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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (6)

1
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1answer
1k views

“periphery” and “perimeter” — are they the same?

I looked up in the dictionary and found they both mean the boundary of a closed curve, or the extended meaning “not the center”. Are they synonyms?
6
votes
2answers
786 views

What is a “bernie”?

Proper nouns are not playable in Scrabble, but I know (from studying words) that "bernie" and "bernies" is playable in Scrabble. But I cannot find a definition for the lowercase version anywhere ...
3
votes
6answers
171 views

“someone nodded abstractly”

for the first time, I read something using the 2 words "nodded abstractly". I Google it. People use it quiet often... I read it there: “Welcome aboard,” said Justin, one of the programmers. He ...
3
votes
4answers
724 views

Is there such a word as 'tractless' and what does it mean?

I recall hearing the phrase 'tractless wilderness' but no dictionaries has 'tractless'. Up until now, I believed the meaning to be 'expansive'. There is a possibility that I'm confusing it with ...
7
votes
3answers
12k views

Why does “one-night stand” mean sex?

What does the word stand mean in this phrase?
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What does the word “rolling” mean in “rolling grassland”?

I found the following definition of "prairie" online: An extensive area of flat or rolling grassland, especially the large plain of central North America. I understand what "flat grassland" ...
2
votes
3answers
455 views

The word “getting” in “getting a divorce”

My parents are getting a divorce Is the getting just an auxiliary verb or does it have some real meaning? Why not: "My parents is going to divorce"?
4
votes
4answers
13k views

Meaning of “have an agenda”

What does it mean when someone says he has an agenda? Is there a negative connotation to agenda? If there is, then why and what is a word that means the same thing but has a positive connotation?
9
votes
2answers
2k views

What does it mean to “talk a dog off a meat truck”?

He is someone who could talk a dog off a meat truck. What does this idiom mean?
2
votes
3answers
18k views

What is the meaning of “personnel”? What is its plural form?

From Wordweb: Group of people willing to obey orders The department responsible for hiring and training and placing employees and for setting policies for personnel management The two are kind of ...
6
votes
6answers
1k views

Is it true that etymology is the leading tool to understand the correct use of words?

In discussions about the meanings of words I often find participants bring up the etymologies as though they are conclusive deciding factors. On the other hand there is concept of the "etymological ...
-1
votes
3answers
4k views

Monosyllabic and polysyllabic [closed]

what exactly would monosyllabic words and polysyllabic words be? Google definition isn't helping to understand...
10
votes
11answers
9k views

What on Earth does “cheap at half the price” mean?

I hear this all the time, "cheap at half the price", to indicate that something is cheap (mostly in an ironic sense, but often used literally), but it makes no sense to me. Of course, if something ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Logic behind “at most”

Does the term 'at most' mean there is at least one?
2
votes
3answers
179 views

Does “All” imply one or more?

Does all imply that there is one or more of something? Does the statement "all of the books are red" imply there is at least one red book? Could there be zero books and the statement still be ...
1
vote
2answers
699 views

What is the difference between a command and an invitation?

What is the difference between a command and an invitation? Both seem to be directed to elicit an action. Are there structural differences between the two?
1
vote
2answers
432 views

What is the difference between a question and an invitation?

What is the difference between a question and an invitation? Is there any difference? Do they accomplish different things? Are they structurally different?
7
votes
8answers
3k views

What is the origin, and correct spelling of, “shtook”?

I quite frequently use a word that sounds like "shtook", to mean, trouble with the law or other authorities, as in, "You'll be in dead shtook if you do that" or "you'll be in real shtook if you don't ...
1
vote
3answers
11k views

Difference in meaning between create/make/have impact

Came across "create a great impact" today, and I have never seen "impact" used with "create" (as far as I can remember). Is there a difference in meaning and usage between: create an impact have ...
15
votes
2answers
3k views

Where does the word “totient” come from?

In math we learn about the "totient function". It rhymes with "quotient" when math teachers pronounce it. But I cannot find the definition or etymology of this word in any dictionary, nor on any ...
12
votes
6answers
2k views

Etymology of the phrase “Shiver my timbers”

I've been trying to search for the origin and meaning of the phrase "Shiver my timbers", but can't seem to find anything.
10
votes
7answers
27k views

Origin of “egg on my face”

Where does the phrase "egg on my face" come from, and what is its meaning?
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Like to vs like + ing [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “I like to do (be) something” vs “I like doing (being) something” Hello, Is there any difference of meaning between these sentences? I like to get up early I like ...
8
votes
2answers
240 views

What is a 'Swivel Servant'?

English is not my first language. I googled and googled, but this was one thing I was not able to find. Can someone give me a definition of this?
6
votes
3answers
5k views

Difference between “inflammable” and “flammable” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why are not infamous and inflammable the opposite of famous and flammable like incomplete, inactivity, inappropriate and so on? I'm very confused by the existence of ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

What does it mean to “squeal on someone”

What does it mean? He can't squeal on him.
13
votes
5answers
21k views

Substitute X for Y

An awful lot of people seem to use the phrase "substitute X for Y" to mean "replace X with Y", while I've always used and understood it as "replace Y with X". This makes sense to me, given that a ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

What's the (unobvious) meaning of “I saw you coming”?

Watching an episode of Ruddy Hell, the phrase "I saw you coming" was printed on a shop and the shop owner used it when talking to the rich lady. The context was that he sold stuff second hand and even ...
4
votes
3answers
272 views

Confusion over “respected” in the following sentence

I'm confused what this sentence means. Does it mean that many people consider X respected, or that a few people consider X respected? not a few people consider respected and X to be an oxymoron ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

Does “carnival barker” mean the opposite of “barker”?

I saw the following line in an article in Forbes (April 27) dealing with President Obama’s release of his long-form birth certificate: "We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Are 'should' and 'be supposed to' interchangeable? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why do we say “supposed to” for “should have”? I guess I really can't tell if 'should' and 'be supposed to' are interchangeable from the ...
27
votes
12answers
7k views

“Nothing to tell” versus “nothing to say”

There's nothing to tell. There's nothing to say. Can anyone explain the difference between those two statements and give some examples on how they should be used? I think I do have a basic ...
4
votes
2answers
353 views

What does “plutonomy” mean?

What does the word plutonomy mean?
2
votes
3answers
251 views

What does “a drifty car” mean?

What does "a drifty car" mean? Does it refer to capability of instant change in the speed of car?
0
votes
1answer
296 views

“preposition: a word to annoy prescriptivists with”

What is the double meaning/meanings of this?
4
votes
1answer
5k views

What is the meaning of “I'm a wiener”?

I have scoured out dictionaries searching for the word wiener without success. As you can notice I am not a native speaker. I usually see the this phrase as a demeaning joke on animations when some ...
8
votes
2answers
841 views

Obama's use of “bemused”

I generally see the definition of "bemused" to be synonymous with "confused" or "puzzled", and that it is wrong to use it as a synonym of "amused". However I tend to see it used — as Obama did ...
0
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the definition of “You're so far behind, you think you're first”?

What is the definition of "You're so far behind, you think you're first"? Should a dictionary entry of this expression be "One is so far behind, one thinks he is first"?
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “by and by” mean?

There are words in the chorus of the "Preacher and the Slave" song by Joe Hill: You will eat, by and by, In that glorious land above the sky; Work and pray, live on hay, You'll get pie in the sky ...
11
votes
2answers
90k views

“Have a look” vs. “Take a look”

What is the difference between Have a look and Take a look (meaning/connotations)? For example: Have a look at the question. Take a look at the question. For some reason I only found first ...
8
votes
6answers
713 views

Attacking by “Taking the high road”

Situation: There are two political opponents running for the same position. In politician #1's commercial, he attacks #2 by pointing out flaws in his campaign or history. #2's attack is more clever. ...
4
votes
6answers
955 views

Can anybody “learn” or “acquire” a talent?

People often call sports teams or sports players "talented". Example: The Miami Heat have a lot of talent on their roster. Or: Sidney Crosby is a very talented hockey player. But people ...
4
votes
2answers
228 views

Can 'egalitarian' be used for gender bias also?

Egalitarian is typically used when discussing equality in political, social, economic and civil issues. Can it also be used to portray equality in gender issues? E.g. an egalitarian does not ...
2
votes
1answer
282 views

When should cooking, cuisine, and cookery be used?

I have never really understood when the words cooking, cuisine and cookery should be used, and to what level they are synonymous. For example, in each example below, which could you use and why (or ...
6
votes
7answers
4k views

Is [Its'] a word? (Note the apostrophe at the end.)

I just had a strange flashback to a conversation I had when I was in high school, with a man who was regarded by many members of a particular online community as having an impressive degree of ...
2
votes
1answer
692 views

Does the pejorative “welfie” exist?

Inspired by a possible mishearing of "wealth" as "welf" I recalled the word "welfie" to describe someone currently on welfare. The context was always extremely negative and seemed to hint at someone ...
0
votes
2answers
4k views

Is “injur” a word? [closed]

Am I going crazy? I think "injur" must be a transitive verb meaning "to cause injury to," as in "the flying debris might injur the bystanders." Yet when I google around and check online ...
2
votes
1answer
938 views

Is “bright example” correct?

Can I use "bright example" to mean a good example of something just has been described. For example: Such devices never work more than a year, my mp3 player is bright example
3
votes
4answers
3k views

What does “fringe meeting” mean exactly?

I'm aware of that 'Fringe' means 'not major', 'not mainstream'. I hardly understand how 'fringe' and 'meeting' meet as one vocabulary.
6
votes
4answers
4k views

How long is a 'wink'?

If I'm off to catch forty winks, how long will I be asleep? I'm interested to know if there is a specific amount of time associated with a 'wink', or if there's no actual amount of time behind it?