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

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1
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3answers
43 views

What is the meaning of these lyrics?

What is the meaning of the lyrics of well know song by Enya - May it be ? May it be an evening star shines down upon you. [...] May it be the shadow's call will fly away.
0
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1answer
19 views

Can anyone help me about this phrase: “had I not + V_pII/V_ed”?

I'm learning English, but my English is very bad. I have a question about this sentence: The principal approached me and asked me that why had I not brought the book? When I translate the sentence I ...
1
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4answers
3k views

What is the origin of “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes”?

I hear this term everywhere I go and from almost everyone I meet. I know this means to be more empathetic. I wonder why this expression was even coined and what was its origin?
6
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4answers
4k views

Are there any pairs of words like “beloved”/“belovèd”, “learned”/“learnèd” that maintain a semantic difference to the present day?

When I first read Romeo and Juliet in high school, I remember being intrigued by pairs of words such as, beloved/belovèd and learned/learnèd where there's an accent grave on the 'e' of ...
1
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1answer
44 views

What does it mean when a piece of clothing cinches you in?

I've recently heard a girl saying: "the shape (of a dress) cinches you in." So the next day, I tried to look up the meaning of it but I've only found the word a cinch which is supposed to be a ...
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5answers
6k views

What does “He who sups with the devil should have a long spoon” mean?

I've recently read this quote somewhere in a book and I can't seem to comprehend it.
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0answers
18 views

past participle or participle adjective

I want to know it's a correct sentence or not if yes then what it's meaning of this sentence and Is we use past participle here as a participle adjective or not and I took this sentence from a movie (...
4
votes
2answers
77 views

Meaning of “See that wet, see that dry!”

"You'd share and share alike with the rest, whether you'd been in that particular job or not. There's fifty members, and you'd get one-fiftieth, same as Number One and same as me." "Really? No ...
5
votes
3answers
633 views

What does “inspissated gloom” mean?

Is "inspissated" used to simply emphasize the unhappiness/darkness? Is it used in literary contexts only? All the examples I have seen are either Biblical or literary. Merriam-Webster thickened ...
-1
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1answer
60 views

please let me know the meaning of “Madam Secretary” dialogues

Whenever I cannot understand some English expression, I am getting big help from this site. Very useful website and good people. Anyway. I am watching American Drama "Madam Secretary" season1, episode ...
7
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6answers
10k views

Would anyone use “ramp down” as the opposite to “ramp up”

In the context, for example, of factory production I often read the phrase "ramp up production" or "a ramp-up in production". To me "ramp down" sounds a strange phrase to use as the opposite - does ...
-1
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1answer
71 views

In the context of Hillary saying she “owes penance” to L.F. de Rothschild, what does “owing penance” mean?

In this email leaked by Wikileaks, Hillary Clinton asks Rothschild to: Let me know what penance I owe you. The only definitions I can find for the word "penance" are religious terms that imply ...
16
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4answers
5k views

What does Homer mean when he says, “her words had wings”?

In both The Iliad and The Odyssey, Homer uses the phrase "words had wings" all over the place. Here's one quote of many: Then the shadow of the swift-footed son of Aeacus knew who I was, and with ...
0
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0answers
47 views

“We can do this infinitely.” Is this correct?

I was told that it's not correct to say "We can do this infinitely", meaning that the process will last forever, without an end. Instead one should say "We can do this indefinitely" or "infinitely ...
5
votes
1answer
71 views

Are there any words without a meaning?

From Geoffrey Hunter's Metalogic, p.5: ... a thing is an English word only if it has meaning. It got me thinking: is this really so? Is it possible for there to be an English word that is ...
1
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4answers
131 views
+100

What is the 'office of call-boy'?

From the short story Percival Bland's Proxy, by Austin Freeman written in 1913; And thus was the curtain rung down on the first act. The second act opened only a couple of days later, the office ...
0
votes
0answers
38 views

Where does the meaning of 'underwater' come from?

When we say or hear the word 'underwater', we usually think of this Underwater refers to the region below the surface of water where the water exists in a natural feature such as an ocean, sea, ...
-1
votes
1answer
40 views

What does “premature clack” mean? [on hold]

Context: As a freelance writer, I invested in an electric typewriter that snatched the letters from my fingertips with a sharp, premature clack. (Link to the full article: http://absolutewrite.com/...
3
votes
1answer
89 views

What phrases exist which are apparently contradictory, but actually mean the same thing?

I have several items of clothing for which their dark colours could run on washing. Some have a warning label in that says 'wash dark colours together'. Some have a label that says 'wash dark ...
0
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0answers
33 views

Which one better reflects “Industry 4.0” in meaning: “The Industry of Future” or “The Industry for Future”? [on hold]

In the context of "Industry 4.0" (the 4th revolution in industry: 1st: 1784; 2nd: 1870; 3rd: 1969; 4th: today), which one of the following best suits/reflects to express the "Industry 4.0" in meaning ?...
1
vote
1answer
37 views

Less than in word length

I have a question regarding less than me and some colleges are bumping heads in trying to figure out a sentence. The Sentence is: The required words should not be less than 5. So what will the ...
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votes
3answers
87 views

why are the words 'True Love' used together so much?

I've noticed that many old (often folk) songs use the terms 'true love' together (as opposed to just 'love')? Is it to differentiate it from 'false love', due to metric or syllabic reasons, for ...
0
votes
2answers
23 views

Am i getting my message across?

A solution is hypertonic to a cell if its concentration of nonpenetrating solutes is greater than that within the cell. A solution is hypertonic to a cell if its concentration of nonpenetrating ...
0
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0answers
37 views

As between a and b [on hold]

Can anyone tell me the use of "As between " in sentences? I haven't found it anywhere . please help me.
0
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0answers
23 views

what they have in common [on hold]

a. What these two guys have in common is their fluffy pets. Does this sentence mean: They have the same pets (it would be a strange thing to say unless we were talking about members of the same ...
2
votes
2answers
36 views

difference between “lickspittle” and “sycophant”

Lickspittle is defined as: a person who behaves obsequiously to those in power. whereas Sycophant is defined as: a person who acts obsequiously towards someone important in order to gain ...
0
votes
2answers
116 views

“Relationship to” vs. “Relationship with”

I found two different terms regarding relationship: "Relationship with the applicant" while filling the invitation form "Relationship to the applicant" while filling the application form Whether ...
-1
votes
0answers
42 views

In a factory, the products are 'performed' or 'made'? [on hold]

When you try to explain someone what you do in your factory you say "we perform specific glasses for wine" or you say "we make specific glasses for wine"?
18
votes
4answers
20k views

Difference between “spicy” and “hot”

I make a distinction between "hot" and "spicy" food ("hot" not referring to temperature). I consider "hot" food the kind that "burns" and "spicy" food that has lots of flavor, but that may or may not "...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

One word for “any way around it”

Let us say I frame a sentence as follows: Is there any way around this problem? I want to convey the feeling that bypass, or trick without actually using the problem, without actually dealing ...
1
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3answers
54 views

Is “do for” always inherently positive, compared to “do to”?

Compare the sentences: After all he has done for me, he needs my help. After all he has done to me, he needs my help. The first one implies that the subject has done good things for the speaker and ...
2
votes
1answer
65 views

Non-phonetic words

I am looking for a word with the definition "a word that is not spelled phonetically", that is, "a word that is pronounced very differently than the way it is spelled." For example, victuals (...
0
votes
1answer
113 views

The Subject of a Participial Construction

The following passage is quoted from the article in Newsweek by Leah McGrath Goodman, titled "Thomas Piketty Says He Was Ambushed": [Financial Times’s economics editor Chris] Giles, in his critque,...
4
votes
4answers
9k views

Is there any difference between “word-for-word translation” and “word-by-word translation” and is the latter actually valid?

First off, some data: According to COCA word-for-word has 60 usages, 3 of them are "word-for-word translation". Word-by-word has 26 usages, none of them are "word-by-word translation" (but some with "...
1
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2answers
3k views

What does the word term mean when used in the following sentence?

So I have a boss from Ireland that works out of the UK. He tells me that he is on leave for a half term? What is he talking about?
1
vote
1answer
43 views

Does 'to prove' necessitate truth?

If I prove something, does it have to be true? I can structure the question more convolutedly: Does successfully proving something depend on the credulity of the audience, or the truth of the ...
5
votes
2answers
7k views

What does 'knee-jerk reaction' mean?

What does knee-jerk reaction mean? From NYT article: Another senior Socialist, who declined to be identified, said the party could not afford knee-jerk reactions.
0
votes
2answers
645 views

Too many commas in Harry Potter

The book "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" starts with the line - "Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. " ...
4
votes
0answers
57 views

“Enormity”: Bigness or evil?

A few years ago, I learned that the word "enormity" meant "wickedness" and not (ever!) "bigness"--this according to the official curriculum for a major American standardized test. Upon learning this, ...
2
votes
1answer
28 views

What does “take the pace out” mean in this context?

It shows in the Champions League, where the Premier League's best sides have struggled since Chelsea won the competition in 2012, especially when the opposition take the pace out of the game. I ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

What does ‘Jam down one’s throat” mean?

I came across the phrase “I’ll jam down their throats” in the following sentence of the Reuters’ article (June 30 issue) dealing with the Davis Cup, titled “Pat Rafter Wary of 'Awkward Chinese.'” ...
4
votes
3answers
76 views

What are some less ambiguous words for “choice,” “decision,” “option,” etc.?

1) You come to a fork in the road. You need to make a choice between going left or right. You face a decision between the left path and the right path. You have the option to advance in either ...
4
votes
4answers
112 views

Difference between “compact” and “accord”

What's the difference between those two words? But the Marshall Islands holds an important card: Under a 1986 compact, the roughly 70,000 residents of the Marshalls The debate over loss and ...
0
votes
3answers
80 views

“Incremental” growth as growth by a minimum unit

I always thought that the literal meaning of "incremental growth" was growth by one, or by some minimum unit, that "to increment by one" would be redundant, and that other usages (for addition by ...
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votes
2answers
848 views

History of the words “conservative” and “liberal”

I’m curious in the history of political parties of the USA. Initially in 1861 Abraham Lincoln was the first President to represent the Republican party which has always been stated as conservative ...
1
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3answers
61 views

What does “thought of being bounded” mean?

The record books say that the extent of my domain is 120 acres. But it is obvious that, at every dawn, I am the owner of all the acres I can walk over. It is not only boundaries that disappear, but ...
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0answers
42 views

What does insolent mean?

I was looking up the definition of "impertinent" and dictionary.com defined it as "insolently rude." I was always under the impression that insolent meant excessively rude/disrespectful so the phrase ...
0
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0answers
42 views

what is the meaning of “spell” in that context [on hold]

Would you please help to understand the meaning of the word spell in the follwoing context? Over the past five years, Egypt has seen revolution and counter-revolution, a brief spell of civilian ...
4
votes
2answers
59 views

What can “impolitic” really mean?

I stumbled upon the word "impolitic". The original text deals with Chinese philosophy and would probably be more of a distraction than a help. I did my best to clarify the question through searches. ...
0
votes
2answers
65 views

When can I use the word Temporal?

I'm wondering about the word "temporal." The definitions I've read are as follows: adjective adjective: temporal relating to worldly as opposed to spiritual affairs; secular. synonyms: ...