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

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2
votes
2answers
876 views

What does the term 'fatal conceit' mean in this instance? [closed]

From Paul Ryan Is 'Not A Fan' Of Romneycare And Compared It To Obamacare: They see how this idea of having the government be the sole, single regulator of health insurance, defining what kind of ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

What does “pillow-plumping romance with the press” mean?

I came across the phrase “pillow-plumping romance with the press” in Maureen Dowd’s article titled “Liability Index” in New York Times August 11 issue. It reads: The president survived a “raised ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there any hidden meaning in “haircuts” in the analogy of Presidential election as “usual vague contest between competing slogans and haircuts”?

Time magazine introduced Paul Ryan as a very likely presidential runner up in the article titled “Paul Ryan: The Prophet” as early as in its December 14, 2011 issue, and I was interested in the ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

“Woman” is to “coquette” as “man” is to what?

Wiktionary reads: coquette: a woman who flirts or plays with men’s affections. Is there an English word which fits the following definition? ???: a man who flirts or plays with women’s ...
-1
votes
2answers
692 views

Meaning of “I am not for you to look into all issues” [closed]

A question asked by a team member to a party outside team.. In response to that.... Manager: (Addressing me) This is the area where we need to be self sufficient. Please think about this, how to ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

“Never saw” versus “didn't ever see”

Do these sentences have different meanings? I never saw such a thing. I didn't ever see such a thing. I never saw him dancing. I didn't ever see him dancing. My ...
5
votes
3answers
379 views

Meaning of “Toffy Circles”

I'm reading "The Demolished Man" by Alfred Bester, and came across a sentence I could not understand (in bold): "No you don't, Mr. Powell." Mary burst into laughter. "So that's it. You want me for ...
8
votes
3answers
11k views

Please tell me what does “harsh mistress” mean in this sentence

Please tell me what does "harsh mistress" mean in this sentence: Nostalgia can be a harsh mistress.
-1
votes
2answers
2k views

What does 'sphere of [something]' mean?

Reading a journal article, I encountered these terms: customer sphere of privacy customer sphere of security privacy sphere of implementation security sphere of implementation I know the rough ...
12
votes
7answers
50k views

What does “if you will” mean?

A TV program says, they started this accounting gimmick, if you will, and they... What does "if you will" mean? Is it a short form of "if you will [a certain verb]"?
1
vote
2answers
5k views

Meaning of “long gone” [closed]

*The first artifacts were just wooden poles which have long gone, but these were raised by men in times so ancient* I can't understand what "long gone" means here.
-2
votes
2answers
2k views

“Lift the suspension” vs “Drop the suspension”

My sense is that these phrases mean the same thing: the suspension has been reversed or nullfied. Here's the Ngram, for what it's worth. The fact that "lifted the suspension" is much more popular ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Is this sentence correct in grammar and does it even make sense [closed]

This sentence: You have the right to ask for someone in the United States of America. Does it have any grammatical errors? Does it even make sense? I think it is usually ...to ask for ...
2
votes
2answers
301 views

'tonnage of bombs'

ton, a unit of weight equal to 2,240 lb avoirdupois (1016.05 kg). tonne, a metric ton. 'The tonnage of bombs dropped on Vietnam was more than that of WW2 and Korea.' When 'tonnages' are not ...
2
votes
2answers
133 views

“so death swings open on its hinge” [closed]

There is a passage in the poem "Over" by Carol Ann Duffy that I don't understand well. It is a key, unlocking all the dark, so death swings open on its hinge What is the meaning of the second ...
5
votes
4answers
315 views

Meaning of “garnish”

What's the meaning of garnish in this context? What's the point of a bank account when you're constantly behind on every bill you owe? Creditors can't garnish what's not on paper. From ...
0
votes
1answer
796 views

What does the phrase “50% premium” mean?

In the context of commissioning a piece of artistic work, what does the phrase "50% premium" mean? Sentence for context: Would a 50% premium be OK to include a transfer of IP rights for said art ...
0
votes
3answers
1k views

what does “the powers that be have to really mean it for the work to matter” mean? [closed]

The following is from Jeff Atwood's blog: When given the freedom to "work on whatever you want", the powers that be have to really mean it for the work to matter. Mostly that means providing ...
0
votes
2answers
92 views

Shifter's Bay or Shifters Bay? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is it common for place names to lose the possessive? I am struggling with the meaning of and the difference between Shifter's Bay and Shifters Bay (don't pay attention ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

Is “Less than perfect” always used in a sarcastic and negative way?

I always use the phrase less than perfect in a sarcastic way, meaning that something is not good at all. For example: My date was obviously less than perfect. She was late and in a hurry, and she ...
7
votes
3answers
10k views

Difference between “been to” and “been in”

In the following two examples, what is the difference between the usage of been to and been in? They seem like they have the same meaning but I’m not sure. -Have you ever been to Florida? -Yes, ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

What does 'stand' mean in 'stand with regard to'? [closed]

I encountered this phrase in a technical book. The surroundings are: If your goals are measurable (as they should be), you can establish baselines. Run tests to find out where you currently ...
5
votes
2answers
360 views

“Communications In English for Engineers” — what does it exactly mean?

A lecture at my university is titled "Communications In English for Engineers". Somebody from my year stated that 'communications' (in plural) relate to telecommunication and generally ...
49
votes
7answers
17k views

What does “you will want to” mean?

I often find people (mostly American people) telling to me "you will want to do this" or "you will not want to do this". Does it mean they are telling me that I should do something (in the sense of ...
2
votes
6answers
5k views

What does “don't shoot yourself in the foot” mean? [closed]

What does "Don’t shoot yourself in the foot" mean? Unfortunately, most salary decisions are based on perceived performance, not on actual performance. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.
2
votes
6answers
3k views

Tea for the Tillerman

In the song "Tea for the Tillerman", there are two things that baffle me. The pronunciation of the word "Tillerman". It sounds to me that he is saying /tilman/. Why is that? What does a tillerman do ...
3
votes
3answers
7k views

“Conformity” vs. “conformance”

I am curious about the differences in meaning, connotations, style, and correctness of using conformity vs conformance. I haven't been able to find much using a simple web search, only a single ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the difference between “If I must” and “If I had to”?

I read a message from an American friend saying "If I must leave [place], [...]". What´s the difference between "If I must" and "If I had to"? Is there a subtle difference in meaning?
6
votes
3answers
976 views

“He is all of thirty-one” meaning

In the song "Universal Soldier" there is the line: He is all of thirty-one, and he's only seventeen. What does the expression "all of" mean here?
3
votes
1answer
501 views

How should I understand “tone” in this context?

The following is a GRE sample question. Jean Wagner’s most enduring contribution to the study of Afro-American poetry is his insistence that it be analyzed in a religious, as well as secular, ...
22
votes
4answers
4k views

Why will I see you in Hell?

If you say, "I'll see you at the party", you mean, "You and I are going to the party and I will see and speak to you there." If you say, "I'll see you hang!", you mean "You will be sentenced to hang ...
-3
votes
1answer
682 views

usage of affirmative [closed]

what is the correct usage of word affirmative? What does it mean if someone says 'that is affirmative' when listening to a person explaining about a modification in a project.
21
votes
2answers
723 views

What are “city sevens”?

In the novel "The Clock That Went Backward", in chapter II, there is this sentence: Aunt Gertrude's will left me her bank and gas stocks, real estate, railroad bonds, and city sevens, and gave ...
0
votes
1answer
5k views

What does “a pop” mean? [closed]

when we say "For entertainment, she couldn’t go to the movies at $8 a pop", what "a pop" means?
6
votes
1answer
241 views

What does Mitt Romney aide's remark “keep Boston off message all week” mean?

Mitt Romney seems to be haunted with the plague of gaffes of his own and his aides’. Time magazine’s (August 4) article titled “Worse gaffe than Etch-A-Sketch” reported another gaffe that Romney’s ...
1
vote
1answer
678 views

Meaning of “play to” and “f****t”

According to Urban Dictionary the other sense of faggot means "stupid or a loser"--is that correct? And what's the meaning of "playing to the camera"? P1: guy has the mannerisms of a faggot ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

Meaning, origin, and usage of “cor lummy”

I came across an expression I’ve never seen before when reading a Kate Atkinson novel. A quick internet search netted little information apart from a possible cockney origin as a distorted form of ...
2
votes
1answer
326 views

What is the exact meaning of “compensation” with respect to monetary expenses?

For example, in this sentence: pursuing goals that reflect genuine human needs, like wanting to feel connected to others, turns out to be more psychologically beneficial than spending one’s life ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

“A new pair of ” or “A pair of new”

a new pair of shoes / pants / scissors a pair of new shoes / pants / scissors I can’t find which one of those two it should be, and I’ve seen some debate about it. “A new pair of shoes”: Could it ...
4
votes
1answer
215 views

Discordant vs controversial vs non-concurring

Do these three words mean the same thing? From my understanding, discordant means not agreeing or out of tune. This is similar to non-concurring (as concurring would mean agreeing on something). ...
4
votes
4answers
1k views

“Ideal” vs “archetype” vs “role model” vs “prototype”

While learning synonyms, I encountered these words. I'm trying to understand the nuances between them. From my understanding:- Role model is someone whom you admire or try to emulate (generally a ...
2
votes
1answer
280 views

Logical construction of the word “forget” [closed]

A small story behind the reason for this question. In Russian, just as in English, many fundamental words are a combination of two basic ones. The verb "forgot" is "zabil" in Russian. It is formed by ...
5
votes
2answers
546 views

Meaning of incentive

In the table published at this U.S. Postal Service Website, USPS compares different service classes in different aspects. One aspect is called "incentive". I wonder what it means? From Google, I guess ...
5
votes
2answers
516 views

Is this a valid sentence using “approbation” [closed]

I believe the word means to approve or praise. So can I use it as Are you looking for an approbation from your boss ? or Why are you still standing here ? Do you want me to approbate you ? ...
6
votes
2answers
174 views

Is Gorka’s remark “Is what’s good for the Heinz not good for the Gorka?” so preposterous enough to be deemed ‘never before rendered in English’?

In his 3 August 2012 Krathammer Kolumn, Mark Halperin characterized a remark by Charles Krauthammer about Rick Gorka (Mitt Romney’s aide), “Is what’s good for the Heinz not good for the Gorka?”, as a ...
7
votes
2answers
331 views

Meaning of “Multicultural Koolaid”

In a recent internet conversation, someone used the term multicultural Koolaid and I'm having trouble figuring out what it means. What does it mean and where did it come from? The context is a ...
4
votes
2answers
156 views

What is the meaning of “pole of time” here?

In the translation of a story by Daniil Kharms, I see the following sentence: Thirty-five poles of time elapsed and mine host brought Ivan Ivanovich his entrecote on a round wooden platter. Two ...
5
votes
2answers
373 views

What does the phrase “a fine one” mean in this context?

In one one Daniil Kharms' short stories, Tikakeyev “insults” Koratygin by saying: A fine one you are! This causes a fight between the two. When I first read this, I didn't see the “insult”, ...
2
votes
1answer
16k views

What are the differences between litigator, counsel, and attorney?

I'm watching a law and court related TV show and the following terms are being used. What are the differences between them? I'm interested in the differences in connotation if there are any. Or are ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

What does “down with homework” mean?

I was watching The Simpson series. In season 7, episode 12, Bart exposes a t-shirt on which the phrase "DOWN WITH HOMEWORK" is written. Then the entire students in the classroom start a riot all of a ...