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

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2answers
215 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
176 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
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2answers
310 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
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3answers
362 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
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2answers
63 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
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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
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3answers
7k 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
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3answers
617 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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2answers
4k 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
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2answers
254 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
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1answer
256 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
586 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
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.)".
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5answers
7k 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
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5answers
764 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
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2answers
398 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
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
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2answers
1k 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
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5answers
493 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
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3answers
9k 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
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3answers
684 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
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
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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
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2answers
360 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 ...
5
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4answers
312 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
415 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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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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3answers
336 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
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2answers
935 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
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5answers
551 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
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4answers
232 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
439 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
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2answers
423 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
583 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
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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
6k 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 ...
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2answers
489 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
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2answers
916 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
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2answers
217 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 ...
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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
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4answers
446 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
366 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
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1answer
664 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
3k views

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
21k views

What does “if and when” mean, and is it the same as “when and if”?

Rather than trying to describe my beef with this idiom, I will give a bunch of successively objectionable examples. None of these are taken from real life. As I see it, if (and when) both "if" and ...
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3answers
332 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
384 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 ...
5
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3answers
358 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
469 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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4answers
10k views

What does ‘play a blinder’ mean? Is it a popular phrase?

I came across the phrase ‘played a blinder’ in the following paragraph of the New York Times’ December 12 article, titled “British Euro Farce,” dealing with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s veto ...