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

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5
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3answers
214 views

April Fool's day = April (Fool's day) or (April Fool)'s day

Ok, that is a bad example :) I was wondering how should I understand the phrases like April Fool's day. It could be understood in two ways, could it? April (Fool's day) - The day of Fool occurring ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

What are the meanings of 'oppress', 'repress' and 'suppress'?

What are the meanings of 'oppress', 'repress' and 'suppress'? Does it matter between Help Help! I'm being oppressed! and Help! Help! I'm being repressed!?
7
votes
2answers
66k views

What is the difference between “exemption” and “exception”?

It seems that exemption and exception have the same meaning. However, they seem to be used differently. When should we use one and not the other?
3
votes
3answers
14k views

What is the meaning of “runneth”?

What is the meaning of “runneth” in My Cup Runneth Over?
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Does “lesser” as in “lesser man” refer only to moral strength and goodness or can it encompass physical and mental stamina?

Does "lesser" as in "lesser man" refer only to moral strength and goodness or can it encompass physical and mental stamina?
3
votes
2answers
22k views

What is the meaning of “till death do us part”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Till death do us part” It's a English name of a forthcoming Chinese film. The Chinese name is “Best love”.
2
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the difference between “prophecy” and “fortune telling”?

Maybe a week, maybe a month; you will meet a tall dark stranger; the next few weeks are going to be hard on your energy levels.... What are the real/inferred differences between “prophecy” and “...
12
votes
6answers
138k views

Where did “I'm Jonesing” get its meaning from?

I'm Jonesing for a little Ganja, mon... I'm jonesing for a little soul food, brother... Where did "I'm jonesing" come from?
4
votes
2answers
3k views

“Not much I can hand to you this very moment”

What's the meaning of this sentence? Not much I can hand to you this very moment.
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Meaning of “steady-as-she-goes financial package”

I was reading this article and I'm not sure about the meaning of this sentence: Despite rise in inflation and borrowing, chancellor to court medium earners in 'steady-as-she-goes' financial ...
9
votes
3answers
11k views

Meanings of “take it easy”

The phrase “take it easy” has several different meanings, and it's not always easy to tell between them from context. I'm referring specifically to the standalone phrase (grammatically, an imperative),...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

What does ‘Long on looks, short on spirit’ mean?

I found the phrase ‘Long on looks, short on spirit’ in the Washington Post article written by Ann Hornaday (http://www.washingtonpost.com/gog/movies/jane-eyre,1164774/critic-review.html#reviewNum1). ...
4
votes
5answers
3k views

Confusion about a stanza from Rudyard Kipling

Following is the stanza: Teach us delight in simple things, And mirth that has no bitter springs; Forgiveness free of evil done, And Love to all men 'neath the sun! What does second ...
2
votes
8answers
19k views

What's the origin and reasoning behind the phrase, “I've got a monkey on my back”?

900lb Gorilla I can appreciate, but "I've got a monkey on my back" - two opposable thumbs down...
6
votes
1answer
924 views

What does 'should' mean in this sentence?

'She walked through the forest, and who should she see, but the Big Bad Wolf!'
1
vote
3answers
18k views

What's the meaning of “a staple amongst the community”?

In this context: trying to become a staple amongst the community
7
votes
4answers
2k views

“Connotation” vs. “Definition”

There seems to be some ambiguity between the connotation and definition of a word / word group / phrase. The dictionary entry seems to be that a definition is more of a primary description of a word ...
3
votes
3answers
309 views

“Help save the planet with your mobile phone”

Does "help save the planet with your mobile phone" have a different meaning or connotation than "help save the planet using your mobile phone?"
1
vote
2answers
3k views

What is the difference between “destruction” and “deconstruction”? [closed]

I am Hungarian, and I can completely understand the words destruction, construction, and deconstruction, although the corresponding Hungarian words are rarely used. I don't know if the con- possesses ...
13
votes
2answers
16k views

How did “tongue-in-cheek” get its current meaning?

A statement is said to be tongue-in-cheek if it is not to be taken seriously. How did this meaning come into vogue? Where did it originate from?
10
votes
3answers
8k views

Where does “funk” and/or “funky” come from and why the musical reference?

Free your mind and your ass will follow - The Mothership has landed!! Why 'funk', of all words to describe such bootilicious music?
7
votes
3answers
634 views

What does “I can prove it on an abacus” mean?

I've got a feeling it means "I can prove it in a very simple and an ostensive way". Is this so? Update: The context. http://www.laddertheory.com/commoncriticisms.htm Search for "abacus".
1
vote
1answer
3k views

Meaning of “scared the hell out of someone”

The phrase I read on yahoo.com is the following one. Tendulkar never scared me, says Akhtar. The Pakistani maverick pacer said it was Adam Gilchrist and Brian Lara who scared the hell out of him....
6
votes
4answers
8k views

What is the meaning of “clubbed to death?”

What is the meaning of "clubbed to death?"
16
votes
8answers
18k views

Can you still call a woman “handsome”?

On the recommendation of some regulars here, I managed to watch the movie The Madness of King George over the weekend, and found it excellent. Anyway, one funny scene in the movie is when King ...
7
votes
3answers
7k views

What do salespeople mean by “don't sell the steak, sell the sizzle?”

Who coined this phrase, and what is the meaning behind it?
4
votes
6answers
7k views

Can “as” ever properly mean “because”?

We often encounter as used to mean because. As we know, as is not merely ambiguous: it’s hexiguous or octiguous. I’m especially uncomfortable when I find the usage in a technical paper1, where ...
3
votes
3answers
848 views

“Automatic door—push to open.”

This is the wording on signs I've been seeing quite often recently. It seems to me quite nonsensical; if you have to push the door to open it, it isn't automatic. Is that the case or is there ...
5
votes
4answers
3k views

Does “he has some issues to work out” have some special meaning?

Does "he has some issues to work out" have some special meaning? Is it an idiom? How is its meaning different from "he has some problems to solve"?
10
votes
7answers
6k views

“will have seen yesterday”

This is a part of a sentence: As many of you will have seen yesterday, . . . What does it mean? The words will and yesterday seem to be in contradiction. Is that a correct sentence?
2
votes
2answers
738 views

Why do golfers yell: “Fore”?

Feeling rather bogeyed, I'm looking for some fore-closure to this query — help!
2
votes
7answers
11k views

Meaning and etymology of “tiger by the tail”

Am I trying to take someone's Frosted Flakes? Is this sage advice or an old wives' tale?
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Perdition vs Hell

What is the difference between the religious connotations of Perdition and Hell?
0
votes
4answers
318 views

“Extirpation” vs “Perdition” vs “Smash”

I am a bit confused, how can I use these three words differently when their meaning is almost the same? Extirpation Perdition Smash
8
votes
3answers
20k views

Meaning of 'cf.' [closed]

it refers to a discrete life form that has properties of mind (i.e. experience and character, cf. sentience)
27
votes
8answers
118k views

What's the difference in meaning between “emigrate” and “immigrate”?

What's the difference between emigrate and immigrate? They seem to have the same definitions in the dictionary but they are antonyms...  
2
votes
7answers
599 views

“Discover” or “invent” in mathematics context [closed]

A very theoretical question I came across with friends some time ago. I am not a native English speaker, so I may be misunderstanding some details, but as I understand: 1) Discovery relates to a ...
-1
votes
1answer
7k views

What does “email exchange” mean?

What does "email exchange" mean?
6
votes
4answers
25k views

What is the etymology and literal meaning of 'Cock a snoot/snook'?

I've been using this expression all my adult life but have no idea what it means or where it originates. Google searches lead me to the description of it being to do with putting your thumb on nose ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “step up” mean?

Japan steps up cooling operation. This is from BBC.
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Is it an oxymoron when SOME definitions of a word with SOME qualifier sounds silly?

Viz: Is 'peaceful demonstration' an oxymoron? The OP suggests that Jumbo Shrimp is an oxymoron because Shrimp can be used to denote a small person. My take on this is that Jumbo means large ...
3
votes
2answers
5k views

What does 'even' mean in this context?

Even is one of those words with lots of meanings. It can mean divisible by two or flat/level. But it can be used in a sentence such as this: Are you even listening? What time does the shop ...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

“Ashes” vs. “cinder”

I am a bit confused on where to use "ashes" and where "cinder". Do both of them have the same meaning?
3
votes
2answers
13k views

Origin and meaning of “damn straight”

The phrase "damn straight" is now used as a way to emphatically agree with a statement, but where does it come from, and what did it mean originally?
3
votes
3answers
529 views

Is 'peaceful demonstration' an oxymoron?

Oh, we know the standards: Jumbo Shrimp, Real Phony,Living Dead..... is peaceful demonstration in the list: reasons why/not are, of course unexpectedly anticipated.
14
votes
7answers
29k views

Where did the “trick” in the phrase “turning tricks” come from?

Or in other words, can anyone make clear the etymology and the history behind the coinage of the word trick in the phrase turning tricks? (Why am I interested you may ask? Well, turning tricks is a ...
4
votes
2answers
8k views

Confusion about “would it not be better if” vs “it would be better if”

non-native speaker here and I have problems with the following sentence. 'My friend asks if it would not be better for you to come here.' Does the sentence mean a) 'My friend thinks it would be ...
7
votes
4answers
19k views

Does 'should' imply an unquestionable command?

My question is prompted by a question on the programmers.stackexchange: This may be a duplicate of another question here on english.stackechange, but the answers given to that question did not ...
7
votes
1answer
318 views

What does “that place is a real bucket shop and they tend to work only with pikers” mean?

I was talking to my attorney, from the esteemed firm of Dewey, Cheetum and Howe, and he made the above remark in response to a financial statement that I had produced earlier. What did Bernie mean?
2
votes
5answers
3k views

Meaning of 'constantly' in 'everything is fluid, is constantly changing…'

Heraclitus: everything is and is not, for everything is fluid, is constantly changing, constantly coming into being and passing away. If 'constantly' means 'no stop in every little seconds' then ...