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

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-1
votes
3answers
6k views

“Within” and “in” when referring to time

I know that both can mean "inside" but what I don't have clear is whether both mean the same when talking about time. For example: The party is in two days = The party is within two days ?? ...
10
votes
3answers
9k views

Use of “Or”, inclusive or exclusive?

My wife and I are playing a game where you roll dice and move so many spaces in a grid "vertically or horizontally". In the use of English it is very common to say, this or the other when it comes ...
2
votes
3answers
81 views

“U.S. stocks were modestly higher at the opening bell Wednesday” vs. “… are higher …”

Here's a news heading from CNN: U.S. stocks were modestly higher at the opening bell Wednesday as political wrangling over the fiscal cliff continues to dominate the market. The author used ...
4
votes
2answers
25k views

Can “either” mean both “any” and “both”

I was checking out the definition of either in dictionary, here is what I found: one or the other of two things (any of the things will be fine) one and the other of two things (either side ...
18
votes
6answers
6k views

Time and tide wait for no man

In the old proverb: Time and tide wait for no man. Our first record of the proverb is from St Marher in 1225: And te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet. When it was ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

If someone thinks like you, can he or she be your 'alter ego'?

Wikipedia explains alter ego thus: An alter ego (Latin, "the other I") is a second self, which is believed to be distinct from a person's normal or original personality. A person who has an ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Push somebody over the edge

From TheFreeDictionary, pushing somebody over the edge is defined as: If an unpleasant event pushes someone over the edge, it makes them start to behave in a crazy way. Can crazy here be to ...
2
votes
2answers
553 views

A long sentence from “The Apple Tree” [closed]

If she had long lost the blue-eyed, flower-like charm, the cool slim purity of face and form, the apple-blossom colouring, which had so swiftly and so oddly affected Ashurst twenty-six years ago, ...
1
vote
1answer
403 views

Can “lend” and “borrow” refer to money?

I'm not sure how to use the following words correctly in finance. Until now, I've used lend and borrow to represent acts that are relative to loans. Today, one of my friends told me that lend or ...
1
vote
3answers
345 views

Meaning of “Of all” at the beginning of a paragraph [closed]

I want to know the exact meaning of "Of all". For example, in a paper the author in the first paragraph explained some methods and at the beginning of paragraph 2, he started with: "Of all the ...
2
votes
2answers
614 views

Difference in the implied meaning when different words for “cheating” used?

Please consider the sentences below: He chiseled me out of my dues. He swindled me out of dues. He cheated me out of my dues. Below are the definitions given by Dictionary Chisel = ...
4
votes
1answer
16k views

Christmas: Christ + Mas? [closed]

What is the meaning of Christmas in the English language? Christ + mas = Christmas? Is it because Christ is associated with a cross that it sometimes reads X-mas? And where is the mas coming ...
-1
votes
1answer
515 views

It really should be ROY GBP? [closed]

I've read the Color Survey Results. There is a sentence: Indigo was totally just added to the rainbow so it would have 7 colors and make that “ROY G. BIV” acronym work, just like you always ...
5
votes
3answers
748 views

What's the meaning of “local” here?

A person from England said to me that Canada (where I live) is one of his favourite locals. From my understanding, local means a local person or thing, so a person or thing that belongs to or ...
5
votes
2answers
509 views

Could “totally implausible” mean “impossible”?

The question "What is the difference between 'impossible' and 'implausible'?" has generated an interesting discussion on the differences, if any, between "totally implausible" and "impossible". More ...
2
votes
4answers
207 views

Is “mellifluous” onomatopoeic?

mel·lif·lu·ous /məˈliflo͞oəs/ Adjective: (of a voice or words) Sweet or musical; pleasant to hear. As in the title: is "mellifluous" onomatopoeic or is the definition of onomatopoeia ...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Does “awe” have a colloquial meaning (similar to “awesome”)?

The meaning of awe is given in dictionaries as "an emotion variously combining dread, veneration, and wonder that is inspired by authority or by the sacred or sublime" (this definition is from ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the difference between “impossible” and “implausible”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Plausible” vs. “possible” My English-Russian dictionary translates "impossible" and "implausible" absolutely the same. But there must be a difference. Could you ...
5
votes
4answers
3k views

What is actually being doubled when someone has to “double back”?

I have frequently heard this phrase and used it myself when I've gone in a wrong direction either physically or at work metaphorically. However, I wonder why the phrase is double back, since once you ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

What does this phrase mean ‘so much for something’? [closed]

I was reading an article on ESPN and at the end it said ‘so much for team loyalty’. Can anyone explain what this means?
1
vote
2answers
111 views

And I didn't know kiwis had hair [closed]

What can this phrase possible mean? And I didn't know kiwis had hair I have parsed this as well as I can and cannot come up with anything that makes sense. Reference for context: comment under ...
3
votes
1answer
365 views

is onomatopoeia itself onomatopoeic? [closed]

As I note, is the word onomatopoeia itself onomatopoeic? Or does the use of the word not quite follow the rules? I recall being engaged in a spirited debate about this in my high school days—I cannot ...
2
votes
2answers
272 views

How do you define broke and broke into?

How do you define broke and broke into here? OP: "If you're not making six figures by the time you're 40, you fail at life." P1: "whew... I just made it... broke into 6 figures at 39." P2: "I broke ...
4
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the meaning of “sanity” in “sanity check”?

The phrase "sanity check" comes up often in programming, e.g. It's a good sanity check before attempting to decrypt the key. Usually, its context is one in which a commonly assumed state (e.g. ...
5
votes
1answer
88 views

What is a fund? [closed]

Google definition defines fund as A sum of money saved or made available for a particular purpose. However, while I was looking up the definition of a trust fund, Google definition states it is, ...
0
votes
2answers
5k views

Correct order and terminology for meals in the day [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Lunch vs. dinner vs. supper — times and meanings? I know there are copious amounts of debates on this matter but is there actually one definitive answer for the order of ...
19
votes
7answers
14k views

“All that is gold does not glitter”

"All that is gold does not glitter" is the first line of a poem from the Lord of the Rings and it's supposed to mean "not all gold glitters" but I'm struggling to see how this can be deduced. If all ...
3
votes
2answers
314 views

“Sections X to Y” or “Sections X through Y”?

When referring to text that is in a set of consecutive sections, is there a difference in writing "Sections X to Y" compared to "Sections X through Y" ? My intended meaning is to include ...
3
votes
1answer
112 views

What is the meaning of “testotum”? [closed]

In the novel A Day Among The Liars by Edward Page Mitchell, there is this sentence: "My rod creaked and bent double," a stout, red-faced gentleman was saying, "and the birch spun like a testotum." ...
1
vote
3answers
908 views

What is the meaning of “chikan”?

Here is an excerpt from Revolution 2020 Aarthi wore a mauve chikan salwar-kameez. Her father had bought for her from Lucknow. What is the meaning of the word chikan? I can't find this word in my ...
6
votes
2answers
787 views

Meaning of “we are poised on the brink of dramatic changes”

What does "we are poised on the brink of dramatic changes" mean? I thought it means we are calm and composed when it comes to making dramatic changes.
2
votes
1answer
183 views

Meaning of “If you go round to the side, you will see that I am” [closed]

From G.K. Chesterton's Wikipedia page, there is the following anecdote: Chesterton was a large man, standing 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and weighing around 21 stone (130 kg; 290 lb). His girth ...
7
votes
3answers
11k views

What is a trope, and how does it differ from a metaphor?

The synonym of trope is defined as metaphor, but there seem to be some other implications when using the word trope that metaphor does not have. Can anyone explain this simply and sensibly?
6
votes
2answers
518 views

Meaning of “Y-o-u-u Tom!”

In the opening chapter of Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Tom's aunt Polly calls out to him in a rather peculiar fashion: She went to the open door and stood in it, and looked out among the ...
1
vote
1answer
177 views

Is “august public official” considered an idiom, and has august always been used to refer to public officials? [closed]

Reading this article they referred to Justice Scalia as an "august public official." The phrase is also used in the book "Parade's End" by Ford Madox Ford on page 423. I can't seem to find the ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

Origin of “Set on Its Ear”

I have seen both Set something on its ear and Turn something on its ear to mean make a surprising change in a certain area. I've been looking for its origins, which google ngram ...
-2
votes
1answer
60 views

“ground occupied..” meaning

I cannot figure out the meaning of this sentence: There is a ground in between the voluntary and the involuntary occupied by expressions that were once learned but come to operate ...
0
votes
1answer
8k views

Is “geisha girl” used to refer to actual geisha?

Wikipedia's article on Geisha states: "Geisha girls" were Japanese women who worked as prostitutes during the period of the Allied Occupation of Japan. They almost exclusively serviced ...
-1
votes
1answer
172 views

Definition of “Run a gauntlet of raucous”

Can anybody please explain this expression and the reason "run" is there (and not for example run-into) and how this can be related to gauntlet? The expression has been used in sentences like these: ...
5
votes
1answer
5k views

What's the meaning and origin of “Herp Derp”?

I have seen, usually in Internet meme jokes, the term "herp derp" being used in a derogatory sense, but I don't know what it means exactly — apart from the fact that it seems to be related to dumbness ...
3
votes
2answers
407 views

Is “default” used for “a value used when nothing has been explicitly set” outside of IT world?

In a discussion at another question, rajah9 mentioned that default is used to mean to fail to repay a loan, but that in the computer world we now use it to mean a value used when no value has been ...
-1
votes
1answer
6k views

Meaning of “to be” in the example

I cannot get the meaning of the following: The failure to include these actions, which could be easily performed, might by their absence betray an otherwise convincing claim to be feeling fear ...
2
votes
1answer
558 views

Verb or phrase meaning “to serve as evidence of one's character” [closed]

I want to know whether there might be an expression along the lines of "Convey X". Meaning, to serve as testament of X's character. I suspect that convey is not the correct verb, but I wonder if a ...
1
vote
2answers
58 views

Meaning of the word “nonlesson” [closed]

I came across the word "nonlesson" used in a research paper which talks about lessons learned from some incidents. I searched on Google but I wasn't able to find a meaning or usage of this word. I'd ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Explanation for “them's”

Recently someone said to me: Them's the rules I thought he had the sentence wrong, but as it turns out it is slang. I am learning English as a second language and I would really appreciate if ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Is this expression correct “Don't worry about it; it is supposed be one of the features of this year's release”

I have always been little confused regarding the use of supposed to. One meaning I am clear on is "obligation," another one is "a theory/concept accepted by a group of people," as in This restaurant ...
0
votes
1answer
215 views

What is the exact meaning of “English”? Why this language identified as “English”? [closed]

It struck me while searching for the meaning of the word English: what could be the meaning of the word "English", and why is this language called "English"?
1
vote
3answers
958 views

Can I always use “unless” interchangeably with “if not”? [closed]

I have been bothered by the question whether 'unless' and 'if not' can be used interchangeably. I think they can have the opposite meaning, but I am not sure. Could you support my opinion with some ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

Does “more or less” mean “almost”? [closed]

I checked out its meaning on the web and the common one I have found is "speaking imprecisely", but instinctively I thought it would be like "almost", for example: The task assigned is more or ...
3
votes
1answer
321 views

Framing with real evidence

Normally to frame somebody means 3 informal produce false evidence against (an innocent person) so that they appear guilty Now what in case of a cautious criminal who took care to hide/remove ...