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

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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 ...
0
votes
2answers
40 views

what is another way of saying “go to plan”

Please could someone tell me another way of saying "go to plan, I need to know for an essay I am currently writing in AS Level English Literature.
2
votes
3answers
1k views

Is there any difference between “word-for-word translation” and “word-by-word translation” and is the latter actually valid?

First off, some data: According to COCA word-for-word has 60 usages, 3 of them are "word-for-word translation". Word-by-word has 26 usages, none of them are "word-by-word translation" (but some with ...
0
votes
1answer
71 views

Use of the phrase “so that”

In my current understanding, after the phrase "so that" should be the purpose of the action/incident preceding to "so that". For example: Darwinism must die so that evolution may live. However I ...
47
votes
16answers
6k views

Is there a word for a change so small that it doesn’t seem to be a change at all?

Today, I was reading an article on pharmaceutical companies making minute changes to a drug in order to extend the patent. In one instance, the company profiled did not actually change the content of ...
3
votes
6answers
10k views

What does “everything's gone pear-shaped” mean?

I've recently heard this phrase spoken twice on a British television show, and I assume it means something along the lines of, "everything's fallen apart," generally meaning, things are bad right now. ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

What does “enough” mean in expressions like “Fair enough” or “Funny enough”?

As a non-native speaker, I already get used to the word enough in expressions like those below, but I sometimes still got confused of it. It makes me wonder what it actually means and where does it ...
0
votes
3answers
72 views

What is the difference between 'decrease' and 'reduce' in the context set out below?

While walking at a brisk pace with a friend, I said we should "reduce our pace", but immediately corrected myself to "decrease our pace". I then went back and forth, not being able to decide which one ...
0
votes
1answer
71 views

“simply”, “merely” and “only” - Are they interchageable in formal writing?

In the following sentence: "They are ....... wasting their time." Would "simply", "merely" and "only" be interchangeable? When I was a student of English I was taught the use of "simply" in formal ...
11
votes
3answers
949 views

Does the word “apparently” imply that I personally do or don't believe the statement following it?

When I say "Apparently, xyz", does that imply one of the following, and if so, which one? From observation, I believe xyz to be true, but I leave open the possibility that I might be wrong. I ...
8
votes
4answers
27k views

Are there any differences between “oval” and “ellipse”?

Are there any differences between "oval" and "ellipse"?
0
votes
2answers
55 views

The use of OR in interrogative sentences

Is Indonesia a developing country or an underdeveloped country? Or Is Indonesia a developing or an underdeveloped country? I understand that "or" is either inclusive or exclusive. Is there ...
0
votes
2answers
48 views

What does “peak and pine” mean in this ballad?

From scoutsongs.com Oh, My Darling Clementine In a cavern, In a canyon, Excavating for a mine, Dwelt a miner forty-niner, And his daughter Clementine. Chorus: Oh my darling, Oh my darling, ...
13
votes
7answers
817 views

Which is longer: snooze, nap, kip, 40 winks or siesta?

How long is a snooze? My boyfriend will invariable take an afternoon snooze which might last anything up to two hours. A nap on the other hand, can be short, quick or even long, and sometimes they are ...
1
vote
1answer
876 views

'Upgradation' not universally accepted?

While copy-editing an article for a journal, I came across the word 'upgradation' underlined red by MS Word (It's underlined red even as I type it in Chrome). The publishers of the journal recommend ...
0
votes
2answers
34 views

disturbance / passive or action

I just wrote this. "In addition,I have been learned concerning microbial toxins by Microbiology course. At the same time, Physiology and Biochemistry courses helped me to understand how toxins could ...
0
votes
3answers
69 views

Meaning of “exactly” in casual conversation

My question involves a group text conversation between friends whom are all native english speakers. Friend A began the conversation with a photograph of himself dressed up for a night on the town, ...
1
vote
2answers
75 views

What is a “roll-off”?

"Studies show a substantial profitability roll-off." What does "roll-off" mean? Is it another word for "decrease"?
1
vote
2answers
64 views

Is there a semantic difference between “manipulable” and “manipulatable”?

In all the sources I can find, the terms "manipulable" and "manipulatable" are both defined as some form of "able to be manipulated". But depending on the source, one word seems to be related to ...
0
votes
1answer
82 views

Does the word “dashily” exist in English?

Could someone, please say if the word "dashily" exists? I couldn't find one in any vocabularies. A few hours ago I saw this web clip (The Vampire Diaries), and beginning from 00:40 Damon says: ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

“Unexplainable” vs “Inexplicable”

What is the difference between unexplainable and inexplicable? Are they exact synonyms or are there situations where one is preferred over the other? Is unexplainable a clumsy modern variant ...
0
votes
1answer
89 views

What is the difference between gibbet and gallows?

I was just reading this communique: We got to the moat - crowds were huge. Went up to the Merchant Marine Memorial on Tower Hill. On the site of the gibbet. I initially thought of giblet ...
0
votes
2answers
62 views

“Quite a combo” - meaning

I found this phrase in comment for one song - "I really like this song, and i really like how diverse shawns family is, thats quite a combo." It seems, that it's a some kind of idioms. I really ...
1
vote
2answers
102 views

What does the term “Wouldn't blink twice” mean in context and what is it's meaning literally?

I did not find any results to my liking on google or on English SE. What does the term "wouldn't blink twice" mean when used in a sentence as follow: "If I saw [person's name] walking down the ...
0
votes
1answer
34 views

Great trials have turned on less

What excactly does it mean when in a sentence "It occured to me then that great trials have turned on less."?
6
votes
4answers
2k views

“Chief Cook and Bottle Washer” meaning and etymology

In my experience, referring to someone in an organization as "chief cook and bottle washer" has multiple possible meanings: person has a wide variety of duties in the organization person is very, ...
3
votes
7answers
142 views

“I'm dry” meaning “Would you buy me a drink?” What semantic or rhetorical term describes such usage?

Instead of saying "Could I have some water, please?" a visitor says "I am thirsty". The host understands it perfectly and says "Let me get you something to drink. What would you like?" or at a ...
2
votes
1answer
89 views

In the rap Baby Got Back, does Sir Mix-a-Lot's anaconda want buns or not? [duplicate]

In the rap Baby Got Back, Sir Mix-a-Lot claims: My anaconda don't want none unless you've got buns, hun. Which at first glance would appear that his pet snake doesn't want any (food, presumably) ...
2
votes
4answers
244 views

Meaning of “black on black” in Nickelback's “Animals”

The song "Animals" by Nickelback starts with the following lines: I, I'm driving black on black Just got my license back I got this feeling in my veins This train is coming off the ...
3
votes
8answers
917 views

How to remember the difference between: “Can you try to open” and “Can you try opening”?

I am well aware that a similar question has been asked in the past, namely “Try to save” or “try saving”. However, I am not totally satisfied by the posted answers. My problem is that, every time I ...
0
votes
1answer
15 views

Would anybody please tell me what is the difference between object and goal? [closed]

Would anybody please tell me what is the difference between object and goal? I have long been facing with these words, most often being used together, especially in introductions. I am wondering ...
0
votes
1answer
61 views

Word for person with lots of energy

What do you call someone who has lots of energy and always in good mood.
2
votes
1answer
52 views

“In general,…”: do mathematicians use this phrase oppositely from everyone else?

In mathematical writings, one often encounters statements involving the phrase "in general" in the following sense: After the number 2, the next few prime numbers (3,5,7) are each odd numbers, and ...
1
vote
7answers
3k views

Do the words “peasant” and “pissant” mean the same thing?

I recently completed reading the novel "Cat's cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut. In this novel he describes peasant as: "A pissant is somebody who thinks he's so damn smart, he can never keep his mouth ...
-1
votes
1answer
39 views

what is the meaning of the following lines? [closed]

Please help me to know the meaning of thefollowing "Now set the x value to anything but zero,LED should be on position"
2
votes
5answers
27k views

Exact meaning of “You must be kidding”?

This is to ask for the exact meaning of the expression You must be kidding. More precisely, is it supposed to be: (a) friendly, (b) antagonistic, or (c) neither one? In French the answer to my ...
4
votes
4answers
167 views

Is the § character recognizable as an icon for legal matters in English speaking countries?

I need a symbol in my navigation to represent the legal portions of a web application (disclaimer, imprint, and so on). I thought that it would be appropriate to use the § character; my customer ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “3-sigma” type of event mean? [closed]

What does "3-sigma" type of event mean? For example, Hurricane Sandy is a 3-sigma type of event.
8
votes
4answers
2k 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
193 views

What type of punishment was “Then thou shalt drink !”?

In The Proverbs, Epigrams, and Miscellanies of John Heywood (1562) among the many historical English proverbs which I recognized, one particular epigram stood out. Entitled “Of Catching a Fly” It ...
2
votes
1answer
162 views

The word “darg ”

What would the word darg mean in the novel 'the invisible man' where a person has been bit by a dog of a carrier person.
4
votes
2answers
500 views

'Broken Shells Make Temple bells' meaning? [closed]

There is a great Irish song 'As I Rover Out'. The 'Omnia' band made a remake of this song called 'Who Are You?' The meaning of the certain sentence in this remake became a subject of discussion ...
1
vote
3answers
112 views

“make a change” or “make a difference”

I was reading a book with tests when I encountered this question: < "If you quit your job, you'll have to make do with fewer material possessions. Those who've decided to (make a change/make a ...
0
votes
2answers
58 views

build up and trade you

I'm translating a movie (Honeymoon) into Turkish, which is my native language. In this movie, a woman goes into a restaurant in her hometown and says: "I've been building up the maple beans here for ...
7
votes
5answers
6k views

What does “pray” mean in phrases like “pray proceed”?

Is this an archaic form of "please proceed"? I have never heard in in speech but sometimes it appears in novels. My version of "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" is full of it, apparently in place of ...
0
votes
1answer
50 views

Is it ok to say “easy to make out reasons” [closed]

I have a scenario: A policeman wantonly or egregiously declines a person's request and instead comes up with reasons for declining. I want to say it is very easy for police to come up with reasons if ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

What is actually being doubled when someone has to “double back”?

I have frequently heard this phrase and used it myself when I've gone in a wrong direction either physically or at work metaphorically. However, I wonder why the phrase is double back, since once you ...
1
vote
2answers
60 views

The exact meaning of “Cross Section”

I, and of course you, know the public meaning of "cross section" but I could not understand its meaning in the following sentence: "GPUs offer high computational power but require high scheduling ...
3
votes
2answers
61 views

Usage/meaning of “brattery”

Looking for translations of room for children I found the word "brattery" along with the word "nursery", which I believe is most commonly used for children's room in a house. Is "brattery" still in ...
3
votes
3answers
80 views

What is the word - A secret that passes on from a person to person

I forgot this word. I tell a person a secret and ask him not to tell it to anyone else. That 2nd person tells another person and tells him not to disclose it to anyone else. But this goes on. ...