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

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4
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2answers
156 views

Why are the buttons on computer keyboards called “keys”? [closed]

A computer keyboard is a board of keys. Why are these buttons called keys? Is it related to the usage of piano "keys"?
2
votes
1answer
53 views

What is proverbial town pump?

"Patrick Wethered was as well known as the proverbial town pump; his mysterious and tragic death filled all Dublin with dismay. The lawyer, who was a man sixty years of age, had been struck on the ...
-1
votes
1answer
42 views

Meaning of disposition

Is it correct to say "My disposition and dedication have become more rooted in this field"? What does disposition mean here? I looked it up in a dictionary, but still can't completely feel the ...
1
vote
1answer
39 views

What does Sovereign mean in this context?

How would you explain what "Sovereign General Insurance Company" means to a child? Does it literally mean: The ultimate/ruler general insurance company EDIT: Or is it just a name? Just like Joe's ...
1
vote
3answers
68 views

I'm stuck on finding a word to say “you can try anything” or “anything goes” [closed]

I'm stuck on finding a word to say "you can try anything" or "anything goes" - Thanks in advance homies :) For context, I mean a word to tell a street kid or poor child who goes to a grand buffet ...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

Is it common to refer to the person steering a ship as 'pilot'? [closed]

According to its M-W entry (supported by some other dictionaries), a pilot (used of a person) can mean, among other things: a : one employed to steer a ship : helmsman b : a person who is ...
2
votes
3answers
235 views

What is the meaning of “cop” in: “if London cops it, he'll cop it”?

What is the meaning of the text in bold: He says if London cops it, he'll cop it. And not to worry, Dad. I have found these meanings for cop in The Free Dictionary, but none of them seem ...
1
vote
1answer
31 views

Is “a-blink” an adjective form of “blink” in old days?

Under his breath, with a furtive exultation, he began once again the paean of victory and devastation. And presently his eyes were rewarded: out through that doorway came a long, low, ...
-1
votes
2answers
64 views

How do i know if the word is step or glide in English [closed]

today I have a lesson in school about steps and glides and i didn't understand it. My first question what are steps and glides? My second question is how do i know if the sentence ends with steps or ...
0
votes
2answers
85 views

what is the difference between verbal and oral? [closed]

what is the difference between verbal and oral ? I am looking forward to the answer and I appreciate your effort
1
vote
1answer
64 views

When do you use the plural of “medicine”?

Or in other words, I am asking: How do you "count" medicine? Is the word "medicine" like "gas" where a collection of gas is still called gas: The air was filled with nitrogen gas. Instead of: ...
5
votes
3answers
151 views

Using 'tedious' to mean 'annoying'

Some of my British friends use the word 'tedious' to mean 'annoying.' A recent example: The museums in Oslo aren't open on Mondays. That's a bit tedious. I'm a native American English speaker ...
0
votes
1answer
38 views

What is the meaning of “constituent” in this phrase?

Site Location : This is a process that organizations use to identify retail locations most suitable to the "constituent customer profiles ".
17
votes
3answers
2k views

What is this type of idiom called: “I know he's not the smartest person in the world, but…”

Basically, when someone says something along the lines of "I know he's not the smartest person in the world, but he should at least pass first grade math." It's peculiar because they are ...
0
votes
2answers
47 views

Are there any differences? - to buy x to purchase [closed]

Are there any differences between the meanings of "purchase" and "buy"? Thanks in advance.
1
vote
2answers
93 views

“I don't mistake” or “I don't make a mistake” Which one is correct? [closed]

I have a query about these sentences: If I do not mistake, she would be his fiancée ... but my teacher told me that it must be expressed in another way If I do not make a mistake, she ...
1
vote
1answer
31 views

Cannot understand sentence in preface to “Old Indian Legends” by Zitkala-Ša

I'm reading the preface to Old Indian Legends by Zitkala-Ša, originally published in 1901. My mother tongue is not English, and I am having some trouble understanding - in detail - what she actually ...
1
vote
5answers
143 views

a word for a person who never attains a desire or goal

Is there a word in English that describes a person who never attains a desire or goal? I have found loser or dud or flop but these all seem to be informal, is there a better, more formal word that ...
4
votes
3answers
232 views

Meaning of “all shelves about me towards the worse”?

"Here am I now upon my high place," he said to himself. "Life may be no better; this is the mountain top; and all shelves about me towards the worse. For the first time I will light up the ...
0
votes
3answers
66 views

What does “delinquent” mean in this context? [closed]

I'm more or less aware of the meanings of the word delinquent. However, I can't decide what it exaclty means in the following quote which is from god is not Great by Christopher Hitchens and where he ...
0
votes
1answer
59 views

“Charges levied” Actually a thing?

I am positive I've heard of "charges levied," as in "criminal charges brought against" (e.g. the sentence "The charge levied against my client is unfounded."). However, while searching for a ...
1
vote
2answers
60 views

On a shady street

I wonder what image does the expression'on a shady street'invoke in a native speaker if he or she comes upon following paragraph. "They were from a nice family in a nice house on a shady street. ...
0
votes
1answer
83 views

“How are we?” vs. “How are you?”

What's the appropriate response to "How are we?" and what is it actually referring to?
0
votes
1answer
72 views

Meaning of word “nicy” [closed]

Can you explain me the meaning of word "nicy"? I'm newbie in english, and I've already tried google translate, but I'm not sure. Maybe there is some informal forms, or other ways of using this word.
1
vote
1answer
32 views

What counts as a polearm?

Based on the definition, I would think both lances and spears are a type of polearm. However, in some cases, I have seen the word polearm used separately to lances or spears. For example, in the game ...
1
vote
2answers
62 views

Help on interpreting this sentence? [closed]

These same perspectives may contribute to a 'glass ceiling' prohibiting relationship-oriented (i.e. feminine) leadership behaviors from being integrated into organization management structures. I ...
1
vote
2answers
96 views

Single word that could mean three other words [closed]

I would like to know whether there's a word which could mean these 3 things: Support Like Congratulate I hoping to use it in my website for user's status. I would really appreciate if you could ...
1
vote
3answers
88 views

what does “First quality” mean?

My English teacher asked me what "First quality" means? No website on internet gives any definition of that term. is it correct to say like this? Starbucks is famous for its first quality coffee
0
votes
2answers
113 views

what is the meaning of “dry up and blow away” in this sentences?

"The Canadian flag's supposed to be a symbol of power... it's a leaf! Yeah, don't mess with us or we'll dry up and blow away!"-Jeremy Hotz Suppose that truth had simply dried up and blown away in the ...
1
vote
2answers
59 views

Difficult sentence strucure [closed]

His thesis works relatively well when applied to discrimination against blacks in the US, but his definition of racial prejudice as "racially-based negative prejudgements against a group generally ...
1
vote
3answers
90 views

Can someone help me to understand this difficult sentence structure?

Please help me to understand the following. I have difficulty with the passage that appears between the two dashes. Gutman argues convincingly that the stability of the Black family encouraged ...
2
votes
1answer
68 views

First wife vs. Former wife

Does one of the designations indicate that one of the partners is dead vs. divorced? First vs. Former
2
votes
1answer
97 views

What to call words with permanent prefix, but no unprefixed form? (ex: nonchalant, untoward) [duplicate]

What do you call prefixed words with no unprefixed counterpart? For example, there's no such thing as a "chalant person". Bad behavior may be "untoward", good behavior is never "toward". What are ...
1
vote
2answers
35 views

“Restricted in” [closed]

"Product has been restricted in: list of countries" Does this mean the product is available only in the countries listed, or not available in them? Thank you.
1
vote
1answer
80 views

Reading Comprehension Question: How to narrow down to correct answer? [closed]

Passage (Its a bit long) The pioneers of the teaching of science imagined that its introduction into education would remove the conventionality, artificiality, and backward-lookingness which ...
2
votes
2answers
61 views

Is the definition of a word also a synonym of that word? [closed]

When writing, you can substitute the definition of a word for a word and still make a correct (if more complicated) sentence. Does that make the definition of a word a synonym for the actual word ...
1
vote
1answer
45 views

“I consider that …” in place of “I think that…”

I often see people use the verb “consider” in place of “think” as in (a) “I consider that this project will be completed in three years,” (b) “We consider that this deficiency can be overcome ...
3
votes
3answers
143 views

What does “… which is somewhat long in tooth” mean, and what is the source of the phrase? [closed]

This is the complete sentence where I found it. It is from an online training about the Linux operating system. e4defrag is part of the e2fsprogs package and should be on all modern Linux ...
1
vote
1answer
66 views

What's the difference between “case by case” and “case to case”?

What's the difference between "case by case" and "case to case"? I often hear the former from my Japanese students. When I asked them where they got the phrase, they always say they learned it from ...
4
votes
2answers
83 views

What does “to-” in today, tomorrow, tonight mean?

As in the title. Does it mean anything? Does it mean the same thing in all of these words? What is its origin? Are there any other words with "to-"?
0
votes
1answer
34 views

Nobody would believe what an effort it is **to do what little I am able**,--to dress and entertain, and order things

Nobody would believe what an effort it is to do what little I am able,--to dress and entertain, and order things. (a part of "Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman) I don't ...
0
votes
2answers
61 views

Usage of *was going to do* [closed]

The following is an article by Patrick Wintour in The Guardian website. Miliband’s team admitted that they were slow to realise the danger. One close adviser admitted that he was initially ...
1
vote
1answer
52 views

Meaning of up front [closed]

I came upon this paragraph: Dennis was taken back to the jail. He carefully removed his new suit and put it on a hanger. A guard took it up front. I can not figure out what the guard did with ...
0
votes
1answer
32 views

If “propriety” is from the French for “property”, why is it now about proper comportment?

I was trying to reverse-translate a quote I mistakenly believed to be originally in French that I saw in English, so as to find the source. (It turned out to be from Jeremy Bentham.) In the process, I ...
1
vote
1answer
92 views

'Mental illness' or 'Mental disorder' or 'Mental condition'?

I was recently diagnosed with ADHD, and when talking about it, and other mental conditions like depression, bi-polar, schizophrenia, I'm wondering what term to use. Is there perhaps a distinction ...
0
votes
0answers
38 views

Burn a hole in the road?

my question is: In Marry The Night's lyrics, Lady Gaga sings "I'm gonna burn a hole in the road". Why is that? I've heard the expression "on the road" but not "in the road". I don't speak English ...
8
votes
4answers
158 views

“Come out with your hands up… and something with coconut” [closed]

English as a second language here. I'd like to ask why this quote from The Simpsons (from episode 9F20 "Marge in Chains") is funny and what it means. Chief Wiggum (to Marge, at the Kwik-E-Mart): ...
2
votes
1answer
67 views

What does “having a party piece” mean in the following content? [closed]

"That style of playing originally came from me and George [Harrison] having a party piece when we were kids, which was a piece by Bach. Full article ...
0
votes
3answers
117 views

What is the difference between “to curse” and “to swear at”?

Both of them mean to use bad words, but I don't know their differences. Please explain with some examples! Thanks!
8
votes
5answers
1k views

Is “I can't stop laughing” the same as “I can't help laughing”?

I know "I can't help laughing" means I can't stop myself from laughing. What I want to know is "I can't stop laughing"* also means the same. Thank you guys for helping me out especially prem, your ...