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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (6)

1
vote
2answers
2k views

Difference between ''He wishes it didn't…'' and ''He wishes it wouldn't…''

I was teaching first and second conditionals to an intermediate English class the other day, and then we started with 'wish' statements. We talked about famous people and their wishes. For example: ...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

“Down the shore” versus “at the beach”

What is the difference between down the shore and at the beach? Does the latter imply you are physically on the beach?
6
votes
4answers
5k views

Difference between “purpose” and “goal”

What does this sentence from Star Trek: The Alternative Factor mean? Jim, madness has no purpose ... or reason ... but it may have a goal. As far as I know purpose and goal are synonyms. How ...
4
votes
1answer
5k views

Use of “concretely” for “specifically”

I have sometimes seen people using concretely in places where I would normally use specifically. I am not sure if both words correctly apply or if concretely is just a mistranslation from another ...
1
vote
0answers
1k views

“To a T” or “To a Tee”, and where does it come from? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Origin of “Fits [x] to a T”? I frequently hear the phrase "To a T[ee]", but I'm not sure that I've ever seen it written. What is the correct way to write ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Use of “relax” as noun [closed]

I looked up relax in various English dictionaries and it is always listed as a verb only, the noun being relaxation. However in my mother tongue (Italian) relax is normally used as a noun. Is this ...
2
votes
2answers
3k views

How to say “some sort of reason”

Is it common to say There is some sort of reason to support my stance on this? How do we say some sort of reason in such sentences?
12
votes
5answers
42k views

Why do we say “as it were”?

In English we often add "as it were" to indicate that a phrase is not to be taken literally; for example: He's flown from the nest, as it were. ... would indicate that a boy has left his ...
-1
votes
1answer
246 views

What does this sentence mean:“If you fail to dot an “I” or cross a “T,” you could be…”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “there are still a few administrative i's to dot and t's to cross” From here there is a sentence: If you fail to dot an “I” or cross a “T,” you ...
1
vote
3answers
593 views

Does *tourist* have a derogatory connotation of *inexperienced* or any other meanings in the clip of Ice Age3? [closed]

As a major in tourism, I've already acknowledged that tourists' notoriety among the destination dwellers by taking pictures of anything,disregarding the unwritten rules ... Here I will not go on to ...
4
votes
1answer
289 views

Outmoded word for “next Tuesday”

I am writing an email and wanted to refer to this coming Tuesday. The phrase "Tuesday est" popped into my mind (something Miss Marple might have said) but when I googled it I could find no reference. ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

“Kill”, “murder” or “slay”

I have a vague idea of the three words kill, murder and slay, but I am not sure exactly what makes the verbs different (as well as the nouns killer, murderer and slayer). When do we use each of them? ...
5
votes
3answers
16k views

Is there a difference between “Grecian” and “Greek”?

As far as I can tell, "Grecian" and "Greek" both mean "of or pertaining to Greece." Is there any difference at all between them?
1
vote
2answers
140 views

“On reality” vs “in reality”

I am not sure of the difference between these two phrases, especially the meaning of on reality. I found the phrase lost his grip on reality; can I use in instead of on in this case?
17
votes
6answers
6k views

“Hypocrisy is the compliment vice pays to virtue” — what does this mean?

I heard Christopher Hitchens say this in a debate, and he attributed it to someone I hadn't heard of. But I fixated on this quotation and thought about it for a while. Hypocrisy is the compliment ...
3
votes
4answers
430 views

“Rumpus” vs “ruckus”

My brother thinks a ruckus is more violent than a rumpus. I think most people normally only use one word or the other for any disturbance/commotion. Apologies if this looks a bit like a "vote" type ...
8
votes
3answers
839 views

Difference between “dawn” and “realize”

I encountered a word dawn and I have a feeling I understood the meaning in context. For example, 1) It dawned on him that she had loved him. means 2) It entered his consciousness that she ...
3
votes
2answers
198 views

Usage of the word “spoof”

In this SuperUser question titled "What are ways to prevent files with the Right-to-Left Override Unicode character in their name (a malware spoofing method) from being written or read?", what I ...
2
votes
3answers
41k views

Meaning of the phrase “to name a few”? [closed]

What is meaning of the phrase "to name a few" in below sentence: Our clients include Commonwealth Bank, Lexus, Tourism Australia to name a few I rarely see this phrase, so I think there's an ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Are “smith” and “blacksmith” synonymous? [closed]

Dictionary.com says noun 1. a worker in metal. 2. a blacksmith. Does this mean that they are the same?
3
votes
1answer
334 views

Meaning of “six-three”

What is the meaning of "six-three" in this excerpt from a New York Times article? “Turn around,” Mr. Florence, in an interview last year, recalled being told by jail officials. “Squat and cough. ...
9
votes
6answers
7k views

Meaning of “game of thrones”

What exactly does game of thrones mean? It is being translated into my native language (Czech) as a game in which one might win one of the many thrones, but to me it sounds more like a game in which ...
2
votes
3answers
612 views

Does the word “troll” necessarily have negative connotations?

Does the word "troll" necessarily imply negative connotations? More specifically, can the word "troll"/"trolling" be legitimately used to describe a posting which is clearly made with intent of ...
0
votes
1answer
438 views

What is the meaning of expression “zen and the art of..” [closed]

Over the years I have come across a bunch of book titles and blog posts that goes "Zen and the art of X", and X being any damn thing. What to deduct when you see such a title? My research lead me to ...
3
votes
1answer
640 views

What is a “Chain of Chinese whispers”?

I had never (before today) heard this phrase. I attempted to Google it, but only found examples of its use, not much different from my first experience. (I also tried two idiom dictionaries, but chain ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Is “payless” synonym of “free”?

Does "payless" mean "for zero price", and "free" (as in beer)? I searched the dictionaries but could not find the word. I also wonder whether "cost-free" means the same.
9
votes
4answers
9k views

What is the difference between “special” and “especial”?

I can decide accurately which to use in a given context, but I can't make out the actual difference in definition between "special" and "especial". I have searched two authoritative dictionaries to no ...
3
votes
2answers
200 views

Can “in between” refer to a single continuous action?

Can we say in between if we are in the middle of an action? For example: The doctor told me not to eat anything after midnight. In the morning I accidentally ate a seed and recalled as I was in ...
4
votes
3answers
395 views

Does the word “catching” apply to people?

If we can say "I am running to catch the train", is it also appropriate to say that "I am going to the office early to catch the boss"?
3
votes
2answers
8k views

“Appointed as” or just “appointed”?

Is it more correct to say a) John was appointed as manager of ACME. or b) John was appointed manager of ACME. Or are they interchangeable?
0
votes
2answers
274 views

What does “never a break” mean? [closed]

I was watching the movie "As good as it gets" and came across the phrase "never a break" in reference to a car. What does it mean? Also, what does the movie title itself mean? edit: replaced brake ...
5
votes
4answers
5k views

Is there any difference between “post” and “position”?

I know that both post and position are polysemic and have a lot of non-overlapping meanings, but I am asking about the following definitions: position: a post of employment: a position in a bank. ...
4
votes
2answers
6k views

Meaning of “a window to the world”

What does the phrase "a window to the world mean"? Is this the correct format of the phrase. How can I use it in a sentence? (e.g. The plants in this garden provide a window to the world of flora ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

Is “to have to do something with” ambiguous?

I am struggling with understanding of this structure. So here is something I would need to explain: It has to do something with the car. [It is related to the car somehow.] But what if I want to ...
4
votes
2answers
640 views

Is a “misspelled” word which subsequently creates another word still considered misspelled? [closed]

According to Dictionary.com: mis·spell·ing   [mis-spel-ing] noun the act of spelling incorrectly: Note his misspelling of that word. an incorrectly spelled word: You have three ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Difference between “respect of others” and “respect by others”

What is the difference between respect of others and respect by others? Is there any rule that applies here?
1
vote
3answers
1k views

How should I understand “I trade A for B”?

[ADDED:] Which of the following is the meaning of "I trade A for B"? I give A so that I can get B. I give B so that I can get A. The following is an example from a piece of news on this site: ...
13
votes
2answers
10k views

Why do people say “Work like a dog?”

To mean working hard? Dogs just lie around and nap. That's not working hard...
3
votes
2answers
445 views

Can the word “luxury” be used as a concrete noun?

I was wondering if we can use the word "luxury" to refer to a "luxurious item", For example, are the sentences below considered grammatical? : I have a luxury. I have one luxury. I have three ...
5
votes
2answers
399 views

Sing Song - nursery poem definitions

My wife was reading me this poem for our kids' homeschool A city plum is not a plum; A dumb-bell is no bell, though dumb; A statesman's rat is not a rat; A sailor's cat is not a cat; A soldier's ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Is “Give (get) space” a common usage for “give (get) flexibility / freedom”?

NSNBC (March 26) reported that President Obama was overheard telling Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to “give him space" until after November during his meetings in South Korea on missile defense, ...
14
votes
6answers
168k views

Difference between “supposedly” and “supposably”

What is the difference between supposedly and supposably? Both are real words but seem to have confusingly similar definitions. Supposably: Capable of being supposed : conceivable ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

Complex sentence using “instead” [closed]

I would really need help with the following sentence. The significance of culture and identity in development has to do not so much with the cultural factor in the process of development as with ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

Why do we say “Hear! Hear!”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Hear hear or here here? I don't know if this is a common expression anymore. The first time I encountered this expression, it was in a book. It is obviously used to ...
1
vote
1answer
394 views

What does “reputee” mean? [closed]

I wonder what does the word "reputee" mean? What is the meaning?
2
votes
2answers
980 views

Meaning of 'snuff' as in 'snuff film'

Snuff film means a pornographic film in which one of the actors is murdered during or after a sadistic sexual act. On the other hand, snuff means act of inhaling, breathing in; sound made ...
6
votes
2answers
10k views

“Stop working” vs “stopped to work”

I want to know, is there any difference between "stop + v.(ing)" and "stopped to + v.". These are example sentences. I stop working for a month. vs I stopped to work for a month. I stop watching ...
-4
votes
2answers
932 views

“Innovation” vs “invention” [closed]

What is the difference between innovation and invention? Where should we use these words? I referred to Wikipedia but did not understand much.
1
vote
1answer
695 views

What's the difference between “that will be $200” and “that would be $200”?

When you are negotiating prices with your customer, you might say "that's $200," "that'll be $200," or "that would be $200." Are there any differences among them?
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Correct usage of “so would” and “a priori”

Is this phrase syntactically correct? Because X may take different forms, a priori so would Y. I am especially asking about the usage of "so would", but also about the place of "a priori". ...