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

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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
822 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
311 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
861 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
458 views

“Intent” and “purport”

I was unable to understand the similarities and differences between intent and purport. A description will be good to understand.
2
votes
1answer
475 views

What does “It dopes it really really well. Dope even” mean? [closed]

Recently I came across a stackoverflow comment for a post. It goes something like this. Dojo has an UpgradeBar that dopes this: Blah Blah Blah and then somebody commented the post It ...
2
votes
2answers
223 views

What does ‘Knicks have to go through another week of “jelling on the fly”’ mean?

I came across the phrase ‘jelling on the fly’ in today’s New York Times’ article titled, ‘The Knicks are racing to blend talent into a team.’ As I don’t understand the meaning of ‘jell on the fly,’ I ...
5
votes
4answers
7k views

What does “punch line” mean?

I read this sentence and I don't understand what "punch line" means here: Most people recognize this Amazon: Jeff Bezos's hyperproficient Borders-killer; one of the few dot-com initial ...
6
votes
6answers
2k views

What connotation do these words describing “someone who straightforwardly expresses their” opinion have?

The adjective ones I have heard recently are forward straightforward forthcoming frank I was wondering if each of them has positive, negative or neutral meaning? What are other similar terms ...
6
votes
6answers
1k views

Terms to apply to something that leaves strong memory

Do the following terms have positive, neutral or negative meaning? memorable impressive remarkable What are other similar terms that are used for positive, neutral and negative intention?
3
votes
1answer
453 views

Meaning of 'sphere of'

who attempted to make sense of every sphere of social life
5
votes
1answer
677 views

What does Agatha Christie’s line, ‘Speak through one’s nose full of b's and d's’ mean?

Unlike my usual questions picked up from newspaper sources, this question regards literature. I was asked by one of my friends who is an English enthusiast about the meaning of “speak through one’s ...
3
votes
3answers
3k views

Where did “I tend to agree.” as a standalone statement originate?

And what does it mean? When I first started hearing someone using it a few years ago, I figured it was a personal spin on "agree sometimes", but apparently, he's not the only one who uses this ...
5
votes
4answers
758 views

Meaning of the expression “2.1 kids”

What does it mean to say, "Everyone in this city has 2.1 kids"? Is this an idiom?
3
votes
4answers
4k views

What does “country fellows” actually mean?

I searched on Internet for country fellows, but I couldn't find definition. What is the origin and the real meaning of country fellows?
1
vote
5answers
1k views

Are “zugzwang”, “catch-22” and “catch-33” synonyms?

Are these words synonyms? zugzwang — a situation where one player is put at a disadvantage because he has to make a move when he would prefer to pass and make no move catch-22 — a ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the origin of “33” in “catch-33”?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catch_Thirtythree explains: Lyrically, the album is a concept album, revolving around different kinds of paradoxes, hence the title Catch Thirtythree (see Catch-22). ...
14
votes
4answers
8k views

“Relation” versus “relationship”

What is the difference between relation and relationship? Some say that relationship often refers to social connections. For instance, She has a close relationship with her daughter. How ...
9
votes
4answers
11k views

What is the origin of “Color me confused”?

I drowned in the search results of articles using "Color me confused" phrase. What is its meaning and origin?
10
votes
5answers
23k views

What's the difference between “client” and “customer”?

I already asked a similar question (customer vs. client vs. user vs. consumer of on-line service) but, I believe, there may be some differences between technical and legal jargon and general usage of ...
3
votes
5answers
475 views

What can't you describe without a picture?

What do you call objects, or kinds of objects, that cannot be described without visual aids?
0
votes
2answers
639 views

What's the meaning of 'cub/s'? [closed]

What's the meaning of "cub" or "cubs" and in what context is it used?
4
votes
3answers
2k views

“Trust” vs. “Cartel”

The establishment of trust is quite difficult but for cartel it is comparatively easy. What is the difference between trust and cartel? Does the word "oligopoly" have a different meaning in ...
5
votes
1answer
171 views

Meaning of “to scratch”

Can the verb to scratch mean "start from the beginning"? Can I say "I scratched" to say "I started from the beginning"?
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “to pick someone's cherry” mean?

Does it strictly refer to taking someone's virginity, or does it express sexual intercourse in general?
2
votes
3answers
661 views

What do “muckraker” and “rake muck” mean?

Are they the same? What do they mean? Here is the sentence: I was one of the most experienced. All of us were judged by our ability to rake muck. The head muckraker was Frederica Jansz...
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Which of these meanings for the word “pet” came first?

The word "pet" has a few different definitions (my own paraphrase): n: An animal kept for companionship. v: To affectionately caress. My question is, which of these usages originated first? Do we ...
16
votes
4answers
2k views

Isn't the word “uninstall” wrong?

I've never understood this. Why is the proper usage "uninstall"? You can't actually "unin" something at all and this isn't that case with most (all?) other use cases. Examples: You make someone ...