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

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15
votes
12answers
19k views

Is there a term to describe speech that has a hidden meaning but is not sarcastic?

I want to describe how someone is saying something but hidden behind their words they are blaming the person they are talking to. It's kind of like sarcasm but not quite as strong. With sarcasm the ...
2
votes
4answers
510 views

An “unhappy smile”

Is an unhappy smile the same as a frown? I tried to google images of an unhappy smile and that's mostly what I found. I don't think an unhappy smile is the same thing as a frown, but I could be wrong. ...
5
votes
10answers
686 views

Does “exact” determine the precision or the accuracy of something?

When I say "the speed of light is exactly 300000000m/s", is that an incorrect or a correct statement? That is, does "exactly" refer to the precision of an estimate (then my statement would be ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

origin of expression 'at the double'

me maw used to say to me 'at the double', meaning for me to come as quick as possible. just wondering today, what was the origin of this saying? it seems to me that the words don't apply to anything ...
5
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the difference between metaphysical and spiritual?

I'm trying to explain the difference to a group, but cannot describe it myself. Any analogy or anecdote will also help, in addition to the defining differences.
10
votes
6answers
5k views

Difference between 'decline' and 'decrease'

I have an advanced English student who is stuck on the word 'decline'. I told him 'decline' and 'decrease' are very similar, but are not always interchangeable. It is a business English course and we ...
3
votes
5answers
8k views

What does “everything's gone pear-shaped” mean?

I've recently heard this phrase spoken twice on a British television show, and I assume it means something along the lines of, "everything's fallen apart," generally meaning, things are bad right now. ...
5
votes
6answers
3k views

Translation for Dutch “tot en met”: until and including?

In Dutch language we use the expression "tot en met" to signify a quantity between two measures including the last measure. So, for instance, the following: woensdag 22 juni tot en met vrijdag 24 ...
16
votes
2answers
5k views

Does “filling out” equal to “filling in”?

I quoted the following from a pamphlet: Please read the instructions carefully before filling out the application form. The application will be returned to you and the registration may be ...
0
votes
3answers
340 views

The phrase “to pour cloud water”

I've came across this article which uses the phrase "poured cloud water". Is this a well known expression? Searching Google, the first page shows me only places where this article is quoted. From the ...
2
votes
4answers
497 views

Why does my spellchecker vindicate “floccinaucinihilipilification”?

I have heard of this word as cited to contain the most i's of all English words. I had never heard of it before, but when I copied and pasted it into my email program, lo and behold, the picky ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

No loitering sign: “Police Take Notice”

I'm a native English speaker and I've never been able to really parse this one. Is it a command aimed at the police? If so, shouldn't it be "police, take notice"? Is this construction used anywhere ...
11
votes
2answers
5k views

Fine semantic differences between “thus” and “therefore”

I have seen a few Q&A's with this title but none really reflects my question. I am aware both are adverbs and so forth and how they syntactically can be used equivalently, but what about ...
4
votes
2answers
616 views

What's a “right old roarer” in British English?

I was reading an Amazon review just now, and came across someone (Tchaikovsky) being described as a right old roarer. I'm guessing this is familiar slang to Brits, but I'm not getting good search ...
2
votes
2answers
357 views

Questions about “The Gettysburg Address”

It is for us the living, RATHER(should here be a comma or no comma) to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have THUS FAR so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the difference between “buy up” “buy down” “buy” and “purchase”

What's the different between: Buy up buy down purchase buy When they're all supposed to mean "to pay money"?
3
votes
1answer
214 views

“Unpleasant smile” vs. “unhappy smile”

Is an unpleasant smile the same as an unhappy smile? What does an unhappy smile look like? If they're not the same then what does an unpleasant smile look like?
2
votes
2answers
41k views

What does “run of house” mean with regard to hotel room type

I have seen a room type at a hotel like below; Family Room 2 Bedrooms & Living Room Run of The House Everything is OK except the Run of The House thing. What does it exactly mean here? ...
2
votes
2answers
292 views

Meaning of Lady Macbeth's reply

In the play Macbeth, Macbeth was king, and he was asking Lady Macbeth a question: Macbeth: What is the night? Lady Macbeth: At odds with the morning, which is which. In Lady Macbeth's reply, I ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “if only as”?

I can only intuitively grasp the meaning and usage of "if only as". It seems related to "if only" at this other question: What does "if only" mean? However I don't feel they're quite the ...
0
votes
5answers
289 views

Meaning of the phrase “Educational pearl”

I've found that phrase "Educational pearl" on this page and have no idea what it means. Can someone explain it for me please?
15
votes
5answers
8k views

What is the meaning of this sentence: “He can can a can”?

What does this sentence mean? For me, it's more like "He is capable of opening a can," but according to some, it's not that simple. What does it exactly mean?
2
votes
4answers
9k views

What does “shine on” mean?

I've seen some use "shine on" to close a letter. What does this mean?
8
votes
6answers
19k views

Can “Sure thing” mean “You're welcome”?

I'm looking for different ways to say "you're welcome." Is "sure thing" one of those ways? If it is, then how? I looked up its meaning and it doesn't seem to make sense as a replacement for "you're ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

A word for price after tax and service charge but before discount

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_does_gross_price_and_net_price_mean The gross price is the price before deductions. The net price is the price after deductions. If a something is $100, and: VAT + ...
1
vote
3answers
435 views

“Jumped through the fence”

"Jumped through the fence" in meaning he jumped over. Whole sentence: Then he ran across the street, jumped through the fence and walked to the parking lot Is this correct?
4
votes
7answers
5k views

The meaning of “This is it”

Does "this is it," mean "this is the end?" How is this possible?
1
vote
1answer
743 views

What is the meaning of “zen is the art of being at one with the two'ness”

zen is the art of being at one with the two'ness What's the being at one? What's the two'ness? Why two'ness not twoness? I just don't know the meaning of this sentence.
0
votes
3answers
351 views

what does it mean when some one says “ I was calculating your cake penalty”?

Someone sent me an email with the following phrase. I was wondering if this is a known phrase. I was just calculating your cake penalty.
2
votes
3answers
3k views

Meaning of “hail from”

Is it same as come from, but use in formal relationship ? This is the context. I hail from commercial division of midas bank.
0
votes
4answers
505 views

“You ain't able to be sure about anything.”

Does this sentence make any sense to you as a native speaker? The one who said this actually meant to say, "People like you can never be sure about anything" (implying the opposite side is very ...
2
votes
1answer
443 views

Is saying “he's too thin to carry it (some very heavy stuff)” a euphemism?

Thin has a meaning of "not well fleshed," but does it also carry a meaning of "being weak or feeble"? In the Merriam-Webster, it does carry a meaning of "lacking substance of strength," but it uses ...
1
vote
2answers
10k views

Meaning of a “cheap person”

What is the meaning of this, i have tried to search on dictionary but couldn't find it. Context as in image attached. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cheap+person Savior is ...
1
vote
1answer
261 views

explanation for: to “playback” media content

How come in English one talks about being able to "playback" media content, like music or movies, instead of just "play"? Why is -back added to the word? What is the origin of the expression?
2
votes
4answers
1k views

Is it more correct to say “repeat”, or “resay”?

Telling a person to repeat something they have said sounds better to me, but is it more correct to ask them to resay what they said? If I say something then resay it, then I have said it again. I ...
6
votes
3answers
11k views

Why do we use the phrase 'Across the pond'?

Why do we use the phrase Across the pond to refer to the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean? Considering the size of the Atlantic Ocean is vast, is it suggesting the ocean is only a small hindrance? ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Superlative + noun + “possible”: why does the adjective come after the noun?

Does someone happen to have an explanation or theory for why in phrases like "the best method possible" the word 'possible' comes after the noun?
29
votes
6answers
104k views

In sex talk, how many bases are there and what do they all mean?

I always hear people say "I hit the third base" or "I hit the second base" (sex related). I am not 100% sure what they all mean. Additionally, in one of the House MD episodes, there was a dialogue: ...
3
votes
1answer
8k views

What is the meaning of “Dick” when it is a person's name?

Some people are named "Dick". What does "Dick" mean when it is a name?
3
votes
1answer
543 views

What does “Aqua-compliant” mean?

I read the following in a article on apple.com (the emphasis is mine). This section presents some key principles critical to the design of elegant, efficient, intuitive, and Aqua-compliant user ...
12
votes
7answers
58k views

What does “Suit yourself” mean?

I found this on SO and googled the idiom "suit yourself", but I couldn't find a matching translation. The context was that the questioner was nitpicking and the answerer lost his patience.
4
votes
3answers
994 views

'Therefore' in an illogical logic sense

I have a co-worker that is always saying "Therefore, A B C" when the "A B C" isn't a conclusion from any sort of deductive reasoning. For example, Me: ... thus, that's how it works. Her: I ...
28
votes
6answers
59k views

What is the correct way to use “neither” and “nor” in a sentence together?

Given these facts: The tool cannot be found in the kitchen. The tool cannot be found in the bathroom. Which is the correct sentence to represent the situation above? I can find the tool ...
7
votes
8answers
3k views

Is “Four times more” grammatically correct? And, if so, what precisely does it mean?

I have 10 beans. Jim has four times more. Is this a valid sentence? And, if so, does it mean Jim has 40 or 50 beans?
2
votes
2answers
460 views

What does the phrase “money ahead” mean?

From You're a Good Sport, Charlie Brown: At the bike shop, they purchase a poor-quality bike with what they can afford. When Charlie Brown asks if it runs, Linus replies that "even if the bike ...
3
votes
3answers
743 views

Does this ‘twice’ mean two times, or double in quantity?

She caught sight of Mr. Diggory’s feet, and slowly, tremulously, raised her eyes to stare up into his face; then, more slowly still, she looked up into the sky. Harry could see the floating skull ...
2
votes
3answers
133 views

Instantaneous interpretation of disjoined events over a duration

What is the correct interpretation of a sentence with two events occurring during some time span joined by "or"? It seems that the scope of "or" doesn't change in either case. For example: Today ...
3
votes
4answers
8k views

Get a life | You have no life

I saw this as a mild insult on the Internet, one person tells another: "get a life" or "you have no life". What does it mean literally and what is its meaning as an insult?
2
votes
3answers
6k views

What examples are there of a double positive conveying a negative meaning? [closed]

Generally, a double negative implies a positive. I'm not going nowhere (So I must be going somewhere) Although, in colloquial or illiterate circles it may not. We don't need no stinkin' ...
3
votes
7answers
6k views

Origin of “Plumb” to mean “absolutely”

"plumb" as far as I know is a predominantly American usage, as in "That was just plumb crazy!" I thought plumb meant some kind of weight in bricklaying or such like, so how did it come to mean ...