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

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3
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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
511 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
207 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
734 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
548 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
583 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
95 views

Can't understand the meaning of 'blamed exertion' in this sentence [closed]

Doctors blamed exertion and said there was nothing to worry about. I knew exertion means attempts or try. But here what does that mean by 'blamed exertion'?
1
vote
1answer
135 views

What is the meaning of the sentence (about mathematics and philosophy)? [closed]

I have a question. I translate a text from English to Russian. And I can not understand the meaning of the sentence. It's very difficult for me. Could you explain its meaning for me using simpler ...
1
vote
1answer
299 views

“I have made an X to make an X” [closed]

I have found in a novel the sentence “I have made a call: to make a call.” The context is: the female main character is on the run and distressed, and to try and fix her problems she calls a former ...
3
votes
1answer
5k views

Is “tri-quarterly” a real English word meaning 3 times a year?

Is "tri-quarterly" a real English word meaning 3 times a year? Are there any other words that mean 3 times a year?
5
votes
3answers
101 views

“Really” modification problems

I can read a French newspaper with the aid of a dictionary, but I cannot speak the language or understand it when spoken. So I do not really know French. Some people say that really modifies know; ...
2
votes
4answers
711 views

Does adverb placement affect meaning?

He swam slowly to the island. He slowly swam to the island. Some experts say that there is a “slight difference” in meaning. Would you please tell me that difference?
4
votes
3answers
4k views

What does “I'm sure you understand” mean? Is it rude?

This expression seems to be used even when the speaker does not expect the other person to agree with them. What would the intention of the speaker be? Is the expression considered rude?
1
vote
3answers
577 views

Is 'used to' describing something changed?

I'm an English learner but I found that here are different ideas on "used to" among others and me. I think 'used to' is used to describe something changed now. I used to be afraid of snakes. (But ...
0
votes
1answer
184 views

What's the meaning of “always part of what I do”?

I meet this sentence in the first page of one book: To Keith - always part of what I do. S.B. What's the meaning of "always part of what I do"?
2
votes
4answers
3k views

“Go to the country”, “go to the countryside”

I'm a non-native speaker of English. A lot of people say although you would say 'I went to the country,' meaning 'I went to a rural area,' you wouldn't likely say 'I went to the countryside.' Is this ...
2
votes
3answers
876 views

What is the meaning of the phrase “small town charm”?

For example: Don’t let his small town charm fool you: Tim knows this stuff inside and out. I learned a ton from this book and I know you will too. I encountered these sentences in a book, I can ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

What does “snap your caps” mean?

In Barry Manilow's version of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" what does "snap your caps" mean? Is it Elton? Is it Billy? Is it Sting perhaps? Oh you’ll never ever get it, don’t snap your ...
4
votes
2answers
6k views

Is there a difference between 'I thought to myself' and 'I thought.'?

Is there any need for the ending of 'to myself'? How is it different from the alternative? Can you always replace 'I thought to myself' with 'I thought'?
2
votes
3answers
1k views

What makes 'admix' different from 'mix'?

A friend of mine (who, as far as I know, doesn't have English as a first language, though is fluent) mentioned how odd it was that English had the word admix, and quoted a dictionary definition that ...
2
votes
2answers
9k views

“They all are fine” vs. “they are all fine” [closed]

The situation is that someone asks me how my family are; I then want to answer that they all are fine. I want to know whether the sentences "They all are fine." and "They are all fine." have the ...
2
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the meaning of “joint winner”? [closed]

I looked it up on Google and in my English dictionary but cannot find out its meaning. The context is this page. As usual the crime stories have split our judges so, as with last years Fish-Knife ...
0
votes
1answer
415 views

What does “the globe over” mean?

I read this sentence in a book review. I can understand the sentence but, I am confused by the globe over. Human history? Global economy? Her evidence for women the globe over consists of thin, ...
2
votes
2answers
171 views

Does “developed products” include products still in the development process? [closed]

Here is an example sentence: We carry out life cycle assessments on developed products to determine their environmental burden throughout the life cycle of the product. I am trying to figure out ...
-1
votes
4answers
3k views

“Big budget” vs. “large budget” — which one to use? [closed]

What is the difference between big and large? I am trying to use one of these words but I'm skeptical which one is the right one. The context I intend to use one of these words in is: Small ...
4
votes
2answers
9k views

What is the meaning of the phrase “moving the needle”?

Here is the context: The network has geographically distributed upload endpoints, featuring end-to-end encryption as well as patent-pending routing and optimization technology, letting Box process ...
7
votes
1answer
624 views

What does “mushy” mean in this context?

This is the context from Joel Spolsky's blog: And now I'm going to get a little bit mushy, and argue that the most productive programming environments are the ones that let you work at ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

What does “first thing” mean in “You can change it back first thing tomorrow.”? [closed]

What does "first thing" mean in the following paragraph? "I'm Steve from IT. We're running network tests for the rest of the day. I need you to reset your password to 'test123'. You can change ...
7
votes
6answers
936 views

Word for “rich and wasteful”

We were just thinking that that is a concept that really ought to have a word. "Wastefully rich"; for example, smoking a $100 bill as a cigarette.
5
votes
1answer
645 views

What does “state” in “State University” refer to? [closed]

There are many universities and colleges in the United States with names such as "... State University". The word state has many distinct meanings, but pertinent to this question are: government, ...
0
votes
2answers
114 views

Who does “who” apply to in this example?

His governors, some of them incompetent and tactless, quarrelled bitterly with the people, who were constantly demanding greater political control. In this sentence, who are demanding greater ...
8
votes
4answers
868 views

What does “Sautéed” mean in “Someone who has not sautéed in a subject”?

Maureen Dowd article titled, “Neocons Slither Back” in September 15 New York Times begins with the following sentence: “Paul Ryan has not sautéed in foreign policy in his years on Capitol Hill. ...
3
votes
1answer
71 views

What's the meaning of “low” in this context?

What does low mean here? It is also known as the common shoulder muscle, particularly in lower animals (e.g., in domestic cats). Deltoid is also further shortened in slang as "delt". The plural ...
4
votes
2answers
162 views

Correct sense of “aspect”

According to the context, which definition of "aspect" is appropriate here? The scapula forms the posterior located part of the shoulder girdle. In humans, it is a flat bone, roughly triangular in ...
5
votes
1answer
73k views

What does “off to” mean?

There is a book titled Off to a Flying Start: Horsing Around the Language. What does off to mean? I did some research on it and I feel it means going to do, but I still need your confirmation.
1
vote
2answers
41k views

Meaning of “education level”

I am filling in a CV and I have to choose my "level of education". I am on the third year of university education (junior), and I wonder if "level of education" means the education I have already got ...
21
votes
2answers
700 views

Is there a name for this method of writing that includes pictograms?

I've seen people write (usually in a humorous way) a 'code-like' message where parts of words are replaced with a pictogram that sounds like that word-part. E.G.: (eyeball) (tin can)(rope knot) ...
5
votes
4answers
57k views

What exactly does “sweep me off my feet” mean? (And why?)

Although the phrase "sweep me off my feet" probably means, "make me fall in love with you in a short time", what does it exactly mean, because "sweeping" can be difficult to be associated with "love". ...
4
votes
2answers
756 views

What does “fast eye” mean?

The following is taken from the subtitles (grammatical errors appear in the film) in the 1979 movie Wise Blood: Hazel Motes: I only follered her to say I wasn't beholden to none of her fast eye ...