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

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12
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5answers
62k views

Does “notified by [date]” include the end date?

I have read the Rules of a competition. The text of the Rules include a sentence as follows: As per stated in the Rules the entrants will be notified by May 30th 2010. Does the sentence above ...
32
votes
3answers
53k 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 ...
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 ...
20
votes
2answers
57k 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 ...
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. ...
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 ...
12
votes
1answer
10k views

Is “of” instead of “have” correct?

I have noticed a lot of people use of instead of have, for example: "that must of been really annoying". Is this correct?
3
votes
2answers
357 views

How does negation affect the use and understanding of “or” and “and”

I'm trying to make more sense of how negation effects how a sentence is parsed and understood if and's and or's are used within them. Pop quiz: You are trapped on a bus with a bomb going 50 MPH. You ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

Is “up to” inclusive or exclusive?

The study was carried out up to visit 11 under the name of X1, whereas all later visits were carried out under a different name, X2. In the above sentence, does V11 belong to X1 or X2? I want ...
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

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 ...
0
votes
2answers
206 views

Meaning of a sentence [closed]

I was reading an article but I don't quite understand the part made bold: In accordance with the ideals of Kemalism expressed above, education or school emerged as the most efficient apparatus ...
16
votes
7answers
22k views

What does “canonical” mean?

Sometimes I read a sentence containing the word canonical, but I cannot find appropriate meaning of the word. For example, in this link: Returns a canonical representation for the string object. ...
18
votes
3answers
4k views

Does the word, ‘peruse’ have a single meaning of ‘attentive reading,’ or double, contradicting meanings of ‘attentive’ and ‘cursory’ reading?

I’m confused to find opposite definitions in the same word, ‘peruse’ in Readers English Japanese Dictionary published by a leading foreign language dictionary publisher in Japan. It defines ‘peruse’ ...
6
votes
2answers
3k views

What does “be it” mean in this passage?

What does be it mean in this context and what kind of sentence is this? (grammatically) There is no one in our society who is not ethnocentric to some degree, no matter how liberal and open-minded ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

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. ...
97
votes
1answer
341k views

What does a single letter “J” mean in emailing?

Today is Halloween. After a successful party, many conversations have been going on in my company's email box. The end of one email said "Till next time J". I had no idea what "J" meant in this ...
66
votes
5answers
6k views

When does thousand turn into thousands?

My boyfriend and I are arguing whether thousands of miles means 1000+ or 2000+ miles. The first argument is that 1000+ is over 1000 and therefore 'thousands of miles' by rounding up. The other ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Is Wayne's World's (NOT) a modern invention?

Older users of this site may recall the 'Bill & Ted' 'Wayne's World' series of movies of the early 1990s. They were mindless but fairly amusing and their eponymous characters spoke in a unique ...
11
votes
3answers
142k views

What does “period” mean when someone says “Sth… Period”? [closed]

I often encounter US citizens saying something like this: <Some phrases>. Period. What does that mean?
7
votes
5answers
77k views

Usage of 'Dear All' [duplicate]

Is it correct to use "Dear All" at the beginning of the e-mail, when you are writing to more than one person? It seems so informal to me. Is there any better way?
1
vote
2answers
3k views

What does “should something happen” mean?

What is the meaning of should loss occur in the following text? Backup and recovery procedures protect your database against data loss and reconstruct the data, should loss occur. The ...
8
votes
4answers
795 views

“Back up data” or “back data up”?

Which is correct? To back up data. To back data up. The context is the following: He was careful enough to perform tests and [back up data | back data up] to avoid any problems.
6
votes
4answers
80k views

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?
5
votes
2answers
16k views

Meaning of “last/this/next Monday” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which day does “next Tuesday” refer to? Suppose today is Tuesday. What do last Monday, this Monday and next Monday mean?
4
votes
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 ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

Meaning of “just about everybody else has” in this context

— I ever tell you how much she depends on you? — I ever tell you what an asshole you are? — Nah. But that's okay, just about everybody else has. They both laughed. Is it "...everybody else has ...
0
votes
3answers
269 views

Dickens (a tale of two city, chapter 1): what do “they were awake” and “was to be atheistical and traitorous” refer to?

But that Woodman and that Farmer, though they work unceasingly, work silently, and no one heard them as they went about with muffled tread: the rather, forasmuch as to entertain any suspicion that ...
49
votes
7answers
263k views

“The Dude abides” — what does “abide” mean in that context?

I'm unfamilar with the word "abide" which is famously used the the movie quote "The Dude abides" (The Big Lebowski). Looking it up in a German/English dictionary makes me believe it's "The Dude lives ...
22
votes
6answers
162k views

Meaning and usage of “bite me”

I often come across the phrase bite me in many TV shows. What does it mean and is there a specific context in which this phrase can be used?
25
votes
7answers
113k views

What is the meaning of “don't mention it” (in response to “thank you”)?

I read at several places that "don't mention it" is equal to "you're welcome". But for me, the word means something like "don't go around talking about this to anyone". So what is the real meaning of ...
23
votes
7answers
4k 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 term ...
6
votes
4answers
431 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
373 views

What does “the lowest common denominator” mean in the context other than math?

In the New Yorker’s (May 31) article under the title, “Stephen Hawking angers Trump supporters with baffling array of long words,” Andy Borowitz wrote; “Speaking to a television interviewer in ...
3
votes
3answers
12k views

tailored to someone needs VS tailor-made

I wrote a text about our company's services and added that we also can offer products tailored to the needs of our clients. One of my colleagues insisted that the expression was wrong and I should say ...
3
votes
2answers
9k views

What does “waxed rhapsodic” mean?

See context below: Bloomberg is well known for his malapropisms and mispronunciations: he's introduced former Yankee manager Joe Torre as "Joe Torres" [and] waxed rhapsodic about the famous ...
2
votes
6answers
465 views

What do you call the rhetoric strategy of purposefully writing a paragraph that no one can understand?

Most of us have come across a paragraph which sounded meaningless to us or which made us wonder if we were intellectually equipped to read it. That may have been the case, but sometimes one writes a ...
1
vote
0answers
145 views

Meaning of the term “empty use” in the context of modal verbs

I'm reading a book titled Comprehensive High School English Grammar & Composition. The author, who is Indian, says this on the use of the modal verbs can and could: Can is used to express "...
15
votes
7answers
9k views

Difference between “commit suicide” and “suicide”

One of the examples in my English composition book (for learning to write my language's sentences in English) was "Why he committed suicide under such a good circumstance is an unsolved question.", ...
14
votes
7answers
10k views

In what occasion could the word “precious” be taken disapprovingly, or sarcastically?

I understand that the word “precious” in the following quote of Maureen Dowd’s article “Heart of Darkness” (NYT, March 20) literally means “2. valuable or important and not to be wasted” as defined 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
415 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
votes
5answers
1k 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 plural,...
4
votes
2answers
287 views

What does “sheafs” mean in “The rays cut straight sheafs”?

This sentence is from Atlas Shrugged, depicting rays of light running through coils of steam enveloping a building: The rays of a few strong lights cut straight sheafs through the coils. Could ...
3
votes
1answer
5k views

What does “Thundering typhoons” mean?

What does "Thundering typhoons" mean? Actually it was in the 2011 movie The Adventures of Tintin.
3
votes
3answers
2k views

“The Moving Finger writes even in Heaven.”

Following is an extract from a Rabindranath Tagore story called, "A Wrong Man in Workers' Paradise". I need help in understanding the contextual meaning of a line in it. The story is about a man who ...
3
votes
5answers
133 views

No direct object in 'give thee faithfully to follow' ? (1670 UK, Isaac Penington)

Source: Para 5, Isaac Penington to Widow Hemmings (1670), by Isaac Penington If the Lord would show thee but this one thing, -- that to use "thee" and "thou" to a particular person is proper ...
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 ...
2
votes
0answers
102 views

Is “do something by date X” inclusive? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Does “notified by [date]” include the end date? For example, if John says: Return it to me by March 24th. Does it mean that I need to return it to him ...
2
votes
1answer
82 views

“And yet we're meant to be educating them for it.” What does this mean? [closed]

I was watching a TED video and didn’t get a few of the sentences. I hope someone can explain them to me. So I have a big interest in education, and I think we all do. We have a huge vested ...