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

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3
votes
1answer
64 views

Differences between have to and need to

I try to grasp the difference between these 2 forms. So the question is whether these 3 cases have the exact same meaning. Why did he get up at 5 o'clock? He needn't have got up so early. He ...
2
votes
1answer
74 views

How to phrase a request so “no” means “yes”, and vice versa

How can I phrase a request so an answer of "no" actually accepts the request, and "yes" declines the request?
1
vote
1answer
33 views

full length of the counter

What does "walk full length of the counter " mean? The original sentence is: "Where all these technologies in looking for the ideal partner err is in having to make one’s selection before walking the ...
0
votes
1answer
31 views

Difference in meaning between 'might be able' and can

Here's the text: 1)I’m not free this evening, but I might be able meet you tomorrow. 2)I’m not free this evening, but I can meet you tomorrow. Is the meaning the same?
0
votes
2answers
78 views

“That strikes one for me”…what's it mean?

What's the "one" mean here? Is this taken from baseball? Can the idiom be grammatically used in other persons besides the first?
2
votes
5answers
418 views

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

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" ...
0
votes
2answers
34 views
1
vote
1answer
29 views

How to understand “something agrees with someone”?

I was watching Friends S01E05. There is a piece of conversation i cannot understand very clearly - Monica Says,"Being dumped by you obviously agrees with her." Shouldn't it be "someone agree with ...
2
votes
1answer
32 views

New Strands of Research

What is the meaning of the phrase "new strands of research" in the following sentence: The last two decades have also seen the emergence of new strands of research on multilingualism which have ...
3
votes
1answer
46 views

Possible double negative sentence explanation

At nearly 450 pages, the novel is prolix : the author does not often resist the temptation to finish off a chapter, section, or even paragraph with some unnecessary flourish. Is the second ...
1
vote
1answer
42 views

What is the difference (if any) between common interests and interests in common?

Is there any difference between "common interests" and "interests in common"? One can certainly ask: "Do you have any interests in common?" Can you also ask: "Do you, guys, have any ...
1
vote
2answers
43 views
0
votes
1answer
57 views

“Positives changes on the cards” — meaning?

Positives changes on the cards in Nigeria. What does it mean? Is this correct usage? Usually I have read "positive". I think it makes a lot of difference whether we use "positives" or ...
0
votes
1answer
47 views

what does ranger redhead mean for Australians?

I heard this reference on the Bravo TV show "Watch What Happens : Live" when Andy was speaking to the Housewives of Melbourne. They were giving phrases to the guests that were things Australians say, ...
0
votes
4answers
58 views

is there a name for the concept of repetitive writing to improve handwriting?

When I was younger, some of the homework I had consisted in writing sentences several times to improve handwriting. In Spanish, I know this concept or action as "hacer planas". To give an idea. ...
0
votes
0answers
28 views

What does it imply : “you better do the same”?

I am a volunteer in feeding homeless people in Melbourne, Australia. Workers in the kitchen wash the dishes in soapy water and then they don't pour water on it to clean rather wipe them (while a foam ...
1
vote
1answer
88 views

Clarification on sarcasm/type of personality-stumped

I am hoping to get some help. I have always been told that I am the most sarcastic person people have ever met. After 20 years, I decided to dive a little deeper to see if I fit the definition. It ...
6
votes
4answers
355 views

What is the precise difference between “wince” / “flinch” / “grimace”?

Initially I started looking for the difference between winching and flinching and came to no real answer, as some sites defined the terms as synonymous with shirking away, then other searches resulted ...
5
votes
2answers
77 views

How did the archaic 'villein' transform into villain?

The word villain, as described by Google, comes form the archaic word villein. Here is the definition of villein: villein ˈvɪlən,-eɪn noun (in medieval England) a feudal tenant entirely ...
1
vote
2answers
74 views

“Go Green !” : Grammatical Analysis

I have been trying to see what is behind the hyped-up phrase "Go Green" and have asked friends to rephrase that buzz-word/cliche, but nobody has given me a satisfactory explanation of what it actually ...
7
votes
2answers
7k views

What is the definition of “hangry”?

Is hangry a real word? According to Collins Dictionary it means to be angry as a result of being hungry, but it seems far-fetched.
0
votes
1answer
56 views

How is the phrase “if not for…” used at the end of a sentence? [duplicate]

His works were brilliant in their understandability -- if not their wordiness. How would you structure a sentence if you wanted to say, that the understandability was brilliant but if you don't ...
1
vote
0answers
36 views

How is the phrase “if not for…” used at the end of a sentence? [closed]

Example: His works were brilliant in their understandability -- if not their wordiness.
2
votes
3answers
196 views

Can a sport team “clinch” a championship in the last regular season game?

This question gets into the subtle shades of meaning of the word clinch, in the context of sporting teams securing spots in the playoffs. My past experience hearing this term on television, or ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

Curtiosity and dretful

In The Elephant's Child by Rudyard Kipling he writes But there was one Elephant--a new Elephant--an Elephant's Child--who was full of 'satiable curtiosity, and that means he asked ever so many ...
0
votes
1answer
34 views

The Subject of a Participial Construction

The following passage is quoted from the article in Newsweek by Leah McGrath Goodman, titled "Thomas Piketty Says He Was Ambushed": [Financial Times’s economics editor Chris] Giles, in his ...
-2
votes
2answers
82 views

Why American use “I don't know” mostly [closed]

I've some american friends and in the answer of most of my questions that are quite important they answer me "i don't know..." Like when I ask: "Are you in love with her?" ans: "I don't know" ...
0
votes
4answers
12k views

What is the difference between translation and transliteration [closed]

It's always intrigued me what the difference is between these two terms. I can guess that translation is a contextual translation whereby the original foreign text is maintained with any language ...
0
votes
1answer
53 views

Along gender, race and ethnicity, and social class lines

Inequality in life expectancy exists within a given society along gender, race and ethnicity, and social class lines. What does along gender, race and ethnicity, and social class lines mean in ...
1
vote
2answers
63 views

What's the meaning of “line up”? [closed]

This is a quote from cracked.com: It's a long, grinding game(poker) of patience and attrition. And that's because it's all about tediously waiting for the percentages to line up in your favor -- ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

What does “Octotastic” mean?

I've seen people writing : "Have an Octotastic day!". I've tried to search online but no useful results. From the context I feel its a synonym for "fantastic". I couldn't see any details on usage of ...
0
votes
2answers
357 views

What’s the difference between “for” and “to” in “for/to many people”?

Given these two versions of a sentence: For many people, dogs are the best friends. To many people, dogs are the best friends. I have following questions: What is the difference between ...
2
votes
3answers
111 views

differentiating between all that and what

Original (extracted from the book The 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 ...
1
vote
4answers
92k views

What does “tool” really mean?

In this MSO question, the author refers to himself as sounding like a "tool". What does this mean? Specifically, the way it is used in the linked question implies that being a tool means being ...
1
vote
3answers
37 views

Convincing oneself that something is good

Sometimes we want to believe something so badly that we convince ourselves that it is true. Is there a term for this? Best
0
votes
1answer
110 views

In this sentence, what parts of speech are the words 'next' and 'last'?

Could someone please tell me what the word 'next' and 'last' are? I mean the word class. 'it's your turn next ish' 'I read the letters last ish' Thank you!
2
votes
1answer
47 views

Words describing relation to scope [duplicate]

I remember hearing two words, each describing a relationship to scope, or a containing set. I think they are prefixed with micro- and macro-, but am not certain (I'll call them 1 and 2). 1 ...
1
vote
1answer
81 views

Screaming darkness

What does "screaming darkness" mean? The context is as follows: Now the wind was rushing past him, carrying with it loose pieces of clothing, sheets of paper, food from the kitchen, anything ...
0
votes
0answers
29 views

Is it correct to say “greedy little mind” or “little greedy mind” or both? [duplicate]

I was watching ERB, and Tesla replied to Thomas Edison - "You couldn't handle my gifts with your greedy little mind". What if I say: "little greedy mind", what does it change on the meaning. Is it ...
4
votes
5answers
336 views

The difference between “it” and “he/she”

There seems to be a difference between these two pronouns besides the obvious one of animacy. I want to know if people agree or can point out the flaw in my thinking. I've been attempting to wrangle ...
-1
votes
3answers
91 views

Another expression for “drinking behavior” or “drinking habits”?

In other words, a member’s drinking behavior is influenced by observing his peers’ drinking behavior. To avoid repetition of drinking in this sentence, I need either one word for ...
4
votes
2answers
81 views

Which word or phrase describes a hotel room that is a stand-alone little building?

I know about the term "bungalow" to describe some hotel rooms, but if it's not a very tropical place, what's another word that can describe this type of room? The room is basically a little house… is ...
11
votes
4answers
54k views

Semantic difference between “engine” and “motor” [closed]

Is there a semantic difference between engine and motor? In some cases, would the use of one or the other word be technically incorrect?
1
vote
1answer
44 views

Is 'crewing' only about seamen?

Is 'crewing' mainly about seamen or can it also be used as a general synonym of staffing, hiring, recruiting, employing, etc? I want to use it in a sentence like 'the art of crewing' or 'crewing art' ...
0
votes
2answers
77 views

What is meant by “mercy your ears”?

Setup I'm asking this question because of a song lyric that I'm trying to make sense of: Lean my direction and mercy your ears Obviously, lyrics often do not follow the rules of grammar, and ...
1
vote
1answer
36 views

What does the “highs” and “lows” mean here?

It's in the lyrics of Will Young's song-Leave Right Now. Part of the lyrics below: I'm here so please explain Why you're opening up a healing wound again I'm a little more careful, perhaps it ...
0
votes
1answer
32 views

“OHS supervision log” meaning

I got a document related to construction working and among various staff I got this term. There were some safety measures and health certificates stuff related. I've found that OHS stands for ...
1
vote
1answer
43 views

“What are our numbers?”

How can I correctly ask a question like "What are our numbers?" meaning what are the number of people in the audience in comparison with number of people in some other audience.
13
votes
6answers
7k views

Something is “yay” big

I have heard expressions like "It was yay big" or "It was yay by yay." a couple of times now, always accompanied by a gesture indicating the size of something. Does anybody know where this word comes ...
0
votes
1answer
61 views

What's the meaning of, “Within 3 days of the 1st”? [closed]

A lease agreement reads, "If rent is not paid within 3 days of the 1st". Does that mean, the 1st + 3 days == the 4th is the final day to pay rent and the 5th day is in breach?