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

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0
votes
2answers
571 views

What does “to be caught in a controversy” mean?

Can I use something like "I am caught in a controversy" to express that I am witnessing and confused by the controversy between other entities?
5
votes
4answers
10k views

What is the correct definition and usage of “for all I know”?

I saw some sentences using this phrase "for all I know" but wasn't quite sure what is its exact definition and also whether a modal verb such as "could, may or might" expressing uncertainty must be ...
6
votes
4answers
1k views

Can “zealot” have a positive connotation?

A zealot is a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals. I have never seen this word used with positive connotation, but could it (without ...
3
votes
1answer
305 views

“He said, X” vs. “X, he said” vs. “X, said he”

I’ve long wondered how in reported speech, what sort of change in nuance is produced by switching around the normal order of the subject (that is, the speaker) and the “speech-related” verb (such as ...
3
votes
2answers
15k views

What is “narrative nonfiction”, exactly? Isn't every nonfiction narrative?

I came across the term “narrative nonfiction” in the New York Times article titled “What should children read?” (November 22). It seems to be a journalist’s and book editors’ favorite jargon from the ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

Usage of “matter” and “substance”

What is the difference between matter and substance? For example, are ice and water "the same matter" or "the same substance"? Dictionaries seem vague about the difference. For example, the Oxford ...
1
vote
0answers
36 views

Why can no-one say “no-one needs know”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why use “need not” instead of “do not need to”? In English, why could I say, "No-one need know" and not "No-one needs know". I would say, after all, "No-one needs to ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

What does the phrase “red rovering” mean? [closed]

What does the phrase "red rovering" mean? Here is the context: Over a decade ago, Billy Bob’s career began in the corporate world before red-rovering to agency life.
2
votes
1answer
220 views

“Accuse as” in comparison to “accuse of”

I stumbled upon this sentence: I accuse myself and others as having been irrational in the way we have been using statistics on a key notion of rationality. Is there a difference in ...
-2
votes
2answers
472 views

What does “Self-Sufficiency and Preparedness” mean? [closed]

When people talk about "Self-Sufficiency and Preparedness", I wonder what it mean specifically? I.e., in what aspects is self-sufficiency, and what is prepared? For example, this board at this ...
4
votes
1answer
25k views

Nerd vs. Geek vs. Dork [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which term correctly identifies those who enjoy programming/technology: “geek” or “nerd”? I'm somewhat perplexed on the usages of these terms. Most references appear an ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Is “immoral” in the act or the person?

I am grading papers and came upon the following sentence: "Candide becomes immoral..." It bothers me -- I am of the sense that a person can become amoral, but I'm not sure what it would mean for a ...
3
votes
2answers
124 views

“stopping to refill his cup when she did”

Consider the following sentence: She got up to get some of the coffee he had made, stopping to refill his cup when she did. What does the subordinate clause in this sentence mean? Does it mean ...
2
votes
5answers
10k views

Meaning of “all retch and no vomit”

I heard of the expression "all retch and no vomit" for the first time, and the references I could find by googling it are not really clear to me. Here is the context where I found it: What we are ...
3
votes
1answer
99 views

Should titles of people be translated?

Should titles of persons like (Mr., Herr, Sr...) be translated into English? For example: Herr Albert or Mr. Albert ?
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Understanding “Mother of God!” or “Holy Mother of God!”

I have come across this term numerous times and this expression is well used when something unbelievable or shocking happens but I don't understand how Mother of God can imply its meaning. Does refer ...
0
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “cup” mean in “cup of cheese”? [closed]

I was reading a recipe of macaroni-and-cheese. In Brazil (Portuguese) cheese is sold only by weight. I understand the concept of cups to measure volume or weight of liquids and powders, but as far as ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

What is the meaning of vice in “as in a vice”? [closed]

I'm having trouble finding a definition of vice that explains its usage in the following NYTimes article: The Monarch, no less boldly than her compeer, dashed among the rebel fleet, and singling ...
-2
votes
1answer
2k views

What does “nothing means anything” mean? [closed]

Can someone explain me the meaning of this phrase? I heard it in a song like: "I can show you that nothing means anything". I get the context, but can anyone explain me the meaning?
2
votes
2answers
233 views

Can “quarry” mean “notebook”?

I am looking for this definition because of the book Quarry for Middlemarch, which my lit professor said was George Eliot's notebook for all her research for her novel, but all of the definitions I ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Is “sound approach” an accepted phrase?

English is not my first language, and in my language (Bosnian) we write just as we speak ; so from time to time, I encounter phrases which I know I have heard before, but am not sure if I am writing ...
-1
votes
2answers
996 views

What do you mean by “in production form”?

The contexts of the usage of this phrase is given below. SAP Business Suite customers can now run the software in production form on Amazon Web Services, the companies announced this week during the ...
1
vote
1answer
412 views

Can someone please explain the following passage from Milton's Paradise Lost?

I understand all the words, but not quite the meaning of the following passage, from Milton's Paradise Lost, Book I: 635 For me be witness all the host of heaven, 636 If counsels different, or ...
0
votes
1answer
841 views

Explaining the comparative form of “numb” [closed]

The most common definition I have of numb is: "Deprived of the power of sensation." "Deprived of feeling or responsiveness." These definitions show up in nearly the same form in multiple ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

“miss at” vs “miss by”

I want to know the meanings of the following sentences: John missed at 50 yards. John missed by 50 yards. Does #1 mean that John missed (a mark? or what?) at the place 50 yards in front of ...
8
votes
6answers
2k views

“No head injury is too trivial to ignore”

I was looking at the book Introduction to Mathematical Thinking by Keith Devlin, and came across a question where the reader is asked to reformulate this sentence to avoid the unintended second ...
-3
votes
1answer
14k views

What does “evaluate” mean when used in Mathematical problems? [closed]

When solving Mathematical problems, I usually come across with titles like: Evaluate the expression below. Evaluate this: ∜[(log2(48 / 3) + 1)2 - 9] Evaluate the following integral. When I ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

What does “to look by” mean?

According to an article I read, the following sentences are roughly synonymous: He looked by the building. He looked past the building. I don't know what look by and look past mean. I found a ...
2
votes
1answer
5k views

What is a relish tray versus a veggie tray?

I have heard both of the terms "relish tray" and "veggie tray" used somewhat interchangeably. It seems as though there is some overlap between the two based on some simple Google Images searches ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

What does “ ’er” mean in this phrase? [closed]

What does ’er mean in the following phrase? Ear-bending disapproval from ’er indoors.
3
votes
6answers
52k views

Appropriate replacement of “nice to meet you” for online salutation?

I would like to use "nice to meet you" in an online email exchange but I feel that "meet" and "see" are not appropriate for online use. There is also a question about it. I have also read somewhere ...
3
votes
3answers
468 views

Odd usage of “penchant”

Penchant is synonymous with words such as "inclination" and "leaning." Does the sentence below correctly use the word "penchant"? Joe has a penchant against the UCLA Bruins.
0
votes
1answer
67 views

Can “that” have a meaning of “although”? [closed]

Can that have a meaning of although? For example, He was too sleepy even to be surprised that the people in the portraits along the corridors whispered and pointed as they passed.
1
vote
1answer
207 views

What does “nukulate” mean?

What does nukulate mean in the following sentence from a question on Cooking SE? Nukulate for 3 minutes on high.
-1
votes
1answer
64 views

“The data misses a desired object” vs. “a desired object is being missed in the data” [closed]

Do the following two sentences have the same meaning? If the data misses a desired object, then information relevant to that object do not exist in the database. If a desired object is being ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

“Anyone knows that” vs. “everyone knows that”

The context is as follows. I say that X is true. The (dismissive) response I receive is "Anyone knows that". Is that a complete sentence? Yes, it is grammatical. Yes,it has some semblance of ...
1
vote
3answers
3k views

Meaning of “well you done done me and you bet I felt it”

Well you done done me and you bet I felt it— Jason Mraz, I'm Yours What does the first sentence from this song mean?
0
votes
5answers
4k views

“Is of the view that” vs. “is of a view that” [closed]

Is there any significant difference in the meanings of sentence 1 and sentence 2 below? Mr. Jones is of a view that the project is unnecessary. Mr. Jones is of the view that the project is ...
1
vote
1answer
4k views

Sidenote, side-note, Side Note or Side note [closed]

So I've thought of a name for something, but cannot decide on how I should write it. In School, I vaguely remember someone saying "when you want to say something as one word, when it's really two ...
0
votes
1answer
321 views

Interpreting a clause beginning with “It would happen that…” [closed]

I have come across the following clause in "The Corrections" by Franzen: It would happen that the First and Second Notices were underground somewhere. I am not sure how to interpret this ...
13
votes
4answers
100k views

Meaning of “reach out to somebody”

The dictionary explains this as: To show somebody that you are interested in them and/or want to help them The explanation indicates the subject of the sentence is the one that offers help, but ...
0
votes
3answers
12k views

'of yet' and 'as of yet'

Can ‘of yet’ be used with the same meaning of ‘as of yet’? For example: Most importantly, he’s found footprints of dinosaurs that we haven’t found bones of yet. Does this mean the same thing as ...
0
votes
2answers
285 views

When to prepose an auxiliary in a sentence?

I read this at Time.com, and it's in the second line of the third paragraph. And wouldn’t you know it, their theory proved to be both true and statistically meaningful. I suppose it means "And ...
8
votes
5answers
668 views

What is the word for “a series of two related works”?

Here dilogy is defined as "a series of two related works". I can't shake off the feeling that there is a more commonly used word for this. Is there? If yes, what is it?
1
vote
1answer
536 views

Meaning of “My high kicks are not done in a line!”

My high kicks are not done in a line! The above sentence appeared as a legend in a T-shirt I saw once. It accompanied the caricature of a soccer player warming up, but I didn't get the pun ...
2
votes
0answers
844 views

Shakespeare: “Asses are made to bear” [closed]

When Petruchio invites Katherine to sit on his lap, she replies, "Asses are made to bear, and so are you." (Taming of the Shrew Act II, Scene 1.) The denotation is clear, donkeys (Equus africanus ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Meaning of “crossing someone”

What’s the meaning of cross in this sentence: She had a very stern face and Harry’s first thought was that this was not someone to cross.
-2
votes
1answer
76 views

What's the meaning of the 'had'? [closed]

Is this word, ‘had’ could be implying two ways, one is ‘owned’, the other ‘made’? [example] Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die.
-1
votes
2answers
769 views

Acceptation of “acceptation”

What may be the meaning of the word acceptation for general English usage? The Merriam-Webster lists primary definition as "1: acceptance; especially : favorable reception or approval" and follows ...
2
votes
3answers
280 views

What does “You can’t lead an organization whose case officers must be impervious to blackmail” mean?

Time magazine (November 9) carries an article dealing with the reason why the CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus had to resign under the caption, “Resignation at the CIA: Why Petraeus had to go.” There ...