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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (6)

3
votes
5answers
8k views

Difference between “to enhance” and “to improve”

What is the difference between the verbal synonyms "to enhance" and "to improve"? Do they have exactly the same meaning?
4
votes
5answers
1k views

Looking for the opposite of “drill down”

I am a programmer working on a chart component that allows to drill down on selection of a node. Drilling down will show the details of that node (like its children etc.). But I am struggling to find ...
1
vote
2answers
258 views

Multiple Instances of Same Noun: Does the use of “that” distinguish between them?

Consider the following sentence taken from some co-operative housing rules: "Any costs of repairing a suite are the responsibility of the owner of a suite, which could be a different suite from ...
3
votes
1answer
8k views

Do “I guess” and “I would say” have the same meaning?

I often read sentences where the idea is "I would say" but it starts with "I guess". For example: I would say he is not coming. I guess he is not coming. Do both have the same meaning?
14
votes
2answers
474 views

Meaning of “cry creek” and “cock of the game”

I'm reading an excerpt from John Lyly (1554–1606), and there are some phrases that I can't find anything about on the net or elsewhere. Here is the context: Though Cutio be as hot as a toast, yet ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

What does “get down with the kids” or “be down with the kids” mean? [duplicate]

To show how “down with the kids” she was. He sounds like someone’s dad trying to “get down with” the kids. Can somebody tell me what “down with” means in these sentences?
-2
votes
1answer
163 views

“Aims” vs. “objectives”

Is there a difference between aims and objectives?
3
votes
3answers
268 views

What is ‘Academy Award speeches are “metaphysical impossibility" for most of us in plain English?

Time magazine (February 21) carries the article dealing with the exclusivity and subtlety of the Academy Award speeches under the title, “Science analyzes the Academy Awards speech.” In it, I’m ...
-1
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “well regulated” mean, and could it have meant anything different in the past? [closed]

What does "well regulated" mean? Especially in relation to, say, a militia? Would this definition have been different some years ago - say in 1776?
2
votes
3answers
187 views

What are the uses for 'quick'?

Is the word quick ever used in reference to candles eg the quick of the candle? I know about the quick of the nail and obviously about the wick of a candle but I have a memory of the quick too being ...
6
votes
1answer
205 views

Meaning of “Let us hit with him, and not miss with him”

I'm reading one of Sir Philip Sidney's prose essays, "An Apology for Poetry" and I bumped into the following phrase which I never heard of. Can anyone please help me with it? Yet will some bring ...
-3
votes
1answer
375 views

What does “If you’re not chicken” mean? [closed]

In a technical text, I read that author at the end of article says: If you’re not chicken, do it now! What means If you’re not chicken?
-1
votes
2answers
3k views

“Be accepted to” vs. “be accepted onto”

Do these variations mean anything different, or is one more correct? I have been accepted onto a course at the University of Stack Exchange I have been accepted to the Masters programme Are ...
0
votes
2answers
736 views

What is the opposite of “usage”?

I am looking for a word which meaning is the opposite of "usage". The context is the use of devices of any sort. The best I've come up with so far is to look at the situation from the devices ...
12
votes
4answers
2k views

Does “the N-word” have implications other than a word used for racial discrimination?

The New York Times (February 21) carried an article introducing the travelling exhibition of “The Cyrus Cylinder and Ancient Persia” to the U.S. at the Smithsonian, Metropolitan Museum, Asian Art ...
2
votes
1answer
893 views

“On Tap” in the Sense of “Coming Up”

Starting with the Fifth Edition (1936), seven generations of the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary have included (under the entry for tap) three definitions of "on tap," currently worded as ...
-1
votes
2answers
711 views

Meaning of “Meeting agenda”

I don’t really understand what a meeting agenda is. I don’t know if it is possible to use meeting agenda when you have to register all the topics (conclusions, ideas, members, date, etc.) of the ...
3
votes
1answer
179 views

Meaning of vitative(ness)

I've seen the word vitativeness used in a book about the history of writing, referring to a list of descriptive words written in 1900. Vitative(ness) is not in my Oxford dictionary, nor ...
6
votes
5answers
6k views

“When I'm sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead”

In "How I met your mother" TV series, there is a character Barney Stinson, who is the author of this semi-popular quote: When I'm sad, I stop being sad and be awesome instead. [sic!] Obviously, ...
-1
votes
1answer
78 views

What is the difference between “Distribution Worker” and “Distributing Worker”? [duplicate]

I cannot differentiate when I should use a noun like "distribution" as an adjective to another noun, or when should I use an "-ing" participle as an adjective. Could you please clarify the differences ...
4
votes
3answers
702 views

What does ‘Point Omega’ mean? Is it becoming a popular English word?

I found the word ‘Point Omega’ in the article of New York Times (February 17) titled “My life with boxes” written by Anne Biattie, the author of recent work “New Yorker stories,” who loves to collect ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

“Except for” vs. “except on”

I want to say that I have time to do the homework only on Sunday and on no other day. So can you help me choose which of the following sentences are considered idiomatic and common for native ...
-1
votes
1answer
2k views

About the word “casual” [closed]

According to what I knew and I have found on the web, in general the word casual is the opposite of everyday. But in the special case when it refers to clothing, it has a similar meaning to "everyday ...
-1
votes
1answer
79 views

Usage of “flock” for a singular subject

Turned on by by his pheromones, she flocked to him. Can we use flock when we have a singular subject? What might be a better alternative to the verb? Something like ran, but with a connotation ...
0
votes
1answer
191 views

Can “refute” be used with “that” clauses, and if so, what is the meaning?

I refute that A is B. If this structure is ok, which of the following does it mean: I argue that A is not B. I argue against some other position (such as X is Y), by arguing that A is B.
-2
votes
1answer
99 views

to look into to find vs to look up? [closed]

Considering the two following sentences : List directories to look into to find ml files. List directories to look up ml files. The number 1 is the original one, the number 2 is the ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the meaning of “at its discretion”?

What does "at its discretion" mean in the following sentence? Dual Gadgets undertakes, at its discretion and cost, to repair or replace defective equipment covered by warranty in 3.b., provided ...
0
votes
1answer
425 views

In the phrase “common sense”, in what sense of the word is “common” used?

As I understand it, there are several definitions of common, but I can't find any source that can highlight the etymology of the phrase. The linked definitions are pretty rigorous, but a less strict, ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

What is the origin of the idiom “have been had”?

I know the meaning of "have been had" is "been cheated". What is the origin of this idiom? It is really special in the sense that none of the individual words in this idiom convey the meaning of ...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

Interpreting “not bad”

In conversations people often use "not bad". How to interpret this? Are they feeling good or just not bad or somewhere in the middle? Does it depend on the context? E.g.: X: How are you doing ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Can “as soon as” ever mean “immediately after”?

Does as soon as mean "immediately after" in the following sentence? He got home as soon as 2 hours. I know that this could be a tad messy without context, but I found it as an example with the ...
1
vote
2answers
5k views

“much too [something]” vs “too much [something]”

Which are the differences in meaning and usage between the two expressions "much too [something]" and the most common "too much [something]"? Are they completely interchangeable? i.e.: "much too ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Meaning of word “ford” in combination with “hurdle”

First and foremost I'm not from an English speaking country hence the question. When reading Wikipedia's article about Dublin it says that the meaning of original Irish name for Dublin is town of ...
1
vote
1answer
189 views

Raising a letter of credit

What does raise mean in the following sentence? The Letter of Credit to be raised as soon as possible after the Contract signature. Does it mean collecting the money? Or something else?
-1
votes
2answers
530 views

The Present Perfect vs The Past Tense in English [closed]

Would you agree that the present perfect is used more than the past tense by native speakers to emphasize the situation at hand? Some languages, like Arabic and Japanese, use the simple past much ...
1
vote
1answer
302 views

Meaning of “broken off short”

What does "the handle broken off short" mean when referring to an axe? Does it mean the handle is broken off and it is a little far from the rest, or that it is broken close to the axe and there is ...
-2
votes
1answer
2k views

What is the difference between “combine A with B” and “combine A and B”? [closed]

I wonder the difference between combine A with B and combine A and B so that I can use the phrase correctly. Thanks a lot!
2
votes
4answers
2k views

“Hold Out Promise” vs “Make a Promise”

Is "hold out a promise" the same meaning as "make a promise"? Or did I misunderstand them? I found definitions for "make a promise", but couldn't find definitions for "hold out a promise".
2
votes
2answers
997 views

Can 'domestic animal' mean 'livestock'?

Is it correct to use 'domestic animal' instead of 'livestock' (cattle)?
-1
votes
1answer
169 views

How do you stop using “you” in every question? [closed]

I post questions on stackexchange sites and I'd like them to sound more professional. However, they usually start like this: How do you.... How can I make my questions sound more professional? ...
0
votes
4answers
3k views

Does “very much the same” have the same meaning as “identical”?

Do the words "very much the same" have the same meaning as "identical" or do these words imply that it's almost identical, but not totally?
1
vote
1answer
174 views

What is the meaning of “He was a myth made man”?

I can't understand the meaning. Is it "He was a mythical person" or "He was a myth that became a man"?
2
votes
2answers
141 views

State of being in a particular shape

Are there single words describing the "state of being in a particular shape"? [For Example: "State of being Cylindrical" ]
-2
votes
1answer
2k views

“brush something up” vs. “brush up (on something)”: What is the difference?

For example, we have two sentences: I need to brush my French up a little bit. I need to brush up my French. and I need to brush up on my German. My German is weak. I had better brush ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

Meaning of “My friend, who lives in Paris, is a teacher” with and without commas

Can anyone help me understand the difference in meaning between these two sentences? My friend who lives in Paris is a teacher. My friend, who lives in Paris, is a teacher. To me it ...
4
votes
3answers
10k views

Origin of street names ending in “-hurst”

There is a large number of streets in the UK whose names end in -hurst, for example Ravenhurst, Gathurst, Oakhurst, Amhurst, Bonehurst, Eaglehurst, etc. Is there a common meaning for this -hurst ...
1
vote
2answers
6k views

Does the word “Vaccum” exist?

If yes, does it have the same meaning of vacuum? Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum http://www.vaccum.org/ Both the sites define the same meaning, but the spelling differs. Some ...
6
votes
5answers
20k views

Does “turning down the air conditioning” make it warmer or colder?

As the title says, I've heard two possible meanings for turning down the air conditioning: It could mean set the target temperature lower (i.e. colder) or make it work less (i.e. warmer). Turning ...
2
votes
5answers
425 views

How can you distinguish between different meanings of the verb “to know” in English?

I work in an industrial setting. Today I had a conversation with my coworkers in which we discussed that another group knew that our group has requirements that they were not going to meet based on ...
1
vote
0answers
463 views

What would be the best answer for ( happy birth day wish you all the best )? [closed]

What would be the best answer for ( happy birth day to you , wish you all the best )?