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

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0
votes
2answers
106 views

“Proxime” vs. “proximate”

When should proxime and proximate be used? Can they be used both to mean spatial as well as temporal nearness? Are they being used differently in British and American English?
3
votes
1answer
337 views

“Chance of [gerund]” vs. “chance at [gerund]”

Which is correct? If you tell me the cause, I will have a better chance at fixing the problem. If you tell me the cause, I will have a better chance of fixing the problem. A quick ...
0
votes
3answers
373 views

What does “half try” mean?

From Steinbeck's Cannery Row, Doc was almost supernaturally successful with a series of lady visitors. He didn’t half try. Does it mean that Doc did not do anything to win hearts of these ...
4
votes
4answers
7k views

“I'm debating” instead of “I'm in a dilemma”

I have noticed many people say "I'm debating" when they mean they are in a dilemma between two choices. I always thought that to debate means discussing different view points between two individuals, ...
2
votes
1answer
255 views

Practical meaning of “Sale”

Its not uncommon that you walk on the street you see there are big malls hanging big billboard containing only "Sale". Sometimes, Summer Sale, Winter Sale. In every case you get XX% price off there. ...
4
votes
4answers
488 views

Usage of “to” in “I've got some slides to talk to”

In Lucy Kellaway’s 2012 Golden flannel Award, the Preposition Award is given to a usage of to. But the winner is the innocuous word “to” as increasingly heard in presentations: “I’ve got some ...
-2
votes
4answers
918 views

“Music preference” or “music preferences”?

What is the difference between preference and preferences? Does it matter if one uses singular or plural in the following sentences: The effect of music on test-taking ability greatly depends ...
2
votes
4answers
260 views

Can “conceived” be used as “assumed”?

For example: Jack thinks he's responsible for killing his mother and thus for his uncle’s conceived hatred towards him. Here, I mean to say that Jack assumes his uncle hates him (of course, ...
23
votes
1answer
1k views

What does “his A and C” mean?

From Steinbeck's Cannery Row, The nice bouncer at the Bear Flag threw out a drunk, but threw him too hard and too far and broke his back. Alfred had to go over to Salinas three times before it was ...
6
votes
1answer
11k views

Is it all right to use “in hopes of” to mean “with the aim of”?

Recently I browsed through the definition of hope in New Oxford American Dictionary (provided by Apple in the dictionary app) to double confirm with its usage as I answered a word-choice question and ...
6
votes
3answers
411 views

What is the exact equivalent to “daylight ghost’?

I came across the word, “daylight ghost” in the following sentense of the fiction titled “The Lost Order” appearing in January 7 New Yorker magazine. “I have not always – had not even long – been ...
5
votes
7answers
7k views

What does “mechanical” mean here?

The definition of fasteners as stated from Wikipedia is: a hardware device that mechanically joins or affixes two or more objects together. Is the definition of mechanical here sense 10 from ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

“It was my birthday yesterday” vs. “My birthday was yesterday”

Is there a difference between the following sentences? It was my birthday yesterday. My birthday was yesterday. When should I use "it was something yesterday/a few days ago/..." and when ...
5
votes
2answers
33k views

What is the meaning of 'catharsis' in a tragedy?

First of all, I'm aware of the Greek origin of the word. I have looked this word up in a dozen different dictionaries but I still don't quite understand what a catharsis is. A definition: ...
5
votes
3answers
237 views

Is it safe to use “old” to mean “previous” for a person?

Is it safe to use "old" to mean "previous" or "former" for something like "my old teacher"? Or is it a bit risky, because "old" also has a meaning with respect to age (i.e., chronologically gifted)? ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the meaning and usage of the abbreviation “v. a.”?

At the time of this writing there is no explanation on wiktionary, and searching the web does not yield an answer, only more instances of its use: A random entry at the Etymological Dictionary of ...
4
votes
1answer
176 views

Metaphoric meaning of Hitchhiker’s?

There is a book named "Infinite Dimensional Analysis: A Hitchhiker’s Guide". I was wondering what "Hitchhiker’s" means as a metaphor in general?
1
vote
3answers
502 views

What's the meaning of “on a comparable basis”?

I'm not a native English speaker and I'm having a hard time trying to translate it. What could be the definition for "on a comparable basis"? Edit: Here's the context in which I've encountered it: ...
0
votes
1answer
7k views

Why does “I ain't doing nothing” translate to “I am doing nothing”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “I ain’t got no money” Why does the phrase "I ain't doing nothing" mean "I am doing nothing"? According to me, "I ain't doing nothing" should translate to "I am not ...
2
votes
1answer
11k views

What is the difference between “synergistic” and “synergetic”?

What is the difference between "synergistic" and "synergetic"? I believe they both speak of the cooperation of multiple things to produce an output, but how do they differ?
1
vote
4answers
315 views

Can you use “procure” to mean “think of”?

He procured a proper way to fix his relationship. He thought of a proper way to fix his relationship. Are those equivalent? Is the use of "procure" here unnatural and weird? Or does it work ...
0
votes
1answer
284 views

What does “kind of edge” mean? [closed]

From Steinbeck's Cannery Row, If one of you fellas wants to kind of edge into my cellar without my wife seeing you, they’re on top of the side stringer on the left-hand side as you go in.
2
votes
2answers
521 views

Meaning of “hammer a socket on it and pop it off”

In a discussion on a pick-up truck car wheel theft, one person gave an advice to the victim that he "should have bought some locking lugs". This advice was disapproved by someone else in the ...
-3
votes
2answers
8k views

Only then or then only?

I am not a native speaker. I have seen people at my place uses similar kinds of sentences interchangeably. If he comes, only then I will go. If he comes, then only I will go. Which of these ...
1
vote
5answers
11k views

What is the difference between “clearance” and “sale”?

I want to understand the difference between clearance and sale. So are these words synonyms or not? E.g. Receive 60–90% off CookiesKids Clearance from Cookie's Kids. Receive 50–85% off After ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

“In the next ten minutes” vs. “for the next ten minutes”

I am planning to do it in the next ten minutes. I am planning to do it for the next ten minutes. Do the two sentences mean the same thing? I am sure using for is correct, but I want to ...
4
votes
2answers
30k views

Can “alma mater” refer to any school you’ve graduated from, not just college? [closed]

I was wondering whether alma mater refers to all the schools you have been in, or just to college. For example, suppose someone has an undergranduate degree from one institution, a masters degree ...
1
vote
1answer
127 views

Can I say “across” in the next two situations?

Can I say “across” in the next two situations? If I sailed the Pacific from Japan to America, making a detour by way of an island, can I say “I went my way across to America from Japan?” If ...
4
votes
1answer
333 views

What is the meaning of “blinkers on and a case of Red Bull”?

One of my developer wrote to me in chat, please tell LK that you need your blinkers on and a case of Red Bull. (Here LK is the name of my senior.) What does "need blinkers on and a case of Red ...
2
votes
3answers
937 views

What does “patent rocker” mean?

From Steinbeck's Cannery Row, He sat heavily in the patent rocker that was his and shucked off his wet tennis shoes. A rocker is a chair. But what is a "patent rocker"?
2
votes
1answer
169 views

Not a synonym, but what?

I am looking for a word that describes the relationship between two words that are not the same, are not used in lieu of the other, but are related in what they refer to. Example, storm/monsoon. ...
0
votes
3answers
436 views

What's the meaning of “hit” here?

How do you define hit here in this comment, does it mean attack? This comment was made by a poster in response to a discussion on car wheel thefts. New model Chevy rims are hot as f-k, every ...
3
votes
1answer
618 views

What is it called when punctuation changes the meaning of a sentence?

Is there a word describing a sentence whose meaning is changed by moving the punctuation? For example, Let’s eat, Mommy! and Let’s eat Mommy!
0
votes
2answers
1k views

What does it mean “It’s funny how you get a run”? [closed]

...the boys were sitting around in the Palace sipping the result of Eddie’s latest contribution. Gay was there too, the latest member of the group. Eddie sipped speculatively from his glass and ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Is there a difference between “depressive” and “depressing”?

Is news depressing or depressive? In what situations would you use these two words? According to dicionary.com: depressive - tending to depress depressing - serving to depress; inducing a ...
1
vote
3answers
922 views

What's the meaning of “hood” here?

What's the meaning of hood in this comment? Is it neighbourhood, or it's a slang for something else? Cutler Ridge (they renamed it to Cutler Bay now wtf) has been hood for a long time. We used to ...
8
votes
1answer
397 views

Why is the word “misadventure” not “misventure”?

I came across a news article mentioning a coroner's diagnosis of death as "death by misadventure". And I wondered what the word misadventure actually meant. Here's the dictionary definition : ...
2
votes
1answer
600 views

“Irony” vs. “happenstance”

If I were to leave my country because there is a high chance that I will get shot here, and then got shot in the country I immigrate to, would that be ironic or a happenstance?
2
votes
1answer
105 views

What is the “Wire Service Era”?

In a CBS sports article, I read this sentence: Alabama wrapped up its 10th national championship of the wire service era, winning its third national championship in four years with a 42-14 ...
-2
votes
1answer
282 views

The meaning of “crime and grime” [closed]

What does the expression crime and grime mean? It was mentioned from this comment: My dad's SUV got jacked when I was living in Saga Bay. Don't live in FL anymore. Too much f-king crime and grime. ...
3
votes
1answer
182 views

Meaning of “the seventies are calling”

I heard the sentence in a TV show (Fringe 4x16). The guy's phone was ringing and his friend said: "You should get that. I think the seventies are calling." and they both chuckled as if at a ...
0
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the difference between “bracelet” and “strap” when talking about watches?

I talked to my friend about his watch. I used the word "strap" to refer to his watch's strap while he used the word "bracelet." Is there any difference between these words? Can I use them ...
1
vote
2answers
206 views

Origin and correct meaning of “make political book”

Re-watching old episodes of the X-Files. In which Agent Mulder says: (paraphrasing) just pseudo-science used to make political book (Transcript here) (FYI The Episode was written by Mat Beck) ...
0
votes
1answer
239 views

Exact meaning of “You are brand new”? [closed]

I run across a phrase of "You are brand new to GitHub" on the web. What makes me confused is the word "brand"; is it a noun, an adjective or an adverb?
0
votes
3answers
672 views

Is “O.K.” less serious affirmation than “All right”? [closed]

I was interested in the usage of “O.K” and “All right” in the following conversation of a man ordering food delivery to a wrong number and a man who unfortunately received the wrong number call in the ...
1
vote
1answer
491 views

Different meanings for phrase “off the regular price”

What is the correct way to say a product can be bought with a discount of 30%? Is it: “Buy this by 30% off the regular price.”? What I want to say is that a 30% discount is being given, so the ...
-2
votes
4answers
315 views

Can using “drop” alone cause confusion?

Dictionary.com and Oxford Dictionaries Online define drop as: cause or allow to sink to a lower position let or make to fall vertically When I say “I dropped the baton” without further ...
0
votes
2answers
4k views

Is there any difference between “He won't do something” and “He wouldn't do something”? [closed]

I have read somewhere that He won't do something means He refused to do something and also He wouldn't do something has the same meaning. Now I'd like to know, what is the difference in usage of ...
0
votes
1answer
84 views

Meaning of “pitches add up” [closed]

I would like to know the meaning of the phrase "pitch adds up" as it appears in this phrase from an article in Fast Company: None of [the applications] fit the bill, and the pitches add up ...
4
votes
1answer
436 views

Meaning of “shot” cloth

"A truly beautiful shade! A cloth of smoked grey, shot with flame colour!" —Gogol, trans. by D. J. Hogarth 'Shot' is what is confusing me. In my mind I imagine it refers to a repeated pattern. ...