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

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3
votes
1answer
179 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
105 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... ...
-1
votes
3answers
47 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
174 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
65 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
277 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
38 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
899 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
83 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
58 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
380 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
36 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
311 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
167 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
30k 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
566 views

What does “it’s all on you” mean?

I just wonder whether this sentence: It is on you. can ever mean this one: It is because of you. This was spoken Tony Stark in the 2012 film, The Avengers. Is “It’s all on you” a common ...
1
vote
0answers
124 views

“Mistaken as” vs. “mistaken for”

I heard someone use the words mistaken as rather than mistaken for. Is this correct? If it is correct then what is the difference between the two? Is it ever wrong to use mistaken as, and if so, why? ...
8
votes
3answers
339 views

What does “make the leap into the Richmond (or any name of the place) fishbowl” mean?

Washington Post (July 13) reports the gift scandal of Maureen McDonnell, wife of Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell under the headline, “Va. first lady plays central role in gift”. The article reports ...
2
votes
3answers
234 views

What does “You can’t lead an organization whose case officers must be impervious to blackmail” mean?

Time magazine (November 9) carries an article dealing with the reason why the CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus had to resign under the caption, “Resignation at the CIA: Why Petraeus had to go.” There ...
2
votes
2answers
358 views

What does someone “pushes back and crack some eggs” mean? Is it a popular turn of phrase?

In Maureen Dowd’s article titled “Who’s that candidate in the teal toenail Polish?” in New York Times (August 3), ...
2
votes
1answer
67 views

Can “nice” when used about people mean “beautiful”? Can a nice woman be ugly?

Can nice used with a person be about his/her look? Can I use a nice woman and mean (sexually) attractive, like in a beautiful woman? Or is it always only about their behaviour and kindness, when used ...
2
votes
3answers
206 views

What does “Cultures are circular” mean?

There was the following sentence in the commentary of Joshua Rothman, the New Yorker’s archive editor on Amy Chua’s memoir, “Tiger Mom” under the title, “The Battle hymn of the Tiger Family” in the ...
5
votes
3answers
162 views

What happened to the “knee”?

When describing bends in piping, joints, and in many other contexts the word "elbow" is used. You go to the hardware store and you see 90 degree elbows. The word elbow is used everywhere. Why not ...
9
votes
7answers
4k views

Confused by the British having “dinner” in the afternoon” and “tea” in the evening

I’m having problems with meal names in the UK. I’ve just learnt that dinner can refer to the afternoon meal, and that tea can refer to an early evening meal. Is this specific to a certain area in the ...
4
votes
3answers
364 views

What do you call someone who's fascinated by machines?

See people who are fascinated by machines like computers, cars, bikes, robots. They adore engines, hardware the visual looks for them the smell of it, everything about it. Such people are hardware ...
-2
votes
2answers
64 views

“Bearer of good news” & “bearer of bad news” are called?

The person who brings a good(good news messenger) news is called ? similarly the person who brings the bad news(bad news messenger) is called ? In this generation that may be same person. But ...
0
votes
1answer
60 views

What's is the meaning of the phrase “Read it like you've written it”? [closed]

Does the meaning of the phrase changes on its usage? If it changes, how? I am hoping an answer based on how it changes with what people are concerned, like for an example: 1) If I have written an ...
1
vote
3answers
82 views

“A mutual friend”, “A common friend” or “A friend in common”?

When I was a student of EFL, I was taught the word "mutual" implies a reciprocal relationship where X does to Y what Y does to X. If John admires Peter as much as Peter admires John, we can say their ...
0
votes
2answers
162 views

A word for “mercy killing”

"Mercy killing" is an act of killing someone who is already dying and in terrible pain, in order to reduce his or her suffering. Is there any single word for "mercy killing"?
0
votes
3answers
39 views

Logic: Interchangeability of Roles in Sentences

Do the changes in the following sentences change the meaning at all? He's my friend I'm his friend Or He's my co-worker I'm his co-worker Or he's my brother I'm his ...
5
votes
7answers
2k views

What is the difference between desire and motivation?

The words 'desire' and 'motivation' often appear in different kind of sentences for (what I assume is) grammatical reasons, but I have a really hard time separating them as concepts. When we talk ...
1
vote
1answer
32 views

“close behind” as in “time closes behind everyone and everything”

What does "close behind" mean in this sentence: "So life comes to an end and time closes behind everyone and everything." "life comes to an end" and "time closes behind everyone and everything" are ...
0
votes
1answer
70 views

Corresponding vs. appropriate

Let me give you some context first: Germans. We may have similar words with different meanings and use words just because they have a similar spelling. software company, writing software for ...
1
vote
3answers
765 views

What is the origin/meaning of “wheelbarrow full of frogs”

What is the origin/meaning of "wheelbarrow full of frogs" I've heard this phrase many times but am unsure as to exactly what it means.
5
votes
1answer
53 views

Can you distinguish the permission to do something from the license, an official document?

According to the dictionary, licence/license refers to an official document which proves you are permitted to do something. What, then, is the word for the permission itself? I'm from Korea, and in ...
10
votes
5answers
21k views

Is there a difference between “holiday” and “vacation”?

What is the difference, if any, between these two words?