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
3answers
316 views

Confused with Present Participle + Noun pattern, does the “copied file” refer to the “original file”?

Patterns: Past Participle + Noun In my understanding Past Participle + noun means the action applied to the noun as follows: He murdered a little girl = The little girl was murdered by him. The ...
4
votes
5answers
333 views

What could be an alternative word implying 'to endorse someone'?

On professional social network sites (like LinkedIn) there are terms like 'recommend someone' or 'endorse someone'. What could be an alternative term that is somewhat lighter in meaning as compared to ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

What does “Five times over!” mean here?

I came across a sentence while reading Newspaper and I'm wondering what does the sentence mean in this context. This news article completed with the sentence Five times over!. What does it mean ...
10
votes
5answers
9k views

“If” vs “Only if” vs “If and only if”

If I said: Yell only if I fall. Would the person have to yell once I fell? Sources of confusion Wikipedia This guy
3
votes
2answers
241 views

What is “petrololine”?

I received an email today, which seems to well and truly have done the rounds. It begins with the following: "I don't know what you guys are paying for Petrololine", and goes on to mention both Petrol ...
0
votes
2answers
538 views

“No spark of constellation, No Vela no Orion”

Can anyone tell me the meaning of these two lines in the lyrics? I look up to the heavens But night has clouded over No spark of constellation No Vela no Orion
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What is a “cross over floor”?

While taking the stairs during a fire drill, I noticed that door to some floors were labelled cross over floor. Later I went to one of these floors, but didn't notice anything different. My searches ...
1
vote
1answer
365 views

How to understand “You don't get no coffee”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are double negatives ever appropriate in English? "You don't get no coffee" I feel like the above sentence is a bit confusing to understand. What's the exact ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

What does “at best” signify in “this slowly becomes annoying at best”?

What does this mean: This slowly becomes annoying at best I cannot understand what the last two words of this phrase signify.
2
votes
3answers
1k views

The meaning of “Even if I should”

Consider the following: Even if I... Even should I... These all mean the same thing, right? What about Even if I should... Does that have the same meaning? "If you should ever," is ...
7
votes
5answers
45k views

Usage of 'Dear All'

Is it correct to use "Dear All" at the beginning of the e-mail, when you are writing to more than one person? It seems so informal to me. Is there any better way?
2
votes
2answers
1k views

What does ‘Jam down one’s throat” mean?

I came across the phrase “I’ll jam down their throats” in the following sentence of the Reuters’ article (June 30 issue) dealing with the Davis Cup, titled “Pat Rafter Wary of 'Awkward Chinese.'” ...
7
votes
1answer
19k views

What is “Got it!” short for?

When you say "got it", what is it short for? Is it for: I have it? I have got it? I have gotten it? I got it? (Is this even valid?) Something else? Also: What is the tense of the verb?
2
votes
1answer
1k views

What’s the meaning of ‘they don’t make them like that’?

(As an incredibly beautiful girl with silvery hair crossed the Hall, many boys gaped at her.) "I’m telling you, that's not a normal girl!" said Ron, leaning sideways so he could keep a clear view ...
1
vote
1answer
425 views

Meaning of “over at”

What does "over at" mean? I saw this being used in "A over at the site/blog/forum B". I understand this means A is somehow related to B, but I want to know the precise meaning. Does it imply that A is ...
1
vote
4answers
2k views

“Everything is everything”

I tried to google the phrase "everything is everything" but can't find its origin. Where does this phrase originally come from? What does it mean?
5
votes
3answers
10k views

Getting into the Groove

What is the exact context of using this phrase? Is a positive connotation attached to it or a negative one?
0
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the difference between 'tell' and 'say' [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Nothing to tell” versus “nothing to say” Both words seem to be used interchangeably. I generally don't differentiate between them and ...
-2
votes
3answers
836 views

Heraldry symbols description

I'm reading Game of Thrones, in English, and when some Heraldry shields are shown as the novel goes, I have some doubts about the meaning on some words. Or given the context some words don't mean what ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

A man's breast vs. a woman's breasts

Why is it that breast is used when referring to a man's chest, but breasts is used for a woman's? Could breast also mean a woman's chest, or do breasts have to be used when referring to a woman's ...
13
votes
9answers
45k views

What does “double-down” mean when used in a context other than Blackjack?

I saw the phrase “double-down” in the following sentence of the Washington Post article (June 28, 2011) titled “Why Michele Bachmann is no Sarah Palin.” “Palin is notorious for doubling-down on ...
14
votes
4answers
4k views

The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons

The louder he talked of his honor, the faster we counted our spoons. What does "the faster we counted our spoons" mean in the above expression?
7
votes
6answers
15k views

Being in love with someone

Is there a difference between loving someone and being in love with them? I sort of think that being in love with someone might imply that there are reciprocal feelings, but I'm not sure. If someone ...
1
vote
3answers
387 views

Car, Bus, Airplane, Truck excluding Bicycle

There are a lot of vehicles: cars, buses, airplanes, trucks excluding bicycles. There are a lot of vehicles: cars, buses, airplanes, trucks but bicycles. There are a lot of vehicles: cars, ...
8
votes
1answer
5k views

What does it mean to “eat glue”?

I have come across this phrase a time or two and can't seem to make any sense out of what it means. As a web developer and in the context of this graphic, I have a little idea what it may mean, but ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

What does 'age out' mean?

The context is as follows. The buffer is now unpinned and is a candidate for immediate aging out, if the current contents (data block) are not referenced again.
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Does this ‘be going to’ have an emotional meaning?

Here is a skit from a radio English conversation program, dealing with American English. A: guest B: front desk clerk C: A's wife (at the front desk of a hotel) A: I have a reservation ...
1
vote
1answer
487 views

What’s the meaning of ‘smooth chin’?

“Well … it is amazing,” said Bagman, rubbing his smooth chin and smiling down at Harry. “But, as you know, the age restriction was only imposed this year as an extra safety measure. (…The rest is ...
12
votes
4answers
894 views

Why does the common meaning of “impertinent” have nothing to do with “pertinent”?

Every time I want to use an antonym to "pertinent", I think of "impertinent", which I don't like to use because of its more common meaning. How did "impertinent" come to mean "intrusive or ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

What does “uncancellable” mean? / What is a word for “not able to be uncancelled”?

What does "uncancellable" mean? Does it mean that something may be uncancelled, or that something may not be cancelled? [Edit:] How would one express each of those ideas? For bonus points, is there ...
6
votes
5answers
3k views

Can I use “as late as” to express a deadline?

You must submit your homework as late as tomorrow. Does the sentence have the same meaning as the following one? The deadline for your homework submission is tomorrow. To be specific, I ...
21
votes
3answers
3k views

Attorney at law, is there any other kind?

I have wondered from time to time about the phrase "attorney at law." Are there other kinds of attorneys? Attorneys at arms? If not, why do we specify?
0
votes
3answers
395 views

What's the usage of ''anything'' in this sentence?

This sentence comes from the beginning of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone": "They were the last people you'd expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just ...
4
votes
6answers
7k views

What does it mean to “beat one's breast”?

I'm reading The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and was wondering what was meant by the action of beating one's breast. eg. The Wedding-Guest here beat his breast, For he heard the loud ...
14
votes
12answers
11k views

What is the difference between “quicker” and “faster”?

What is the correct word to use here and why: I will get there quicker [than you] vs. I will get there faster [than you] There must be similar adverbs for "slower".
7
votes
2answers
6k views

What does the “yours” in “yours sincerely” mean?

"Yours" is usually a possessive pronoun with an implicit noun. What is the implicit noun in the case of "yours sincerely"?
4
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the origin of being in “hot water”?

When a person is suspected of doing something that is wrong, they are said to be in "hot water". Why? Did law breakers long ago have hot water thrown on them for their punishment? Were they dunked in ...
2
votes
4answers
259 views

Are emails, videos, and audios, etc, considered telegrams?

What does the word "telegram" mean? It sounds familiar though I've no idea what it is. The dictionary says "telegram" is defined as: "A message sent by telegraph and then delivered in written or ...
3
votes
3answers
303 views

Meaning of Early Modern English “iuie”

I found this phrase in Featherstone's Dedication at the front of an English translation of the Commentary on John by John Calvin: It is an old saying, (Right Honorable,) and no lesse true then ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

What does the phrase “in my puff” mean?

I'm reading "Right Ho, Jeeves" by P.G. Wodehouse and I've just encountered another phrase which I can't understand. Full sentence where this phrase is used (emphasis added by me): I fact, not to ...
12
votes
5answers
3k views

Difference between “commit suicide” and “suicide”

One of the examples in my English composition book (for learning to write my language's sentences in English) was "Why he committed suicide under such a good circumstance is an unsolved question.", ...
3
votes
3answers
7k views

“Punctuality is the politeness of kings.”

Can someone please explain the meaning of: Punctuality is the politeness of kings.
1
vote
4answers
450 views

“I'd be a * if anything” meaning

What does "I'd be a * if anything" mean exactly? Examples: #1: Let's see, I bought a Phenom 1 motherboard, and two Phenom II motherboards recently. Can't remember how many between 486 and ...
6
votes
3answers
5k views

Difference between “spine” and “backbone”

Is there a difference between spine and backbone in use or in meaning? I think they both mean the same and can be replaced by each other. However, I'd say backbone is used more in figurative speech, ...
6
votes
3answers
11k views

What's the difference between these names of moving water?

What is the difference between these forms of moving water? Creek Brook Stream River Are there other forms of moving water that I am missing?
3
votes
1answer
823 views

'Conscribed' vs 'conscripted'

I'm wondering about the usage of the words 'conscript' and 'conscribe' in terms of the meaning they share. I went to use the word 'conscripted' as in "conscripted for duty", and the word 'conscribe' ...
5
votes
4answers
5k views

“Me being” versus “my being” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Gerund preceded by possessive pronoun (e.g. “He resents your being more popular than he is”) Until a few months ago, I had always thought that sentences like ...
6
votes
5answers
5k views

Where did 'love someone to the bones' come from?

Where did the expression 'love someone to the bones' come from? And is the meaning 'love someone too much' correct for that?
0
votes
3answers
15k views

Difference between “then” and “than” [closed]

I am having difficulty trying to distingush between then and than. What I find confusing is their pronunciation, and when to use them. For example: He walked, stopped, than/then picked up a ...
3
votes
5answers
2k views

“What were you thinking…”

I want to ask about what emotion motivated someone to do something. Can the phrase "what were you thinking when you..." be used for this? It seems kind of unnatural to ask, "what were you feeling when ...