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

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8
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4answers
1k views

What does the word “only” mean in this sentence?

I recently met a quiz question and I am not sure what it means. The question is as follows (no context): We only need to save the stack pointer for a non-leaf procedure. Just for reference, the ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

What does ‘ticket to oblivion’ mean? Is this a frequently used phrase?

I found a phrase – ‘Ticket to Oblivion’ in today’s Washington Post article titled ‘State of the Union ‘response’ often a mixed-blessing for the responder.’ I understand this phrase refers to ...
31
votes
3answers
51k views

“All but” idiom has two meanings?

Here's two ways I've seen the "all, but" idiom used: "Close all tabs but this one" (Any modern application with a number of tabs might have this as an option.) It means "close all the tabs, but not ...
5
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
11
votes
2answers
17k views

How to use “I love you”?

In Italy, you have two options to say "I love you", I'll try to translate them the best I can: I love you (Ti amo.) I want you to be ok (Ti voglio bene.) The fact is that in English, both ti amo ...
19
votes
3answers
5k views

“to be all but X”

What does "all but" mean in this expression? Today, under pressure from P2P distribution, optical disc piracy in wealthy countries is "all but eliminated" and profit margins elsewhere are slim. ...
4
votes
3answers
434 views

“Two people got hurt and five people died in the tragedy”

Can you say so? In other words, are deaths counted among people that got hurt? Does it make a difference if you say: Two people were injured and five people died in the tragedy. Let's imagine ...
5
votes
5answers
10k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
575 views

What does ‘the Kardashians’ mean in the context of the Treasury Department’s sending a prepaid card to many Americans?

I saw the following sentence in today’s Washington Post. I understand that ‘the Kardashian’ is picked up from a popular American reality TV series, ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians'. But I don't ...
10
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
230 views

How could Ronald Reagan be compared with God in Sarah Palin's list of American authentic, and why?

Further to my question about the usage of ‘Blood libels’ I posted yesterday, I found the following lead-copy of an article referring to Sara Palin’s rhetoric in today’s Washington Post. It seems the ...
4
votes
4answers
5k views

What does “to bleed something” mean?

In Bloomberg magazine, I saw this sentence: Rust Belt states that have bled manufacturing jobs. Does it mean they have lost the jobs or gained more jobs?
2
votes
1answer
1k views

What do 'media hog' and 'sweet baby' mean, how offensive are they?

I happen to see the following three episodes in today’s Washington Post, all of which seem to me related to derogative usage of words or actions: The Navy is expected to relieve Capt. Owen Owen ...
20
votes
2answers
55k views

“X times as many as” or “X times more than”

Suppose John has 5 sweets. Is there any difference between the following two sentences? Jack has 3 times as many sweets as John. Jack has 3 times more sweets than John. I prefer the first ...
3
votes
1answer
33k views

Meaning of “yet” in “the best is yet to come”

And the best is yet to come. In the above sentence, to be to means "will", yet means "already". So, does the sentence mean the best has already come or that it will come?
3
votes
2answers
761 views

What does “it's really stuck” mean here?

I came across the following sentence in Washington Post: Obama hasn't smoked a cigarette in about nine months, Gibbs revealed. "It was a commitment that I think he made to himself at the end of ...
4
votes
2answers
803 views

How to obtain “diligence” from crossword clue “horse-drawn vehicle industry” [closed]

Cryptic clue: Horse-drawn vehicle industry Answer: Diligence How do we figure this one out?
2
votes
2answers
13k views

What's the meaning of “on somebody's account”?

I looked up "on somebody's account" in the Longman dictionary. The following is an excerpt from it: on somebody’s account if you do something on someone’s account, you do it because you ...
-2
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the meaning of “This will be shown to all users but John”?

What does the following sentence mean? This menu will be shown to all users but John. Does it mean that the menu will be shown to all users except John or only to John?
2
votes
1answer
2k views

How to answer “The applicant’s overall rank is ? out of ? ”

I am filling a reference form and I met 2 questions that I am not sure how to answer : The applicant’s overall rank is __ out of ___ Please describe the comparison group: __ If the ...
1
vote
1answer
209 views

Meaning of “shouldn't see one woman”: singular or multiple [closed]

In this example (no pun intended, of course): I shouldn't see one woman on Twitter today being that it's National Sandwich Day. Does it mean that I'm not likely to see any or just one woman?
4
votes
2answers
846 views

What does the word “democrat” mean in this sentence?

What does the word democrat mean in the following sentence? Effective sales management is a great democrat for smaller firms.
5
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3answers
1k 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 ...
23
votes
7answers
3k views

Does “gay” still include the meaning “merry”?

Dictionary.com lists eight meanings of gay, with “merry, lively” as the first entry. Microsoft banned an Xbox user for listing Fort Gay (a real place) as his hometown: Xbox Live considered the ...
9
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the meaning of 'That about covers it'?

I am reading a book titled Struts 2 in action, and there is this sentence: That about covers it for aspects of OGNL that are commonly used in Struts 2. What I am confused by it is the structure ...
1
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5answers
2k views

In which context does “anticipated” mean “came or took place before”?

In the New Oxford American Dictionary I read that one of the meaning of anticipate is come or take place before (an event or process expected or scheduled for a later). In which context is anticipate ...
3
votes
5answers
3k views

What does “about now” mean?

I know you're feeling pretty hey sailor up here about now. What does about now mean, in the sentence? Is it an informal way of saying?
10
votes
4answers
7k views

What does “I Can't Get No Satisfaction” mean?

This song by The Rolling Stones, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". As a non-native speaker, I always wondered what's the exact meaning of this phrase? Is it "I'm not getting any satisfaction" (this ...