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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (6)

2
votes
8answers
7k views

Does “all in” mean… “tired”?

When I used to play video games, "all in" meant that you were devoting your army to a "do or die" effort. In other words, you were either going to win or lose in the next battle. The "all in" meant ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

Is it better to be “hung like a pike” or “hung like a stickleback”?

More from the British movie The Football Factory. The background is that the main character and his best friend have picked up these two girls at a bar; things proceed swimmingly, and the two head ...
-1
votes
1answer
1k views

What does “blanding” mean?

What does blanding mean in any culture or language?
9
votes
6answers
79k views

What does “to take someone at face value” mean?

What does this mean? I hear it often, but not sure what its meaning is. I think it means to believe what they are saying without proof.
4
votes
3answers
4k views

“…must have taken ‘after’ his daddy.”

I read this phrase: My son cracks me up. He's had me laughing all day long. Must have taken after his daddy. I want to know what after means in this construction, and if there is some formal ...
10
votes
7answers
40k views

Why do they say “love fifteen,” in tennis?

Why do they say "love fifteen," in tennis?
1
vote
4answers
970 views

Meaning of “Ship in volume”

From the following sentence: Weintraub says that the distortions began with Jobs' first bullet points, in which a slide claims that the iPad 2 is the "First dual core tablet to ship in volume." ...
14
votes
7answers
12k views

How do you get from the literal meaning of “all bets are off” to the idiom?

Most everyone knows what the common turn of phrase all bets are off means: "anything can happen." But all idioms have to start from somewhere, and the question I'm wondering is how did this one start. ...
1
vote
3answers
10k views

What's the meaning of “on notice” and “under advisement”?

Can someone please give a clear definition and distinction of these terms, as when a public figure is asked a difficult question and says: "I'll take that on notice" or "I'll take that under ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

Please teach me how to use ‘hot diggity’, and the meaning of ‘corkscrew twists’

Theater reviews of newspapers are one of very valuable sources for me to fish for novel and intriguing expressions to foreign English learner like me. Recently, I found two words quite strange to me ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

use of the interjection “but lo' …”

In an article I tried to understand (the german understanding) of: (...) we’re outside the part of C where the standard Dirichlet series actually converges. But lo’ we can ask what’s the ...
3
votes
1answer
204 views

What is the meaning of “transparent contempt”?

I came across this phrase "transparent contempt" a couple of times, but was unable to get the meaning from the context. I am not able to track down the source.
2
votes
2answers
3k views

How can I interpret the meaning of “narrative” in different situations?

According to the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary, the meaning of "narrative" is defined as: A description of events, especially in a novel. The act, process or skill of telling a story. ...
7
votes
1answer
251k views

XOXO means “hugs and kisses” but why?

What's the reasoning behind abbreviating hugs and kisses as X's and O's? Some say X is for hugs and O is for kisses, and some say the other way around; but why X and O, and why are they doubled?
8
votes
9answers
49k views

What exactly does it mean to “mug somebody off” in British English?

I tried looking this up at the Urban Dictionary, but it gave only one net-upvoted definition, and that definition wasn't even clear. The background for my question is coming my watching from a movie ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Usage of the word “game”

I often hear this word 'game'. One of the questions in the site talks about the meaning of "I am game". Users have replied that "I am game" implies that I am up for the challenge. But I would like ...
12
votes
2answers
10k views

“Semitic” and “anti-Semitic”

Why does Semitic refer to several groups of people, including Babylonians, Assyrians, Arabs and Jews, whereas anti-Semitic only refers to Jews?
14
votes
5answers
34k views

Origin of “jack sh*t”

Why do we say "Jack Shit" to mean "nothing at all"?
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Do “that” and “it” refer to different things in this sentence?

He likes going to the library to study. That always makes her happy. What if the last sentence were to be changed to It always makes her happy. Do these two sentences mean something ...
8
votes
4answers
113k views

What exactly does “fap” mean? [NSFW]

Sorry for the ridiculous question, but I can't understand the difference between fap and masturbation. Does fap mean the whole progress?
6
votes
4answers
29k views

What's the difference between a cathedral and a basilica?

The references I've seen so far have alternated primacy between one and the other.
3
votes
5answers
2k views

Is 'equivocate' a euphemism for 'lie' or can it not be about lying?

I can almost remember the first time I had ever heard/saw the word 'equivocate', probably in some junior-high vocabulary lesson. Like with many latinate neologisms, at first blush it sounds weak and ...
1
vote
8answers
3k views

What is a term for the “first” meaning of a word?

Words have lots of meanings/denotations/dictionary definitions, many connotations and contexts and they have literal meanings and metaphorical ones. For example, consider the word 'trash'. Literally ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

What does “you'll be in your whack” mean?

Another colorful expression from that British movie I mentioned earlier. The context of the quote here is that there are these guys trying to smuggle ecstasy pills, and there's another guy hosting ...
10
votes
4answers
5k views

What does “on a hiding to nothing” mean?

I watched a movie with English actors just the other day and came across this phrase in the dialogue. What does it mean, and who would typically use it? EDIT: What is the sense of the hide in ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

What qualifies as a “boat” or an “automobile”?

Are all crafts that travel on water considered "boats," even barges, yachts, canoes, rafts, etc? Are all motor vehicles considered "automobiles," even trucks, semis, and motorcycles?
2
votes
3answers
358 views

“action is told rather than given” - what does it mean?

Reading this amazon.co.uk book review... The writing style itself isn't bad but overall, the story is flat and the action is often told rather than given. "...told rather than given" - I ...
10
votes
1answer
4k views

Expressions in Tim Minchin's “Storm”

Can you help me with these expressions from Tim Minchin's Storm? There will be some obscenities—sorry for those; I am just interested in their meaning. "I confess a pigeonhole starts to form" [1:10] ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

What exactly does “President Obama will ‘fold faster than a lawn chair’” mean?

In today’s Washington Post’s “Today’s Quote,” picked up from the comment of Former Reagan Budget director David Stockman in an interview with The Daily Beast (hat tip to Political Wire), I came across ...
7
votes
5answers
46k views

What does “going blue” mean?

I'm familiar with the expression to feel blue, but I recently stumbled upon the expression to go blue on two different websites in one week. Vork from The Guild goes a bit blue Source: http://...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

Can “…” mean the same thing as a semicolon?

Can a semicolon be replaced with "..." (an ellipsis) in a sentence? Is there any difference at all?
1
vote
3answers
9k views

Is it correct to say “I fancy your photos”?

Is it correct to say "I fancy your photos"? If yes, what would that phrase mean? How different would the meaning be from "I like your photos"? In what context would "I fancy your photos" sound natural?...
44
votes
9answers
114k views

What is the correct usage of “myriad”?

The vast majority of the time when I see the word "myriad" it is in a sentence like "He had a myriad of things." However I don't like the extraneous words so I normally use it like "He had myriad ...
21
votes
2answers
4k views

Why did Old Testament scholars choose to employ “to know” in a sexual sense?

For those of us not familiar, the verb to know once had an archaic sexual sense, often found in the Old Testament, and as illustrated in the following story found in Genesis 19: 4 But before they ...
5
votes
3answers
13k views

Are 'consecutively' and 'successively' the same? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What's the difference between “successive” and “consecutive”? Are 'consecutively' and 'successively' the same? Can they be used in place of each ...
7
votes
5answers
15k views

Difference between 'hallucination' and 'illusion'

The following quote is found on The Basics of Philosophy page: Representationalists argue their case from the "epistemological fact" that it is impossible to have experience beyond the sensory ...
1
vote
4answers
612 views

What's the meaning of 'a court of'?

A formal written or spoken statement, esp. one given in a court of law
4
votes
2answers
805 views

What's the meaning of “learned a thing or twelve”?

And in those 10 years I can say that I may have learned a thing or twelve. What's the meaning of "learned a thing or twelve"? Is it an idiom?
9
votes
1answer
11k views

What is a finite verb?

What's a finite verb? It's not just the opposite of an infinitive, is it? Can I get some examples?
0
votes
5answers
571 views

Is saying “someone who is in trouble and who can’t be talked out of it” a quite natural expression?

I found the expression in a story about a 24-year-old pilot who landed his plane on a beach and who "'could not be talked out of it' when he was in trouble." It was in today’s New York Times, in an ...
12
votes
5answers
10k views

Difference between “garbage” and “trash”?

What's the difference between garbage and trash? Is the difference significant?
14
votes
4answers
14k views

What does “Google-fu” mean? [duplicate]

Exact Duplicate: Can anyone tell me what the suffix “-fu” stands for in the following sentence? I was reading developer article on searching MSDN network when I find sentence talks ...
12
votes
5answers
74k views

Is being “low on the totem pole” good or bad?

The background for this question is that I'm watching the latest episode of NCIS, and in this episode it is mentioned that the term "Low on the totem pole" actually is a good thing, reserved for the ...
2
votes
5answers
331 views

What is the difference between “chasing” or “catching”?

What is the difference between "The police are catching the thief" and "The police are chasing the thief"?
4
votes
3answers
19k views

What does the term 'divers places' mean?

In the King James Bible, Matthew 24:7 states: For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers ...
1
vote
3answers
419 views

What's the meaning of “Acme developers for IPhone”?

I have recently heard the term "Acme developer of IPhone." I was just wondering what it stands for? I think I know the meaning: Is it when a developer goes to a client and presents his/her ideas for ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

What does “like kicking a puppy” mean?

"I think we just don't care that much [about Microsoft] anymore," Zemlin said. "They used to be our big rival, but now it's kind of like kicking a puppy." I'm just curious, how to correctly ...
5
votes
3answers
498 views

What is the difference (in terms of usage and connotation) between “loath” and “loathe”?

I'm having difficulty in understanding the differences in usage (and understanding which one is used from pronunciation/context) between "loathe" and "loath" - could anyone help clarify it ?
4
votes
3answers
18k views

What is meant by “sth”?

I came across this line in a site: Can u make sth effective for a sports betting related product? I can't understand what is meant by sth effective here. I tried to google it but was unable to ...