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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (6)

4
votes
1answer
4k views

What is the difference between “job” and “work”?

When is it better to use "job" and when "work"? For instance I am writing text on the logo saying "Still do your job manually? Then ask us to help you." Is it correct to use "job" here or "work" is ...
8
votes
6answers
2k views

New verb: “to verbal”

I seem to be noticing this one entering the popular lexicon lately, but cannot find a good definition. Examples: No, you're just verballing... Leakegate: Leake verballed Richard Dawkins ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

What is the difference among ‘In you come’, ‘Come on in’, and ‘Do come in’?

Bagman suddenly spotted Harry, got up quickly, and bounded forward. “Ah, here he is! Champion number four! In you come, Harry, in you come … nothing to worry about, it's just the wand weighing ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

What color does ‘pale thing’ have?

I'd like to focus in on the meaning of 'pale' which is used in color description. My dictionary, OALD, says 'pale' in such case means "light in colour; containing a lot of white". It shows me some ...
1
vote
4answers
258 views

“He is to resist the vulgar prosperity that retrogrades ever to barbarism”

In the quote, "He is to resist the vulgar prosperity that retrogrades ever to barbarism" What does resist mean? to tolerate to protest What does vulgar prosperity mean? obscene prosperity ...
5
votes
4answers
7k views

Distinctions between “Goods” and “Commodities”

I was wondering what differences and relations are between goods and commodities, from economics perspective? From good: In economics and accounting, a good is a product that can be used to ...
11
votes
3answers
3k views

Where did the phrase “used to” come from?

I used to wonder about these usages a lot: Why does "used to" mean "accustomed to"? Why is "used to" used to indicate a recurring past event? I used to be used to using it. In that example, ...
2
votes
2answers
12k views

“Anything” vs. “any thing”

This is not a duplicate of "anymore" vs. "any more". I made sure. In that case, the two terms being compared were noun phrase (any more) vs. adverb (anymore). In this case, the two are both noun ...
2
votes
2answers
512 views

Is ‘beetle-black eyes’ expressing their owner’s character?

Hagrid's real intention, however, was to talk to Harry away from the rest of the class. He waited until everyone else had set off with their skrewts, then turned to Harry and said, very seriously, ...
9
votes
6answers
21k views

What is the metaphoric meaning of silo?

Process-oriented organizations break down the barriers of structural departments and try to avoid functional silos. I was wondering what silo means here? Is it a metaphor?
15
votes
15answers
9k views

What do you call someone who chooses to stay single for life?

Not necessarily a virgin, but someone that has consciously chosen to stay single for life (and is content with that decision). Hopefully, there is a single word for it. Example: Ralph Nader UPDATE: ...
4
votes
3answers
421 views

What does “it tastes like horspy” mean?

I heard an expression today but I did not know how it is written or what it is. And I could not find it with Google. It's something like: it tastes like horspy Any pointers?
10
votes
1answer
456 views

Why do “prisoner” and “jailer” mean different things?

If jail and prison are (at least nearly) synonymous, why does jailer refer to the captor, and prisoner refer to the captive?
6
votes
2answers
10k views

Difference between “recently” and “lately”

I have posted a topic using this sentence: I have picked some fictions to read lately. RegDwight edited this sentence to: I have recently picked up several works of fiction and begun to read ...
11
votes
3answers
597 views

How much destruction should be in my mind's eye when I picture a city being “sacked”?

I've been reading some early medieval history lately, and much of the narrative, of course, encompasses warfare, which seems to have been almost ubiquitous in those times. Anyway, in these histories ...
2
votes
3answers
209 views

“The object that is sent the message is called the target”

Grammar check. Native speaker's opinion needed. The sentence "The object that is sent the message is called the target" seems incomplete at best. Could a native English speaker confirm this? It is ...
-2
votes
2answers
585 views

Meaning and origin of “dressed like a slob”

What does the expression "dressed like a slob" mean? Where does it come from?
7
votes
3answers
3k views

“He acted strange(ly?)”

It would make sense if both of these sentences were grammatically correct; but is anything different between them meaning-wise? He acted very strange when I told him about the missing amulet. ...
6
votes
4answers
15k views

Is there a feminine equivalent of “emasculate”?

e·mas·cu·late Deprive (a man) of his male role or identity Is there a female equivalent? I came up with efemulate but this sounds strange.
3
votes
4answers
7k views

Differences among expression and idiom, as well as colloquial and vernacular

Expression and idiom are used interchangeably, and so are colloquial and vernacular; albeit incorrectly. Please advise on differences in meaning and recommend a proper usage.
4
votes
2answers
4k views

What does 'knee-jerk reaction' mean?

What does knee-jerk reaction mean? From NYT article: Another senior Socialist, who declined to be identified, said the party could not afford knee-jerk reactions.
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
334 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
366 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
46k 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
427 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
840 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
491 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
902 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 ...