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

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-1
votes
2answers
84 views

What does the term 'spoon' refer to? [on hold]

Note: This question is not about the assertion from the Matrix that There is no spoon. There are tablespoons and teaspoons which are two different things. However is there a plain spoon or does this ...
1
vote
2answers
65 views

“A friar's hand”?

I'm reading "To Rise Again at a Decent Hour" by Joshua Ferris, and the narrator/author talks about looking over the shoulder of someone studying the Bible on the subway, and noticing that there are ...
1
vote
2answers
51 views

Is “can exceed up to X” some form of colloquialism?

I ran into a sign that said "Fines can exceed up to $500". I have no idea what this means. Is the fine capped at $500? or can it exceed $500? In an attempt to understand what is going on I ran a ...
6
votes
1answer
4k views

What is the real difference between dilation and dilatation?

In the medical profession we use the terms dilatation and dilation with great frequency. Dilatation is defined as a region of dilation, an area of abnormal enlargement, or the surgical enlargement of ...
3
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
73 views

Passivity as a passive activity?

I was reading "A fault in our stars" by John Green and he did something rather interesting. The scene is one in which the mother wants her child to attend support group. All the child wants to do is ...
2
votes
3answers
352 views

What does “at south of $100 million” mean?

From this article: Judge Alsup did take the unusual step of appointing his own damages expert. That independent expert valued the patent case at south of $5 million, and valued the copyright case ...
15
votes
8answers
9k views

Is there a word for a “promise breaker”?

I'm somewhat vexed in that I cannot think of a word that means a "promise breaker" or "person who breaks a promise". There are words that may subsume that, such as "miscreant" or "liar", but I cannot ...
11
votes
4answers
857 views

What does “pillow-plumping romance with the press” mean?

I came across the phrase “pillow-plumping romance with the press” in Maureen Dowd’s article titled “Liability Index” in New York Times August 11 issue. It reads: The president survived a “raised ...
24
votes
10answers
5k views

What do you call money earned through unethical sources?

Money/Assets/Property that is earned through unethical sources is called ? Money that is earned through bad sources like corrupted politics, corrupted business, ransom money, stolen or theft ...
5
votes
7answers
1k views

Meaning of “Butter is Gold in the Morning, Silver at Noon, and Lead at Night.”

In his book A Complete Collection of Scottish Proverbs: Explain'd and Made Intelligible to the English (1721), James Kelly offers this interesting saying (page 74, #138): "Butter is Gold in the ...
1
vote
3answers
53 views

A word for “hard and diligent work under sleepy-eyed conditions”?

How would you describe one who works hard with full interest and consciousness, including spending sleepless nights. In such a scenario, sleep is deprived deliberately by the person. What is such hard ...
2
votes
1answer
35 views

When did 'permission' become popular as a therapy term

Permission has several uses, but somewhere around the 1990s it became common to hear it in the context of therapy sessions as in "you need to give yourself permission to..." do this or that. When did ...
9
votes
14answers
2k views

A critical situation in which no trick works?

How could one describe a situation in which no trick, no approach, no magic, nothing at all works to change the outcome? One where you have no choice but to accept it. For example, I can't use the ...
22
votes
4answers
3k views

Why will I see you in Hell?

If you say, "I'll see you at the party", you mean, "You and I are going to the party and I will see and speak to you there." If you say, "I'll see you hang!", you mean "You will be sentenced to hang ...
2
votes
2answers
87 views

What does ‘Reverse fig leaf” mean?

I was interested in the word, “Reverse fig leaf” in an article titled, “Should Germans read ‘Mein Kampf” appearing in New York Times (July 7), which deals with the planned publication of Adolf ...
-1
votes
1answer
80 views

What does “dot” mean in this sentence? [closed]

My first language is Spanish and I can't understand this question about a book (The butterfly lion): What dot did he have at school? The story is about a kid who have some troubles in school with ...
2
votes
1answer
65 views

What is this usage of harrumph?

So this question was just asked and it made me realize I didn't understand what was going on this particular movie scene (Mel Brooks' 1974 Blazing Saddles). Transcript: Governor William J. Le ...
1
vote
1answer
58 views

Correct usage of “evangelize”

I attended a meeting by a very senior person at my work place. The meeting concerned the theme of Data analytics and Big Data. The presentation mentioned the goal as "evangelize raw data". Is this ...
3
votes
1answer
176 views

Why is the word “so” in the line, “To a ill-informed person I would have so answer yes,” shown in Italic to stress the word?

I am interested in the word, “so” in the following sentence in Jeffery Archer’s novel, “The Prodigal Daughter.” Florentina Kane who is the chairman of an international hotel empire she succeeded ...
0
votes
1answer
104 views

Is “further” now used for both physical and metaphorical distances?

Is it true that 'further' and 'farther' are becoming interchangeable? He drove further north. His furthest destination to travel is 167 miles. This link says that further is now widely ...
0
votes
2answers
84 views

“Witness to” vs. “witness of”

What is the difference in meaning between "a witness to" and "a witness for"? E.g., Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God... ...
6
votes
10answers
2k views

A word for one who loves only one girl throughout his life

Just like one wife man is called : monogamous. Is there any word for one who loves just one girl throughout his life time. For him one life, one girl matters. History has seen such people. Are such ...
-1
votes
3answers
46 views

Trouble understanding the meaning of sentences with “unless” [closed]

I am having trouble understanding the meaning of sentences using unless. Here is an example: Unless I hear from you by 6pm Friday I will send the letters to main office. What does the above ...
4
votes
4answers
166 views

What does “cyber-” actually mean?

I'm heading into the postgraduate phase of my Computer Science-oriented studies, and I can't put my finger on what this root means. According to Etymology Online it comes from Cybernetics, which in ...
2
votes
1answer
61 views

I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was [closed]

I heard a song "As Good As I Once Was" by Toby Keith. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=kp&hl=id&v=ldQrapQ4d0Y&gl=ID There is this part of the lyric that I don't really know the ...
6
votes
12answers
21k 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 ...
8
votes
6answers
10k views

What is the difference between “monologue” and “soliloquy”?

Just a random thought as to what the actual difference between monologue and soliloquy might be.
2
votes
2answers
270 views

On a certain level

What does " On a certain level " in " I am looking for my sister ... on a certain level" mean ? I have read it in a play.I checked it in some dictionaries but coulden't find its meaning.
0
votes
2answers
34 views

What is the meaning of “he is late on his front”?

I saw it in a subtitle of a movie. I searched Google for it, but found nothing. So I thought it might be wrong or it is not quite uncommon. Then I decided asking here. The context is: a guy #1 owes ...
18
votes
5answers
15k views

When I say “comment out”, does it mean to uncomment something or comment it?

When I say "comment out", does it mean to uncomment something or comment it? What is more better, or correctly, used? PS: I'm talking about source code.
5
votes
6answers
891 views

Does the word Effortless imply a negative or a positive comment?

I watched a TV show where a group of dancers were performing a number. After that, the host interviewed one of the audience and he was told that the Group A's performance was effortless and gave a low ...
2
votes
4answers
81 views

Being Clever vs Being Wise

A sage is wise. That young woman is clever. Both of them (I think) are good at not getting into unwanted trouble, and both are good at solving problems. So.. Is there a difference between being ...
8
votes
11answers
6k views

What's the word for a specific kind of inhalation after crying?

Sometimes people who are just coming off of bout of crying take what could be described as a stuttering inhalation. It's more easily observed with little kids than adults. Is there a better word for ...
3
votes
2answers
56 views

'to the contrary' - is this definition of 'but' correct?

Merriam-Webster lists 'to the contrary' as one of the senses of 'but.' 3 : to the contrary < who knows but that she may succeed> Being worded like this, I'm having a bit of hard time ...
2
votes
3answers
554 views

“What is an idiom?” vs. “What are idioms?”

I often say What is an idiom? When I read Longman Pocket Idioms Dictionary Cased, I saw the sentence What are idioms? Are there any differences between the two forms? Which one is ...
6
votes
6answers
13k views

“Told” vs. “said to” somebody

I told him that you hate him I said to him that you hate him I was choosing between these two options, and I can't help thinking about the subtle differences. For example, "I told him ...
4
votes
4answers
376 views

What is “Kludgeocracy” in short, in plain words?

In Washington Post January 26, 2013 issue, Ezra Klein introduces the word, “Kludgeocracy” in his article titled, “Is America a ‘kludgeocracy’?,” which begins with the following sentence: In ...
1
vote
1answer
47 views

Antonym of heartbreaker? [closed]

In one of my short stories, I have to compare a guy who is a heartbreaker to someone who is exactly the opposite of him. Instead of describing the opposite character of the guy, I am looking for a ...
1
vote
1answer
33 views

“brain-cramp” vs “blank-out” [closed]

When mind lapses instantly I call it blank-out. Recently I have come across brain-cramp and it is providing almost same meaning as blank-out. Are both same ? Cramp word is not playing big heavy dice ...
13
votes
12answers
2k views

What word or phrase means “a loss of what was on your mind”?

Sometimes, in the middle of a conversation, a "loss of mind" can affect the speaker. What is the word for that situation and that person ? Are there more specific terms or phrases than: the loss ...
12
votes
4answers
1k views

Does “the N-word” have implications other than a word used for racial discrimination?

The New York Times (February 21) carried an article introducing the travelling exhibition of “The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia” to the U.S. at the Smithsonian, Metropolitan Museum, Asian Art ...
19
votes
5answers
5k views

Is there a subtle difference between “inherent” and “intrinsic”?

I've always used "inherent" and "intrinsic" interchangeably. Dictionary.com doesn't offer much help in distinguishing them.
3
votes
1answer
287 views

“Will be gone” vs “Will have gone”

1) "By the time you arrive, I'll already be gone " 2 ) "By the time you arrive, I'll already have gone " I think both are grammatically correct but Are there any differences in meaning? And which ...
1
vote
3answers
161 views

What do you call a person who dies an honourable death?

What do you call someone who dies for a good cause or an honourable reason? An example would be a soldier who dies while saving his country.
-4
votes
1answer
37 views

What's the meaning of “The purpose of life is life of purpose”? [closed]

The purpose of life is life of purpose. I think it is a contradictory statement. I read it somewhere and was confused. It's very difficult to understand its meaning .
0
votes
0answers
39 views

Is it possible for a word not to exist? [duplicate]

I was corrected that funner is not a word. After looking into it, it seems that it is a word in the sense that it is frequently used and people know what it means. Since a word is a sound with an ...
1
vote
2answers
32 views

“Rejoice to hear it”

I came across the sentence, "I rejoice to hear it," and wasn't exactly sure how to read it. So I looked up "rejoice to hear," and found it again in a poem by Isaac Watts: How did my heart rejoice ...
8
votes
3answers
29k 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
207 views

Semantic shift in “around”

I'm interested in the use of "around" as a synomym for "about, concerning, related to", which doesn't seem to be recorded in current dictionaries. I'd call it an academic/pseudo-academic usage and ...