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

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1
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2answers
105 views

About the pronoun “one”

and the choice of what to include and what not to include was necessarily a personal one Could it be said: "...was necessarily personal"? Which is the "one" to substitute, "choice"?
4
votes
4answers
19k views

Meaning of “I feel so helpless”

What is the phrase "I feel so helpless" supposed to mean? Is it "I feel as though I am unable to offer help" or "I feel as though no one could help me?" I saw it in a movie, and always thought it ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Meaning of “it was gone 2pm”?

The chicken in the “chicken and egg” soba was so tough I swore that it had seen active service in the First World War. I was of course the only customer (well, it was gone 2pm). Please give the ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Why is it ‘a thousand and one’ when government employees ask questions on possible government shutdown?

In today’s Washington Post article titled “For federal workers, anxiety over a possible shutdown", I found a strange quote of number—‘a thousand and one questions.’ I understand it’s simply an ...
14
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9answers
7k views

Antonym of 'stigma'

I am looking for a word that has the opposite, positive connotation from 'stigma': For example, There is a stigma of laziness associated with poor people. What would be the replacement for '...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

“Scientific” versus “scientifical”

Is there any substantive difference in the meanings of these two words? Is the latter considered a proper word at all? If the answer to either of the above questions is yes, what are these words' ...
6
votes
3answers
7k views

What is a dry sense of humor?

What does a dry sense of humor mean? This article explains how to develop it, but not what it is. How to Develop a Dry Sense of Humor Developing a dry sense of humor can be challenging ...
3
votes
3answers
54k views

Meaning of “true north”

Roz, I'm just trying to find my true north
0
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2answers
3k views

What does “booty-trap” mean here?

Can someone explain to me what booty-trap means in this sentence? We moved back in there, setting up booty traps. Each man booty-trapped his own home.
1
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2answers
24k views

“shall” vs. “will” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: 'shall' and 'will' Is there any difference at all between these two sentences? What will we talk about? What shall we talk about?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Unfamiliar use of “cricket”

I came across a use of the word cricket today that was new to me. It was in an article written by an American author about his recent trip to Egypt and about the role of the U.S. in the current ...
11
votes
3answers
30k views

What is difference among “a tad,” “a bit,” “a little?” Why do you use “a tad?”

I came across the word “a tad” which is unfamiliar to me in today’s New York Times’ article, titled “Yankees Bracing for Cold in Opener and in April.” The article starts with the following line: ...
10
votes
6answers
9k views

Why did the descriptive “Orientals” shift into a pejorative?

It seems as if a shift occurred and the descriptive "Oriental" was replaced by "Asian" as the accepted term in polite society — what caused this shift?
3
votes
8answers
44k views

Meaning of “makes no sense”

Which of the following has the closest meaning to "This makes no sense"? "I do not understand this" "This has no meaning" Update I will try to explain: My friend has proposed a solution to some ...
2
votes
1answer
637 views

What do “[People] talk about the baggage,” and “[Candidates] have lots of baggage” mean?

I came across the expression, “People talk about the baggage,” and “[Presidential] candidates have lots of baggage” in Jay Bookman’s article titled “Gingrich, Palin have no shot at being GOP ...
13
votes
6answers
4k views

What is the “explicit”'s equivalent of “imply”?

Note: The original title of this question was "Why is 'exply' not a word? While considering the words implicit, implicate, and imply, it struck me that I can't think of an equivalent to imply for ...
16
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3answers
90k views

What is the meaning of the phrase ‘in timely fashion’?

It was very disturbing to learn that Google will not open source Android 3.0 in timely fashion. What is the meaning of in timely fashion?
2
votes
1answer
348 views

What is a single word describing this type of statement?

Scenario: A gang from the west of the USA wants to kill gang members from the east of the USA. The gang from the west meet a gang member from the east and ask: 'Where are you from?' The gang member ...
6
votes
2answers
46k views

What does “life's a beach” mean?

Somewhere on Yahoo News I read this text: Scarlett Johansson and Sean Penn turned heads when they showed up together at Reese Witherspoon's wedding. The 26-year-old actress took 50-year-...
25
votes
7answers
58k views

“Biweekly”, “bimonthly”, “biannual”, and “bicentennial”

What do lengths of time with the "bi" prefix mean"? I have understood bicentennial as once every two hundred years, but biannual as meaning twice a year. Do biweekly and bimonthly mean twice a week or ...
6
votes
3answers
6k views

What does “Clyst” mean?

I live in the south west of England and there are many villages and roads that feature the word "Clyst". For example, Broadclyst, Clyst St Mary, Clyst Honiton and so on. What does clyst mean, and ...
1
vote
4answers
5k views

Meaning of “miss”

I was wondering what each "miss" means in I always miss you, so I miss you, so I miss you, so I miss you so much now. The only two meanings I know for "miss" are: the one as in "miss a chance" ...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

What is meant by the phrase “which is to say”?

When someone says ... X which is to say Y ... is there an implication that X is mistaken or false? In this construction is Y generally the opposite of X? Some random examples from the NY ...
2
votes
2answers
796 views

What does “Man of the room” mean?

I am in the process of translating Sister Sledge's "B.Y.O.B" song into Russian. Could you please help me to grasp the meaning of the "Man of the room" idiom used in this song?
2
votes
6answers
7k views

“systematize” vs. “systemize”

Merriam-Webster defines "systemize" as an alternate spelling of "systematize." Is there any reason to choose one over the the other (besides "systematize" sounding a little weird to my ears)? I did ...
3
votes
4answers
446 views

What is the difference in meaning and usage between “excoriate” and “execrate”?

Both nearly mean to criticise. So, what is the difference in usage?
3
votes
2answers
883 views

A “human cue tip”?

I am watching the excellent documentary "Nobelity" by Turk Pipkin: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobelity http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turk_Pipkin 4 minutes into the movie, there is a bit that I don'...
3
votes
3answers
62k views

“Tug at your heart” or “tug at your heart strings”?

Are they the same, meaning to make people feel emotional?
3
votes
1answer
1k views

How often do words change meaning then revert back to their original meaning?

Words can change meaning over time. A good example of this would be 'gay' which has changed from meaning 'merry' to 'homosexual'. Over the past decade, it has also taken on pejorative connotations. ...
4
votes
3answers
8k views

“The more often — the better.” Is it possible to say that?

The meaning I want to show with this phrase is that you do something more times and it produces better results. Is "the more often — the better" correct? Or maybe there are any set expressions instead ...
1
vote
2answers
18k views

How does the “partial” in “I'm partial to” relate to the “partial” in “partial fraction”?

The two senses of this word seem very different. One sense is just another way to say like, and the other is an adjective describing the state of being divided into different portions. I can't see ...
3
votes
3answers
346 views

Does “someone appeared to help me” have two meanings?

Someone appeared to help me. If I get it right, this sentence can either mean: "It seems like someone was helping me." (seems like = appear to) "Someone showed up to help me." (show up = appear) ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the meaning of the phrase: “N weeks ago tomorrow”?

Please explain to me the meaning of the phrase: Two weeks ago tomorrow. It seems to be in the past (ago) but with a link to the future (tomorrow).
2
votes
2answers
1k views

What's the meaning of “as it did” in this sentence?

Islamic law is the result of an examination, from a religious angle, of legal subject matter that was far from uniform, comprising as it did the various components of the laws of pre-Islamic Arabia ...
3
votes
2answers
391 views

“Guild” versus “association”

Is there any difference? Why would you say authors guild and not authors association?
8
votes
2answers
13k views

What does “the deed is done, the doers undone” in a headline mean?

The New York Times’ Theater Review of ‘Macbeth’, being performed by John Douglas Thompson at the Duke on 42nd Street, starts with the headline, “The deed is done, the doers undone.” What does this ...
5
votes
5answers
11k views

When is a person called a “lightning rod”?

I am aware of the lightning rod used to protect buildings and structures. But, what does it mean to refer to a person as a lightning rod? Also, when is it appropriate to use and when should it be ...
6
votes
3answers
5k views

What's the meaning of 'sheer' in this context?

The success of the Android platform is being driven by the sheer number of hardware vendors supporting it at both the high and low ends of the market
1
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2answers
1k views

Does the term “comma separated” mean “Goodbye” in any way?

I've received an email from a colleague who is leaving the company — and it's titled "comma separated" along with the usual yadda-yadda. This is the first time I've come across this usage of the ...
8
votes
3answers
7k views

What does it mean to “grow organically”?

I understand what the term as it's applied to Biotechnology, Chemistry. I am not quite sure what it means when it's applied to other area. One example is: Or do you allow the specifications to ...
8
votes
5answers
112k views

What does the phrase “I’m down with” mean?

I was wondering about the meaning of: I am down with something. Also, I was wondering whether people say: I am up with something. If so, what does it mean?
3
votes
2answers
5k views

Why use 'way' in this sentence? [closed]

This question is way too vague Why not just: "This question is too vague"? What's the meaning of 'way' in this sentence?
2
votes
3answers
7k views

Does “bend your knees, please” have the same meaning as “squat down, please”?

Do these two sentences imply the same action?
0
votes
3answers
146 views

Does 'from' in this example mean 'some'?

I have chosen for you from the best of our personnel. Can 'from' here also mean 'some'? I have chosen for you some of the best of our personnel.
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Should I write “repartee” with an accent?

Does repartee need an accent with it in writing? Also, what does it mean? Edit: Can you please provide an example sentence or two? I'd really appreciate it!
1
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10answers
20k views

What is the difference between “legacy” and “inheritance”?

Can someone explain the difference between legacy and inheritance?
12
votes
6answers
16k views

Does “to err on the side of … ” indicate wrongdoing?

Does the phrase "to err on the side of ...," specifically "err on the side of caution," indicate that it is wrong to be "on the side of," the object? "Err" makes me think of "error," and is such the ...
4
votes
1answer
199 views

“loving” vs. “love”

Boy your loving is all I think about 1) Why not a comma after 'boy'? Is this grammar correct, because it looks like two subjects? 2) Why not 'love'? What's the difference in this sentence?
5
votes
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 ...
3
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!?