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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (6)

7
votes
3answers
738 views

Does “speak in a low voice” refer to volume/loudness or to pitch?

Does the low in "speak in a low voice" or "he said in a low voice" refer to the volume/loudness or to the pitch? Does it mean quiet, or low-frequency? EDIT: After understanding from your answers that ...
1
vote
1answer
88 views

Help with understanding the phrase “to the effect” in this context

What does to the effect mean in this sentence? Consider suppositions to the effect that someone is supposing something.
3
votes
1answer
146 views

Meaning of “bile” from Great Expectations

In the book Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the character Joe tells Pip, “Somebody must keep the pot a biling, Pip, or the pot won’t bile, don't you know?” What does the word bile mean in ...
2
votes
2answers
61 views

(almost solved) “all I had to see me through”: Explain & how to look up?

Edit: Supplemented "through" in the title. I tried an intermediate summary after the original questions. It seems that "all I had to see me" simply means "all I had", or "all that was available for ...
4
votes
2answers
572 views

Meaning of 'a third leg'

When Dr. Barclay was called, I was surprised. I had expected an elderly man, but he was only in the late thirties and good-looking. Knowing Elinor, I wondered. Except for Fred, who had no looks ...
3
votes
1answer
217 views

What does “Emergency blame game” on Iraq mean?

New Yorker magazine (June 14) reports as follows under the headline, “Senator, John McCain calls for emergency blame game on Iraq.”: “Citing the deteriorating situation in the war-torn nation, ...
2
votes
1answer
91 views

What does “reputation-bibbing” mean?

I read this sentence: "In all his writing (and, apparently, conversation) [Roy] Jenkins loved reputation-bibbing, loved all kinds of ranking, especially of politicians." What does ...
0
votes
1answer
49 views

Does this sentence “iPhone 2G has Photo Geotagging capacity of No” make any sense? [closed]

Ok, this is the original sentence: iPhone 2G does not have Photo Geotagging capacity. I want to rewrite it as iPhone 2G has Photo Geotagging capacity of No. So my question is does the sentence ...
0
votes
2answers
54 views

Connotations of “have you ever thought about…”

I recently had an argument with a friend around the question "have you ever thought about something?" The question was asked in the context of exploring some life possibilities, such as buying a ...
-3
votes
1answer
43 views

Using longest word in context [closed]

I came across with the following word antidisestablishmentarianism How do you pronounce this word, meaning and how can i use this word in a context? Thanks
0
votes
2answers
389 views

Too many commas in Harry Potter

The Harry Potter and Philosopher's Stone starts with the line - "Mr and Mrs Dursely, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. " Hasn't J.k. ...
0
votes
2answers
47 views

Can “texting” include emails?

Texting is a word for sending a text message via the Short Message Service (SMS) and available in cell phone services now, distinguished from email. But I would like to know how strictly you use ...
1
vote
4answers
60 views

Any differences between “The police observed the man entering the bank.” and “The police observed the man enter the bank. ”

Are there any differences between "The police observed the man enter the bank." and "The police observed the man entering the bank. " Does sentence one mean that the police observed the whole process ...
0
votes
1answer
66 views

Is “Arriving late to the party, but dancing on all the clichés” an adaptation of a cliché?

Yesterday’s (June 12) New York Times introduced Guggenheim’s new ventures of collecting artworks from South and South east Asia, Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America, which it has paid little ...
3
votes
2answers
66 views

Does “Asbestos sandwich” have nuances of bad health?

In "Clive James in Japan", part 2, which was created in 1986, James says during a bullet train ride that he doesn't know whether he's buying smoked ham or a pair of tights, but that it can't taste ...
5
votes
1answer
85 views

what is a word to describe a word-snob [duplicate]

I can't think of the word that describes a word snob and use of the word pretty much proves you are one. Anybody?
0
votes
1answer
43 views

Meaning of ' as long as you fed him, he would be cooperative' [closed]

About the meaning of the sentence 'as long as you fed him, he would be cooperative': (1) The clause 'as long as you fed him' is about past or present one? (2) Depending on the above, the 'would' at ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

What's the metaphorical meaning of “Tone-deaf”?

I understand the literal meaning of "Tone-deaf". As Wiktionary puts it: Unable to clearly distinguish the difference in pitch between different notes. But what's the metaphorical meaning? As ...
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
120 views

What's the exact meaning of “flat eyes”?

In the American novels, there are a lot of expression of this 'flat eyes'. Seemingly not very favorable expression, but what's this phrase insinuating exactly? I am not a native speaker of English. ...
-2
votes
3answers
171 views

Can I treat “of course” and “of course not” like “yes” and “no”?

Which of these two expressions is correct? 1) Of course not, I am here. 2) Of course not, I am not here. For example: Yes, he is a boy The word "yes" emphatically introduces a ...
0
votes
3answers
112 views

When to use point vs dot?

I was wondering when should I use point instead of dot and vice-versa... Could anyone help me with that? Thanks :) In the sentence I had to write that made me think about this, I was going to say that ...
0
votes
1answer
38 views

What does a disciplinary frame mean?

When writing an introduction, its important to orient readers in terms of disciplinary frame - what does this mean?
7
votes
4answers
902 views

He is in his room 'with a book'/'with a table'

(1) He is in his room with a book. (2) He is in his room with a table. Why does (2) sound strange even if it has the same grammatical structure of (1), which works perfectly.
1
vote
2answers
49 views

How to interpret “Top N except A,B,C”

If someone were to ask you to name the top N things/people etc. except for some (that would be in the list, otherwise) then what would you reply with? To illustrate this question properly, I will ...
0
votes
1answer
61 views

What does “contact drivers” mean?

I have a document like training manual for troubleshooting networking, and one section in it has a title "Contact Drivers". Since this troubleshooting does not talk about device drivers at all, I ...
2
votes
1answer
68 views

An archaic form?

I'm reading an abridged version of The Age of Innocence (i.e. reader) and I came across the following sentence: "(...) and [she] made what people thought was a most foolish marriage to Julius ...
2
votes
2answers
127 views

Can “heart and mind” be applied to a person, not to a group of people?

I was drawn to the word, “hearts-and-minds diplomacy” in New York Time’s (June 8) article titled, “From China, With Pragmatism.” written by an American Fulbright lecturer living in Beijing: At a ...
1
vote
2answers
66 views

What does “negotiate with” mean?

Marginal populations often negotiate with policies and practices of social exclusion for rights and protections. What's the meaning of negotiate with in this context? Does it mean "to cope ...
0
votes
2answers
34 views

what's the meaning of “to place on the edge of”?

what's the meaning of "to place on the edge of"? Important for understanding displacements and borderlands associated with global transformation is growing insecurity as the “free market” devalues ...
-1
votes
2answers
56 views

what is the meaning of “shrink with intimacy”

what is the meaning of "shrink with intimacy"? Borderlands are where the space between two individuals shrinks with intimacy is it meaning that it cause friendship between people
0
votes
1answer
31 views

Is "moral implication appropriate here? [closed]

Now I am going to trace back this historical process in order to further illuminate on the moral implications of “bonds” and“constants”. The context is Chinese ethics. "bonds" and "constants" have ...
1
vote
2answers
97 views

Alternative Meanings of “Don't waste time with…”

Consider the phrase "Don't waste time with American literature." Is it legitimate to interpret it as meaning, spend your time cautiously while reading American literature, and don't spend too much ...
0
votes
1answer
43 views

Confusing mealtimes

In "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens, when Pip returns after his meeting with the escaped convict, how come it says that he had dinner right afterwards? Did he skip lunch? Or did his meeting ...
1
vote
2answers
51 views

Is “can exceed up to X” some form of colloquialism?

I ran into a sign that said "Fines can exceed up to $500". I have no idea what this means. Is the fine capped at $500? or can it exceed $500? In an attempt to understand what is going on I ran a ...
1
vote
3answers
79 views

Degree Certificate and Diploma

I am hoping to apply to a master's program in the USA. They ask for a "Diploma/Degree Certificate", but I don't really know what that means. When I looked for the definition I found only "Degree", as ...
1
vote
2answers
96 views

What is the story behind the word “Mahjong”?

What is the story behind the word Mahjong? Google says "sparrows", but is that accurate and why sparrows? Other results seem to be vague or non-descriptive at best. It boggles my mind that the word ...
0
votes
0answers
44 views

'I don't get no money' - how is this correct [duplicate]

I was chatting with a friend when he said 'I don't get no money' - he was referring to some work he was doing. This usage of language confused me. I have come across phrases like this in movies and ...
1
vote
2answers
190 views

What does “Don’t squat with your spurs on” mean?

My friend e-mailed me a couple days ago a dozen of cowboys’ proverbs included in the book titled, “Don’t squat with your spurs on” by Texas Bix Bender. Though I presume this proverb (Don’t squat ...
-1
votes
1answer
67 views

the meaning of “pretty happening”

What does "they're pretty happening" mean in the following sentence? “These soccer players, they’re pretty happening,” the men’s designer Todd Snyder said. “David Beckham really set the bar. He paved ...
4
votes
3answers
264 views
+100

crazy as a pet coon under a red wagon

Has anyone else heard this phrase? I heard it growing up in western Kansas and have always wondered where it came from. My brother in law would say, "That dog is a as crazy as a pet coon under a red ...
0
votes
2answers
65 views

Does “you don't want X” mean “I don't recommend X to you”?

Quite often I read exchanges like this: — I want [something], I tried this and that but still no luck, how can I do that? — You don't want [it]. An example: example. I'm Russian, and this ...
3
votes
5answers
406 views

Is the word “classless” neutral in its implication, or does it have a derogatory tone?

I was drawn to the word, “classless” in Carolyn Hax’s answer to a reader in the counseling corner of Washington Post (June 7), which comes under the title, “How do you get back at a loudmouth? By ...
0
votes
1answer
29 views

What is the meaning of “fairly”, “no going” and “going in” in this context?

The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the side of the hill - The Hill, as all the people for many miles round called it – and many little round doors opened out ...
0
votes
3answers
65 views

What is the difference between “universal” and “generic”?

I hear lots of time the words universal and generic being used in similar contexts (especially in software engineering) - what is the difference between them?
0
votes
2answers
58 views

What is the proper use of the word “state of the art”? [closed]

I am a bit confused with using the phrase state of the art. Is the following usage correct? My motivation relies on the fact, discussed above, that there is little global state of the art ...
19
votes
2answers
3k views

Where is great in “Great Britain” coming from?

Is it just because of the colonial history of Britain?
0
votes
1answer
27 views

Not too much run it on

Mother has the house in Wallingford,” Marion said, “and not too much to run it on, when Fred’s school bills have been paid. I had a little capital of my own, enough to keep me while I was learning ...
7
votes
1answer
115 views

Are “was/were able to” and “could” interchangeable?

In a grammar book, the claim was made that in the following sentences one cannot substitute "was/were able to" with "could." The fire spread through the building very quickly, but everyone was ...
0
votes
2answers
76 views

What does “rooster tail”(ing) mean?

"The Winnebago galumphs across the landscape, scattering cows. It catches a wheel and sprays a rooster tail of red dirt." "catches a wheel"? And "rooster tail"? If "Catches a wheel" means the ...