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

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2
votes
5answers
29k views

Difference between “novel” and “fiction”

Both novel and fiction refer to a book in which the story is just imaginary. But what's the difference between them and what are the scenarios to use them right?
3
votes
1answer
372 views

The meaning of 'School blows dogs'

I don't understand the meaning this phrase: School blows dogs. I heard this phrase in a film. There was boy who didn't like to go to school and he uttered this phrase to his father. He says it with ...
7
votes
6answers
434 views

How to assess “an access of butchness”

I read this phrase in Alan Bennett’s Diary years ago and found it so unusual I’ve never forgotten it. Italics mine: 8 December. Trying to find someone a Meccano set for Christmas, I’m reminded ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the difference between “alleged” and “so-called”?

These alleged experts are no help. These so-called experts are no help. Can anyone explain the difference?
0
votes
2answers
290 views

What is the exact meaning of ‘lackadaisical’ in describing the Magliozzis who joked they were about to get “even lazier”

New York Times (June 8) reported that “Hosts of ‘Car Talk’ to retire after 35 years of automotive banter.” and commented that: “The Magliozzis are the kind of people who wouldn’t care. Famously ...
5
votes
3answers
10k views

How is “I have come” + infinitive different from Present Perfect?

Consider the following examples: I have noticed that a lot of people are switching to Unity. vs. I have come to notice that a lot of people are switching to Unity. or: The Saddam I have ...
7
votes
5answers
6k views

Difference between “robot”, “machine”, and “automaton”

What is the difference in meaning between a robot, a machine, and an automaton? I was inspired to ask this because I really can’t understand the subtle (or not so subtle) difference in meaning here. ...
2
votes
2answers
744 views

What is the difference between “lean” and “incline”?

I know that lean and incline's meanings are similar, but I cannot understand in which context each is used. With profits continuing to fall amid rising costs, high interest rates and growth ...
2
votes
2answers
572 views

What is the meaning of “flagging”?

I read this sentence in the newspaper. I found a definition of flagging from the dictionary as "weak from exhaustion," but I can not understand how it applies here: it is investing over $1 billion ...
4
votes
4answers
278 views

Two main clauses one after another or another meaning?

I got a letter which says Your admission is on the basis that you will be classified as a Home (EU) student for the purpose of University fees and College fees will be paid on your behalf by the ...
10
votes
1answer
2k views

What Are The “Living Daylights”?

In the turn of phrase "scared the living daylights out of me" what does "living daylights" refer to? Where does this particular idiom originate?
0
votes
2answers
4k views

I hung my head in shame [closed]

Does the phrase "I hung my head in shame" mean that the person hanged himself? Suicide?
0
votes
2answers
2k views

What's the difference between “he's going to start walking” and “he's going to walk”? [closed]

What's the difference between "he's going to start walking" and "he's going to walk"? Are there any shades of meaning here?
6
votes
2answers
721 views

What's the meaning of “dummy up”?

What does "dummy up" mean here? The cops wouldn't tell me who the owner was, but we're a military town, so I took a chance. Called my insurance (USAA) and as luck would have it, that was the other ...
4
votes
5answers
6k views

Does the adjective “swell” have anything to do with the noun/verb “swell”?

Dictionary.com: swell 1. to grow in bulk, as by the absorption of moisture or the processes of growth. The other verb meanings and the noun meanings all tend toward the same underlying concept ...
3
votes
3answers
682 views

Meaning of “desk warrior”

I'm not sure about the meaning of desk warrior, as it appears in this passage taken from The Economist (my boldface emphasis): Those [South Korean students, my note] who score well can enter one ...
-5
votes
1answer
125 views

Meaning of “a can not” [closed]

What is the meaning of a can not? This guy is a can't-miss prospect. I heard this sentence in an English movie.
10
votes
4answers
3k views

Meaning of “modulo the fact”

I came across this sentence in the American Heritage Dictionary, but still do not understand it. This proposal is the best so far, modulo the fact that parts of it need modification. The ...
2
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the meaning of “all year long”?

I can not understand this sentence because of this one all year long. Oh, it sounds like it's raining all year long in Belgium. Which season is actually the nicest one? Can someone explain ...
0
votes
1answer
133 views

“Building to” — idiom or typo? [closed]

The title of this article is "Building to New Super Mario Bros." Is "building to" a typo or an idiom? What does it mean if it's not a typo? I've never come across that phrase before.
0
votes
6answers
841 views

Can “the man from Earth” mean “caveman”? [closed]

There is a movie called "The Man from Earth" and someone told me that the title is referring to "caveman" because "Earth" meant "cave". I doubt that. I can't find any dictionary supporting that ...
1
vote
3answers
4k views

Is “between” always used for two things? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “between” vs “among” I know the word "between" is used when we are concerned with two things. But can it be used with more than two things?
1
vote
2answers
2k views

As yet + past simple/present perfect

I was unable to find out the rules here and what is the difference: As yet, he has not received the package. As yet little was known of the causes of the disease.
-4
votes
2answers
608 views

what is the meaning of “might sound”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “May” & “Might”: What's the right context? May, might confusion I can not understand this sentence and how it differ from may sound. ...
4
votes
5answers
1k views

What does “please with sugar and knobs on” mean?

What does please with sugar and knobs on mean in the following sentence? Please, pretty please, pretty please with sugar and knobs on, do not ever look at your monthly/quarterly/annual ...
1
vote
1answer
504 views

What does “Booney II” mean in this context?

What does "Booney II" mean in this conext? It is in the name of a product from Columbia: Men's Silver Ridge™ Booney II
0
votes
2answers
100 views

Meaning of “like growing up”

What is the meaning of like growing up in the following sentence? Now, you grew up in Southern California. What was it like growing up on the beach in the summer?
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Is this correct: “Of [something] I have but none”?

This might be a pretty weird question, given that I'm using awkward grammar. Take into account that I'm trying to play with the language. The question is, would the following be correct? Of milk ...
12
votes
7answers
3k views

Can “crepuscular” and/or “twilight” apply to morning half-light as well as in the evening

I know that's "sorta" two questions in one, but I'm stuck in an argument with a guy who says both words can apply to morning half-light. I disagree and think both only apply in the evening. I think ...
-2
votes
3answers
6k views

What is the meaning of “a hell of a lot”?

I read the following, but can not understand meaning of a hell of a lot: Todd: So when people go to your web site what can they see? Jason: Not a hell of a lot but I did draw everything on ...
8
votes
2answers
820 views

What does “pike hoses” mean?

I'm reading James Joyce's Ulysses, and while there are enough things I don't understand in it I keep crossing the phrase "pike hoses," or "met him pike hoses." Can anyone enlighten me as to the ...
8
votes
3answers
87k views

What does 'period' mean when someone says “something, period”? [closed]

I often encounter US people saying something like this: Something something something, period. What does that mean?
3
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “ever” mean in this sentence? [closed]

I read this sentence: Did that ever hit home! None of these definitions hits home. It's neither a question (in which it would perfectly match) nor a negative sentence. And it does not mean "at ...
5
votes
6answers
987 views

Is “youths” always used negatively?

The word "youths" always seems to be used in a negative sense (e.g. "Drunken youths", "Disaffected youths"), and our church has now adopted the more politically-correct sounding phrase "young people". ...
2
votes
4answers
15k views

Meaning and usage of “to no end”

What does the phrase "He annoys me to no end" mean? Literally, does it mean that he annoys me forever? Or does it mean that he annoys me to no result?
1
vote
4answers
2k views

To make sense vs. to be making sense

- Hey John, what do you think? - I think that sucks! - It doesn't make any sense. vs. - Hey John, what do you think? - I think that sucks! - You're not making any sense. What's the difference ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

“Give someone trouble” — what does it mean?

I saw the usage in a translated novel, in which a boy's parents died in an earthquake, and as soon as he knew that both his parents were dead, the boy's immediate reaction was that now he was free and ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

What does “double down” mean in this particular context?

Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, said this in an interview: We're going to double-down on secrecy on products. I know this phrase is from Blackjack and it means to take more risk and expect higher return. ...
1
vote
1answer
265 views

Meaning of “take title in”?

Tomorrow around 3:30, I need a ride from the 7-11 to the quick cash place, gonna take my title in for some funds. I take it title here means the legal right to own something? And to take your ...
1
vote
1answer
169 views

Have you done your marketing today?

The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the term marketing is a word that is related to advertising, business and commerce. A colleague once said to me that she went to do some marketing. I ...
2
votes
3answers
10k views

What does voice in writing mean?

What does it mean when people talk about voice when referring to someone's writing? Is it his/her specific point of view? or Can two people have the same point of view and different writing voices?
11
votes
2answers
40k views

Is “fair enough” the same as “OK”?

Is fair enough completely equivalent to OK? If not, under what circumstances should I say fair enough in my response? Any good examples will be most welcomed.
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Word to describe one who loves friends more than family

Is there a word to describe someone who loves his friends more than his family? For example, my brother is a sort of person who seems to be only interested in his friends (not me nor the rest of the ...
-3
votes
2answers
260 views

Meaning of “Nothing is working here like the rest of the world?” [closed]

I would like to know whether this phase has negative impact or it can be positive.
2
votes
3answers
5k views

Independence vs. Independency

Most often used is "independence" as far as I know, however what is the difference? I only found a question about "dependence vs. dependency" where is said that "dependence" describes the quality ...
0
votes
4answers
469 views

Meaning of “backwards” [closed]

What's the meaning of backwards here? Does it mean it's going towards a worse state? English is hands down the most comprehensive and efficient language. The language of an advanced civilization ...
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Does “upshot” denote something positive, negative, or neutral?

I’m a non-native speaker of English, and I’ve always felt that “upshot” was used to denote positive results. But I’ve come across a few cases recently where negative or neutral outcomes were ...
1
vote
2answers
199 views

What does 'open-work' mean here?

From The invisible man: His feet, save for socks of irregular open-work, were bare, his big toes were broad, and pricked like the ears of a watchful dog. This is the complete chapter. The ...
7
votes
4answers
24k views

Duplicate vs. replicate vs. reduplicate

What is the difference in usage between these three apparently-synonymous words: duplicate, replicate, and reduplicate. (Definitions from ODO) duplicate: make or be an exact copy of replicate: ...
-2
votes
3answers
671 views

Meaning of “go down” [closed]

What's the meaning of go down? Little did anyone know, the 47-year-old Silicon Valley executive was actually engaged in a giant scam...He was finally caught by Target security on May 8, and he was ...