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

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1
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1answer
5k views

“Continuing” vs. “continued”

So, just a few minutes ago we had this question asking whether one could substitute ongoing availability with continuing availability and what the difference would be, if any. Apart from the question ...
5
votes
1answer
239 views

Equivalent for Dutch commode?

In Holland we use commode to indicate a dressing table or lowboy specifically for changing diapers and dressing a baby: The commode is usually ditched after the babies have grown out the diapers. ...
2
votes
5answers
1k views

Can we call something a “word” if it doesn't have a vowel? [closed]

It seems self-evident to me, but in the heat of a Scrabble game (no surprise), my opponent claimed that "sh" was a word. I think it's a diphthong, but the printed dictionary definition of "word" ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Meaning of “the couple that boops noses together in between makeout sessions and sweet nothings”

This is a sentence I've come across while reading 7 Things About Love That Make No Sense If you’re the couple that just stands on the sidewalk for extended periods of time and boops noses ...
12
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the origin of the word “conk”?

Is it obsolete to use this word? Where does it come from? I couldn't find the origin of this term. Can I use the phrase "The machine conked out" or should I replace conked out with something else?
2
votes
1answer
1k views

What does “principle” mean here?

What's the meaning of principle in this definition of soul from Dictionary.com as in body and soul? the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans, regarded as a distinct entity ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there a difference between “ascendants” and “ancestors”?

Without noticing myself, I've mixed the use of "ascendants" and "ancestors" in some documentation I've written. In an arbitrary hierarchy (of either people or things), what would be the most correct ...
-1
votes
1answer
144 views

Meaning of “strike dread” [closed]

What is the meaning of the phrase strike dread? I've encountered it many times.
3
votes
2answers
328 views

Meaning of “ant-industry”

In the English translation of Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West that I'm reading, they use the word ant-industry. I tried to google it and also used online dictionaries but found no answer to the ...
0
votes
2answers
321 views

Usage of “against” in “progress against our strategic objectives”

I have one more question concerning Lucy Kellaway’s 2012 Golden flannel Award . The another contender of the Preposition Award was a usage of against. The first was shown to advantage recently in ...
0
votes
2answers
104 views

“Proxime” vs. “proximate”

When should proxime and proximate be used? Can they be used both to mean spatial as well as temporal nearness? Are they being used differently in British and American English?
3
votes
1answer
328 views

“Chance of [gerund]” vs. “chance at [gerund]”

Which is correct? If you tell me the cause, I will have a better chance at fixing the problem. If you tell me the cause, I will have a better chance of fixing the problem. A quick ...
0
votes
3answers
359 views

What does “half try” mean?

From Steinbeck's Cannery Row, Doc was almost supernaturally successful with a series of lady visitors. He didn’t half try. Does it mean that Doc did not do anything to win hearts of these ...
4
votes
4answers
7k views

“I'm debating” instead of “I'm in a dilemma”

I have noticed many people say "I'm debating" when they mean they are in a dilemma between two choices. I always thought that to debate means discussing different view points between two individuals, ...
2
votes
1answer
252 views

Practical meaning of “Sale”

Its not uncommon that you walk on the street you see there are big malls hanging big billboard containing only "Sale". Sometimes, Summer Sale, Winter Sale. In every case you get XX% price off there. ...
4
votes
4answers
473 views

Usage of “to” in “I've got some slides to talk to”

In Lucy Kellaway’s 2012 Golden flannel Award, the Preposition Award is given to a usage of to. But the winner is the innocuous word “to” as increasingly heard in presentations: “I’ve got some ...
-2
votes
4answers
877 views

“Music preference” or “music preferences”?

What is the difference between preference and preferences? Does it matter if one uses singular or plural in the following sentences: The effect of music on test-taking ability greatly depends ...
2
votes
4answers
258 views

Can “conceived” be used as “assumed”?

For example: Jack thinks he's responsible for killing his mother and thus for his uncle’s conceived hatred towards him. Here, I mean to say that Jack assumes his uncle hates him (of course, ...
23
votes
1answer
1k views

What does “his A and C” mean?

From Steinbeck's Cannery Row, The nice bouncer at the Bear Flag threw out a drunk, but threw him too hard and too far and broke his back. Alfred had to go over to Salinas three times before it was ...
6
votes
1answer
10k views

Is it all right to use “in hopes of” to mean “with the aim of”?

Recently I browsed through the definition of hope in New Oxford American Dictionary (provided by Apple in the dictionary app) to double confirm with its usage as I answered a word-choice question and ...
6
votes
3answers
404 views

What is the exact equivalent to “daylight ghost’?

I came across the word, “daylight ghost” in the following sentense of the fiction titled “The Lost Order” appearing in January 7 New Yorker magazine. “I have not always – had not even long – been ...
5
votes
7answers
7k views

What does “mechanical” mean here?

The definition of fasteners as stated from Wikipedia is: a hardware device that mechanically joins or affixes two or more objects together. Is the definition of mechanical here sense 10 from ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

“It was my birthday yesterday” vs. “My birthday was yesterday”

Is there a difference between the following sentences? It was my birthday yesterday. My birthday was yesterday. When should I use "it was something yesterday/a few days ago/..." and when ...
5
votes
2answers
32k views

What is the meaning of 'catharsis' in a tragedy?

First of all, I'm aware of the Greek origin of the word. I have looked this word up in a dozen different dictionaries but I still don't quite understand what a catharsis is. A definition: ...
5
votes
3answers
234 views

Is it safe to use “old” to mean “previous” for a person?

Is it safe to use "old" to mean "previous" or "former" for something like "my old teacher"? Or is it a bit risky, because "old" also has a meaning with respect to age (i.e., chronologically gifted)? ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the meaning and usage of the abbreviation “v. a.”?

At the time of this writing there is no explanation on wiktionary, and searching the web does not yield an answer, only more instances of its use: A random entry at the Etymological Dictionary of ...
4
votes
1answer
172 views

Metaphoric meaning of Hitchhiker’s?

There is a book named "Infinite Dimensional Analysis: A Hitchhiker’s Guide". I was wondering what "Hitchhiker’s" means as a metaphor in general?
1
vote
3answers
485 views

What's the meaning of “on a comparable basis”?

I'm not a native English speaker and I'm having a hard time trying to translate it. What could be the definition for "on a comparable basis"? Edit: Here's the context in which I've encountered it: ...
0
votes
1answer
6k views

Why does “I ain't doing nothing” translate to “I am doing nothing”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “I ain’t got no money” Why does the phrase "I ain't doing nothing" mean "I am doing nothing"? According to me, "I ain't doing nothing" should translate to "I am not ...
2
votes
1answer
10k views

What is the difference between “synergistic” and “synergetic”?

What is the difference between "synergistic" and "synergetic"? I believe they both speak of the cooperation of multiple things to produce an output, but how do they differ?
1
vote
4answers
298 views

Can you use “procure” to mean “think of”?

He procured a proper way to fix his relationship. He thought of a proper way to fix his relationship. Are those equivalent? Is the use of "procure" here unnatural and weird? Or does it work ...
0
votes
1answer
277 views

What does “kind of edge” mean? [closed]

From Steinbeck's Cannery Row, If one of you fellas wants to kind of edge into my cellar without my wife seeing you, they’re on top of the side stringer on the left-hand side as you go in.
2
votes
2answers
505 views

Meaning of “hammer a socket on it and pop it off”

In a discussion on a pick-up truck car wheel theft, one person gave an advice to the victim that he "should have bought some locking lugs". This advice was disapproved by someone else in the ...
-3
votes
2answers
8k views

Only then or then only?

I am not a native speaker. I have seen people at my place uses similar kinds of sentences interchangeably. If he comes, only then I will go. If he comes, then only I will go. Which of these ...
1
vote
5answers
10k views

What is the difference between “clearance” and “sale”?

I want to understand the difference between clearance and sale. So are these words synonyms or not? E.g. Receive 60–90% off CookiesKids Clearance from Cookie's Kids. Receive 50–85% off After ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

“In the next ten minutes” vs. “for the next ten minutes”

I am planning to do it in the next ten minutes. I am planning to do it for the next ten minutes. Do the two sentences mean the same thing? I am sure using for is correct, but I want to ...
4
votes
2answers
29k views

Can “alma mater” refer to any school you’ve graduated from, not just college? [closed]

I was wondering whether alma mater refers to all the schools you have been in, or just to college. For example, suppose someone has an undergranduate degree from one institution, a masters degree ...
1
vote
1answer
125 views

Can I say “across” in the next two situations?

Can I say “across” in the next two situations? If I sailed the Pacific from Japan to America, making a detour by way of an island, can I say “I went my way across to America from Japan?” If ...
4
votes
1answer
325 views

What is the meaning of “blinkers on and a case of Red Bull”?

One of my developer wrote to me in chat, please tell LK that you need your blinkers on and a case of Red Bull. (Here LK is the name of my senior.) What does "need blinkers on and a case of Red ...
2
votes
3answers
913 views

What does “patent rocker” mean?

From Steinbeck's Cannery Row, He sat heavily in the patent rocker that was his and shucked off his wet tennis shoes. A rocker is a chair. But what is a "patent rocker"?
2
votes
1answer
164 views

Not a synonym, but what?

I am looking for a word that describes the relationship between two words that are not the same, are not used in lieu of the other, but are related in what they refer to. Example, storm/monsoon. ...
0
votes
3answers
419 views

What's the meaning of “hit” here?

How do you define hit here in this comment, does it mean attack? This comment was made by a poster in response to a discussion on car wheel thefts. New model Chevy rims are hot as f-k, every ...
3
votes
1answer
611 views

What is it called when punctuation changes the meaning of a sentence?

Is there a word describing a sentence whose meaning is changed by moving the punctuation? For example, Let’s eat, Mommy! and Let’s eat Mommy!
0
votes
2answers
1k views

What does it mean “It’s funny how you get a run”? [closed]

...the boys were sitting around in the Palace sipping the result of Eddie’s latest contribution. Gay was there too, the latest member of the group. Eddie sipped speculatively from his glass and ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Is there a difference between “depressive” and “depressing”?

Is news depressing or depressive? In what situations would you use these two words? According to dicionary.com: depressive - tending to depress depressing - serving to depress; inducing a ...
1
vote
3answers
880 views

What's the meaning of “hood” here?

What's the meaning of hood in this comment? Is it neighbourhood, or it's a slang for something else? Cutler Ridge (they renamed it to Cutler Bay now wtf) has been hood for a long time. We used to ...
8
votes
1answer
384 views

Why is the word “misadventure” not “misventure”?

I came across a news article mentioning a coroner's diagnosis of death as "death by misadventure". And I wondered what the word misadventure actually meant. Here's the dictionary definition : ...
2
votes
1answer
589 views

“Irony” vs. “happenstance”

If I were to leave my country because there is a high chance that I will get shot here, and then got shot in the country I immigrate to, would that be ironic or a happenstance?
2
votes
1answer
103 views

What is the “Wire Service Era”?

In a CBS sports article, I read this sentence: Alabama wrapped up its 10th national championship of the wire service era, winning its third national championship in four years with a 42-14 ...
-2
votes
1answer
274 views

The meaning of “crime and grime” [closed]

What does the expression crime and grime mean? It was mentioned from this comment: My dad's SUV got jacked when I was living in Saga Bay. Don't live in FL anymore. Too much f-king crime and grime. ...