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

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2
votes
3answers
746 views

What does ‘Need a turn on the butcher’s block’ mean in cutting down the U.S. Government spending?

I came across a phrase a turn on the butcher’s block in the following sentence appearing in an article of Time Magazine (Dec. 19, 2010 issue) titled Can Washington Tackle Its Deficit Cows. I know how ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

What is a “go-around” in this context?

Well, to begin with, I don't even know what is the usual meaning of "go-around". So, if you know, please, explain it to me. But in this case this noun ("go-around") seems even to be used in a ...
3
votes
5answers
634 views

Is it safe to equate 'less evil' to 'more good'?

We had a bit of a debate with this one. He, a native speaker (unlike me) went for: "less evil" implies that you are comparing evil people and "more good" implies that you are comparing good people ...
11
votes
3answers
19k views

Origin of the meaning of “à la mode”

In American English, à la mode means: in fashion, up to date. with ice cream. (of beef) braised in wine, typically with vegetables. While the first meaning matches the French meaning, the other ...
8
votes
1answer
5k views

What does r/t and e/w stand for, after the flight ticket price?

What does r/t and e/w stand for when shown after the price? Something like this: Flight from $300 r/t and flight $100 e/w
1
vote
1answer
335 views

Some questions about the lyric of “so feel autumn rain”

so feel autumn rain Can 'feel' be modified by 'so' without saying what's the feeling? Leaving with twilight though I was chosen Why 'I was chosen' can be the cause of 'leaving with ...
4
votes
3answers
1k views

Is ‘Yes-ish’ a perfect alternative to Yes, or is it 'Yes ‘on condition’? Is it received English?

I found a word ‘Yes-ish’ in the answer (from PLL) to my question about the meaning of ‘Stuck to the script’ I posted today. As it is quite new to my ear, I consulted with Wikipedia before logging out ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “strike home” mean?

What does "strike home" mean in this sentence?: "This example ought to strike home for you"
15
votes
3answers
85k views

Does the casual use of “a la ___” in English preserve the French meaning?

In English, we use a la carte and a la mode, but it is also common for people to add their own word to the basic construction. For example, one might comment on someone's dancing: He showed us ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Meaning of terms of shoe laces

What does "lace-up", "open-throat or wide-set" and "closed-throat or close-set" mean in How to Select Shoes to Wear With a Man's Suit: Wear lace-up shoes for your most formal occasions. ...
9
votes
9answers
10k views

Is the verb “redouble” just a redundant way to say “double”?

A colleague and I were reading a corporate memo that contained the phrase 'redouble our efforts'. His claim was that the word redouble was equivalent to double and simply nonstandard. (Similar to, ...
30
votes
3answers
297k views

What is a good way to remind someone to reply to your email?

Sometimes some of the emails to people senior to you in the company are left unanswered. What are the ways to politely remind the person that he needs to reply to your email (which he might have ...
21
votes
2answers
1k views

Free as in 'free beer' and in 'free speech' [closed]

This phrase is all over the internet. They will say that something is free as in 'free beer' and free as in 'free speech'. I have never really understood this. Are these the examples of two different ...
28
votes
3answers
138k views

What does “For what it's worth” mean?

I hear it often, and can usually derive a sentence's meaning with or without it. What does it really mean? When would one use it?
6
votes
7answers
18k views

Does “pants” more commonly mean “trousers” or “underpants”?

In the UK, I've heard pants being used as slang for underpants (or was it in Bridget Jones' Diary?), whereas in India it almost exclusively means "trousers". Describing the meaning of "put your pants ...
3
votes
1answer
121 views

Etymology of “Sidejacking”

How did the term "Sidejacking" come out? What is its origin?
7
votes
4answers
22k views

What is the meaning and usage of the word “beknownst”?

I've used "beknownst" and "unbeknownst" a couple times but I never really bothered to look it up until now. But it's not in most of the online dictionaries websites I frequent. I'm under the ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Can “modality” mean “having modes?”

A widget has one button. This button performs different functions depending on the widget's mode at the time the button is pressed. Can this be said to have modality, or a modal design?
3
votes
3answers
561 views

What does ‘Near-career’ mean?

I found a word, near-career filling in the following article of today’s New York Times titled Unusual Work, Even in World of the Theater. Tom Santopietro has made a near-career filling in for ...
0
votes
1answer
451 views

What is “dismal”?

I've struggled with this word for about 2 years (no joke). Every time I see it, I look it up, kind of understand what it means in that context, and then gleefully forget. Please help me understand ...
0
votes
2answers
271 views

About the word 'finite'

Everything is transient and finite, existing in the medium of time What's the finite thing? Do you agree with it?
1
vote
2answers
2k views

How to interpret this kind of sentence?

I have a question related to an example sentence below. I always have slight doubt in interpreting sentences which have this kind of clauses being connected. Consider this sentence: The book ...
1
vote
7answers
31k views

“Commitment” vs. “dedication”

I use both interchangeably. What's the difference?
9
votes
5answers
9k views

What does “pray” mean in phrases like “pray proceed”?

Is this an archaic form of "please proceed"? I have never heard in in speech but sometimes it appears in novels. My version of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is full of it, apparently in place of ...
6
votes
7answers
15k views

Is the expression “may or may not” semantically void?

I personally have a hard time accepting the use of "may or may not." To me, it seems as if "may" and "may not" effectively cancel each other out, so the semantics of the sentence in which it appears ...
1
vote
1answer
429 views

What does “to smack of one of your gags” mean?

Here is the full sentence: This whole story is starting to smack of one of your gags.
2
votes
3answers
14k views

What is the difference between engagement and promise?

If I have a previous appointment, what can I say instead of appointment? Previous engagement? Promise? And I wonder exactly what they both mean. (I thought they were similar.)
3
votes
4answers
1k views

What does ‘ticket to oblivion’ mean? Is this a frequently used phrase?

I found a phrase – ‘Ticket to Oblivion’ in today’s Washington Post article titled ‘State of the Union ‘response’ often a mixed-blessing for the responder.’ I understand this phrase refers to ...
6
votes
2answers
10k views

What is “hoolihan” in “Old Paint” song?

Lyric is: I ride an old paint, I lead an old dan I'm goin' to Montana to throw the hoolihan They feed in the coulees, they water in the draw Their tails are all matted, their ...
0
votes
3answers
374 views

Somebody has posted a link to my profile in twitter. Could you tell me what he wants to say?

This guy posted a link to my profile on Twitter, could you tell me what he wants to say?
0
votes
3answers
1k views

Position of adverb 'globally' in sentence and meaning of sentence

Please help me make sense of this sentence with regards to 'globally'. In the global arena, xxxxxx has been described as the solution to the challenges facing the commodities market globally ...
1
vote
2answers
501 views

About the word 'imperceptible'?

Development is a process whereby insignificant and imperceptible quantitative changes lead to fundamental, qualitative changes. Question 1: What's the meaning of 'imperceptible'? Does it mean ...
10
votes
5answers
43k views

What are the differences between “shop,” “shoppe,” and “store”?

What are the differences between shop, shoppe, and store?
5
votes
3answers
20k views

What does “pass it on” mean?

I love the song Pass It On by The Coral, but I can't understand the meaning of this sentence: Just find the feeling, pass it on. What does pass it on mean?
3
votes
3answers
14k views

What does the word “shipping” mean?

What does word "shipping" mean? I've seen this word in many Internet shops.
9
votes
1answer
696 views

Is this the correct usage of the word “fraught”?

MySpace is fraught with users sending friend requests to people they don't even know.
12
votes
4answers
10k views

What does “I’ve had a little bit too much” mean?

I don't understand this sentence: I’ve had a little bit too much. What does it mean? PS. My native language is Ukrainian (Russian)
2
votes
4answers
820 views

In English, what is a 'being', and what things cannot be called 'beings'?

Maybe this a philosophy question. But this is also an English question.
4
votes
1answer
205 views

Elusive meaning of “affects”

Pandit affects a down-to-earth demeanor. What does affect mean in this sentence?
11
votes
2answers
16k views

How to use “I love you”?

In Italy, you have two options to say "I love you", I'll try to translate them the best I can: I love you (Ti amo.) I want you to be ok (Ti voglio bene.) The fact is that in English, both ti amo ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

“Oyster perpetual”

A famous watch brand has a slogan (I suppose) inscribed on their products: "Oyster Perpetual". What does it mean?
28
votes
2answers
89k views

Why do we say “to boot”?

Here's an example of the phrase "to boot": My wife made a disgusting looking dinner, and it tasted awful to boot! The implication of the "to boot" is that the fact that the dinner tasted awful ...
35
votes
3answers
249k views

What's the difference between “eldest” and “oldest”?

When should I use "eldest" and when should I use "oldest"? Are the differences semantic or regional? (Or both?) (What got me wondering is the removeEldestEntry() method in Java's LinkedHashMap ...
1
vote
2answers
553 views

“At the cost of giving expression to the obvious…”

I have read this phrase somewhere. If I remember correctly, it was At the cost of giving expression to the obvious (or truism), I'd suggest that ... Does it mean that the author wants to ...
2
votes
2answers
878 views

What's the deep meaning in the lyrics of “Heavy Traffic” by Elton John? [closed]

In the lyrics, some pieces I couldn't understand very well: Shakey wake up thirsty from a night in the bar And snake hips Joe is Mr. Cool What's snake hips? And, does the name Joe have a ...
3
votes
3answers
6k views

Does “to be on the rise” have any other meaning besides “to start”, “to begin” and “to be getting momentum”?

Does "to be on the rise" have any other meaning besides "to start", "to begin" and "to be getting momentum"?
10
votes
3answers
72k views

What does ‘Brace yourself’ really mean?

I saw an article titled ‘The Rise of Chinese Cheneys’, written by Nicholas Kristof, with a lead copy China today resembles the Bush era in America: Hard-liners are ascendant. Brace yourself in ...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

Do 'stay on the list', 'make the list' and 'make the cut' all have the same meaning?

Today’s New York Times reported a flamboyant dinner party hosted by President Obama to welcome President of China, Hu Jintao. According to the article, many outstanding figures of politics, business, ...
7
votes
5answers
15k views

What does “hit me like a two-by-four” mean?

What does this sentence mean? This observation hit me like a two-by-four Source.
4
votes
1answer
24k views

What does “Hollaback Girl” mean?

Gwen Stefani says, "I ain't no hollaback girl" in her song. What does it mean?