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

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0
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1answer
18 views

What does “provocative fictions” mean? Are they one kind of fiction?

I see this phrase in such sentence"The world knows his name, knows his reputation as the prolific author of provocative fictions, novels that..." But i wonder whether "provacative fiction"is a type of ...
1
vote
1answer
50 views

What does “falling and missing the ground” mean?

I don't understand the use of the phrase "falling and missing the ground". How can one fall and miss the ground? What does it mean? Update Apologies. I found the use of the phrase at ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

What's the origin of the figure of speech “call the shots”?

I'm well aware that when someone says "he's the one who calls the shots" it means that that person is the one in charge, the one who takes all the relevant decisions. But what's the origin of this ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Understand the meaning of “tall order”

I was wondering why a "tall order" means a formidable task or requirement? Is it a metaphor? If so, how shall I understand it?
8
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4answers
4k 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: Sorry, I'm terrible about these ghost ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views
1
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3answers
85 views

“Is that good?” vs “Is that any good?”

Is there any difference between the meaning implied by: Is that good? and Is that any good? I would appreciate if you give examples to show the differences, if there is any. ...
22
votes
8answers
6k views

What does “foo” mean?

I saw that "foo" has been used to name a lot of computer-related things. I wonder if foo has some meaning itself beyond computer science? what it means in computer science? how it should be used? ...
1
vote
2answers
104 views

Why is it “Thank you! You’re subscribed,” not “You subscribed,” or “You’ve subscribed”?

I received e-mail from New York Times that reads; What We’re Reading: Get recommendations from New York Times reporters and editors, highlighting great stories from around the web. “What We’re ...
6
votes
7answers
24k views

What is the meaning of “Many a mickle makes a muckle”?

I've heard this phrase, and don't know what a "mickle" or a "muckle" is. Hence I have no idea at all what the phrase itself is supposed to mean.
0
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3answers
50 views

I'm looking for a word like “routing out” that also describes a “blind gamble”

When my old dog and I had a regular local park, upon entering, she used to immediately run through all the bushes, hoping to flush out any squirrels. She didn't know if there were any squirrels ...
0
votes
1answer
47 views

Validate or Ratify?

Is there a clear difference between the "validation" or "ratification" of a document.? I came across a document that stated "Form for the Validation & Ratification of...." I thought that to ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “Not to be a dick, but—” mean? Is “Dickishness” an accepted, stand-alone English word?

There was a recommendation of a new book, How Not to Be a Dick: An Everyday Etiquette Guide in www.Goodreads.com followed by this next sentence: “On the one hand, nobody wants to be a dick. On the ...
-1
votes
1answer
43 views

An expression for someone who causes “pain” and for those who receive this “pain” [duplicate]

What do you call a person who gives only pain to his dear ones (whom he cares about the most)? What do you call a person who gets only agony from the person he cares most?
0
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3answers
86 views

Is the usage 'literally nuts' correct? [on hold]

1) Suppose there is a very stupid person. Is it correct to tell that he/she is 'literally nuts'? 2) What about using it if the person is mentally ill? This came up in an informal talk with my ...
-1
votes
0answers
37 views

description of the sentence [closed]

What do you call a person who gives pain to all those he loves or being loved What do you call a person who gets only agony from his loved ones
3
votes
3answers
6k views

Meanings of word “nick” in British English

Word nick seems to be used to describe many things. According to the dictionary, the main meanings are: a small notch, groove, chip, or the like, cut into or existing in something. a hollow place ...
0
votes
1answer
48 views

in fact, in point of fact, as a matter of fact

Today I was tempted to write "in point of fact" and immediately wondered if this expression differed at all from "in fact" or "as a matter of fact." Dictionaries define one with the others. ...
1
vote
2answers
117 views

What does “She is tall for her age” mean?

I read the following sentence She is tall for her age. Now I'm greatly confused about its meaning. Does it mean "she would have as long age as she is tall" (perhaps showing prediction) Or ...
0
votes
1answer
59 views

What is the difference between supposed to and meant to

It is because it was always meant to be so. It is because it was always supposed to be so. What is the difference between meant and supposed? There must be more but all I can deconstruct ...
1
vote
1answer
79 views

Safe Deposit Box

I get really annoyed when I hear "Safety Deposit Box" - to me, the thing the box is deposited in is a Safe, not a Safety. Is my annoyance justified? Why do people say "Safety" when it's both harder to ...
2
votes
2answers
301 views

What word means to feel better by writing about what you feel?

What word means "to feel better by writing it down?" Usually speaking about your emotions.
3
votes
4answers
843 views

What does “There’s less to the deal than meets the eye,” mean?

There was the following passage in New Yorker’s (November 18) article that came under the title, ”Is China really going green?”: “But here was President Xi Jinping pledging that, by 2030, his ...
3
votes
2answers
6k views

Where does “Look yourself in the mirror” come from?

Where does "unable to look myself in the mirror" come from? related example: ...I asked her what she does if after six months or so it becomes obvious that a salesperson is not bringing in ...
1
vote
3answers
59 views

Distress vs anguish

Is there any difference between the words (nouns) distress and anguish? They seem to be quite similar.
1
vote
1answer
83 views

Does smiles all over mean smiles are ended?

It is silly but I got confused over does it mean smiles are ended or does it mean smiles are everywhere?
0
votes
2answers
522 views

What's the difference between “Mediary” and “Intermediary”?

I can't find a definition for Mediary, I thought they kind of mean the same thing. But how they each precisely defined? And can someone use a good example of both? Thanks
0
votes
3answers
52 views

Meaning of “or” in “working on applications to sell or for any other purpose”

A licence reads: If you are an individual working on your own applications to sell or for any other purpose, you may use the software to develop and test those applications. I'm having ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “paint it black” and when to use it?

I stumbled upon the phrase "paint it black" in a tv series (Elementary) and was wondering what does it exactly mean? Also, in which situations would you use it normally? Except when you tell the ...
8
votes
3answers
949 views

What does “long” mean before a name?

What does long mean before a name? Like Long John Silver in Treasure Island or Long Susan in Ripper Street.
0
votes
1answer
56 views

Good men in robes

It is time for good men in robes to rethink their responsibilities while heeding Edmund Burke's warning: "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." ...
4
votes
2answers
668 views

What's the meaning of “flatlands of paper”

In the following paragraph, Edward Tufte speaks of "flatlands of paper." I don't understand its meaning: Even though we navigate daily through a perceptual world of three dimensions and reason ...
-2
votes
1answer
61 views

could you explain the below sentence about reporting?

"Half-yearly reporting included in overall project management costs" a report about the costs of the overall management of the project? or something else? thanks in advance
0
votes
2answers
146 views

Do these sentences mean the same thing?

Do these sentences all mean the same thing? You are not great because you know many things. You are great not because you know many things. You are great for another reason. As another example, ...
0
votes
1answer
216 views

What is the meaning of ''until the shine wears off''?

I love the songs Lost! and Lost? (well, it's the same song but in different versions) by Coldplay. In these songs, we can hear: I just got lost Every river that I tried to cross Every ...
6
votes
5answers
3k views

“Explain” versus “Explicate”

Is there a difference in meaning between the words 'explain' and 'explicate', or are they interchangeable? It seems that explicate is just a very formal (pretentious?) version of explain, that is ...
1
vote
3answers
6k views

“Both of you” vs. “the both of you”

When we refer to two people, which is right — "both of you" or "the both of you"? Are both the same or is there any difference between them?
-1
votes
1answer
83 views

“Do you ever get hit” and “Have you ever gotten hit” [closed]

Do they have the same meaning? If not when to use each of them.
0
votes
1answer
39 views

Meaning of a sentence in a play

What is the meaning of the sentence said by Derry in the Susan Hill play On the Face of It given below? In case I see you looking and mind and get upset
0
votes
2answers
84 views

Who uses 'inveritable' and 'inveritably'?

Does anyone here use inveritable in the sense of unavoidable, or the usual occurrence? I have heard people say things like: It was 'inveritable' that the manager would have to leave after the ...
3
votes
4answers
10k views

Use of “for one” [closed]

When we say “for one” in a sentence, what does it mean? I heard a sentence in a TV program where Robin Hood said: Who will bear this injustice? I, for one, will not. As I understand it, “I ...
0
votes
1answer
35 views

What exactly is a “principle of action” or a “principle of conduct”?

Initial Context I was reading one of John Henry Newman's (Cardinal Newman for the non-Anglicans) sermons, specifically "Religious Faith Rational" from Parochial and Plain Sermons... Near the ...
0
votes
2answers
41 views

Can “As [adjective] as [noun] is” in the beginning of the sentence mean “Although/despite [noun] is [adjective]”?

In a blog post about web development, I found an interesting phrase: As awesome as CSS counters are, don’t forget about our old friends ol and li. From the context, it seems to mean ...
2
votes
1answer
66 views

Is there a word like “evidence” that doesn't connote empiricism?

I would suppose that traditionally, evidence had this broad meaning that I seek, and that is why "empirical evidence" is a popular phrase. What I would like is a word that refers to a broad notion ...
0
votes
2answers
64 views

Why does switch take a noun in the plural?

Why do we say "We switched locations." or "We switched phones." instead of "We switched location?" or "We switched phone?" Are there any other verbs that take the noun in the plural?
2
votes
2answers
97 views

What is the definition of “solipsized?”

It seems like only "Lolita" uses this word. According to Google, solipsism is "the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist." From this definition, I conclude that for one to ...
0
votes
4answers
64 views

Peculiar use of the term “rationalization”

But whatever you call it, [Fordism] has been a system based on large-scale standardization and vertical organizations that require a strict division of labor and an extreme rationalization of ...
1
vote
2answers
36 views

differentiating between all that and what

Original-- extracted from the book Scarlet Letter: Like all that pertains to crime, it seemed never to have known a youthful era. My own rephrased sentences: Like whatever that pertains to crime, ...
0
votes
2answers
83 views

meaning of “some people agree that”

I am discussing with friends the meaning of the following sentence: "while some people agree that there are less women in science because they don't have the skills, others will argue that it is ...
2
votes
2answers
53 views

Through wood and break and many a fertile field: what is “break”?

A poem from A Canterbury Tale (1944): Six hundred years have passed. What would they see, Dan Chaucer and his goodly company? Today the hills and valleys are the same. Gone are the forests ...