids will do, and I succeed for ...
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5answers
719 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 ...
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4answers
408 views

Meaning of Jo's dialog in Chapter 16 of Bleak House

A portion of chapter 16 of Dickens' Bleak House is shown below. Jo attends closely while the words are being spoken; [...] and nods his ragged head. "I'm fly," says Jo. "But fen larks, you ...
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1answer
473 views

What is “desysopped”?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Rollback_feature: Standard rollback may only be used in certain situations – editors who misuse standard rollback (for example, by using it to reverse ...
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7answers
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What is the meaning of “I read a book once”

I saw an image on Missed Connections few days ago, and the image text is: Friday, January 29, 2010 - m4w - 23 (L train) How did you get those bruises? I wouldn't let anything happen to you. ...
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1answer
448 views

What does the phrase “Lady-Macbethed” mean? [closed]

Colonel Hampton snorted contemptuously. Senile dementia! Well, he must have been senile and demented, to bring this pair of snakes into his home, because he felt an obligation to his dead ...
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2answers
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What does “in the sere and yellow” mean?

I am currently reading "A Study in Scarlet" by Arthur Conan Doyle. On page 33 is a sentence I don't understand: Well, if a man can stride four and a-half feet without the smallest effort, he can't ...
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3answers
270 views

Is “latte” a countable noun?

I have learned that liquids are uncountable, except for measurements such as "three cups of water." So, does "three lattes" in this context refer to three cups of latte?
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2answers
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What does “no-op” mean?

In the Remarks section of a Microsoft dbset.add page I read Remarks: Note that entities that are already in the context in some other state will have their state set to Added. Add is a no-op if ...
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2answers
553 views

What does “the rational you had probably taken a powder” mean?

I’m not very clear with the implication of the following sentence in the article titled “The Science of Romance: Why we love” that appeared in Time magazine (Jan.28, 2008): “But if it was that ...
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4answers
406 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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4answers
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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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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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2answers
352 views

What does “as” represent for in “Cantor quits as Majority leader” and “Cantor to resign as Majority leader”?

Today’s New York Times reported Eric Canter’s defeat in Primary election in Virginia under the headline: “Eric Cantor to step down as House Majority leader” followed by the text copy: “Representative ...
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8answers
832 views

How to rephrase “Deliberate failure”?

I have a document that I'm drafting that, at the moment, has a sentence that reads something like: Remove X from all company computers. Deliberate failure to do so constitutes grounds for ...
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2answers
258 views

What does “Watch the plain clothes” account for in terms of “Cheap liquor nationalism”?

International Herald Tribune (September 30) introduced a commentary of Japanese novelist, Haruki Murakami who is regarded as a favorite for this year’s Nobel Prize in literature on Japan’s dispute ...
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3answers
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What kind of human character or regional trait does the habit of “the g-dropping” represent for?

Further to the question I posted today about the meaning of the expression, “treat somebody pretty ugly,” which appeared in New York Times’ article (September 17) titled “Rick Perry, Uber Texan,” I ...
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6answers
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Can someone please explain this pun?

There's a sentence that I keep reading over and over, and I can't quite grasp what's so funny about it. Perhaps, it isn't funny. Or perhaps, there's a meaning of a word in the sentence that I don't ...
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2answers
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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 ...
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1answer
137 views

How can a wasteland be “washed in somewhat queasy-ugly bleached orange”?

I was very confused when I came across a sentence in “The body politic” in New York Times (June 28) Set in Tampa (but also shot in California), a palm-lined wasteland that Mr. Soderbergh has ...
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2answers
719 views

What does “living the first line of my obituary” mean here?

I came across a new phrase while reading an appeal letter from Wikipedia programmer here. Excerpt: I feel like I’m living the first line of my obituary. .......... What does "living the ...
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2answers
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What does “I'd be the luckiest guy alive if that did it for me” mean?

In the movie As Good As It Gets, there is this dialogue: Simon Bishop: Thank you, Melvin. You... overwhelm me. [pauses] Simon Bishop: I love you. Melvin Udall: I tell you, buddy... I'd be ...
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2answers
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Never perhaps did any man suffer death with more justice, or deserve it less

Source: From Alexander Hamilton to Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens, 1780 October 11 ... [Major John André] he ought to be considered as a spy and according to the laws and usages of nations to ...
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2answers
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When is between inclusive and when exclusive?

It seems that the exact meaning of between is very tied to its specific usage. What should I assume in a general situation about the inclusivity of between. Consider: "Pick a number between 1 and ...
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1answer
254 views

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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3answers
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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 ...
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2answers
367 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 ...
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2answers
8k views

What does it mean when someone says “noted” to you?

I was talking to my friend about something I find disgusting and she replied, "Noted." I replied, "Noted what?" and she said, "All dat." I am a little confused about what she was trying to say? Is ...
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2answers
273 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 ...
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1answer
191 views

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

Here is a quote by Jack Nicholson 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 ...
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2answers
339 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 ...
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3answers
502 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 ...
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5answers
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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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4answers
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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. ...
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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
995 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 ...
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1answer
717 views

Why are 'preterite presents' called so?

While reading about 'defective verbs' on Wikipedia, I came across this term – preterite present verbs. The most commonly recognized defective verbs in English are auxiliary verbs — the class of ...