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
45 views

I don't understand the meaning of the last sentence. “He held out his palms as if to have them read” [closed]

A thin dark man in a dirty caftan materialized and spoke to us in a lengthy nasal language. He held out his palms as if to have them read.
2
votes
4answers
148 views

Is the misuse of “literally” an example of a malapropism?

The new Father John Misty album takes up the "people keep misusing the word 'literally' and I'm mad as hell about it" cry and calls its misuse a malapropism. I think of things like "french benefits" ...
3
votes
2answers
101 views

'Orthogonality' in words [closed]

The concept of the opposite of a word is well known, for example black/white, on/off. In mathematics, there is the concept of 'orthogonal', meaning geometrically perpendicular. Is there a ...
0
votes
1answer
34 views

The Wider Empire and the wrong parts of Britain

The following quotation is taken from an article by Fintan O'Toole titled This glorious and unruly English that lets everyone in. (The Observer, Sunday 15 September 2013) What do the terms "the ...
0
votes
1answer
93 views

The meaning and etymology of the exclamation “Lawdy me!”

What does a speaker mean if he/she exclaims "Lawdy me!"? I noticed this exclamation when I was reading a short story "the Conscience of the Court" by Zora Neale Hurston. There was one brown-skinned ...
4
votes
1answer
112 views

Meaning of “Bump” on forums

A guy posted something on (or in?) a forum. Another one posted "bump". Sometimes it's the same guy. What does it mean? In dictionaries, bump is typically defined as (as a noun) a small raised ...
1
vote
1answer
62 views

“private reason” vs “personal reason”

Someone turned down my invitation for visit to our university for some private reasons. I am not sure what he meant by that. The situation is like he used to work for a company and there might be a ...
1
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1answer
69 views

Meaning of “So yeah”

I often hear that phrase at the end of sentences. Sometimes at the beginning. What does it mean?
2
votes
2answers
63 views

Meaning of “in so far as” [closed]

Groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and Tablighi Jamaat play a peripheral role in so far as both men and women may be radicalised as they gravitate toward their teachings. What's the meaning of the ...
-1
votes
2answers
37 views

“their” is used in the below sentence for whom? [closed]

President Barack Obama urged Congress on Wednesday to authorise military action against the Islamic State militants who are cutting a swath across the West Asia, vowing their forces “are going to ...
1
vote
2answers
38 views

difference between “teacher's monitoring” and “teacher monitoring”?

What is the difference between "teacher's monitoring in classroom learning activities" and "teacher monitoring in classroom learning activities?
0
votes
0answers
32 views

Midnight at the Halls or Midnight in the Halls

I was writing a title for an article and I was curious which version of the title would be more grammatically proper: "Midnight at the Halls" or "Midnight in the Halls" It's trying express the fact ...
0
votes
1answer
90 views

Difference between logs, timber, and lumber

I'm interested in the distinctions between these three terms. Here's what I already know: timber is wood that is still attached to the ground, and still has its bark on. Lumber is already felled, and ...
0
votes
2answers
42 views

What is the difference between “in March” and “by March” [duplicate]

What is the difference between "in March" and "by March". Is there any ?
3
votes
5answers
68 views

Provoking indecision?

Is there a word that describes someone or something that provokes indecision? "Divisive" is close to what I'm looking for. But that is generally used to describe a person or topic that splits people. ...
33
votes
9answers
5k views

“A cup of hot coffee” or “A hot cup of coffee”

I once had an argument with someone about this. Is the meaning of "A cup of hot coffee" the same as "A hot cup of coffee"? Surprisingly I've often heard people utter either of the two, but not ...
1
vote
2answers
54 views

Is the phrase “logic and reason” grammatically correct?

I have always interpreted logic to mean a systematic form (premise-reason-conclusion) of reason. So it seems that you are saying one word (reason) and a branch of that word (logic). But the "and" ...
1
vote
1answer
40 views

“Financier” in British and American English

I am teaching English to a group of university students whose major is Finance, and whose native language is not English. I have no background in economics in general or finance in particular. I am ...
2
votes
4answers
64 views

Finding a better way to do something

Suppose my boss asked me to complete a task, and the standard method takes a week of my time. But I did some research and I found another method, which only takes a day, but is equally good! How ...
0
votes
2answers
82 views

What's the meaning of “Bread, you know it makes sandwiches”?

I have often heard the sentence Bread, you know it makes sandwiches in various contexts - as a painting on a wall in a living room or in a motivational book. What is the meaning of it?
0
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2answers
28 views

what is the origin of the term travel [closed]

What is the origin of the term travel and how broad is the term travel? What is it intended to encompass?
2
votes
3answers
107 views

What is the difference between “illness” and “disease”?

Are there any differences when those words are used? By whom they are used? Google n-gram All English English fiction: I would guess that "illness" is rather a term which is used in spoken ...
2
votes
4answers
462 views

What does “Screw motivation” mean? [closed]

There is an essay whose title is Screw motivation, what you need is discipline. I can understand its main idea, but can not figure out the exactly meaning of Screw motivation in the title. Could you ...
0
votes
2answers
57 views

What does “in no time” mean? [closed]

What does the following sentence mean? The trip can be made in no time.
0
votes
1answer
25 views

Interferences coming from/out of the grid/network (electricity)

I am trying to tell my colleagues that they need to run a device on batteries (not on charger) to rule out intereferences that could be caused by insufficient interference-shielding in their building, ...
1
vote
1answer
38 views

What is “herself” or “himself” on IMDB, when you click on filmography of an actress or actor

What is "herself" or "himself" on the IMDB website, when you click on filmography of an actress or actor? Stephen Hawking Doctor Who Live: The Next Doctor (TV Movie) Himself (as Professor ...
1
vote
5answers
92 views

What does it mean to be “Streets ahead”?

I'm studying in the USA and have heard my friends use this phrase often. From the context it seems to mean something is exceptional or good. I think that it may be facetious, it's often accompanied by ...
0
votes
3answers
55 views

Got to think we're due. - meaning?

I know "due" can mean expected, owed, deserved..but I do not get it in this context (subtitles for the Walking Dead): <i>We've made it 500 miles.</i> <i>Maybe this can be the easy ...
0
votes
1answer
132 views

Difference in tone between Regards, Best regards, Kind regards and Sincerely in emails [duplicate]

I often end my emails just with "Regards, FirstName". But I also often see "Best regards", "Kind regards" and "Sincerely". What is the difference in tone and meaning? Is one more formal than the ...
4
votes
2answers
260 views

Does “avail” make sense here?

My colleagues in India frequently use "avail" to mean "use" or "take advantage of" as in the following example: Avail our special offer for this event. I have never seen "avail" used in the manner; ...
1
vote
4answers
75 views

Looking for a word describing “habits which lost their original purpose”

I know there is a certain word which could describe rituals/habits which are being practiced despite the fact they lost their original purpose. I saw it in context of practicing some religious ...
0
votes
0answers
21 views

Make in-roads - meaning

At Marina Polliack's jewelry stand, Bennett was making in-roads. I am not sure how to understand in-roads. The sentence appears here ...
1
vote
3answers
182 views

Run by stopwatch

what's the meaning of "run by a stopwatch"? I found it in this sentence : "The pressing problem for Blackmore was making a quick adjustment to the American lifestyle that felt like it was run by a ...
1
vote
1answer
69 views

Meaning and use of “would have to be” in this sentence

I'm a beginner of English and really appreciate that you can help me learn more. I noticed a sentence: I think all the girls in the anime are awesome, but my favorites would have to be Nozomi and ...
1
vote
1answer
87 views

run one's length

The following passage is taken from a letter by Lord Chesterfield. Could the italic sentence be paraphrased as "Toleration, adoption and naturalization have gone unchanged." The English language is ...
14
votes
2answers
962 views

What do “orange” and “spindle-shanked beaux” mean in this quote?

While looking up the word "bye" I found this 18th century quotation. Our present race of spindle-shanked beaux had rather close with an orange wench at the playhouse, than engage in a bye battle ...
1
vote
3answers
98 views

Does plantation have a negative context outside the US?

In the United States, the word plantation almost always conjures up images of Southern slave plantations (sorry, Rhode Island). Is a similarly-negative context associated with the word in other ...
1
vote
0answers
21 views

Is it ok to use this sentence “something that speaks on my own terms” to express, a thing that speaks my mind? [closed]

"Thing that speaks on my own terms" Is this sentence correct? What does this sentence really mean?
0
votes
2answers
49 views

Word meaning 'enhance' or 'improve'

I heard a word meaning enhance and improve that sounded like horn, e.g. 'horn technical skills'. What is the spelling of this word? I unsuccessfully tried to Google it.
0
votes
1answer
39 views

Does “a couple of” always mean exactly two? [duplicate]

As in the title. Does the expression a couple of always have to mean exactly two (like a pair of) or can it mean more (things/objects)? I know a couple, at least in one of its meanings, means a pair ...
1
vote
1answer
38 views

Elide versus omit [closed]

Do "elide" and "omit" mean exactly the same thing? Are they completely interchangeable? Or is there some nuance that would indicate that you should use one over the other depending on the ...
0
votes
0answers
50 views

Is it possible to 'claim' a concession?

Underlying most OED definitions of the word claim, both noun and verb, is some notion of right or entitlement. ( An exception arises in the case of meaning 2c - the loosely used he claimed to be ...
0
votes
2answers
41 views

“concession” in “concession of something due”

I have trouble construing the meaning of this sentence: "claim implies a demand for the delivery or concession of something due as one's own or one's right" [[from Merriam-Webster Online ...
4
votes
1answer
283 views

The Yellow Wallpaper - What does *Smooch* mean?

I was reading a brilliant piece of Feminist Literature : The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman which uses the word smooch three times, all in reference to the yellow wallpaper: Then ...
2
votes
1answer
54 views

What is the correct usage of 'as to'?

I became curious about how to use 'as to.' I remember I've seen it several times in many sentences, but I cannot be quite sure of its correct usage. For example, am I using it right when I say "Would ...
1
vote
3answers
45 views

What is the difference between 'dimension', 'dimensional' and 'dimensionality'?

Could someone show me the difference? I do not know how to distinguish the usage of dimension and dimensionality when saying something is high-dimensional.
0
votes
1answer
62 views

'In doing this' or 'by doing this'? Which is more common in this context? [closed]

In doing this or by doing this? Is the following sentence correct as is? In doing this, [the products] benefit from greater diversification and wider reach. ('In doing this' refers to the ...
2
votes
4answers
114 views

Is it appropriate to use “reunion” for meeting only one person after a long time? If not, what's the alternative?

I met a childhood friend after over 15 years. It was myself, my spouse (who had never met the friend), and this friend. Would I use reunion for this situation, as it always makes me feel it's for a ...
0
votes
0answers
34 views

Electronic module or unit?

I make circuit boards with micro controllers that I mount inside plastic cases. I've always referred to them as electronic control modules. But what is really the best word for these? Electronic ...
-1
votes
1answer
30 views

Does 'Digressing others' make sense? [closed]

One of my friends said the other day: 'Digressing others is a part of my job' Does this phrase make sense?