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

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3
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3answers
803 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
218 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
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4answers
622 views

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

Sonneti are now creating for customers who left the rest behind
1
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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
560 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
681 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
683 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
951 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). ...
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3answers
260 views

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

Especially, the "what's-her-name" part.
4
votes
1answer
19k 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.
1
vote
1answer
926 views

“In the middle of riddle” means what?

There is a song whose lyrics is given below... Can anyone tell what exactly "in the middle of riddle" means? At the edge of the moon there's a lonely man And he blows on his horn as strong ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the meaning of “hypos” here in this passage from Moby Dick?

Yesterday, I asked a question over at the Gaming StackExchange, and eventually received an answer whose primary thrust was this wonderfully written passage from Moby Dick: My questions are: What ...
2
votes
2answers
337 views

What does “T-securities” mean?

I came across the word T-securities in the following comment of one of readers to the article of the Time magazine (April 19) titled “Don’t worry about the U.S. debt. - The world too vested in America ...
3
votes
4answers
534 views

“Did it go down your *muffler*?”

I read a narrative where the author was talking about her childhood. She said that one day she and her father, a brother and a sister were inside the car, the kids were eating popcorn and drinking ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Difference between “keep something on”, “hang something on”, and “leave something on”

I came across three verb + on phrases in today’s New York Times article written by Maureen Dowd and titled “Stripped off Dignity”; it dealt with unpleasant airport pat-down practices. In the ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

What does “just above chance” mean?

Each classifier in the group is a “weak” classifier (only just above chance performance). What does "only just above chance performance" mean?
3
votes
3answers
951 views

Ununderstood English-language joke [closed]

In a song video made by an American acquaintance, there is a joke that I don't understand. Here is the context: "Alfresco" and "Pentaho" are two non-competing software applications that can be used ...
30
votes
4answers
77k views

“Best Before” says “11 MA 23”; is it May or March?

I bought a bottle of juice today, and the "Best Before" date it's "11 MA 23". I always see "MA" as for March, but the store staff said that was May. What is your opinion?
7
votes
3answers
4k views

“Kebabs, fruit machines, and brasses” — what do these slang words mean?

More from the British movie The Football Factory. In the following dialogue, the main character, a Cockney English speaker played by actor Danny Dyer, waxes philosophical about why he enjoys being a ...
14
votes
3answers
6k views

What is a “Hobbesian trap”?

A recent Economist article (see The drug war hits Central America) uses something called a Hobbesian trap like this: Central America has fallen into a Hobbesian trap: the better-off make ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
111 views

When would one write “con[struction]”?

A quote in a book contained the word "con[struction]." It was used just as the word construct would have been. Is con ever used as an abbreviation of construction? Would there be any other reason to ...
2
votes
1answer
131 views

“It's fast and in motion.”

Metro is our design language. We call it Metro because it's modern and clean. It's fast and in motion. It's about content and typography. And it's entirely authentic. In this context, what the 'in ...
10
votes
6answers
2k views

What does “I’m like, c’mon guys. I’m the president of the United States.” imply?

The Washington Post (April 14) reported President Obama's off-the-cuff remark during a meeting with donors in Chicago held on April 13th under the title: "Obama riffs with donors: Where are the cool ...
3
votes
1answer
182 views

What do “Tea-Paw” and “Tea-Paw Tax double header” mean?

I found the word, ‘Tea-Paw’ in headlines of articles of both Time magazine (March 31) and StarTribune (March 1st). Time's headline says "The Tea-Paw tax double header," followed by the lead copy, "...
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4answers
7k views

What did “your mom did a number on you” mean in Seinfeld?

I remember one episode on Seinfeld, a girl said "did your mother do a number on you" when they were talking about breaking up or not. This is the sentence reported from the transcript: LISI: ...
2
votes
3answers
313 views

Some actor's lines from film 'Insomnia'

You do everything around here? Yes. I'm going to cut the deal. Why isn't the phrase just "you do everything here"? I know cut and deal, but it doesn't seem not mean "cut the deal" or "cancel ...
2
votes
2answers
525 views

What does the phrase “in a cautionary tale of…gravitational pull” mean?

Today’s New York Times (April 12), in an article titled, “A Condo, High-Profile Residents and a $40,000 Bill,” reports that celebrity photographer, Ken Nahoum, and his partner with whom he owns ...
2
votes
1answer
5k views

What does 'graft probe’ mean? Is it well-received word?

I found the word ‘graft probe’ in the headline of a Associate Press news in today’s Washington Post (April 11) reporting that former president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak is presently in detention in Sham ...
1
vote
2answers
422 views

What do these confusing lyrics mean?

What does the phrase, "I need to be with myself and center..." mean? It's part of the lyrics of Fergie's Big Girls Don't Cry.
2
votes
3answers
5k views

What/who are “toy soldiers”? [closed]

There is a song called Toy Soldiers by Martika of which a part of the lyrics goes: Step by step Heart to heart Left, right, left We all fall down Like toy soldiers Bit by bit Torn ...
2
votes
3answers
337 views

What does “the Catskills have hardly sunk to them” mean?

What does Henry David Thoreau mean here when he says, "the Catskills and Highlands have hardly sunk to them": We get a dim notion of the flight of birds, especially of such as fly high in the ...
0
votes
2answers
585 views

Meaning of 'metaphor' in this sentence

“We’re now into a new metaphor for the web,” Kelly says noting that we started with the desktop on computers, then pages for the web. Now the realtime stream connected to the web is the thing I know ...
3
votes
2answers
354 views

What is the nuance of ‘Slipping’ when you say ‘I started slipping my classes short writing assignments?’

I found an op-ed article titled ‘Teaching to the Text’ in today’s New York Times (www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/opinion/20selsberg.) interesting as a non-native English learner. However, I stumbled on a ...
2
votes
3answers
515 views

Meaning of “cross”?

There is a related group of drugs known as cephalosporins that exhibit a 6% cross sensitivity reaction to penicillin allergy sufferers. What's the meaning of cross in this sentence? Is sensitivity ...
1
vote
1answer
151 views

What does 'culture' mean in this sentence?

...which is often used when the physician does not (or cannot) perform a culture to determine the actual bacterium.
0
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3answers
694 views

Meaning of “par”?

What does "par" mean in this sentence: The exam was easier than par.
4
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3answers
2k views

What does “You might be better off thinking of something” mean?

I found this sentence in my programming book: You might be better off thinking of the block and the method as coroutines, which transfer control back and forth between themselves. What does be ...
1
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3answers
206 views

Meaning of 'authenticity'

As I am dubious of your authenticity here (a mailing list), I cannot spend any time with you Is he dubious that I'm not a real user or I'm not a expert?
0
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2answers
916 views

Meaning of “bearing”

Knowledge having a bearing on human life was placed highest Knowledge about human life was placed highest
2
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5answers
1k views

Meaning of “brave my fire”

As in these Rome - To Die Among Strangers lyrics: the whores of rome and the kings of france have tried to brave my fire now the snakes curl up, the curtains part will you try ...
2
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3answers
101 views

Meaning of 'different and again different'

Upon those who step into the same rivers, different and again different waters flow. – Heraclitus
2
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4answers
293 views

Meaning of 'terms' in 'in rational terms'

What does "terms" mean in the following sentence? But I believe the theory of a creator of the universe can be explained in rational terms
2
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2answers
135 views

Meaning of 'the embedded nature of law'

It is impossible to speak knowledgeably about the embedded nature of law in society without addressing the central notions of Karl Marx’s political theory
2
votes
1answer
262 views

“Only humming a little, the quiet sound in the head”

I found a poem named Any Morning, I'm not sure if "the quiet sound" in the second line is represented to what somebody in humming or something related to trouble? Just lying on the couch and ...
7
votes
4answers
348 views

What does ‘Adjusts playbook with a pencil, not a sharpie’ mean?

I was puzzled to find the headline – ‘D’Antoni Adjusts Playbook with a Pencil, Not a Sharpie’ in the sport article in today’s New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/04/sport/basketball ). ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

What does it mean to 'read the text opposite'?

In my English learning book the exercise often reads: Read the text opposite and answer the questions below. What does the word 'opposite' mean in this sentence?
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1answer
160 views

Meaning of ' our collective and collectivist leg'

This sounds very fishy. I think Mr xxx is pulling our collective and collectivist leg.
4
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1answer
559 views

Can “vetted” be used to mean somebody to whom some restrictions are not applied?

Using a CMS, I found the following description for a user setting. If checked, this user will be granted "vetted" status. Vetted users create full projects and promote existing experimental ...
4
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2answers
6k views

What does “sunset” mean in this text?

In the definition of USA PATRIOT, I read the following text: Many of the act's provisions were to sunset beginning December 31, 2005, approximately 4 years after its passage. In the months ...