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

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10
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2answers
2k views

What does “adorkable” mean? How popular is this word? To what kind of objects and occasions can I apply “adorkable”?

I happened to find the paperback book titled Adorkable, by Sarra Manning, on the GoodReads site. There is no entry for adorkable in the Cambridge, Oxford or Merriam-Webster dictionaries, or in ...
15
votes
2answers
544 views

What does the “a’ ” in “a’blowing” signify?

Quotation from A History of the Cries of London: Ancient and Modern Oh, dearly do I love “Old Cries,”  Your “Lilies all a’blowing!” Your blossoms blue, still wet wih dew,  “Sweet ...
8
votes
3answers
5k views

What's the difference between “hallow”, “sacred”, “holy” and “saint”? [closed]

Hallow, sacred, holy and saint seem to resemble each other but are not identical. So what's the difference between them? I have searched http://dictionary.babylon.com and spotted: Hallow: ...
3
votes
1answer
178 views

What is a “transparent” adverb?

A scholar writes: A transparent adverb can only be used after sentence negation or after another sentence adverb if it carries a stress: Conrad has not really left. Conrad has probably really ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

What is the difference between “apart”, “except”, “other than” and “besides”?

Do the following phrases have the same meaning or are there differences? Fortunately, apart from a broken toe, she was not badly hurt after the car accident. Fortunately, except for a broken ...
0
votes
2answers
79 views

Structure of “the talk was of 'smart' sanctions” [closed]

From an article named "Iran’s nuclear programme: A red line and a reeling rial": SIX YEARS ago, when America and Europe were putting in place the first raft of measures to press Iran to come clean ...
-2
votes
1answer
8k views

What does “This change has been a long time coming” mean? [closed]

This change has been a long time coming. So what does this sentence really mean — the change has taken a long period of time to finally occur? Or something different?
7
votes
2answers
6k views

Alleged misuse of the word 'respective'

I was told I misused the word respective in the sentence 'If bilingual, please list the respective languages.' My understanding is that the word points to the prior mentioned subjects. Here's a ...
7
votes
2answers
2k views

Who coined the phrase “trickle-down government” and what does it mean?

“Trickle-down government” or “trickledown government” seems to be one of Mitt Romney’s more memorable lines from the October 3, 2012 political debate between the Republican presidential candidate and ...
1
vote
3answers
1k views

What's the meaning of “endorse” here?

What's the meaning of endorse here? A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter the territory for which it was issued, subject to permission of an immigration official at ...
1
vote
3answers
3k views

What's the difference between “get up” and “stand up”?

I'm translating Bob Marley's song "Get up, stand up" and, consulting my dictionary, I can't understand the difference between these two verbs. I have understood the overall meaning of this song, of ...
1
vote
3answers
5k views

Does “absent friends” have definite association with deceased family/friends?

Having gotten married this year and acting as best man for my brother, one of the responsibilities for speeches was a toast "to absent friends". With some of our family no longer being alive, for us ...
6
votes
3answers
653 views

The meaning of “People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.”

I am having a hard time understanding the following Logan Pearsall Smith quote: People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading. Googling didn't help much other than whose quote it is. ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

What does the idiom “to sound a little off” mean?

What does the idiom "to sound a little off" mean in American English?
2
votes
3answers
351 views

What does dax ipsa refer to? [closed]

I was listening to a Tripod song, an Australian comedy band, and they used the 'name' dax ipsa (spelled phonetically). It was obviously some sort of joke, but I have no clue what it actually means? Is ...
29
votes
19answers
14k views

Single-word synonym for a “pedantic rule-follower”?

What do you call a person who always follows the rules, at the expense of everything else? I’m thinking there’s one word that can describe this, but I can’t place it.
4
votes
2answers
564 views

“At most as many” — what does it mean? [closed]

I've been given the following question as a homework: If h is consistent, then A* - CSCS will expand at most as many nodes as A* graph search. English not being my native language, I'm kind of ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

“He has WiFi” vs. “He has wireless” [closed]

I came across the picture below (http://comics.likeyou.me/he-has-wifi/1586/). Despite the fact this is a comic, I'm wondering if the word "WiFi" is being used correctly here. Shouldn't it be ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

Idiom thesaurus? [closed]

Can you recommend some searchable resource that maps given expression onto idioms meaning that thing? There are quite a few dictionaries that contain a list of idioms containing a given word which is ...
0
votes
1answer
6k views

Prepositions: “upon” vs. “after”

Despite having heard enough times already that upon is an archaic version of the on preposition, I'm still struggling to thoroughly understand its meaning and usage. In the quoted sentence, ...
0
votes
1answer
235 views

Can anyone tell me meaning of this paragraph? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Can anyone tell me meaning of given sentence Can anyone tell me exact meaning what this paragraph is trying to say? Think of a product you would like to sell on the ...
0
votes
1answer
420 views

What is the meaning of “Ha et cetera”?

In William Golding´s Paper Men, the main character keeps saying "Ha et cetera". What does he mean by this? Is it simply another way of saying "ha, ha, ha" (laughter)?
5
votes
1answer
2k views

Where does “at any rate” come from?

People say at any rate to revert to a previous topic. But what kind of rate is it referring to? Like at any rate of exchange? at any speed?
0
votes
2answers
70 views

“Identifying” or “the identification of”

Which one could be used more correctly in the context: This study allowed an analysis of financial results and the identification of possible causes of negative results from the company that was ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Interpretation of “The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone”

When I read the phrase The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone I interpreted it to imply that the first occurrence of iPhone happened to itself -- that is, the first iPhone ...
0
votes
3answers
147 views

King Jr.'s letter from jail

Begun on the margins of the newspaper in which the statement appeared while I was in jail, the letter was continued on scraps of writing paper supplied by a friendly Negro trusty So when the ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

What does “key off” somebody’s column mean?

Mark Helperin’s article titled “Romney’s Conservative Critics” in Time magazine (September 28) begins with the following sentence: “On “Morning Joe,” I key off Charles Krauthammer’s column to ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

What is the difference between “revenue” and “income”? [closed]

It seems that revenue and income have the same meaning. However, they seem to be used differently. What is the difference between them? When should we use one and not the other?
5
votes
3answers
1k views

What are the differences among “terrible,” “horrific,” and “awful” in terms of nuance and the degree of horribleness? Are they all the same?

I was interested in the phrase, “We had a terrible breakup, like horrific,” appearing in New York Times’ (September 26) theater review, titled “Old Friends Whose Past Is Always Present,” which ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Does “living in squalor” necessarily imply poverty?

Some definitions of squalor and its adjectival form squalid: Merriam-Webster squalor: the quality or state of being squalid squalid: marked by filthiness and degradation from neglect or poverty ...
7
votes
2answers
327 views

How to say “bolillero”?

In lottery games or bingo games, sometimes an object like this is used: What is the name of this? In Spanish we call it bolillero but I didn’t find the definition in Enlgish.
1
vote
2answers
6k views

“Self-assured” vs. “self-confident”

Are there any differences between the words self-assured and self-confident?
2
votes
2answers
116 views

On the structure of “search for weapons and bands of pro-Hussein fighters still holding out”

I came across the following expression: The primary task of many American troops in Baghdad has been to search for weapons and bands of pro-Hussein fighters still holding out. This is from a ...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

Meaning of “Conceptual point of view”

Now and then, I listen the below quoted expression: From the conceptual point of view ... However I still can't get its meaning, I think it is somehow related to the way to think about a ...
3
votes
4answers
99k views

What does 'abstract ideas' mean? [closed]

In the sentence for example: This book would also interest intelligent students with a taste for abstract ideas and theoretical arguments. What does the phrase "abstract ideas" mean? I looked up ...
1
vote
1answer
289 views

What does “emphasizer vs. adjunct” mean? [closed]

"I do not really get to do much topical material." A scholarly paper gives that sentence, and it then comments: "Really" performs the function of emphasizer vs. adjunct. What does it mean by ...
2
votes
1answer
224 views

What does “cement-mouthed” governor mean?

There was the word “cement-mouthed” to describe Texas governor, Rick Perry in the following text of the article titled “The Republican brain drain” appearing in today’s (September 25) Washington Post. ...
-3
votes
3answers
196 views

Which is more accurate: “The president signed the bill…” or “The president signed the law…”?

Which is more accurate: "The president signed the bill..." or "The president signed the law..."? Update: This is not a social studies question so I should have clarified what I am looking for. The ...
-1
votes
3answers
510 views

Does the word “government” in English mean the courts as well? [closed]

Does the word "government" in English refer to the cabinet and the ministries, or the courts and legislature as well? Is there a difference in usage depending on country? Can you say "the government ...
13
votes
7answers
7k views

Something is “yay” big

I have heard expressions like "It was yay big" or "It was yay by yay." a couple of times now, always accompanied by a gesture indicating the size of something. Does anybody know where this word comes ...
7
votes
3answers
206 views

What does “They nick the Emmy show during the Emmy show” mean?

Today’s (September 25) Washington Post’s article in its Style column - “Emmys 2012: Number up, but repeat winners were, too” - introduces Washington Post TV writer Lisa de Moraes’ comment on the ...
12
votes
6answers
4k views

What is “embarrassing” about an embarrassingly parallel problem?

In computer science, a problem that is obviously decomposable into many identical but separate subtasks is called embarrassingly parallel. An example is a cryptographic brute force attack, in which ...
13
votes
1answer
733 views

Why “off ” in jerk off, jack off, get off?

I wonder why the particle off  is used in these verbs. I know their meanings, but I don’t understand why off  is used. Does anyone know why?
-1
votes
1answer
547 views

Difference between explaining and explanatory? [closed]

What's the difference between explaining and explanatory? I've looked in the dictionary and the translations are the same. Are they synonyms?
3
votes
2answers
218 views

English expression “pear shaped” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What does “everything's gone pear-shaped” mean? What is the origin and meaning of "pear shaped", as in "this situation is about to go pear shaped"
11
votes
4answers
1k views

What does “randomically” mean?

I've just read an O’Reilly book and encoutered the word randomically. I highly suspect this is a made up word, but a quick google found it in use here, here, and here. Is this some obscure technical ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

“She can argue her point” right or wrong? [closed]

Is it OK to say in that way? She can argue her point. For example, to say it when describing a person. Meaning she knows what she is talking about and her speech can be proved by certain facts, ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Is size inherent in the meanings of “plant” and “factory”?

I always had the impression that a plant was bigger than a factory and that a plant might contain several factories, but we wouldn't say that a factory contains several plants. According to ...
4
votes
2answers
582 views

Unusual meaning of “head over heels”

I was reading Florence Lamborn's translation, from Swedish, of Astrid Lindgren's Pippi Longstocking (the translation appears to date from 1950). I read the following sentence: ... Just at that ...
3
votes
2answers
230 views

How does “out” function in “next time out”?

On the recent CBS’s “Face the Nation,” the anchor, Bob Schieffer asked former President, Bill Clinton about whether his wife will run in next election: “Mr. President, I have to ask you about your ...