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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (6)

0
votes
3answers
701 views

“To have a run upon it” . Ref: (“A tale of two cities” by Charles Dickens)

Ref: (“A tale of two cities” by Charles Dickens). What does “To have a run upon it” mean in the following sentence? “Tellson’s bank had a run upon it in the mail”
5
votes
2answers
169 views

Definition and Etymology of “Diplasiology”

Reading Benjamin Jowett's translation of the Phaedrus of Plato, I have come across the word diplasiology: And there is also Polus, who has schools of diplasiology, and gnomology, and eikonology, ...
5
votes
3answers
182 views

Difference between “on the command line” and “at the command line”

What is the difference between on the command line and at the command line?
12
votes
5answers
38k views

“To be subject to” vs. “to be subjected to”

I read an article from Toronto Star today which stated: TTC workers are subject to alcohol and drug testing. A later paragraph of the same article repeated it, except it used subjected to ...
10
votes
1answer
712 views

What is “double history”?

I'm a Yank watching the UK version of Being Human and the character mentions sitting next to his ex-girlfriend in "Double History" (season 2 episode 3 around timestamp 24:18). It's clearly a history ...
1
vote
4answers
74k views

What does it mean to call someone a “tool”?

In this MSO question, the author refers to himself as sounding like a "tool". What does this mean? Specifically, the way it is used in the linked question implies that being a tool means being ...
-3
votes
2answers
8k views

Does “I’m available” mean “I’m single”?

Does “I’m available” mean “I’m single” (not married or not had a girlfriend or a boyfriend yet) when someone asks about your relationship status?
4
votes
3answers
1k views

“Oldest son or oldest daughter”

Contract states Upon the death of the stockholder his interest shall pass to the oldest son or oldest daughter. I am the oldest daughter and have a younger brother. Who gets the interest?
2
votes
1answer
265 views

Is there a connection between “pork barrel” and “gravy train”?

Have these two phrases evolved independently, and how much do their meanings overlap? Pork barrelling (as in "pork barrel politics") is pretty clear in its meaning, but how about gravy train? Where ...
3
votes
2answers
980 views

“Rotate about” vs. “rotate around”

Is there a difference in meaning between This operation rotates the object about the axis defined by ... and This operation rotates the object around the axis defined by ... (e.g. in the ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Is a table of contents an “index”?

Is a table of contents considered an index? Typically, I would consider an index to be a sorted list (e.g., the alphabetical list that appears at the back of a book). However, dictionary.com defines ...
3
votes
3answers
495 views

Are these genuine apologies? [closed]

I often hear people (especially policitians) giving an "apology" that is phrased so that the speaker does not seem to be accepting blame. e.g. Instead of "I am sorry I let you down" they say: ...
2
votes
3answers
388 views

Why can “bill” mean (almost) opposite things?

Bill is somewhat of an auto-antonym, since it can mean either a piece of paper which has positive monetary value (i.e. a note), or a piece of paper which has negative monetary value (though it only ...
7
votes
2answers
229 views

Is there any semantic difference between “absolutely no x, except y” and “except y, absolutely no x”?

Bit of a quibble on a discussion elsewhere. I made the following statement: They had absolutely no debt, except for their mortgage. Someone (with whom I disagree vehemently) has accused this of ...
5
votes
1answer
168 views

Is it common to describe one’s life stage in English, like “Stage III Hemingways”?

I found the word, “men who looked like stage three Hemingways” in the following sentence of Maureen Dowd’s article, titled “Farewell to Macho,” in the New York Times (October 15): “Diliberto recalled ...
3
votes
2answers
655 views

Meaning of “since changed”

The MVC in Backbone originally stood for Models, Views and Collections, since there were no controllers in the framework. This has since changed. Does it mean it has changed from that moment ...
0
votes
1answer
5k views

Drove my chevy to the levee but the levee was dry [closed]

Years ago, I heard this phrase (I don't know if it really is a phrase, please correct me if I'm wrong) during a congress from the general manager of a major car production company, but I don't ...
3
votes
3answers
4k views

What's the difference between “act” and “action”?

What's the difference between "act" and "action"? More specifically in the way they are generally used (and not more specific theatrical definitions, for instance)?
7
votes
1answer
220 views

Are the rhetorical meanings of “elliptic”, “hyperbolic”, and “circular” connected to their mathematical meanings?

The words "elliptic", "parabolic" (or "like a parable"), "hyperbolic", and "circular" all have meaning in rhetoric. Are these meanings etymologically connected to the conic sections?
0
votes
4answers
4k views

“Unconscious” versus “nonconscious” in everyday dialogue

These words have subtle distinctions in related research fields, but even there are often considered interchangeable or just an matter of tradition/trendiness in a particular field. Since I am a bit ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

Can I have more than one beloved?

Certainly, I can have many relationships that I describe as beloved (adj). "These are my beloved children." But, according to common understanding, can I have more than one beloved (noun)? If I ...
3
votes
2answers
636 views

“Verity” vs. “veracity”

Verity and veracity have similar spellings and meanings. Why? What exactly is the difference between them that warrants the need for these two separate words?
8
votes
4answers
1k views

What does it mean to be “correct” in pronunciation or grammar?

(Preamble: this post is literally about the meaning of the word “correct” in this context, but also, of course, overlaps with the philosophy of prescriptive perspectives in the process. I hope that ...
2
votes
2answers
394 views

Is “Roach Motel” now an established English term for some kinds of buisiness behaviour?

I found the origin of the word and the statistics about its usage. I found these two links about facebook and Oracle’s Public Cloud using the term figuratively. Is this usage common today?
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Difference between “leverage” and “utilize”

Sooner or later, you want to leverage Zend_Application better by creating your own resource plugins. Can leverage above be replaced by utilize?
7
votes
9answers
67k views

Definition of “albeit” and how it's different from “although” (if it is)

I'm trying to write good English even if I'm not a native speaker. My phrase goes something like: I then realized program X doesn't provide classes for Y (albeit its excellent support for Z). Is ...
1
vote
7answers
3k views

Do the words “peasant” and “pissant” mean the same thing?

I recently completed reading the novel "Cat's cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut. In this novel he describes peasant as: "A pissant is somebody who thinks he's so damn smart, he can never keep his mouth ...
10
votes
4answers
69k views

Difference between “publicly” and “publically”

I know publically appears as an incorrect spelling in most dictionaries (in fact as I type this up on my Safari browser it keeps trying to correct the spelling to publicly). However I have seen the ...
2
votes
1answer
263 views

Meaning of “credits”

Does "credit" in the following sentence mean 2) money that you borrow from a bank? Or 5) a sum of money paid into a bank account? (OALD) Finally, in our progress toward a resumption ...
6
votes
3answers
802 views

I can't understand a sentence with “never more ~ than ~”

I'm a student studying English and I'm not quite sure that my question is proper to this site. Let me know if my question is improper. Thomas Jefferson was never more typically a child of the ...
4
votes
2answers
10k views

Is “Here's wishing xxxx” proper?

I have seen the phrase "Here's wishing you a very happy birthday" in greeting cards. What is the meaning of "Here's"? Where does it come from?
-1
votes
0answers
129 views

What's the meaning of the noun “lucker”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What does the noun “lucker” mean? What does the noun "lucker" mean? Yes, it's not in the Webster, but Google does give search results for such key phrases as ...
2
votes
2answers
23k views

What does “but” mean in “Life is but a dream”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: The construction of “Known but to God” What does "but" mean in this case and what other uses is this word used in the same context. I'm trying to explain ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

What does the noun “lucker” mean?

What does the noun "lucker" mean? It's not in the Webster, but Google does give search results for such key phrases as "I am a lucker" or "He is a lucker" (and those are not misspellings like ...
12
votes
2answers
24k views

Difference between “valuable” and “invaluable” [closed]

Invaluable intuitively seems to imply a higher degree of importance. Please explain the difference between valuable and invaluable and in what context you'd use one or the other.
2
votes
3answers
771 views

Meaning of “triple up”

I understand the meaning of "triple", but what does "triple up" mean? What is the meaning of "up"? Our campuses are increasing class sizes. Services may be diminished. Even in residence halls, ...
15
votes
4answers
6k views

What does “don’t pave the cow path” mean in this context?

I came across a new phrase while reading description section of a webinar topic on Operational Best Practices in the Cloud here. Excerpt: Don’t pave the cow path. Cloud infrastructure is very ...
2
votes
1answer
640 views

Why does Amy say “So needy” in this context?

I watched an episode of Big Bang Theory, here's a recap: Subtitle of Big Bang Season 4 , Episode 17 I don't quite get it when Penny told a joke and then Amy said "So needy." over the phone holding ...
1
vote
1answer
125 views

Are all mobile enabled mobiles considered to be smartphones? [closed]

I'm hoping this is not a grey area as 'smartphone' means a lot of things. But I need to know if I am looking at statistics that say 'smartphone' does this cover all phones with a browser or are there ...
3
votes
2answers
7k views

Meaning of “I have got…”

I don't clearly understand the meaning of "I have got __" in sentences like the following one: I have got to get. Is it a sentence using the past tense, or the present? What does it mean?
2
votes
4answers
3k views

A noun meaning 'not allowed'

I'm trying to find a word meaning "you can't do that" or "you're not allowed". I thought of impossibility but I do not want it in the sense of being impossible, but in the sense of not being allowed ...
47
votes
16answers
6k views

Is there a word for a change so small that it doesn’t seem to be a change at all?

Today, I was reading an article on pharmaceutical companies making minute changes to a drug in order to extend the patent. In one instance, the company profiled did not actually change the content of ...
3
votes
1answer
820 views

How do I use the prefix 'de-' correctly?

Is there a dictionary dedicated to word prefixes? I'd like to know more about de-, but there's no uniform meaning; for example, in demystify it signifies a reverse action, while in delimit it's a ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

Difference between 'kindness' and 'politeness'

Can one use kindness as a synonym for politeness? What's the difference? Where do you draw the line between them?
1
vote
2answers
2k views

What does “persuade you otherwise” mean?

What does "persuade you otherwise" mean exactly? Is it an idiom?
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Way to do something

I was wondering if "way to do something" means it is right or wrong to do something? I thought it means it is right to do something until I read this: Just a few doors down, Lynette's sister ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the difference between “pliable” and “pliant”?

I am confused between pliable and pliant. What's the difference? The explanation in the Oxford Dictionary seems vague: pliable 1. easily bent; flexible [quality leather is ...
2
votes
2answers
717 views

Does “No more” by necessity imply there was some before?

If I say "I have no more apples" do I have to have had some apples to begin with? Is there an instance where I could start with none and still say I had no more sensically?
4
votes
2answers
3k views

What's the meaning of the expression “The take home is …”?

There is one expression I came across recently - 'The take home is ...'. The full sentence was “The take home is that regular use of caffeine produces no benefit to alertness, energy, or function”. ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Difference in usage between “beware of” and “mind”

I am trying to understand the difference between beware of and mind when they have the meaning of to be on one's guard. Are they always interchangeable ? I'll try to explain what bothers me, but ...