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

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4
votes
2answers
220 views

Meaning of “surrealistically” in an NYT article

I was reading this article from the New York Times and I came across the word surrealistically. I know surreal means something resembling a dream. But I am not sure what is it that the author wants to ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

What does “Moral luck” mean?

As an extension of my interest in Van Gogh’s severed ear from Jeffrey Archer’s “False Impression” that depicted mysterious odyssey of Van Gogh’s self-portrait with bandage on his left ear, I was ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

How can I interpret “talk somebody out of” in “He talked the mutawwa out of beheading or lashing me”?

I read the following sentence in Maureen Dowd’s article titled The Saudi Ambassador of Sangfroid in today’s (October 22) New York Times: “When I was walking around a luxury mall in Riyadh with ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Is the term “Break Glass Policy” or “Break Glass Procedure” used outside the healthcare field?

One of the defining questions of the Healthcare IT site uses the term "break glass policy" and from this link I understand what it means in the given context. My question here is, if this term is ...
2
votes
2answers
582 views

Meaning of “it's the tie to go along with X's tux”

I found this when learning underscore.js (a programming framework). The introduction says: It's the tie to go along with jQuery's tux. Does it mean that it is to be used along with jQuery or is ...
47
votes
7answers
45k views

What did “google” mean in the 1900s?

I know that Google got its name from the word googol (10100), and that Google/google referring the search engine/using the search engine are recent additions to the dictionary. Their definitions are ...
3
votes
2answers
241 views

What is the meaning of 'SO' in Denali is SO last month?

From this article, I guess that the name 'Denali' isn't used any longer for Microsoft SQL Server 2012, which now seems to be the official name. But I want to know, what is the meaning of 'Denali is ...
0
votes
3answers
803 views

“To have a run upon it” from “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens

Ref: A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens What does “To have a run upon it” mean in the following sentence? “Tellson’s bank had a run upon it in the mail”
5
votes
2answers
189 views

Definition and Etymology of “Diplasiology”

Reading Benjamin Jowett's translation of the Phaedrus of Plato, I have come across the word diplasiology: And there is also Polus, who has schools of diplasiology, and gnomology, and eikonology, ...
5
votes
3answers
187 views

Difference between “on the command line” and “at the command line”

What is the difference between on the command line and at the command line?
12
votes
5answers
47k views

“To be subject to” vs. “to be subjected to”

I read an article from Toronto Star today which stated: TTC workers are subject to alcohol and drug testing. A later paragraph of the same article repeated it, except it used subjected to ...
10
votes
1answer
839 views

What is “double history”?

I'm a Yank watching the UK version of Being Human and the character mentions sitting next to his ex-girlfriend in "Double History" (season 2 episode 3 around timestamp 24:18). It's clearly a history ...
1
vote
4answers
87k views

What does it mean to call someone a “tool”?

In this MSO question, the author refers to himself as sounding like a "tool". What does this mean? Specifically, the way it is used in the linked question implies that being a tool means being ...
-3
votes
2answers
9k views

Does “I’m available” mean “I’m single”?

Does “I’m available” mean “I’m single” (not married or not had a girlfriend or a boyfriend yet) when someone asks about your relationship status?
4
votes
3answers
1k views

“Oldest son or oldest daughter”

Contract states Upon the death of the stockholder his interest shall pass to the oldest son or oldest daughter. I am the oldest daughter and have a younger brother. Who gets the interest?
2
votes
1answer
302 views

Is there a connection between “pork barrel” and “gravy train”?

Have these two phrases evolved independently, and how much do their meanings overlap? Pork barrelling (as in "pork barrel politics") is pretty clear in its meaning, but how about gravy train? Where ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

“Rotate about” vs. “rotate around”

Is there a difference in meaning between This operation rotates the object about the axis defined by ... and This operation rotates the object around the axis defined by ... (e.g. in the ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Is a table of contents an “index”?

Is a table of contents considered an index? Typically, I would consider an index to be a sorted list (e.g., the alphabetical list that appears at the back of a book). However, dictionary.com defines ...
3
votes
3answers
645 views

Are these genuine apologies? [closed]

I often hear people (especially policitians) giving an "apology" that is phrased so that the speaker does not seem to be accepting blame. e.g. Instead of "I am sorry I let you down" they say: ...
2
votes
3answers
445 views

Why can “bill” mean (almost) opposite things?

Bill is somewhat of an auto-antonym, since it can mean either a piece of paper which has positive monetary value (i.e. a note), or a piece of paper which has negative monetary value (though it only ...
7
votes
2answers
234 views

Is there any semantic difference between “absolutely no x, except y” and “except y, absolutely no x”?

Bit of a quibble on a discussion elsewhere. I made the following statement: They had absolutely no debt, except for their mortgage. Someone (with whom I disagree vehemently) has accused this of ...
5
votes
1answer
170 views

Is it common to describe one’s life stage in English, like “Stage III Hemingways”?

I found the word, “men who looked like stage three Hemingways” in the following sentence of Maureen Dowd’s article, titled “Farewell to Macho,” in the New York Times (October 15): “Diliberto recalled ...
3
votes
2answers
776 views

Meaning of “since changed”

The MVC in Backbone originally stood for Models, Views and Collections, since there were no controllers in the framework. This has since changed. Does it mean it has changed from that moment ...
0
votes
1answer
7k views

Drove my chevy to the levee but the levee was dry [closed]

Years ago, I heard this phrase (I don't know if it really is a phrase, please correct me if I'm wrong) during a congress from the general manager of a major car production company, but I don't ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

What's the difference between “act” and “action”?

What's the difference between "act" and "action"? More specifically in the way they are generally used (and not more specific theatrical definitions, for instance)?
7
votes
1answer
236 views

Are the rhetorical meanings of “elliptic”, “hyperbolic”, and “circular” connected to their mathematical meanings?

The words "elliptic", "parabolic" (or "like a parable"), "hyperbolic", and "circular" all have meaning in rhetoric. Are these meanings etymologically connected to the conic sections?
0
votes
4answers
4k views

“Unconscious” versus “nonconscious” in everyday dialogue

These words have subtle distinctions in related research fields, but even there are often considered interchangeable or just an matter of tradition/trendiness in a particular field. Since I am a bit ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

Can I have more than one beloved?

Certainly, I can have many relationships that I describe as beloved (adj). "These are my beloved children." But, according to common understanding, can I have more than one beloved (noun)? If I ...
3
votes
2answers
723 views

“Verity” vs. “veracity”

Verity and veracity have similar spellings and meanings. Why? What exactly is the difference between them that warrants the need for these two separate words?
8
votes
4answers
2k views

What does it mean to be “correct” in pronunciation or grammar?

(Preamble: this post is literally about the meaning of the word “correct” in this context, but also, of course, overlaps with the philosophy of prescriptive perspectives in the process. I hope that ...
2
votes
2answers
421 views

Is “Roach Motel” now an established English term for some kinds of buisiness behaviour?

I found the origin of the word and the statistics about its usage. I found these two links about facebook and Oracle’s Public Cloud using the term figuratively. Is this usage common today?
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Difference between “leverage” and “utilize”

Sooner or later, you want to leverage Zend_Application better by creating your own resource plugins. Can leverage above be replaced by utilize?
8
votes
8answers
75k views

Definition of “albeit” and how it's different from “although” (if it is)

I'm trying to write good English even if I'm not a native speaker. My phrase goes something like: I then realized program X doesn't provide classes for Y (albeit its excellent support for Z). Is ...
1
vote
7answers
3k views

Do the words “peasant” and “pissant” mean the same thing?

I recently completed reading the novel "Cat's cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut. In this novel he describes peasant as: "A pissant is somebody who thinks he's so damn smart, he can never keep his mouth ...
15
votes
4answers
91k views

Difference between “publicly” and “publically”

I know publically appears as an incorrect spelling in most dictionaries (in fact as I type this up on my Safari browser it keeps trying to correct the spelling to publicly). However I have seen the ...
2
votes
1answer
270 views

Meaning of “credits”

Does "credit" in the following sentence mean 2) money that you borrow from a bank? Or 5) a sum of money paid into a bank account? (OALD) Finally, in our progress toward a resumption ...
6
votes
3answers
884 views

I can't understand a sentence with “never more ~ than ~”

I'm a student studying English and I'm not quite sure that my question is proper to this site. Let me know if my question is improper. Thomas Jefferson was never more typically a child of the ...
4
votes
2answers
12k views

Is “Here's wishing xxxx” proper?

I have seen the phrase "Here's wishing you a very happy birthday" in greeting cards. What is the meaning of "Here's"? Where does it come from?
-1
votes
0answers
129 views

What's the meaning of the noun “lucker”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What does the noun “lucker” mean? What does the noun "lucker" mean? Yes, it's not in the Webster, but Google does give search results for such key phrases as ...
2
votes
2answers
27k views

What does “but” mean in “Life is but a dream”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: The construction of “Known but to God” What does "but" mean in this case and what other uses is this word used in the same context. I'm trying to explain ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

What does the noun “lucker” mean?

What does the noun "lucker" mean? It's not in the Webster, but Google does give search results for such key phrases as "I am a lucker" or "He is a lucker" (and those are not misspellings like ...
12
votes
2answers
27k views

Difference between “valuable” and “invaluable” [closed]

Invaluable intuitively seems to imply a higher degree of importance. Please explain the difference between valuable and invaluable and in what context you'd use one or the other.
2
votes
3answers
903 views

Meaning of “triple up”

I understand the meaning of "triple", but what does "triple up" mean? What is the meaning of "up"? Our campuses are increasing class sizes. Services may be diminished. Even in residence halls, ...
16
votes
4answers
6k views

What does “don’t pave the cow path” mean in this context?

I came across a new phrase while reading description section of a webinar topic on Operational Best Practices in the Cloud here. Excerpt: Don’t pave the cow path. Cloud infrastructure is very ...
2
votes
1answer
675 views

Why does Amy say “So needy” in this context?

I watched an episode of Big Bang Theory, here's a recap: Subtitle of Big Bang Season 4 , Episode 17 I don't quite get it when Penny told a joke and then Amy said "So needy." over the phone holding ...
1
vote
1answer
133 views

Are all mobile enabled mobiles considered to be smartphones? [closed]

I'm hoping this is not a grey area as 'smartphone' means a lot of things. But I need to know if I am looking at statistics that say 'smartphone' does this cover all phones with a browser or are there ...
3
votes
2answers
8k views

Meaning of “I have got…”

I don't clearly understand the meaning of "I have got __" in sentences like the following one: I have got to get. Is it a sentence using the past tense, or the present? What does it mean?
2
votes
4answers
3k views

A noun meaning 'not allowed'

I'm trying to find a word meaning "you can't do that" or "you're not allowed". I thought of impossibility but I do not want it in the sense of being impossible, but in the sense of not being allowed ...
48
votes
16answers
7k views

Is there a word for a change so small that it doesn’t seem to be a change at all?

Today, I was reading an article on pharmaceutical companies making minute changes to a drug in order to extend the patent. In one instance, the company profiled did not actually change the content of ...
3
votes
1answer
871 views

How do I use the prefix 'de-' correctly?

Is there a dictionary dedicated to word prefixes? I'd like to know more about de-, but there's no uniform meaning; for example, in demystify it signifies a reverse action, while in delimit it's a ...