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

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14
votes
5answers
24k views

“Satire” versus “sarcasm”

I looked up the two words on wikitionary & got this: satire: A literary technique of writing or art which principally ridicules its subject often as an intended means of provoking or ...
7
votes
1answer
8k views

Why do some consider “cellar door” a beautiful phrase?

Recently I've had a few people mention that the phrase "cellar door" is beautiful. I don't see what makes this so - it's not anything ironic like "driveway" or "parkway" so what makes this so ...
2
votes
1answer
4k views

Does “be lost in something” have a positive or negative meaning?

I get lost in my job. What does it mean? I get immersed in my work so deeply even the outside world seems to cease to exist (because I'm concentrating so much on what I'm doing). (Which ...
1
vote
2answers
368 views

What does “statistically unchanged” mean?

The universe continually expanded but remained statistically unchanged as new matter is constantly created. What is the statistically unchanged? Could you give me an example?
10
votes
5answers
86k views

What's the difference between “teacher” and “professor”?

Is one more formal then the other?
3
votes
2answers
1k views

“I watched anime 3 days straight” — what does it mean?

When some one says "I watched anime 3 days straight", Does it mean they watched anime for three days sitting in one place without taking bath, brushing teeth etc. for three days, or does it mean that ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Is “delegable” a word?

Wiktionary defines delegetable as capable of being delegated, which seems correct to the French speaking that I am. However, the same Wiktionary also defines delegable as that can be delegated. Does ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

What does “suite your self” mean? [duplicate]

I have heard from some of TV series. They are saying "suite your self", what does it mean?
7
votes
1answer
42k views

What does “beggars belief” mean?

What does beggars belief mean, in general and in this sentence? It beggars belief that removing the tag was so urgent that you couldn't wait for a response more than 40 minutes before removing it. ...
2
votes
1answer
636 views

What does “ghetto login route” mean?

Marc Gravell recently provided this answer to a question on Meta Stack Overflow: If you try Jeff's link above, and everything reports OK but it still doesn't work, please let me know. In the ...
2
votes
1answer
582 views

What is the difference between “set phrase” and “catch phrase”?

What is the difference between set phrase and catch phrase? Do the expressions describe something without relation with each other?
2
votes
5answers
14k views

What's the difference between “mirror” and “looking glass”? [closed]

I have read that a looking glass is a surface with sufficient reflection to form an image of an object... doesn't that sound like a mirror?
1
vote
3answers
498 views

Is fermentation another word for excitement?

My grandma phoned me recently for some help with a crossword. The clue was 'excitement', we had a few letters but couldn't think of anything. Anyway the answers came out and she rang me back a ...
3
votes
4answers
7k views

What does “loose change” mean and what is its origin?

What does loose change mean? What is the origin of the phrase?
3
votes
3answers
16k views

What does “dead as a door nail” mean?

What does dead as a door nail mean? Is it used in set phrases, or is it normally used in any context?
1
vote
3answers
7k views

What is the difference between “safe” and “vault”?

What is the difference between safe and vault, where both the words refer to a place where to put things you want to keep safe? As additional question, why does vault seem more frequently used in ...
15
votes
3answers
31k views

Difference between “choose” and “select”

These two words are often used interchangeably and the greatest difference I can find between the two is "choose" for choosing multiple items from a set, and "select" for selecting a single item from ...
6
votes
3answers
7k views

What does “imperio in imperium” mean?

I've heard the Latin phrase imperio in imperium used in political discussions a few times. While I understand what the phrase literally means in Latin ("by command into command"), I'm not sure what ...
4
votes
2answers
5k views

“Most every” and “almost every”

What is the difference between "most every" and "almost every"? Do they differ in amount?
46
votes
10answers
37k views

Is it “alright” or “allright”?

In practice I find both spellings being used. From a logical point of view, "allright" (as in: "all's right — everything is fine") seems correct. However, I recall hearing that "alright" is the ...
1
vote
2answers
143 views

Does “was forced” automatically imply some identifiable external activity?

In the following sentence The citizens were forced to render up their town to the conqueror. what does were forced mean exactly? Does it mean that some proactive party literally forced the ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

“In God We Trust” vs. “We Trust in God”

A colleague of mine asked me what is the importance of word order in phrase "In God We Trust" And I could not answer. Is it a shame? Update: Would it be correct English to write: In God - we ...
0
votes
2answers
555 views

What is the meaning of the sentence?

In about good habit & bad, I run into the sentence like Doing something over and over again until you don't have to think about it is how actions become habitual in the first place Could you ...
49
votes
6answers
39k views

“Status” vs. “state”

Can anyone explain what the difference between status and state is when I talk about the condition or situation of an object? Here's what I got from Longman English Dictionary. status: a ...
2
votes
3answers
592 views

Inventory or repository?

I have a program for managing products and intermediate artifacts stored in a human concrete building somewhere. The program is not only manage the artifacts existed, but also the resource planning ...
-3
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the meaning of “ugg”?

What does the word ugg mean? Does it mean made in China? Here is an example from a Skype group of my company: A: ... sesion ... B: misspelling of session -> sesion C: ugg! A is a Chinese, B ...
4
votes
4answers
36k views

“Can have” vs. “could have”

One often hears primarily people from the UK using the phrase can have in certain past tenses. What exactly is the difference between using could have and can have? I used to believe that can turns ...
6
votes
3answers
6k views

What does “shortening” mean? Is it different from “abbreviation”?

What does shortening mean? Is it different from abbreviation? I checked the dictionary, but I don't get the difference clearly.
5
votes
2answers
1k views

“We pulled rank”

What does pulled rank mean? "Don't worry about it," Mulder said, "we'll take the heat. You can tell him we pulled rank." She's the producer on this picture, but she never at any time made ...
17
votes
2answers
7k views

What's a tuple in normal English?

A tuple in mathematics is a sequence of numbers (n1, n2, n3). In databases, a tuple is a single row of data from a table. What is a tuple in normal everyday English, or where does the word come ...
30
votes
2answers
18k views

What is the difference between “maybe” and “may be”?

What is the difference in meaning and usage between maybe and may be? Are they synonymous?
8
votes
3answers
42k views

Is there a difference between the phrases “I am fine with it” and “it is fine with me”?

In my experience there has been a diachronic split between these phrases: It is fine with me. I am fine with it. The latter has overtaken the former in usage although they continue to ...
0
votes
2answers
9k views

“A English nerd” versus “an English nerd” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should I use “a” vs “an”? “a” or “an” for words that don't start with vowels but sound like they're starting ...
6
votes
6answers
11k views

What does “change one's stripes” exactly mean?

I found a phrase in the headline of today’s Washington Post article (Feb. 14) that reads "Mubarak loyalists change stripes to fit into the new Egypt." Though I interpreted the meaning of change one’s ...
1
vote
3answers
672 views

What does “trigger-happy on broken windows” mean?

What does this expression mean: to be "trigger-happy on broken windows"
6
votes
2answers
9k views

The word 'Yahoo'

In my country, people use the word "Yahoo" as an expression of enthusiasm, joy, jubiliation and victory. What is the origin and original meaning of the word yahoo? As for that matter, what is most ...
2
votes
2answers
204 views

Meaning of 'be much as'

If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn't turn out very well for the Native Americans Read more: ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

Usage of “please” at the beginning of a sentence

Please report more details. Please do not send your faxes from the office. Please do not hesitate to contact us from our website. Does please have the same meaning, in those sentences? In the ...
4
votes
4answers
13k views

“What can I be of help”

In a forum of a website, I read the following sentences (the writer is referring to a session in a conference): Makes lots of sense. Not sure what can I be of help (and I already have two ...
1
vote
3answers
167 views

“My always account”

What does my always account mean? The text where I read it is the following: Hello, I am [username], I would need to recover my always user [account name], I have 4 years with yours, is lot ...
5
votes
7answers
5k views

What is it called when something is described by what it isn't?

I'm not looking for a particular part of speech. A corollary to this idea, and in some ways the opposite, is when something is defined by/as itself. A lot of times you will find this in bad ...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

What is the meaning of “every other time”?

I was wondering what every other time means. For example: I know it's being fixed, but rebooting every other time you do something gets old.
2
votes
1answer
4k views

Meaning of “things are swept under the rug”

I was wondering what it means as analogy that quite a few things are swept under the rug.
10
votes
3answers
23k views

Meaning of “take a stab at doing something” [closed]

I was wondering what "take a stab at doing something" means? For example I'll take a stab at answering these.
14
votes
5answers
37k views

Origin of “on the QT”?

I was watching the movie L.A. Confidential last night, and was reminded of the phrase "on the QT", which Danny DeVito's character says several times. Off the record, on the QT, and very ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

Proper usage of “known entity”?

Is the sentence below correct? I'd like to become a known entity with decision makers in our organization.
3
votes
4answers
4k views

“Today” in the past

Let's say I'm talking about some day in the past. In formal writing, I would use: Earlier that day, I had lunch with my boss. But is the following also correct? Earlier today, I had lunch ...
5
votes
3answers
574 views

Castle Caladan - why a “pile of stone”?

Frank Herbert's Dune book begins with a sentence that describes Castle Caladan as a pile of stone that has been home to 26 generations of Atreides Dukes. Not being a native English speaker, I am left ...
1
vote
3answers
6k views

What does “make it cross” mean?

I believe it's a British phrase. I found it in that website, as: Fiat's Panda can offer an affordable route into 4x4 ownership. You just have to make it Cross. If you happen to know more ...
1
vote
1answer
334 views

Why does spelling matter? [closed]

If I write mispelling as supposed to misspelling why does it matter? The meaning still exists. Everyone knows what I meant to write. There is no ambiguity. Why do some people consider the proper ...