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

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2answers
450 views

Talking “on behalf of Iranians” or “instead of Iranians”?

How do native English speakers use of them? Do they have different meanings? Positive or negative? For example, I want to use it in a sentence to send my negative feelings and idea about a person ...
1
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2answers
1k views

What does the expression “as bad as it is” mean?

What does the expression "as bad as it is" mean? Does it mean on top of that for e.g. as bad something (accident or something like that) is, something similarly bad? I have been sick all week. As ...
4
votes
3answers
577 views

Usage of “flavour” vs. “version”

Software systems undergo versioning when changes are made to them. E.g.: "Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows RT etc. are some popular versions of the Windows Operating System." Similarly, some software ...
0
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1answer
4k views

What does “fiend angelical” stand for?

Juliet--"Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!" (Act III Scene ii Line 77) When Juliet refers to Romeo as a "beautiful tyrant," she is expressing an oxymoron because the acts of a tyrant will rarely ...
2
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1answer
341 views

The use of “troop” for “trooper” by the media

What led to this new usage? Are there any clues as to its origin (i.e., is there a particular journalist or political figure who introduced it)? Is it on the upswing as I suspect (are there any ...
1
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2answers
205 views

Meaning (and History?) of “back of”?

I've come across the term "back of" (meaning "behind" in a physical or metaphorical sense) in a number of different works from around the turn of the 20th century*. Was this a linguistic fad of some ...
5
votes
4answers
332 views

What does “new to the beat” mean?

“Today’s Quote” of Washington Times (February 1) picked up the answer of White House Press Secretary, Jay Carney to a reporter when he was asked by the reporter whether the White House was planning a ...
2
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2answers
1k views

Meaning of “self-patronage”

Someone said he was not a fan of self-patronage. I was wondering, what does that mean? I have looked up the meaning of patronage.
-1
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1answer
388 views

The meaning of “parallel xxx products”? [closed]

In the following sentence, Parallel xxx products in the market will impact our sales. What is the definition or meaning of "parallel xxx products"?
4
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1answer
23k views

What does 'on-premises' mean?

Here is the example sentence. Windows Azure Caching was developed from an on-premises Caching solution that shipped with Microsoft AppFabric 1.1 for Windows Server. What does 'on-premises' ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

Alternative definitions of wifebeater

I was a li'l nonplussed to find out that the word wifebeater can mean other things besides "a man who beats up his wife". Its definition reads: One who (usually as a repeated practice) beats ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

What does the word “no” mean before a noun-adjective word? [closed]

I see some examples : - No cheese - No errors - No good I understand how to use "any", but "no" before a noun is weird (especially "no" before an adjective). Can anyone explain them?
1
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3answers
173 views

When 'willing' is added, does this intensify or weaken the meaning of “I bet”?

Although I could not see it in the fog, I knew that Gibbet Wood lay not far ahead at the top of Gibbet Hill. It would be wet and soggy in among the trees, but I was willing to bet that the ...
2
votes
2answers
78 views

“Optional machines to work with”

My point in the quoted sentence is to introduce a new section where I will list all the machines that are currently available for a given task. Optional machines to work with Is the sentence ...
-2
votes
2answers
753 views

What is the meaning of “get as far as doing something”?

What is the meaning of the expression or phrase "get as far as doing something"? For example, what does it mean in this sentence? They had got as far as painting the kitchen.
3
votes
3answers
354 views

“Vouchsafe” defined as to give in a gracious or condescending manner

NOAD defines *vouchsafe*as verb [ with two objs. ] give or grant (something) to (someone) in a gracious or condescending manner: it is a blessing vouchsafed him by heaven. • [ with obj. ] ...
0
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the difference between “so much” and “quite so much”?

I was told that "so much" is more emphatic than "quite so much", but I am not sure. Could you explain the difference between the following pairs of sentences? Don't put so much emphasis on that ...
1
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1answer
515 views

Can you “escalate down” on an escalator?

In a recent article in New York magazine, a reporter described an entourage of politicians preparing to leave a building " . . . we headed for the exits, and as we were all escalating down to the ...
7
votes
2answers
95 views

Who is “Martha” alluded to in “Eight Cousins”?

Early in Louisa May Alcott's novel Eight Cousins, a character is described thus: Aunt Plenty was utterly dissimilar, being a stout, brisk old lady, with a sharp eye, a lively tongue, and a face ...
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3answers
653 views

“Restricted quality” vs. “limited quality” [closed]

I want to express that an entity has different levels of quality concerning some criterion and these levels are ordered. For an example, I have five different levels: Entity X is of high quality ...
-2
votes
1answer
340 views

Give me more examples using the word 'legerdemain.' [closed]

I came across the word, 'legerdemain' in the newspaper. This part says about Romney. ...And, his tax legerdemain has made him seem shady. A dictionary says that it is skill in using your hands to ...
0
votes
3answers
11k views

What is the meaning of “build off of”?

What is the meaning of "build off of"? I Googled it, but can't find any definition! I encountered it in the sentence in a technical book. The sentence is: For the application we will build, the ...
2
votes
4answers
16k views

What better way?

With this sentence What better way to celebrate the peace than with a fight? Is "what better way to" an informal phrase? Would it be better to write What is better than fighting as a way to ...
1
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3answers
3k views

Wording and Capitalization of Western food

I have two questions on the following sentence: Have you ever been in a foreign country for half year without eating western food? Q1: Do I need to capitalize Western ? Q2: Assume the writer is ...
2
votes
4answers
5k views

“First off” vs “first”

First off we need to write down a word; second we need... First we need to write down a word; second we need... What's the subtle difference between "first off" and "first"? Moreover, ...
1
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1answer
195 views

Parenthetical statement that expresses a condition

I am studying a book and one of the lines (which was written in the 30's) is, We had admitted that we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable. My question is ...
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votes
1answer
2k views

silver lining explained [closed]

What is, in the physical sense, the silver lining of a cloud? Is it something that exists? (I know it has some poetic origin, but maybe back then, silver lining was something, like rays shining ...
1
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3answers
2k views

Using an adjective to describe something that is already intended

Is there a word that describes the case of using an adjective to describe a noun that already suggests as much? Examples the pretty model won all of the awards the smart genius answered ...
6
votes
2answers
793 views

What does “pay you out” mean?

I came across the following passage of text in one of the original Thomas the Tank Engine stories, and realised there was a phrase in there that I didn't understand. "Be careful with the coaches, ...
3
votes
5answers
1k views

Struggling to understand headlines that use ellipsis

I have trouble understanding headlines because they abuse ellipsis. Two examples: "Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan To Awkwardly Hug, High Five For Next Three Months" "Scores Dead as Fire Sweeps Through ...
2
votes
2answers
969 views

What's the difference between “sea port” and “maritime port”?

Road transport is not the only sector concerned. LNG is also used in maritime and inland waterway transport. The Commission therefore proposes the installation of fuel stations in leading ...
1
vote
3answers
9k views

Is there a rule for “wouldn't” used to mean “didn't want”?

I have seen the sentences in books where wouldn't seems to have been used in the meaning of didn't want, and I wonder if such a rule exists. For instance, I wanted to participate, but he wouldn't ...
2
votes
2answers
279 views

The word 'opprobrium'

Free Dictionary states that one of the definitions for 'opprobrium' is Disgrace arising from exceedingly shameful conduct; ignominy. Dictionary.com states it means the disgrace or the ...
0
votes
4answers
3k views

The difference between using a comma or a full stop

What's the difference between "I see, I see" and "I see. I see"? Can one use a comma in between? The first sentence could be used in formal writing, right? What about this one: "My house, my rules" ...
1
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2answers
67 views

Can 'it' be used plurally?

Can 'it' as a pronoun refer to many different imperative verbs? For instance, in the sentence: Abide by thy customs, thou excellent one: grind thy corn, drink thy water, praise thy cooking,-- if ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

Why isn’t “hermeticity” easily found in the dictionaries?

The word hermeticity as (for the lack of better definition, hence the question) “the quality of being hermetic” (not to be confused with mathematical hermiticity, which is also absent from the general ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

Does “or” mean both conditions?

We are ordinary Russian folks playing an English board game and came across this sentence: You may splay your green or blue cards left. We expected that it meant you must choose only one card ...
4
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1answer
284 views

Please help explain this long sentence

It bore an engraved escutcheon, a herald's wording of which may serve for a motto and brief description of our now concluded legend; so sombre is it, and relieved only by one ever-glowing point ...
3
votes
4answers
950 views

How closely synonymous are “forward” and “straightforward”?

Part 1: Introduction In the U.S., we have a game show called Jeopardy!, where contestants answer trivia questions in certain categories. This television program, which has aired for a few decades ...
0
votes
1answer
115 views

“It is” + present simple

If it is build here, it will be next to a large housing estate. Can anyone tell me if "it is build" in the above sentence is correct? And if so, why isn't it in the form "it is" + past ...
0
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3answers
413 views

“I went to bed hungry” vs. “I went to bed hungrily” [closed]

What is the exact difference between "I went to bed hungry" and "I went to bed hungrily"?
3
votes
1answer
11k views

One of the few vs one of few

When do you use "one of the few" and "one of few"? Take for example: He went to a boarding school, one of few in the country. and He went to a boarding school, one of the few in the ...
2
votes
2answers
9k views

Why do we say “I might add” when we are definitely adding something?

Often when a piece of rhetoric is being added for emphasis, we put "I might add" before or after or sometimes inside of it. Martin Brice - my old and good friend who promised me we would not get ...
4
votes
1answer
1k views

What does “to have a little form” mean?

In the article, "Not nein...but TEN reasons why we should love Germany", the following phrase is being used: LET’S face it, Britain and Germany have a little form over the past century. ...
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1answer
924 views

What does “get in” mean? [closed]

I am unable to understand what does the following sentence mean: I will do something when I get in.
0
votes
2answers
150 views

What is the meaning of “idiot-proof”? [closed]

What is the meaning of "idiot-proof", as in: Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce ...
6
votes
6answers
582 views

Is there bad grammar in Cinemark's “No Texting” warning?

The sentence in question is "Do not be the person we ask to leave the auditorium, because we will." It sounds very wrong to me, but I can't put my finger on the exact problem. Nobody on the Internet ...
0
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3answers
839 views

Is “tell neither X nor Y” equivalent to “not tell both X and Y” or “not tell either X and Y”? [closed]

Given the sentence "John told neither the boss nor the secretary.", which of the following has the same meaning? John did not tell both the boss and the secretary. John did not tell either ...
0
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1answer
1k views

Meaning of “as close as you can get with safe sex”

What does "as close as you can get with safe sex" mean? I read this sentence in "Hannibal" from Thomas Harris, the original is Our informant's close to the family situation, like, he's very ...
5
votes
4answers
575 views

What is 'draw on'

This question was asked earlier (not by me), but closed and deleted by a mod. But I thought it was interesting, because I didn't know the answer. So I'm reposting it.... The verb phrasal 'draw on' ...