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
6answers
3k views

“ameliorate” vs “alleviate”

The meanings for ameliorate and alleviate are quite similar, but I don’t think they are exact synonyms: what are the nuances behind choosing which one to use in a particular context? I’d like some ...
8
votes
1answer
447 views

Meaning of “work ethics” in Australian English

Inspired by this question, I'm left wondering if the phrase “work ethics” has a slightly different meaning in Australian English than in other dialects. I came across this term some ...
0
votes
2answers
783 views

How does “panegyric” work in “Tom is very panegyric while talking to his co-workers”?

Tom is very panegyric while talking to his co-workers. From What is a sentence for panegyric? What's the meaning of this sentence? I have search the meaning of panegyric, but can't understand ...
4
votes
1answer
463 views

What does “Rah-rah statement” mean?

In the CBS’s “Face the Nation” aired on the last Sunday, co-anchor Norah O’Donnell asked GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan about inconsistency of his voting for defense cuts in last summer with ...
9
votes
4answers
888 views

Free meaning “free of charge” vs “unoccupied”

I often hear German native speakers (I am one myself) ask those questions, and it seems to me that they are pretty much translated word by word into English. Is this chair free? There is a free ...
10
votes
4answers
14k views

“Postfix” or “suffix”?

Wikipedia and The Free Dictionary were not much help — is there a practical difference in the semantics of suffix and postfix, except that the latter is more rare? File name extensions are well ...
3
votes
3answers
874 views

What does “boogeyman for everybody” mean?

I was watching a TV show about an air crash where an air traffic controller was partly responsible for the crash. In an interview an official says: "You don't deserve to be a boogeyman for ...
-1
votes
1answer
662 views

what does “You have to ignore the elephant in front of you” mean? [closed]

In context it is used: The probability that a startup will make it big is not simply a constant fraction of the probability that they will succeed at all. If it were, you could fund everyone who ...
0
votes
0answers
88 views

What does “grandfathered in” mean? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “I'm only grandfathering you in because of Serena.” Over here, Jeff says something using the expression "grandfathered in." What does that mean and how ...
-1
votes
3answers
8k views

What exactly does this “play a country song backwards” joke mean?

So I come across this joke,which rather confuses me. — What do you get when you play a country song backwards? — You get your house back, your wife back, your dog back, your truck back... I ...
3
votes
4answers
469 views

How should the word “brutal” be used in marketing?

I noticed that some companies use the word brutal for marketing their products. Examples: brutal performance – a data storage software markets itself with this, they mean that their software is ...
9
votes
6answers
15k views

Coney and rabbit: what’s the difference?

Are the words coney and rabbit full synonyms in English? Are there any slight differences in usage or meaning? Are there any cases when one word is more appropriate in the modern writing or speech ...
0
votes
2answers
3k views

A proper definition for “hogget”?

This is the meaning of hogget in the Collins English Dictionary: a sheep up to the age of one year that has yet to be sheared the meat of this sheep So, is a lamb a hogget? This ...
3
votes
2answers
6k views

“Once upon a time” vs. “a long time ago”

How is the meaning of "once upon a time" different from "a long time ago"? Literally, is that what it means? There seems to be repetition in once and upon a time. How is this sentence broken up?
-1
votes
2answers
518 views

Meaning of the word 'orthodox' in sentence? [closed]

"If I can not succeed in an orthodox way, at least I can succeed in a criminal world." What does the word orthodox mean in this case ?
-1
votes
2answers
222 views

Correct sense of “practical”

The definition of utilize is to use something, especially for a practical purpose. What does practical mean here? Definitions of practical from OALD: connected with real situations rather ...
5
votes
1answer
351 views

Could “old fashioned” mean “angry” or “disconsolate” in early 19th Century England?

Patrick O'Brian wrote the Aubrey/Maturin seafaring novels during the late 20th Century, but the novels read as if they were written during the early 1800s (at least as far as I can tell, which isn't ...
5
votes
5answers
15k views

“Can’t help but” vs. “can help but”

Is "can’t help but" considered to be a confused mix of the expressions "can but" and "can’t help"? If not, what is the difference between "can help but" and "can’t help but"?
6
votes
2answers
192 views

Old (professional) Adam

Again, from Le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: [George Smiley] had schooled himself to admit that in those last wretched months of Control's career, when disasters followed one another with ...
1
vote
1answer
5k views

What does “Life gets in the way!” mean? [closed]

Could you help me understand what "Life gets in the way!" means? Thanks.
-1
votes
1answer
594 views

'irritated' vs. 'aggravated' [closed]

Which is more correct? The constant itching over the last week left him quite aggravated. The constant itching over the last week left him quite irritated. Merriam Webster ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

What does the statement “Once I did bad and that I heard ever. Twice I did good and that I heard never” mean?

What does the statement Once I did bad and that I heard ever. Twice I did good and that I heard never. mean? In what situations is it meaningful?
0
votes
1answer
9k views

What's the meaning of the word “tad”? [closed]

I always see the word in sentence like, "it's a tad faser". Or people say "tad", as if they are frustrated. So, what's the meaning of the word? When to use it?
1
vote
2answers
8k views

Do “owed” and “due” mean the opposite?

I wonder if "owed" and "due" mean the opposite in the following quote from Wikipedia? In banking and accountancy, the outstanding balance is the amount of money owed, (or due), that remains in a ...
1
vote
1answer
6k views

What does “bedroom eyes” mean, from a physical standpoint, if anything?

The phrase "bedroom eyes" came up in another question, and the person who used it remarked that to him/her it meant that, from a physical standpoint "that means they've got dilated pupils". This ...
1
vote
1answer
296 views

The revenge of the gifted amateur … be afraid, be very afraid … [closed]

What is the meaning of the word 'amateur' and how is the amateur compared with the professional in this article on computing. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1822283 They are ...
2
votes
1answer
94 views

What's the meaning of “throw out”

Ultimate fist pumping workout. My friend threw out her shoulder by fist pumping at a club once. The comment was made from a gif. In this gif, it shows a man doing a workout holding a barbell ...
2
votes
0answers
186 views

Meaning of “advance” and “develop” [closed]

The context: P1: We lost nearly a decade of research because of the moratorium on embryonic stem cell research. P2: The moratorium [on embryonic stem cell research] aided in the advancement ...
0
votes
3answers
403 views

Is “human resources” men? [closed]

We help you verify, validate and monitor your systems live, 24/7, with our human resources who are rich in experience, commitment, dedication, flexibility and with high analytical skills... ...
2
votes
1answer
393 views

What's the meaning of “structure” here?

How do you define structure in this context? I'm unsure which definition is appropriate from the dictionary. P1: Healthy, fit people that can't die are like poison to big pharma. The new ...
3
votes
1answer
101 views

“Leakage” in context

I have been reading a text about spotting lies by analysis of voice, gestures, etc., and cannot understand the word leakage in this sentence: ... clues of emotions... These are what provide ...
0
votes
2answers
6k views

“Thank you for your kindness, but I am not fond of this”

Suppose somebody gives you something — for instance, a chocolate — and you do not like it, so you give it back to the person. Is it then correct to say something like this: Thank you for your ...
4
votes
2answers
374 views

What is retraction in pronunciation?

As in: [I]n English /t, d, n, l/ are retracted before /r/. [emphasis added] —Wikipedia, “Allophone”
7
votes
3answers
282 views

This book will change your wife – trope?

“This book will change your wife.” The cliché is “This book will change your life”. By changing one word, the cliché is transformed into a more interesting sentence: in this case about a novel, 50 ...
4
votes
4answers
132 views

Using “reduction” in a title

I am writing a paper where I will use the title Reduction by half. This is supposed to describe a method which reduces something by half, but I am not sure if Reduction by Half is the right way to do ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Does the word “apparently” imply that I personally do or don't believe the statement following it?

When I say "Apparently, xyz", does that imply one of the following, and if so, which one? From observation, I believe xyz to be true, but I leave open the possibility that I might be wrong. I ...
-2
votes
3answers
10k views

“Humility” vs. “humiliation” [closed]

What is the difference, if any, between humility and humiliation? My friend's dad said humility is good, humiliation is bad, and the first link on Google says "leaders often confuse the two," but ...
2
votes
2answers
77 views

A suggestion for a change by reviewers

One of the suggestions that I got in my paper review is just indicated as a mistake in There is, however, no proven criterion when to stop. What is wrong with the above sentence. Word ordering? ...
-1
votes
2answers
890 views

What does “sizing” mean in this example? [closed]

What does "sizing" mean in the following quote from http://www.wikihow.com/Press-a-Shirt: Lightly spray the hanging shirt with sizing or spray starch (optional) then remove the shirt from ...
-1
votes
3answers
1k views

Immigrants or Emigrants? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Emigrant” vs. “immigrant” What's the difference in meaning between “emigrate” and “immigrate”? I understand the ...
5
votes
1answer
354 views

Meaning of “stays” in this example

From http://artofmanliness.com/2011/04/06/how-to-iron-shirt/ Iron around buttons, never over them. Even if there is fabric laying over the button, as in the case of a pocket with under-buttons ...
6
votes
5answers
806 views

A word to describe the structure of “The Song That Never Ends”

The song has been described as a "self-referential and infinitely iterative children's song". I would like to use a word that encapsulates this description. I have considered recursive, but does that ...
-2
votes
1answer
119 views

Are 'contemporary' and 'contemplate' related words? [closed]

Do the words contemporary and contemplate relate to each other in any way?
-1
votes
1answer
660 views

What is the meaning of “I don't need no stinking counters”?

The context is this video at timeline 43:26 seconds . That's too fancy for me. I don't need no stinking counters. What does this mean? Is it an American or British expression?
1
vote
1answer
1k views

“First year birthday” or “first birthday”

What should I say to refer to the baby's first year birthday? The baby turns one year old on that day. Is it correct to say first birthday party or should I say first year birthday party?
1
vote
1answer
318 views

Why is the “round figure” of a person associated with being “comforting”? [closed]

Example: Miss Beam was all that I had expected middle-aged, authoritative, kindly, and understanding. Her hair was beginning to turn grey, and her round figure was likely to be comforting for a ...
0
votes
1answer
76 views

Just a entrance alone will continue a lot of people entrance adult to recreate [closed]

“Just a entrance alone will continue a lot of people entrance adult to recreate,” pronounced Manager Gary Lamb. (http://boston-massachusetts.us/conservation-plan-also-brings-development-in-maine) ...
0
votes
3answers
5k views

Lost in the Midst vs Mists of Time [closed]

Which of the following is more correct, and why? My attempts at Googling haven't produced a definitive answer, and all seem as sensible as each other going from base definitions. Lost in the mists ...
0
votes
1answer
473 views

Does “invidious” come implicit with malice or consideration? Or is it just absent of care?

"Invidious" (the often misunderstood) is known to involve harmful or threatening effects — at least insomuch as one party feels "resentful" or similarly about the situation. So there are at least two ...
4
votes
5answers
631 views

Is the use of ‘Red meat’ for ‘Substance’ very popular? Can I say ‘Your talk doesn’t have any red meat,’ to talkative person?

Today’s (Aug 28) Washington Post carries the article titled, “Red meat on the menu as convention kicks off” followed by the following sentence. "GOP delegates are scheduled to take the vote that will ...