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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (6)

1
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3answers
251 views

does “fey-lit” make sense?

I want to say a strangely-lit grove, eerily-lit in an out-of-this-world manner. Does "fey-lit" convey that meaning?
4
votes
1answer
32k views

“Cannabis” vs. “marijuana” vs. “weed”

I know all these words have the same meaning and refer to a kind of drug. Also, as far as I know, weed is slang for marijuana or cannabis. (Correct me if I’m wrong). What I do not understand is the ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the meaning of 'probe' in the Linux command 'modprobe'?

My understanding of modprobe is that it is a command to load kernel modules. Based on this, I'm wondering what the meaning of word probe is in general English?
12
votes
4answers
45k views

What's the difference between “egotism” and “egoism”?

I am interested in the difference between these two seemingly synonymous terms.
3
votes
1answer
3k views

What is “soft skill”?

Please elaborate what does it mean by soft skill in term of English language.
4
votes
5answers
23k views

Difference between “World” and “Universe”

What are the differences between the two? I thought that "World" means everything, i.e the same as "Universe". But people seem to think it means the same as "Earth".
0
votes
1answer
2k views

Using had twice [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What does “had had” mean? How does this differ from “had”? Is this correct usage? I had had enough food?
13
votes
7answers
6k views

“Fluids” versus “liquids”?

What is the difference between fluid and liquid? I'm thinking of this in the context of drink plenty of fluids.
7
votes
3answers
408 views

Usage of word “meat”

I am not a native English speaker and never lived in an English-speaking country, so I wonder how you would apply this word. Would you apply the term "meat" to the following things? Muscle tissue ...
17
votes
1answer
6k views

What does the joke with the punchline about Chrome and Hollandaise mean, and why is it funny?

A joke goes like this: A friend at work had an unusual dental related problem recently. About a month ago he had to have a small steel plate inserted in his mouth. A week later he noticed the plate ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

What's the difference between “Cross Country Running” and “Trail Running”?

"Trail running" shoes differs markedly from "road running" shoes and "track running" shoes. I can understand these categories. But I also found an event entitled "Cross Country Running Event". Can the ...
1
vote
3answers
929 views

What do the parts of malevolent and malicious mean?

I understand what the different parts of maladjusted, maligned, and malcontent mean. But what about malevolent and malicious? Could someone break these into parts e.g. mal - adjust - ed and explain ...
4
votes
2answers
15k views

Meaning of “pro” before a noun

First, is "pro" an abbreviated form of "professional"? If yes, does "Pro American" mean "Professional American"?
6
votes
12answers
43k views

What is the etymology and meaning of “fill your boots”?

I have a colleague of whom this is a favorite phrase, used in the sense of "knock yourself out", "go for it", "have at it", "go to town", "help yourself". ("You want to add that feature to the ...
0
votes
2answers
369 views

what does “vertiginous game of chicken” mean and its origin

Taking us behind the scenes, Paulson shows, day by day, how the U.S. government and Federal Reserve got sucked into a vertiginous game of chicken with Wall Street bankers (link)
0
votes
4answers
930 views

What's the meaning of “he walked away a free man”?

I am reading a grammar book. There is an example sentence I can't understand. There is a special pattern where a complement occurs with an action verb, not a linking verb. The related example ...
12
votes
4answers
19k views

Why does “do you read me” mean “do you hear me”?

Why does "Do you read me?" mean "Do you hear me?" This phrase is used (in movies) during radio communication, for example.
1
vote
1answer
204 views

Meaning of: “hollered a shrill, wannabe voice-of-the-people”

"Is anyone up there sober?!" hollered a shrill, wannabe voice-of-the-people, audibly virginal and entitled. What does this sentence mean? I am uncertain of meaning, or implied meaning of 1. ...
1
vote
5answers
9k views

Does “bend over backwards” have bad meaning?

If my boss asks me if I can help him to do something, I reply: I'll bend over backwards to do it. Does this reply literally have a meaning of flattery?
3
votes
7answers
3k views

Alternatives to “hypocrite”

I'm trying to accurately describe a person who acts in one way and does another but knowingly and openly accepts that his actions also include him in the same group he criticizes. This differs from a ...
8
votes
5answers
5k views

What does “new normal” mean?

From one of the survey result (IT related), I came across the following line: Agile Development and Service-Oriented-Architectures (SOA) represent the “new normal.” What does "new normal" ...
1
vote
2answers
640 views

“Mortals” vs “Human Beings”

There is a book titled Running for Mortals. I didn't recognize word mortal. Then I looked up it and get the meaning as below. mortal N - A human being I wonder, is mortal widely used as human ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Is it right to say “Viewpoints made easy”?

I'm not native in the English language and I'd like to know if when I say "Viewpoints made easy" your perception leads you to something like: Viewpoints made easy. An easy form to connect and ...
6
votes
3answers
34k views

“Money for rope” … meaning and derivation?

I was listening to John Lennon's song "Gimme Some Truth" just now, and in it there's a recurring line: ". . . money for rope." I never thought about it much before, but it strikes me this has ...
12
votes
1answer
650 views

Does underneath imply a greater level of depth than beneath or below?

I was trying to find the origin for the word "beneath" to see when it should be used instead of "below" and I found that it originated from be - neothan and was directed to see the definition of ...
9
votes
4answers
3k views

What does “cable” mean?

I came across the word "cable" very often in http://www.guardian.co.uk. Like: WikiLeaks cables: Drive to tackle Islamists made 'little progress' US embassy cables: How the Guardian protects sources ...
14
votes
5answers
46k views

What does 'ten of six' mean in regard to time?

I am referring of course to the expression describing time. Today a corporate trainer (From north Philadelphia) that is teaching a class at my company used it in the context that the current time was ...
8
votes
4answers
11k views

What does “to give out” mean when talking about a person?

Billy Joel, in the song She's Always a Woman, writes, Oh, and she never gives out, and she never gives in. She just changes her mind. I understand that by "give in" he means "cease fighting or ...
1
vote
2answers
251 views

What's the semantic difference between “How did I <verb> <subject>” and “How I <verb in past tense> <subject>”?

Is there any difference between these two forms? Examples: "How did I take that picture" vs. "How I took that picture" "How did I make the cake" vs. "How I made the cake" "How did I meet my wife" ...
8
votes
1answer
692 views

What does “week” mean in place names?

I visited darkest Devon recently, and happened to pass through a couple of places named "Week". On studying the map I found several others, such as James Week, Mary Week, Chawleigh Week, and so on. ...
6
votes
7answers
2k views

Meaning and connotations of “ignorance”

I'm interested in the more intricate meanings of the term "ignorance". In my experience, it is being used primarily to express someone's state of not knowing. Somebody can be ignorant and innocent of ...
15
votes
4answers
938 views

“Oojakapiv”: what does this word mean?

A lot of people in my family use this word, not regularly, but enough for me to ask what it means. I know it’s not a “real word”, but how come people from different sides of my family use it? It must ...
6
votes
4answers
986 views

Other meanings for “punctual” besides “on time”

In this question on Server Fault, the asker says "And it works fine, but that's a ponctual solution..." and corrects himself in a comment, using "punctual". I've only ever used "punctual" to mean "on ...
19
votes
4answers
29k views

What word means what many people think 'ironic' means?

'Ironic' is often used to mean an unusual coincidence rather than its true meaning which is closer to sarcastic. That being said, is there a word that would be a good replacement for what many people ...
6
votes
2answers
6k views

Meaning of “I'll make due”

When someone says "I'll make due" what does it mean?
1
vote
3answers
2k views

What does the phrase 'Quote-O-Matic' mean?

A sample application in the book 'Test Drive ASP.NET MVC' used this as its title.
63
votes
5answers
6k views

Why is it “geometric” but “theoretical”?

I just came across a course name: Geometric and Theoretical Optics. The mismatched endings bug me. Why do we have both -ical and -ic endings? Is there any difference in meaning between, say, ...
11
votes
5answers
64k views

What does 'gotcha' mean?

What does 'gotcha' mean? When would you use it?
0
votes
3answers
654 views

What does 'greatest' mean in art?

There's a whole bunch of lists of "greatest ..." in the world of art. Does it mean influence, artistic excellence, ...? edit: I've seen a number of greatest movies lists and I wonder what they mean ...
3
votes
1answer
5k views

Meaning of “can't tell if he's coming or going”

I've heard this phrase in some lyrics and even read it in some online articles. don't know if he's coming or going What's the meaning and correct usage of coming or going?
6
votes
2answers
3k views

What does “in the heat of the night” mean?

"In the heat of the night" doesn't simply mean hot weather at night, does it?
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Any differences between “slander” and “libel”?

Are there any differences between slander and libel?
2
votes
2answers
5k views

What does the word “as-yet-unknown” mean?

What does the word as-yet-unknown mean in the following sentence? Andrews, 31, plans to sue the as-yet-unknown person who shot the footage -- and anyone publishing the material.
0
votes
4answers
5k views

Does “freak somebody out” has the meaning of “make somebody angry”?

This is an excerpt from the LDOCE. freak out phrasal verb informal to become very anxious, upset, or afraid, or make someone very anxious, upset, or afraid : People just freaked out when they ...
15
votes
2answers
4k views

“Battery” and “Battery”, why are they called the same?

This post made an interesting point about what would be understood when the word battery is used. In the U.S. at least, the word battery is so rarely used outside the legal phrase assault and ...
1
vote
2answers
419 views

What is the meaning of the word 'should' in the following paragraph, and how does it function?

You might also be curious why the productsList variable is initialized as new list of strings at the start of the method, only for it to be overwritten by the code in the try block. This is a ...
2
votes
4answers
740 views

How is an “assault” different from “battery” in everyday English?

In legal parlance, the word "assault" historically means an attempted battery (battery being defined as below) or an intentional frightening of another person. No contact is necessary. On the other ...
16
votes
6answers
88k views

How should “midnight on…” be interpreted?

From what I understand, the word "midnight" is usually interpreted incorrectly. Midnight is written as "12am" which would imply that it's in the morning. Therefore, it should be at the start of the ...
12
votes
2answers
4k views

What does “boy” mean here?

Recently, in a magazine, I read the following line: It's been an eventful year and boy, has it flown past! My question is, what does the word "boy" mean here? Is it an idiom? What is its usage?
13
votes
3answers
106k views

What does “I'm game” mean and what's its correct usage?

As it is clear from the question title, What does "I'm game" mean and what's its correct usage?