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

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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
641 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
201 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
276 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
641 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
169k 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
395 views

What does “reputee” mean? [closed]

I wonder what does the word "reputee" mean? What is the meaning?
2
votes
2answers
981 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
934 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
696 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". ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

“Are you having a good day?” Is it about me or about the weather?

When I'm asked over the phone in a long-distance call "Are you having a good day?" is this a question about me (my mood, my health), or about the weather? Assuming I'm speaking with a Brit, that ...
2
votes
2answers
421 views

What do you call *I'll not feed you by my own hand* in English

I dont know how to describe it properly. I just translated what description to English that I use in my native language (Bangla/বাংলা) The situation is like this, some people always needs other help ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

What does it mean to “sniff at someone?”

The book series "The Wheel of Time" frequently talks about characters "sniffing" at someone. Here are a few examples: “ ‘Poke the meekest dog too often,’ “ Elayne quoted, “ ‘and he will bite.’ ...
4
votes
4answers
452 views

What does “Toff's error” mean?

"He's invited the wife and I" and other similar sentences are referred to as Toff's error. What is, precisely, the meaning of this term?
5
votes
1answer
1k views

Why is quicksand named so if you get sucked in so slowly? [closed]

Why is quicksand called "quick" if it sucks in so slowly?
2
votes
1answer
159 views

Usage of “to canter through a topic”

What are the types of uses of the expression "to canter through a topic or issue"? I heard it in this context: I don't have much time to go through this section now, so I'll canter through the ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

What does “the government picks winners and losers” mean?

I heard the phrase, “pick winners and losers” in AP Radio News (aired on March 19), relating GOP presidential candidate, Mitt Romney’s attack on President Obama’s economic policy: -Republican ...
7
votes
7answers
4k views

Difference between “per” and “a”

What is the difference between the following two sentences? She goes to the forest three times per week. She goes to the forest three times a week.
2
votes
5answers
973 views

Is a scheme always negative in the US?

Growing up in both the UK and the US, and being comfortable with both their dialects, I'm sometimes slow to realize that some expression, word, or even pronunciation I use makes no sense to one group ...
2
votes
5answers
719 views

Uniquate = Eliminate or replace duplicates, make unique?

I am not a native English speaker and I need a word means modifying a list/set to make it a unique-values list/set eliminating or replacing non-unique values with unique ones. I am also aware of ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

What does “ingenuous” mean?

As well as the standard oratorio repertory, she sang solo recitals, her dazzling smile and enchantingly ingenuous personality creating an instant bond with audiences. TELEGRAPH I am a little bit ...
12
votes
4answers
626 views

Was “terror” ever a positive thing?

A friend has just told me that "terror" used to be a good thing, as opposed to the negative thing it is today: ter·ror (trr) n. Intense, overpowering fear. See Synonyms at fear. One ...
4
votes
2answers
639 views

Meaning of “we're not out to get anybody” [closed]

What is the meaning of We're not out to get anybody? This is a message from a teacher to the student.
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Is the phrase “out of the box” an adjective or an adverb or an idiom?

Could someone explain the meaning of the phrase "out of the box"? Is it an adjective or an adverb or an idiom? Please point out its function in below sentences. For Python fans of Google’s Cloud ...
1
vote
1answer
216 views

What is a “belligerent demands” of something? [closed]

The following is an excerpt from an article in the New York Times, which is the same one in a previous question: No poet of our day has such a well-earned reputation for difficulty as the ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

What does “moral vision is so imperiously unsparing” mean?

The following is an excerpt from an article in the New York Times: No poet of our day has such a well-earned reputation for difficulty as the Englishman Geoffrey Hill, and there are few whose ...
7
votes
3answers
8k views

Meaning of “direct descendant” as opposed to “indirect descendant”

I know what a descendant is. A’s children, grandchildren and greatn-grandchildren are all A’s descendants. But what does direct descendant mean? It is as if some of those people are A’s direct ...
0
votes
2answers
763 views

Word for “measured quantity” [closed]

What is a word which refers to any number of items that exist as measured quantities in something? This is like measurand, similar to how operand is some kind of modifier to an overall o.
4
votes
2answers
288 views

Meaning of “one in his/her own underwear”

I wonder what it means by "someone is in his/her underwear" both literally and figuratively? For example: When people downvote your posts arbitrarily just imagine them in their underwear.
5
votes
3answers
6k views

“Always” vs. “forever”

What is the difference between always and forever? Are they synonyms used in different contexts or can they be used interchangeably?
4
votes
4answers
1k views

What exactly does “All Items Not On Sale” mean?

Here's a quote from Bill Bryson's "The Mother Tongue": Imagine being a foreigner and having to learn ... , that a sign in the store saying ALL ITEMS NOT ON SALE doesn't mean literally what it ...
23
votes
6answers
88k views

Difference between “résumé” and “CV”

What's the difference between résumé and CV? When is résumé used? And when is CV used? Are they equivalent?
3
votes
1answer
12k views

'To take something into account' vs. 'to take something into consideration'

OALD defines the expressions as follows: to take something into account: to consider particular facts, circumstances, etc. when making a decision about something to take something into ...