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

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5
votes
4answers
23k views

Meaning of “catch you on the flip side”

I received an email from a coworker, and we're not that friendly. Actually, we're not friends at all, just two good colleagues. In his email, he wrote as his last sentence Catch you on the flip ...
12
votes
6answers
43k views

Origin of the idiom “falling off the wagon”

I often hear the idiom "falling off the wagon", as in "Has Robert Downey Jr. fallen off the wagon?" (i.e. Is he drinking alcohol again?). Where did the phrase originate? What wagon? And why is being ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Reason for the strange meaning of “for any length of time”?

Consider the sentence [emphasis mine]: Foreign producers cannot sell all commodities at lower prices than domestic producers for any length of time because the depreciation (or pressures for ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

“Scholar” vs. “scientist”

I mainly associate scholar with scholarship. But what's its etymological origin? On scientific websites both scholar and scientist seem to be used with the same meaning; A graduate working actively on ...
5
votes
2answers
3k views

Difference between “memoir” and “biography”

I am an avid reader, and noticed that books I checked out from the library lately seem to use "memoir" and "biography" interchangeably, although they are all shelved as "biographies". Is there an ...
-2
votes
2answers
249 views

Understanding “that” as in this statement

If I only say something as below without further more explanation, will a native speaker understand me? He may be sexually dysfunctional, lately he can't do that his best. That's why I am here to ...
36
votes
3answers
6k views

What is the meaning of the phrase 'Here be dragons'?

What does here be dragons mean in the example below? WARNING Here be dragons. Relative source binding can not only encourage bad application practices, such as binding to things defined in ...
-1
votes
1answer
111 views

“Know” and “know not”

I don't recognise the name Herb Sutter. I don't know him. I know him not. What's the difference?
4
votes
3answers
622 views

Is the term “antagonym” widely used to describe a word that is its own antonym?

There are several words which have contradictory meanings. They may have one meaning now, and have had a different meaning in the past. For example, the current definition of peruse is: to look ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

What does “very approximate” mean?

An approximate answer is one which is close to the correct answer. Likewise, we can talk of an approximate model, or approximate methods in mathematics. The etymology is from the Latin ad, "to" and ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Definition of “scolt”

We found a gravestone in Ashby MA. with an old word on it we could not understand. "Lot, son of ... was scolt to death Decr. 8, 1806, aged 2 years and 10 months.". We are not sure what scolt ...
3
votes
2answers
933 views

“cold cash” vs. “hard cash”

Context (New York Times): Besides piling into Treasuries, institutional investors are also seeking out the safety of cold, hard cash, pouring billions into commercial bank accounts backed up ...
1
vote
4answers
503 views

Word for company that takes bets on illegal events or helps you bet

As I understand bookmaker in English is a person or company that takes bets on events. But I have two questions related to this word: Is there any special word for a person or company that takes ...
-3
votes
1answer
209 views

Confusion about meaning of sentences in Economist

I am confused about the parts in bold while reading Economist. And the feeble recovery is petering out. Their prescription for a weak economy is a large slug of austerity. Why do we use the ...
5
votes
4answers
8k views

Difference between “to fear” and “to be afraid of”

I fear/am afraid I changed my gender. The very thing I fear/am afraid of is the thing that I can't realize that I actually changed not the thing that I consciously know that I changed. That ...
4
votes
2answers
314 views

What is the meaning of the subclause of 'goes off the deep end'?

If a real-time program goes off the deep end, the system can become unresponsive.
-2
votes
2answers
290 views

“Win the lottery”, “win a lottery”, “win lottery” [closed]

Should it be win the lottery or win a lottery or just win lottery? The sentences below sound the same to me. Are they? I lost $5000 to lottery. I lost $5000 for lottery.
2
votes
1answer
13k views

“No more”, “no longer”, “not anymore”

You love me no more. You no longer love me. You don't love me anymore. How are these three sentences different from one another? I use not anymore more often than the others. But once I ...
12
votes
6answers
7k views

What is the meaning and etymology of “ruthless?”

A "standard" definition is something like "cruel," or "remorseless." But what does this have to do with "ruth" (or lack thereof)? Is this a reference to a kind person named Ruth? Perhaps a clue may ...
3
votes
2answers
93k views

What does “proverbial” mean?

This word proverbial has been bothering me a lot lately. I cannot understand it even after translating it into my native language. I would like to know its meaning as well as its origin.
0
votes
2answers
744 views

What does “life plays tricks on him” mean?

What does this statement mean? Life plays tricks on him. Is it similar to He has a twisted fate.
5
votes
3answers
8k views

What does “möbius” (moebius) mean?

In Starcraft II there was a mission called The Moebius Factor. Unrelated to that, a new Futurama episode called Möbius Dick was recently released. Does anyone have any idea what does the word mean? ...
9
votes
5answers
1k views

What does “This being…” mean here?

This being Silverlight, you’d expect there to be some way to get the XAML representation of the selected text—and you’d be right. What does the clause 'This being Silverlight', and especially ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “upon” here?

In the New York Times: "And it worked — boy, did it work. Visitors flooded Hulu upon its public opening in March 2008." Dictionary.com: 4. immediately or very soon after 5. on the ...
5
votes
4answers
14k views

Difference between “the same…as” and “the same …that”

I have the same book as you have. I have the same book that you have. In Korea, we learn that the same...as and the same...that have different meanings. Teachers or grammar books say that ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

“Intent” vs. “intention”

How are intent and intention distinguished in terms of usage? My guess after checking my pocket dictionary is Intent is used to mean a bad purpose. Their intent to kill the boy is crystal ...
1
vote
5answers
754 views

“Drinking water” or “drunk water”

Why do people use bottled drinking water instead of bottled drunk water? I am puzzled by the two sentences. I am drinking some water. Some water is being drunk. I know they are the same ...
1
vote
2answers
500 views

Does ‘dislodge’ mean removing accidentally or intentionally?

I’d like to focus on one of the meanings of ‘dislodge’, to remove something. A dictionary says it means forcing or knocking something out of its position. What I’d like to know is if the word of ...
1
vote
1answer
6k views

Meaning of “I'm so excited I could crush a grape”

I read this on a sports website, where a fan is welcoming a new signing in their team. I assume this means one is really excited, but what is the meaning of "crush a grape" - does it imply opening a ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

“Feel it in my bones”

Does "Feel it in my bones" sound natural? I have never seen or heard any native speakers use something like that, except in a subtitle of a movie I watched long ago. What are other phrases, or common ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

What does the phrase 'off of' mean in the following sentence?

This threshold is currently eight, so if count is less than or equal to 8, the vectored I/O operation occurs in a very memory-efficient manner off of the process’ kernel stack.
1
vote
2answers
134 views

Use of “mental” and “spiritual” as adjectives

If I say something encouraging for someone, then I am mentally or spiritually supporting him. I mean to input into his head as well as resurect ideas of possibility that has been far out of ...
5
votes
2answers
432 views

Is ‘Bash-a-thon’ a received English phrase or just a combination of words?

I saw the word ‘Bash-a-thon’ in the headline of the Time magazine article (August 3) - ‘Palin Joins in Romney Bash-a-thon’ followed by the lead coy: “In an interview with Hannity, Palin takes Romney ...
2
votes
2answers
313 views

Etymology and meaning of “discretionary” [closed]

I found this sentence on a page about MyPyramid: There is one other category: Discretionary calories, represented by the narrow tip of each colored band, including items such as candy, ...
0
votes
1answer
412 views

Two consecutive “that”, “that that” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How do you handle “that that”? The double “that” problem I've encountered this sentence in a technical book: A browsing context has a session ...
2
votes
3answers
7k views

What is a toit?

From the compound word hoity-toity meaning 'thoughtless giddy behaviour', where hoity is the word hoit, meaning 'to behave thoughtlessly and frivolously'. However, I can't seem to find the meaning of ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

What does it mean to be “worth someone's keep”?

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. What does it mean ...
0
votes
3answers
4k views

What's the difference between “I want” and “I am wanting”?

What is the difference between the two? Why and where is the latter very strange sounding variant used?
1
vote
2answers
357 views

What is a “mind-share leader”? [closed]

My limited understanding is that it applies to a company that comes first when people think about a particular topic. Could I say Microsoft is a mind-share leader for Operating Systems? The ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

“Let's play with each other” vs. “Let's play together”

Do Let's play with each other and Let's play together mean the same thing? Do they have different connotations? What's the difference?
7
votes
3answers
17k views

“Next Friday” vs. “This Friday” [duplicate]

Duplicate: What day is next Tuesday? I have always considered next Friday to be not this coming Friday, but the one after. This Friday is the Friday at the end of this week. I have a ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

“Dissociate” vs “disassociate”

Both "dissociate" and "disassociate" are defined as removing an association but is there a difference between the two? Does the "associate" part of "disassociate" imply a stronger former connection ...
7
votes
5answers
541 views

What is the upper bound on “several”?

In this answer on Stack Overflow, the term "several" is used as an indeterminate number, the actual value of which is literally in the quintillions: Zero is one of several values that can be ...
2
votes
3answers
334 views

Meaning of “no two”

Is the following sentence ambiguous? The eight queens puzzle is the problem of placing eight queens on an 8x8 chess board so that no two queens attack each other. Do we need to add "or more" ...
3
votes
3answers
384 views

Is “senility” pejorative?

Could you please give your opinion on whether or not "senility" is a pejorative term? My sentence is: Although there wasn't any real upper age limit, elders who seemed to be affected by senility ...
2
votes
2answers
283 views

Please explain this sentence (a precept, really) [closed]

Intuitively, aside from being convoluted, it doesn't seem to make sense. Power of an imagination can arise from what it refuses to foresee.
1
vote
3answers
340 views

What does “bordered on narcoleptic” mean? [closed]

What does bordered on narcoleptic mean in the following passage? But if an explanation is where the mind comes to rest, the mind that stopped at “lucky” when it sought to explain the Oakland A’s ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does “sucker” mean “unexpected” in “Sucker Punch”?

Sucker punch seems to mean "an unexpected punch" in slang. What is the origin of this term and why does sucker mean unexpected in sucker punch?
0
votes
4answers
598 views

What does “The power to be strong” mean, and is it valid English?

I was reading Microsoft Encarta and in a part of it, Nietzsche’s ideology was put forward as: "For Nietzsche the power to be strong was the greatest value in life" Isn't "the power to be strong" ...
10
votes
3answers
486 views

Do listeners understand different adjective orders?

I found Adjective order, but I keep wondering if listeners actually understand what I mean when I don't follow that order. For example, if I say, "a lovely long white coat," I may change it to "a long ...