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

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3
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2answers
1k views

What does 'even' mean in this context?

Even is one of those words with lots of meanings. It can mean divisible by two or flat/level. But it can be used in a sentence such as this: Are you even listening? What time does the shop ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

“Ashes” vs. “cinder”

I am a bit confused on where to use "ashes" and where "cinder". Do both of them have the same meaning?
1
vote
2answers
6k views

Origin and meaning of “damn straight”

The phrase "damn straight" is now used as a way to emphatically agree with a statement, but where does it come from, and what did it mean originally?
3
votes
3answers
345 views

Is 'peaceful demonstration' an oxymoron?

Oh, we know the standards: Jumbo Shrimp, Real Phony,Living Dead..... is peaceful demonstration in the list: reasons why/not are, of course unexpectedly anticipated.
14
votes
7answers
12k views

Where did the “trick” in the phrase “turning tricks” come from?

Or in other words, can anyone make clear the etymology and the history behind the coinage of the word trick in the phrase turning tricks? (Why am I interested you may ask? Well, turning tricks is a ...
4
votes
2answers
4k views

Confusion about “would it not be better if” vs “it would be better if”

non-native speaker here and I have problems with the following sentence. 'My friend asks if it would not be better for you to come here.' Does the sentence mean a) 'My friend thinks it would be ...
4
votes
4answers
10k views

Does 'should' imply an unquestionable command?

My question is prompted by a question on the programmers.stackexchange: This may be a duplicate of another question here on english.stackechange, but the answers given to that question did not ...
7
votes
1answer
237 views

What does “that place is a real bucket shop and they tend to work only with pikers” mean?

I was talking to my attorney, from the esteemed firm of Dewey, Cheetum and Howe, and he made the above remark in response to a financial statement that I had produced earlier. What did Bernie mean?
2
votes
5answers
1k views

Meaning of 'constantly' in 'everything is fluid, is constantly changing…'

Heraclitus: everything is and is not, for everything is fluid, is constantly changing, constantly coming into being and passing away. If 'constantly' means 'no stop in every little seconds' then ...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

What does “I'll go you one better” mean?

I'll go you one better, seem as you were so polite to ask me for permission. Can someone please explain this to me? I've never heard the "go you one better" part. Does this mean that a person ...
1
vote
2answers
4k views

What does 'corporeal form' mean?

These series, however, are only one particularly obvious example; throughout practically the whole of chemistry, even in the various nitrogen oxides and oxygen acids of phosphorus or sulfur, one ...
2
votes
2answers
11k views

“Prerequisite for” vs. “prerequisite to”

When is it appropriate to use "prerequisite for" instead of "prerequisite to"? Does it depend on context, or is it a matter of style? I googled the two phrases and found 4.5 million hits for ...
5
votes
3answers
341 views

Technique relating environment and emotions/personality

I was wondering what is the technical term for the technique relating a physical environment to the mental state. For example, I am writing about how the dim lighting and cluttered workspace of ...
8
votes
4answers
559 views

What's the meaning of the “shed” in “watershed”?

It seems like a kind of house, if it is. I cannot grasp the meaning of watershed.
0
votes
3answers
867 views

How to understand this film name 'Tron: Legacy'?

I have checked a dictionary, 'tron' isn't a word in English. And someone translated into my native language: Creat: fight record
12
votes
3answers
1k views

What does the phrase “God and my twin vicars” mean?

As you all may have figured out, I have an affection for Britishisms and peculiar colloquiaisms of British speech. Recently, I came across an inscrutable one watching the hilarious FX show Archer, and ...
5
votes
4answers
6k views

How to use “tens of” and “hundreds of”?

If I'm not mistaken, tens of means 10 to 99 and hundreds of means 100 to 999. Is this correct? I found in some dictionaries that tens of is actually not correct. I also found that hundreds of could ...
3
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the difference between “filtrated” and “filtered”?

The word "filtered" seems to be much more common than "filtrated". I know that these words derive from "to filter" and "to filtrate". What is the difference in meaning between these two verbs? The ...
5
votes
4answers
686 views

What does the word 'carcareal' mean when referring to policies?

In The Enigma of Capital: And the Crises of Capitalism by David Harvey on page 240 the author alludes to an "... anti-democratic, money-saturated and carcareal drift of capitalist state policies..." ...
10
votes
8answers
22k views

What does “a man among men” mean?

The phrase: "A man among men." We have been having a debate about whether this means: unexceptional, common, like all others, ordinary a superior example of one in a class We have found examples ...
0
votes
1answer
747 views

What is the origin/meaning of “get off my cloud” and will it change?

What is the etymology of this phrase, and might the meaning change due to cloud storage?
14
votes
7answers
655 views

Non-religious mentions of God (or religious concepts) in the American English language

Reading about an appeal turned down by the US Supreme Court, I see that the majority opinion on phrases such as “in God we trust” and “one nation under God” is that they are not affirmations of faith, ...
6
votes
3answers
11k views

“What's not to love?”

What do people really mean when they say "what's not to love"? Is there any context in particular to use this?
3
votes
2answers
126 views

Which one to use — “support” or “sports”?

I have read about many times like as given below: Nokia N8 Mobile Support A 12-Megapixel Camera. and Nokia N8 Mobile Sports A 12-Megapixel Camera. So my questions are: Is there any ...
3
votes
4answers
15k views

“Get to do something”

What's the meaning of "get to do something"? I get to spend a lot of time with you and the kids.
4
votes
3answers
9k views

“I just ate them” and “I've just eaten them” — What's the difference in American and in British?

I know there are differences between American and British English in this area. So when answering, please specify whether you speak American or British English.
5
votes
2answers
3k views

How do you interpret 'up to'?

Consider the sentence: "The boxes must be filled up to the last box". Does this mean 'including' the last box or all 'but' the last box? If I ask you to start with 1 and count up to 8, you'll likely ...
1
vote
2answers
93 views

In which context is “lignicolous” used?

Is lignicolous a word used in a specific context, or is it common to say "that is a lignicolous bug"?
11
votes
6answers
4k views

Meaning of the phrase “the wrong side of history”

I've just realized I don't understand what this phrase means. What does "Gaddafi is on the wrong side of history" mean? Does it mean he's about to die, or something else? Here's the relevant ...
2
votes
3answers
350 views

What is the meaning of the business jargon “big hitter”?

I want the meaning of the business jargon that says "big hitter".
6
votes
3answers
817 views

“Not worth the paper it's printed on” - wrong meaning?

Technically a small piece of paper is worthless - having zero resale value, so why is the saying not: It is worth the paper it's printed on?
2
votes
7answers
1k views

What does “I pissed the wall” mean?

What is the meaning of a sentence like "I pissed the wall"? Is there any difference with "I pissed my pants"?
2
votes
3answers
15k views

What does “if nothing else” mean?

I understand the meaning of "if nothing else" in sentence A, but couldn't understand the meaning in sentence B. A. "I will go to library this afternoon if nothing else to do." B. "Google argues that ...
46
votes
11answers
6k views

What is the difference between “gender” and “sex”?

What is the difference between gender and sex? Wiktionary says that gender is The mental analog of sex but that's too high English for me. Basically, I'm developing a web-application that stores ...
1
vote
2answers
211 views

Arrange, settle, reconcile — could these words be used before “their differences”?

Arrange, settle, reconcile — could these words be used before "their differences"? What are the differences in meaning?
6
votes
2answers
9k views

Is it correct to say “I feel painful” to mean “I feel pain”?

Is it correct to say "I feel painful" to mean "I feel pain"? Please note that I mean only those cases, in which the phrase is a complete sentence. There should be no words after the last word in each ...
0
votes
1answer
309 views

Meaning of 'full reality to change'

Therefore, classic ontology denies any full reality to change, which is conceived as only accidental and not essential In the above sentence, which is the object(or complement) of the 'deny'? ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

Meaning of 'confer upon'

The only objects which can constitute [the space-time framework essential to interpersonal communication] are those which confer upon it their own fundamental characteristics.
5
votes
4answers
34k views

What does “put it down on me” mean?

What does the phrase "put it down on me" mean?
3
votes
3answers
2k views

“Build out” versus “build up”

How are these two different? Build [something] out vs. Build [something] up
0
votes
1answer
188 views

meaning of 'frame by'

This paper has been framed by two seemingly recurring topics in IS research
5
votes
4answers
2k views

Why use 'step down' instead of 'resign'? Is there any difference?

Ozzie announced his plans to step down from his role at Microsoft on October 18, 2010
5
votes
2answers
8k views

What is a “high-level conversation”?

Recently I was told by a potential interviewer for a job that we would be having a "high-level conversation" soon. I assumed at the time that she just meant a conversation with a higher-up, e.g., ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

“Notion” and “conception”

What is the difference between notion and conception?
10
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “pur sang”?

In the closing of an English L&U question, one of our users, Cerberus, used what I'm sure is a marvelous construction full of history, pur sang, as in: "...he is trying to argue here why it ...
8
votes
4answers
6k views

What is the distinction between “role” and “rôle” [with a circumflex]?

One of our users, Stan Rogers, mentioned there was such a distinction, I think, when he answered a question and talked about how the orthography of foreign loan-words typically changes to conform with ...
1
vote
3answers
446 views

“Senseless” and “irrelevant” synonyms of “unreasonable”

Aren't "senseless" and "irrelevant" synonyms of "unreasonable"? This question is related to: What does it mean when someone calls himself “non sequitur”? comments to to my answer to Is there a ...
7
votes
6answers
8k views

What is the difference between “monologue” and “soliloquy”?

Just a random thought as to what the actual difference between monologue and soliloquy might be.
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Meaning of 'made them out to be'

Michelson-Morley experiments weren't the failure MIT made them out to be, just as Cold Fusion wasn't the failure MIT made it out to be
0
votes
2answers
860 views

What does it mean when someone calls himself “non sequitur”?

Coming from my answer to question Is there a better noun form of “unreasonable” than “unreasonableness?” What does it mean when someone calls himself "non sequitur"? Examples: "I AM NON ...