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

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4
votes
2answers
1k views

Is “immoral” in the act or the person?

I am grading papers and came upon the following sentence: "Candide becomes immoral..." It bothers me -- I am of the sense that a person can become amoral, but I'm not sure what it would mean for a ...
3
votes
2answers
125 views

“stopping to refill his cup when she did”

Consider the following sentence: She got up to get some of the coffee he had made, stopping to refill his cup when she did. What does the subordinate clause in this sentence mean? Does it mean ...
2
votes
5answers
10k views

Meaning of “all retch and no vomit”

I heard of the expression "all retch and no vomit" for the first time, and the references I could find by googling it are not really clear to me. Here is the context where I found it: What we are ...
3
votes
1answer
99 views

Should titles of people be translated?

Should titles of persons like (Mr., Herr, Sr...) be translated into English? For example: Herr Albert or Mr. Albert ?
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Understanding “Mother of God!” or “Holy Mother of God!”

I have come across this term numerous times and this expression is well used when something unbelievable or shocking happens but I don't understand how Mother of God can imply its meaning. Does refer ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

What does “cup” mean in “cup of cheese”? [closed]

I was reading a recipe of macaroni-and-cheese. In Brazil (Portuguese) cheese is sold only by weight. I understand the concept of cups to measure volume or weight of liquids and powders, but as far as ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

What is the meaning of vice in “as in a vice”? [closed]

I'm having trouble finding a definition of vice that explains its usage in the following NYTimes article: The Monarch, no less boldly than her compeer, dashed among the rebel fleet, and singling ...
-2
votes
1answer
2k views

What does “nothing means anything” mean? [closed]

Can someone explain me the meaning of this phrase? I heard it in a song like: "I can show you that nothing means anything". I get the context, but can anyone explain me the meaning?
2
votes
2answers
236 views

Can “quarry” mean “notebook”?

I am looking for this definition because of the book Quarry for Middlemarch, which my lit professor said was George Eliot's notebook for all her research for her novel, but all of the definitions I ...
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Is “sound approach” an accepted phrase?

English is not my first language, and in my language (Bosnian) we write just as we speak ; so from time to time, I encounter phrases which I know I have heard before, but am not sure if I am writing ...
-1
votes
2answers
1k views

What do you mean by “in production form”?

The contexts of the usage of this phrase is given below. SAP Business Suite customers can now run the software in production form on Amazon Web Services, the companies announced this week during the ...
1
vote
1answer
420 views

Can someone please explain the following passage from Milton's Paradise Lost?

I understand all the words, but not quite the meaning of the following passage, from Milton's Paradise Lost, Book I: 635 For me be witness all the host of heaven, 636 If counsels different, or ...
0
votes
1answer
865 views

Explaining the comparative form of “numb” [closed]

The most common definition I have of numb is: "Deprived of the power of sensation." "Deprived of feeling or responsiveness." These definitions show up in nearly the same form in multiple ...
1
vote
1answer
78 views

“miss at” vs “miss by”

I want to know the meanings of the following sentences: John missed at 50 yards. John missed by 50 yards. Does #1 mean that John missed (a mark? or what?) at the place 50 yards in front of ...
8
votes
6answers
2k views

“No head injury is too trivial to ignore”

I was looking at the book Introduction to Mathematical Thinking by Keith Devlin, and came across a question where the reader is asked to reformulate this sentence to avoid the unintended second ...
-3
votes
1answer
14k views

What does “evaluate” mean when used in Mathematical problems? [closed]

When solving Mathematical problems, I usually come across with titles like: Evaluate the expression below. Evaluate this: ∜[(log2(48 / 3) + 1)2 - 9] Evaluate the following integral. When I ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

What does “to look by” mean?

According to an article I read, the following sentences are roughly synonymous: He looked by the building. He looked past the building. I don't know what look by and look past mean. I found a ...
2
votes
1answer
5k views

What is a relish tray versus a veggie tray?

I have heard both of the terms "relish tray" and "veggie tray" used somewhat interchangeably. It seems as though there is some overlap between the two based on some simple Google Images searches ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

What does “ ’er” mean in this phrase? [closed]

What does ’er mean in the following phrase? Ear-bending disapproval from ’er indoors.
3
votes
6answers
56k views

Appropriate replacement of “nice to meet you” for online salutation?

I would like to use "nice to meet you" in an online email exchange but I feel that "meet" and "see" are not appropriate for online use. There is also a question about it. I have also read somewhere ...
3
votes
3answers
484 views

Odd usage of “penchant”

Penchant is synonymous with words such as "inclination" and "leaning." Does the sentence below correctly use the word "penchant"? Joe has a penchant against the UCLA Bruins.
0
votes
1answer
67 views

Can “that” have a meaning of “although”? [closed]

Can that have a meaning of although? For example, He was too sleepy even to be surprised that the people in the portraits along the corridors whispered and pointed as they passed.
1
vote
1answer
208 views

What does “nukulate” mean?

What does nukulate mean in the following sentence from a question on Cooking SE? Nukulate for 3 minutes on high.
-1
votes
1answer
64 views

“The data misses a desired object” vs. “a desired object is being missed in the data” [closed]

Do the following two sentences have the same meaning? If the data misses a desired object, then information relevant to that object do not exist in the database. If a desired object is being ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

“Anyone knows that” vs. “everyone knows that”

The context is as follows. I say that X is true. The (dismissive) response I receive is "Anyone knows that". Is that a complete sentence? Yes, it is grammatical. Yes,it has some semblance of ...
1
vote
3answers
3k views

Meaning of “well you done done me and you bet I felt it”

Well you done done me and you bet I felt it— Jason Mraz, I'm Yours What does the first sentence from this song mean?
0
votes
5answers
4k views

“Is of the view that” vs. “is of a view that” [closed]

Is there any significant difference in the meanings of sentence 1 and sentence 2 below? Mr. Jones is of a view that the project is unnecessary. Mr. Jones is of the view that the project is ...
1
vote
1answer
4k views

Sidenote, side-note, Side Note or Side note [closed]

So I've thought of a name for something, but cannot decide on how I should write it. In School, I vaguely remember someone saying "when you want to say something as one word, when it's really two ...
0
votes
1answer
350 views

Interpreting a clause beginning with “It would happen that…” [closed]

I have come across the following clause in "The Corrections" by Franzen: It would happen that the First and Second Notices were underground somewhere. I am not sure how to interpret this ...
13
votes
4answers
107k views

Meaning of “reach out to somebody”

The dictionary explains this as: To show somebody that you are interested in them and/or want to help them The explanation indicates the subject of the sentence is the one that offers help, but ...
2
votes
3answers
12k views

'of yet' and 'as of yet'

Can ‘of yet’ be used with the same meaning of ‘as of yet’? For example: Most importantly, he’s found footprints of dinosaurs that we haven’t found bones of yet. Does this mean the same thing as ...
0
votes
2answers
290 views

When to prepose an auxiliary in a sentence?

I read this at Time.com, and it's in the second line of the third paragraph. And wouldn’t you know it, their theory proved to be both true and statistically meaningful. I suppose it means "And ...
8
votes
5answers
699 views

What is the word for “a series of two related works”?

Here dilogy is defined as "a series of two related works". I can't shake off the feeling that there is a more commonly used word for this. Is there? If yes, what is it?
1
vote
1answer
545 views

Meaning of “My high kicks are not done in a line!”

My high kicks are not done in a line! The above sentence appeared as a legend in a T-shirt I saw once. It accompanied the caricature of a soccer player warming up, but I didn't get the pun ...
2
votes
0answers
864 views

Shakespeare: “Asses are made to bear” [closed]

When Petruchio invites Katherine to sit on his lap, she replies, "Asses are made to bear, and so are you." (Taming of the Shrew Act II, Scene 1.) The denotation is clear, donkeys (Equus africanus ...
2
votes
1answer
4k views

Meaning of “crossing someone”

What’s the meaning of cross in this sentence: She had a very stern face and Harry’s first thought was that this was not someone to cross.
-2
votes
1answer
76 views

What's the meaning of the 'had'? [closed]

Is this word, ‘had’ could be implying two ways, one is ‘owned’, the other ‘made’? [example] Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die.
-1
votes
2answers
783 views

Acceptation of “acceptation”

What may be the meaning of the word acceptation for general English usage? The Merriam-Webster lists primary definition as "1: acceptance; especially : favorable reception or approval" and follows ...
2
votes
3answers
285 views

What does “You can’t lead an organization whose case officers must be impervious to blackmail” mean?

Time magazine (November 9) carries an article dealing with the reason why the CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus had to resign under the caption, “Resignation at the CIA: Why Petraeus had to go.” There ...
3
votes
1answer
5k views

What is the correct spelling and definition of a word (sp.) “enditement” [closed]

Whilst watching The Big Bang Theory (S04E11, ~06:45 in, where Howard and Stuart are talking in the Comic Book Store about Zack), I heard the following exchange: — Is that sarcasm? — No, it's an ...
3
votes
2answers
763 views

What is a “crypto-portrait”?

I have frequently seen the word crypto-portrait popping up in articles on Wikipedia and elsewhere, but I was not able to find a definition for it. Apparently there used to be an article on Wikipedia ...
3
votes
6answers
3k views

Are camp followers prostitutes?

My own understanding of the term camp followers was that it was synonymous with prostitutes who followed armies around plying their trade. However, according to Wikipedia: Camp-follower is a term ...
2
votes
4answers
6k views

Meaning of various valedictions or closing expressions

Related to, but I believe distinct from, the following questions: What does the "yours" in "yours sincerely" mean? What are some expressions that can be used to end an email? ...
3
votes
2answers
23k views

“to get to know someone” vs “to know someone”

I'd like to know what is the difference of each of these options: to get to know someone to know someone in the context of meeting someone for the first time, become friends, to know the ...
4
votes
4answers
2k views

Origin of “clip” in “clip around the ears”

"Clip" commonly refers to a device for holding things together. One dictionary says it's "of unknown origin, first occurring in the 15th century." In such phrases as "giving him a clip around the ...
1
vote
1answer
142 views

What's the meaning of 'ever'? [closed]

What’s the meaning of ‘ever’ in this sentence? “Now, yer mum an’ dad were as good a witch an’ wizard as I ever knew.”
-1
votes
2answers
2k views

The meaning of ‘there is’ [closed]

I mean, it’s the very best school of witchcraft there is, I’ve heard. In this sentence what’s the meaning of ‘there is’?
5
votes
6answers
9k views

“Hardly” vs. “barely”

I'm from Germany and in German both translate to the same word (kaum). I'd like to know the difference between these two words, hardly and barely.
-1
votes
1answer
509 views

Is 'their way' having the function of adverbial phrase?

It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry’s pasties, cakes, and candies (the sandwiches lay forgotten). In this sentence, what's the meaning of 'their ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

There isn't and there is no [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “There is no rule” vs. “there isn’t rule” If I'm not mistaken, both "There isn't a storm." and "There is no storm." have the same meaning. I understand that the first ...