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

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10
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4answers
310 views

What is “outheroding”?

I have been reading Scott's Ivanhoe recently and have come across a word I cannot find a meaning for: outheroding. In the novel it appears in a discussion of footwear: Fur and gold were not spared ...
4
votes
3answers
68k views

What is the precise meaning of “Pretty Good”?

Once I used "pretty good" as a reply to one of my friends' question "How are you today?", I was under the impression that the "pretty good" will weigh much more than just "good", means "very good" or "...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

“From time to time”

Aside from the usual meanings in common parlance, what writers want to to say by the expression "from time to time", mainly in financial contract wording? It doesn't seem to me that they want to ...
5
votes
5answers
14k 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
7k views

What does “soundness of judgment” mean?

Could anyone explain what exactly does "soundness of judgment" mean? I understand this as when you can judge something and take in count all possible exceptions that are involved in the evaluation of ...
6
votes
3answers
559 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

“However, this book is anything but” meaning

What's the structure and meaning of this sentence in the following text: A friend lent this to me before I headed over to Italy and France this summer. I was a bit skeptical at first as he's ...
4
votes
2answers
190 views

Does the expression ‘Someone, who took his while presumed innocent, will get bail any time soon’ sound natural?

I found the line, ‘Mr. Strauss-Kahn, who took his while presumed innocent will get bail,’ in the following paragraph of New York Times article (May 17), titled ‘Hotel Keycard of I.M.F. Chief May Tell ...
7
votes
2answers
4k views

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 ...
0
votes
4answers
443 views

Confusion with Use of “Though” [closed]

Today I came across this sentence: Though I don't sell photos taken by me it still makes me feel good/appreciated/wanted I want to know exactly what this sentence means. I assumed two possible ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

What does “spot basis” mean?

What does "spot basis" mean, in the sentence "what you want to be able to do is develop the skill to go and do this on a spot basis"?
11
votes
9answers
11k views

Why would the “wind blowing in the East” be considered a bad thing?

I've been recently working through the BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' Bleak House, and enjoying it very much. However, there's a particular motif that's bothering me, whose logic I haven't been ...
1
vote
2answers
770 views

Meaning of 'use' in this sentence

From MSABC TV show 'community' season 1 Hi, Senor Chang. What, a community college Spanish teacher can't use 80 bucks? 'Use' here seems should mean 'earn', Because the teacher here is a ...
2
votes
1answer
381 views

What is “non-guideline sentence” to allow the accused to serve as a diplomat instead of a prison term?

I read New York Times article (May 13) titled "ex-Senator gets 21-month prison term in tax evasion case." It says in abridgment: The former Republican senator, Vincent L. Leibell III had faced 18 ...
-1
votes
1answer
388 views

Problem with the usage of “but” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Specific usage of the word 'but' Interpreting the meaning of 'but' as an implication for exclusion/inclusion “nothing but” vs. “anything but” vs. “everything but” ...
5
votes
1answer
665 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Is “he is a proven commodity” a common phrase?

I find many unfamiliar phrases in readers' comments on the statements of political figures and articles on news sites these days. I can't tell if they are accepted usage. Comment posters could be ...
2
votes
4answers
10k views

Does “intense” have a negative meaning?

I always thought that intense has a positive meaning, meaning something that has no tensions, therefore an intense activity is actually a fun activity. So, what does intense exactly mean? A few days ...
0
votes
1answer
439 views

Why is this ‘loved’ italicized? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Usage of italics in writing “But I was patient. I wrote back. I was sympathetic, I was kind. Ginny simply loved me. No one’s ever understood me like you, Tom...I’m so ...
3
votes
1answer
825 views

What is the meaning and usage of the word “dense”?

I often come across people saying to each other: I don't want to be too dense here, but… What does the term dense imply in such contexts?
6
votes
4answers
1k views

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?
19
votes
10answers
14k views

How should “deceptively” actually be used?

I'm not sure if this is a duplicate question, but I couldn't find anything on here on the topic. I can't seem to figure out what is actually meant when using the word "deceptive," or rather, what is ...
1
vote
10answers
272 views

“High Accident Intersection”

I was challenged recently to solve this problem. An accident takes place on an intersection on a high road. However, if I was to write about this as taken place in a "high accident intersection" it ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

What is the exact meaning of the following sentence?

What is the exact meaning of the sentence below? We can't try to get away with something in an academic paper that we would abhor in a political debate (or worse yet, in a political advertisement)....
3
votes
1answer
417 views

What does “flunked vacation and flunked relaxing" mean?

Today’s Washington Post (May 10) portrays what the SEAL who shot bin Laden looks like under the headline,. “Who shot bin Laden? Former SEALs fill in the blank.” In this article, former Navy SEALs ...
4
votes
2answers
400 views

Shakespearean discovery of the modern mind

In this interview on the TV show The Wire, David Simon (the show's creator) says: Much of our modern theater seems rooted in the Shakespearean discovery of the modern mind. [The show is] ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

What does the word “rolling” mean in “rolling grassland”?

I found the following definition of "prairie" online: An extensive area of flat or rolling grassland, especially the large plain of central North America. I understand what "flat grassland" ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Can somebody help me to understand this love saying? [closed]

If you press me to say why I loved him, I can say no more than because he was he and I was I...
2
votes
2answers
5k views

Logic behind “at most”

Does the term 'at most' mean there is at least one?
31
votes
3answers
7k views

What does President Obama’s phrase “We don’t need to spike the football” mean?

President Obama made the following statement regarding his decision not to show dead body of Osama bin Laden to the public: "I think that Americans and people around the world are glad that he is ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

What does “Bit it” mean?

I came across the phrase ‘bit it’ in the quote from Washington Post’s William Branigin’s comment to support the Washington’s decision not to show the picture of the dead body of Osama bin Laden in ...
8
votes
3answers
6k views

What does “it’s not going to suck itself ” mean?

In Goa, I see tourists wearing t-shirts that have the following text on them, along with a red arrow: It’s not going to suck itself What does this mean?
3
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the exact meaning of the line, “No closure. That word should be stricken from the English language"?

I’m a little bit hesitant to post this question in view of the gravity and seriousness of the matter to those who are directly involved with the 9/11 tragedies. But as a newspaper reader, I would like ...
7
votes
3answers
17k views

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 you’...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

What is a “feal”?

I have been reading Scott's Waverley, or 'tis Sixty Years Since, and in that book, a lawyer is describing an estate surrounding a manor house. That estate is said to include... the fortalice and ...
7
votes
4answers
13k views

“When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?”

What do delve and span mean in this quotation from John Ball's sermon addressing the rebels of the Peasant's Revolt? When Adam delved and Eve span, Who was then the gentleman? It doesn't seem ...
2
votes
1answer
240 views

What is the difference between “Prince William and Kate Middleton Marry” and “Prince William and Kate Middleton were married”?

In today’s New York Times (April. 30th) I saw the following line under the caption of “Royal Wedding”: “Prince William and Kate Middleton Marry: Prince William and Kate Middleton were married on ...
0
votes
1answer
165 views

What does “even the Generation is still in motion” mean in this passage?

The Beat Generation is a group of American post-WWII writers who came to prominence in the 1950s, as well as the cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired. Central elements of "Beat" ...
-1
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the 'alternative forms of sexuality'?

The Beat Generation is a group of American post-WWII writers who came to prominence in the 1950s, as well as the cultural phenomena that they both documented and inspired. Central elements of "Beat" ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

What is a “clout”?

I came across this sentence in Froude's English Seamen in the Sixteenth Century discussing the actions of Queen Elizabeth... She preferred to let her subjects discover for themselves that the ...
3
votes
3answers
808 views

What does the “leave” mean in “parental leave” and “unpaid leave”?

Reading an article on The Washington Post I found this: "The study pointed out that the United States is the only OECD country that does not have a national paid parental leave policy. Some ...
3
votes
2answers
226 views

Are phrases with implicit meanings considered incorrect/wrong?

An example phrase is ... Internet is out ... The implicit word here is "connection." The full phrase would be ... Internet connection is out ... Is the first incorrect? Is there a general ...
2
votes
4answers
633 views

What does “left the rest behind” mean in this sentence?

Sonneti are now creating for customers who left the rest behind
1
vote
2answers
215 views

Is “putting out an honest product” a valid phrase?

I don't know where I picked up the phrase seeing as Google has very few literal hits, but I want to use "I'm looking for an employer who [....] is putting out an honest product" in a job search ad. ...
4
votes
2answers
564 views

What does “one needn't stand on trifles” mean?

I'm reading "The Portrait of a Lady" by Henry James, and I found the following two sentences. "I suppose that after a girl has refused an English lord she may do anything," her aunt rejoined. "...
-1
votes
1answer
691 views

Does the word “welfare” have an abbreviation?

I was listening to a lecture about Mercantilism where I heard a word that sounded like Welf. I tried to find if this word exists but I didn't find. In the lecture I heard this: The amassing of ...
1
vote
2answers
690 views

What does it mean to be “clipping an r”? Why is that a qualification for celebrities to be invited to the royal wedding?

The Washington Post (April 24) ran an article about the royal wedding under the title, “In London, the royal wedding haters have had enough.” I was interested in the expression, “the wedding ate the ...
3
votes
1answer
959 views

What does “literary dependence” mean?

I'm reading a book titled "Map Is Not Territory" by J. Z. Smith. And in the book, it says "This suggests, without arguing direct LITERARY DEPENDENCE, a community and continuity of tradition." (p.31). ...
1
vote
3answers
263 views

Meaning of “Make what's-her-name feel special this Mother's Day.”

Especially, the "what's-her-name" part.
4
votes
1answer
20k views

“To be is to do” — “To do is to be” — “Do-be-do-be-do”: what does this mean?

To be is to do. —Socrates To do is to be. —Plato Do-be-do-be-do. —Sinatra I saw it on some shirts or somewhere. I don’t understand what it means when those sentences are put together.