This tag is for questions related to definitions and nuances of meaning of a word or phrase.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (6)

4
votes
8answers
4k views

Bodkins and bodkin - Same word different context?

Does bodkins in "odd's bodkins" mean the same as bare bodkin, which appears in Hamlet? (Other than being plural in the first example)
1
vote
1answer
87 views

What does “wind levels” means in this context

I'm having a difficulty understanding something from the book You Only Have to Be Right Once, by Randall Lane, p. 32: Pulling onto the 405, he attentively configures the optimum temperature and ...
1
vote
5answers
313 views

What does “people of the concrete steppes” mean?

I read this on an economics blog (http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2014/02/in_the_1930s_it.html) and tried to google it, but the results seem to just be people using it, no one explaining it. ...
6
votes
5answers
4k views

The origin of the term half assed

Does this slang originate from half asked, since the difinition means exactly that. You only did half what I asked you.
2
votes
3answers
201 views

Right Good but Left Bad

While examining the definition/etymology of the adjective sinister, I noticed its senses of EVIL, ILL-FORTUNE, and general inauspiciousness, as well as explicit references to the noun/adjective LEFT. ...
1
vote
2answers
64 views

What does mean “snap right back to your book”

I need help to know what this sentence means? I have trouble understanding phrase "just snap right back to your book" Sometimes it feels as though your attention has wandered for just an instant. ...
1
vote
4answers
67 views

When should hyphens be used to make text clearer

In an earlier post - Phonetic understanding of tongue twisters - a comment was made that "hyphens ...(are) ...not needed in speech, so they must be extraneous". The phrase prompting this assertion ...
0
votes
1answer
44 views

What does bimonthly really mean? [duplicate]

Does the bi prefix mean that it is every second month or twice a month?
1
vote
2answers
76 views

Which one is correct “delivered to” or “delivered at”?

Should I say Food delivered to your doorsteps or Food delivered at your doorsteps?
0
votes
2answers
40 views

Word for “Writing phrase on something”

Is there a word that represents the act of writing a phrase on something? In this case, I'm trying to advertise a club by "engraving" or "inking" ping pong balls with a phrase such as "Join this ...
0
votes
0answers
32 views

the fairest to be Patakied

Bea was attractive, though by no means the fairest to be Patakied. This is the sentence that comes from the novel by Tibor Fischer Under the Frog. The official translation of this clause to my native ...
1
vote
1answer
49 views

“Code of Alabama” usage in this sentence

From Harper Lee’s 1960 novel, To Kill a Mockingbird: Atticus’s office in the courthouse contained little more than a hat rack, a spittoon, a checkerboard and an unsullied Code of Alabama. Isn’t ...
3
votes
4answers
107 views

“Premise” as a location

Can the word "premise" ever refer to a location or building? I have noticed that "premise" is being used in the computer industry to refer to a computer system that is located at a customer's place ...
0
votes
1answer
127 views

What is the meaning of “ironically” in this passage?

A rocket launched and shortly afterward exploded, on Tuesday. Below is passage from a news article written about it: This was the second launch attempt for the mission. Monday evening's try was ...
1
vote
1answer
100 views

“Ex Machina” versus “Deus Ex Machina” [closed]

I have recently watched a movie called Ex Machina. I searched for the meaning, but Deus Ex Machina was the closest to this title. There certainly must be a relation but can someone please tell me ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What does “lift their skirts … and grab the eyeglasses right off someone's face” mean?

From Gavin De Becker, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals that Protect Us from Violence (1998): "That's true," she said. "Every day I have to predict what the kids will do, and I succeed for ...
0
votes
1answer
26 views

Are these two meanings of “phenomenal” related?

I had seen the word phenomenal translated into Chinese words with an equivalent meaning "of phenomenon" in more and more text especially regarding sports. For example, LeBron James had a ...
2
votes
7answers
80 views

What is a good word I can use for the talking I do with myself in my mind?

'Monologue' seems like a close fit, but I think more people associate it with one-sided conversation. Correct me if I'm wrong. 'Soliloquy' seems to be only concerned with plays and dramas. Can I use ...
0
votes
5answers
110 views

Similar phrases meaning 'give kudos'

See, in one of our employee evaluation systems, we would like to implement a feature by which any employee can show appreciation to another employee that he has got help from or whom he thinks to be a ...
2
votes
3answers
78 views

Is there a single word (or expression) used to describe a person who only does their job when the boss/manager is watching?

"Quick the boss is coming, we need to look busy" Is there a single word (or expression) to describe a person who only does their job while someone (the boss/manager) is watching, but who does ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

Meaning of “I never give a sucker an even break”

What does this phrase mean? I never give a sucker an even break. Does it mean that the author of this saying is unwilling to offer somebody who he doesn't like a break/rest while he is working?
0
votes
2answers
45 views

the meaning of “they should not look nearly as different as they do”

The three species (Man, the chimpanzee and the gorilla) share almost 99 percent of their DNA, and on that basis, surely, they should not look nearly as different as they do. Am I right in ...
18
votes
8answers
2k views

Is there a term for ascribing acts of the human mind to non-human objects, and when is it appropriate to do this?

Nota bene: English isn't my native language, so when I say acts of the human mind, I attempt to generalize things such as making assumptions, drawing conclusions and (to some extent) to reject. To me ...
0
votes
2answers
33 views

GRE Sentence Completion -2

It comes as no surprise that societies have codes of behavior; the character of the codes, on the other hand, can often be _________ . A) predictable B) unexpected C) admirable D) explicit E) ...
0
votes
3answers
111 views

What does “tend one's spinning wheel” mean?

However hard I tried I've failed to get the exact meaning of tending his spinning wheel here. It would be argued, and indeed I would argue, that Muslim intransigence would have played a ...
0
votes
1answer
40 views

Is there any difference between 'artfully' and 'artistically'? [on hold]

Is there any difference between 'artfully' and 'artistically'? e.g., are there any subtle differences between an 'artfully plated' dish and an 'artistically plated' one?
0
votes
1answer
48 views

What does “over-formal” means? [on hold]

An ideal article should have the following: • Appropriate and Correct English Professional, but not over-formal, U.S. English.
2
votes
4answers
142 views

differentiating between all that and what

Original (extracted from the book The Scarlet Letter): Like all that pertains to crime, it seemed never to have known a youthful era. My own rephrased sentences: Like whatever that pertains ...
0
votes
2answers
45 views

what is a cross signature?

I am told to get the cross signature done on the envelope containing my recomendation letter by principal but i have no idea of what a cross sign is? and how it is to be done on the envelope?
2
votes
1answer
69 views

How to understand “cat's evening wear”?

I really had a difficult time to understand this. It comes from a book I am reading, and it is used to describe a concept the author speaks highly of. Does it mean that something is very special? Or ...
0
votes
2answers
32 views

Comparing laws, regulations, and rules

As I understand it, laws are made to protect property, regulations are made to control our behavior (both are made by governments), but rules are made by individuals or organizations. Please explain ...
-2
votes
2answers
32 views

What's the difference between “in the room” and “in room”? [on hold]

I usually tend to tell i'm in the room. But i get confused when i get doubts with respect to what to use between "in the room" and "in room" for the formation of error free sentence.
2
votes
3answers
142 views

GRE Sentence Completion Question

Select the two answer choices that, when used to complete the sentence, fit the meaning of the sentence as a whole and produce completed sentences that are alike in meaning. As my eyesight began ...
0
votes
2answers
33 views

“piecemeal” (about a theatre prop)

I'm translating an American article on a theatre production that is really challenging for a non-native speaker. Here's a passage describing one of the props, a car: Indeed, the set, by Maria ...
1
vote
2answers
120 views

Why is the word 'narrow' an antonym to the word 'emphatic'?

I have been doing some antonym and synonym exercises as part of my preparation for a verbal reasoning test, and I was asked to pick an antonym for the word emphatic. There were four choices given to ...
-1
votes
2answers
57 views

What does this sentence mean? [on hold]

An old theory says that fear of things like snakes and fire is built into our brain, because animals that are afraid of dangerous things live longer and have more babies.
0
votes
1answer
84 views

semantic difference for the forms: “x of y” vs. “x of the y” vs. “y x”

As a non-native speaker, I have a problem understanding the difference in meaning of the following forms: "… of …" "… of the …" "… …" To be more specific, let me give some instances: "theory of ...
0
votes
1answer
39 views

Kudos to you and its usage [on hold]

What does Kudos to you exactly mean? Can I use it instead of"Bravo"? I hear it a lot in "Californication".
1
vote
1answer
34 views

“empirically ubiquitous”: what does “empirically” mean here?

I am translating an American article about a theatre production, and there's a phrase I can't understand. It uses the word "empirically" but if I'm not mistaken has nothing to do with ...
-1
votes
4answers
2k views

What does “could use a friend” mean?

I heard this word on some TV show and i have been trying to find its meaning(but they weren't of help much). Could someone please tell me ?
0
votes
2answers
51 views

‘Went for a run’ vs. ‘went on a run’

I would like to know what's the difference between: I went for a run today I went on a run today. And when it's correct to apply each of those. Thanks a ton. Pablo.
2
votes
1answer
41 views

“augmented by the way that” means…?

I'm new here, and I would like to ask for your help. I'm translating an American article about a certain theatre piece, and there's a phrase that I can't understand properly. "Music, song, dance, ...
4
votes
3answers
140 views

What does 'lazy' mean in the sentence 'They bought the mansion for a lazy $10 million.'?

It seems to me that 'lazy' in this context suggests a humorous, off-hand attitude to a sum most would consider serious money. Is it a jocular minimisation of the amount, almost the opposite of the ...
10
votes
11answers
5k views

What does “from hunger” mean?

What is the meaning of the phrase "from hunger", as in, "This xyz is from hunger"? From the context I found it in, it appears to mean either very good, or very bad, but it's hard to tell which. The ...
1
vote
1answer
802 views

What's the meaning of 'haler'? [correction: hailer] [closed]

This doesn't seem to be general reference, because in the context I've seen it used tonight (the London riots), it certainly isn't referring to a coin, or 'a person who hails'. I've heard it used ...
4
votes
9answers
394 views

The opposite of 'attend' [on hold]

What is a word (a verb) for the opposite of attend (to a class, to a conference...)? Unattend? Disattend? If there is not such a word, then maybe not attending could be OK... EDIT: The context ...
2
votes
1answer
43 views

“which is no more”

Beyond its farther edge the Alppain glow burned blue just over the horizon. “But that terrible blue glare on the opposite side is exactly like the eye of fate. It accuses us, and demands what ...
0
votes
0answers
56 views

what does “cool with a k” mean? [on hold]

"silicon valley" season 2 episode 8, about 7-8 minute, Ehrlich says to Monica: cool with a k. what does this mean?
7
votes
2answers
620 views

Meaning of “murder to resist” in the expression “Power can be murder to resist”?

Power can be murder to resist. This is the tagline of the novel and film The Firm. What does it mean for something to "be murder to resist"?
0
votes
2answers
55 views

meaning of company in this sentence

FOUR I paid the taxi off on Pepper Drive, in front of a house where there was company, and walked back up the curving hill of La Verne Terrace to Steiner's house behind its shrubbery. It is the ...