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

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3
votes
4answers
5k views

What does “what for” mean and where did it come from?"

There is a fight scene in one of my favorite movies in which the main character says "Give them what for!" I've hear this term many times before (usually from old south-eastern Americans,) but no ...
1
vote
2answers
25 views

What is the difference of lavatory from toilet?

I was so far in understanding that lavatory and toilet are synonyms. But they are different in the following passage of Jeffery Archer’s “Be careful what you wish for.” A mastermind of IRA related ...
3
votes
3answers
113 views

Is there a word similar to Verbatim that means “Too many meaningless words used”?

Is there a word similar to Verbatim that means "Too many meaningless words used" ? I am looking for a word which describes the statement is meaningless with too many words.
1
vote
2answers
47 views

Can “fainted” and “lost consciousness” be interchanged?

Fainted (dictionary.com): A temporary loss of consciousness resulting from a decreased flow of blood to the brain It says that "fainted" is a loss of consciousness from a decreased flow of ...
1
vote
1answer
158 views

Is “cause” instead of “because” becoming Standard English?

Nowadays, I'm seeing a drastic increase in usage of cause in place of because, especially in written English. People are in such a hurry, that a statement like below passes off like Standard English: ...
20
votes
7answers
3k views

What is the difference between “venom” and “poison”?

What is the difference between “venom” and “poison”? Both in usage and in meaning.
2
votes
1answer
33 views

What is the difference between 'ceremonial' and 'ceremonious'?

Even having looked in the OED I am still slightly unclear as to which contexts require the adjective ceremonious and which ceremonial. The OED treatment of ceremonious is as below with some of the ...
1
vote
1answer
39 views

What word describes a self -created word/expression with an intuitive meaning?

Otherwise, the Court says, there would be no qualified individuals on federal Exchanges, contradicting (for example) the provision requiring every Exchange to take the "'interests of qualified ...
1
vote
1answer
34 views

meaning of a paragraph!

Can any one help me with the meaning of this paragraph: "We have insights into reality, we continually reshape them, putting oppositions together, arguing, reconciling on different systems of ...
2
votes
2answers
53 views

Does the phrase “Do you want a hand in this” make sense?

From someone, somewhere, I remember hearing the phrase do you want a hand in this? I was told that it meant do you want to be a part of this? However, when I googled this phrase, nothing turned up. ...
1
vote
1answer
23 views

What is 'understanding' involving learning?

It appears the word "understanding" is nebulous when used in an educational setting. What's the most rigorous definition you've found for "understanding" when used for learning? Background: Every ...
-1
votes
1answer
28 views

Meaning of disposition

Is it correct to say "My disposition and dedication have become more rooted in this field"? What does disposition mean here? I looked it up in a dictionary, but still can't completely feel the ...
5
votes
2answers
111 views

Using 'tedious' to mean 'annoying'

Some of my British friends use the word 'tedious' to mean 'annoying.' A recent example: The museums in Oslo aren't open on Mondays. That's a bit tedious. I'm a native American English speaker ...
1
vote
0answers
27 views

Pure Applesauce: What does it mean and when/how was it created?

I could find out what jiggery–pokery means (dishonest or suspicious activity), but what does "pure applesauce" mean? And when, where, by whom, and how was this expression created? Context: ...
2
votes
2answers
194 views

why say “take” when we really mean “leave” (a piss, etc.)

The use of "take" in colloquial expressions of urination and defecation continues to both confound and amuse even the youngest of language enthusiasts. Just ask my son, who will insist with a smile ...
4
votes
2answers
102 views

Why are the buttons on computer keyboards called “keys”?

A computer keyboard is a board of keys. Why are these buttons called keys? Is it related to the usage of piano "keys"?
1
vote
1answer
136 views

What's the meaning of 'do bits'?

In a video, two people are describing a character from a fictional show and they say: 'he loves bits, he's always doing bits' and they move on to another topic. I don't understand the meaning of ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

What is this type of idiom called: “I know he's not the smartest person in the world, but…”

Basically, when someone says something along the lines of "I know he's not the smartest person in the world, but he should at least pass first grade math." It's peculiar because they are ...
2
votes
1answer
49 views

Is there a single word or phrase for something that looks/sounds wrong, but is right?

Is there a single word or phrase for something that is so commonly spelt or said incorrectly, that when said properly looks or sounds odd? E.g. "Company staff is expert in management..." Saying the ...
2
votes
1answer
39 views

What is proverbial town pump?

"Patrick Wethered was as well known as the proverbial town pump; his mysterious and tragic death filled all Dublin with dismay. The lawyer, who was a man sixty years of age, had been struck on the ...
0
votes
2answers
85 views

What does “Get a run in” mean?

While watching Burn After Reading Harry Pfarrer uses the following phrase at times when he's leaving a place: Maybe I can get a run in What does it mean? I searched in google a bit, and I found ...
1
vote
2answers
21 views

History and meaning of the word “clientelist” as in “clientelist politics”

In relation to news reports about modern Greece I see the term "clientelist politics" which I assume to refer to some sort of corruption. In order to learn more I looked up clientelist in the OED only ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the meaning and etymology of the adjective “jammy”, of Yorkshire English?

What is the etymology of the adjective jammy? As in, Thou art a jammy bugger! I confess I've never seen the word before. When I looked it up, I found confusing etymologies: one source says it ...
0
votes
1answer
73 views

How to describe this fact with a independent clause?

In fact, with more time being left to myself, I started to read books I had aspired to read when I was in high school. I mean I had more time for leisure, so I spent them on books. My usage ...
-1
votes
0answers
19 views

Thats a treat thats hard to beat [on hold]

What is the meaning of " thats a treat thats hard to beat" ?
1
vote
3answers
54 views

I'm stuck on finding a word to say “you can try anything” or “anything goes” [on hold]

I'm stuck on finding a word to say "you can try anything" or "anything goes" - Thanks in advance homies :)
1
vote
3answers
135 views

What is the meaning of “cop” in this sentence : “He says if London cops it, he'll cop it” [on hold]

What is the meaning of the bold part,: I have found these meanings for "cop", but none of them seems relevant in this sentence: 1. a. To get hold of; gain or win b. To perceive by one of the senses ...
1
vote
1answer
36 views

What does Sovereign mean in this context?

How would you explain what "Sovereign General Insurance Company" means to a child? Does it literally mean: The ultimate/ruler general insurance company EDIT: Or is it just a name? Just like Joe's ...
2
votes
1answer
52 views

Is it common to refer to the person steering a ship as 'pilot'?

According to its M-W entry (supported by some other dictionaries), a pilot (used of a person) can mean, among other things: a : one employed to steer a ship : helmsman b : a person who is ...
1
vote
1answer
61 views

What does “one” refer to in this sentence?

Here I am with a Hitchens sentence again! I can't come up with an exact part or parts one might be referring to in the following sentence. (Please note, however, that I will give the whole preceding ...
1
vote
3answers
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 ...
-1
votes
0answers
35 views

How many objects do you need before it becomes a stack of objects? [on hold]

A stack is defined by the OED as: A pile of objects, typically one that is neatly arranged In turn, a pile is defined as: A heap of things laid or lying one on top of another and A ...
0
votes
1answer
89 views

Which word should I choose in this context?

I have participated in many campaigns aiming at providing some opportunities for students to perceive vicariously what was going on in the real life behind the economic data which they were familiar ...
1
vote
1answer
25 views

Is “a-blink” an adjective form of “blink” in old days?

Under his breath, with a furtive exultation, he began once again the paean of victory and devastation. And presently his eyes were rewarded: out through that doorway came a long, low, ...
-1
votes
2answers
51 views

How do i know if the word is step or glide in English [on hold]

today I have a lesson in school about steps and glides and i didn't understand it. My first question what are steps and glides? My second question is how do i know if the sentence ends with steps or ...
1
vote
2answers
76 views

“I don't mistake” or “I don't make a mistake” Which one is correct? [on hold]

I have a query about these sentences: If I do not mistake, she would be his fiancée ... but my teacher told me that it must be expressed in another way If I do not make a mistake, she ...
5
votes
4answers
16k views

Does “turning down the air conditioning” make it warmer or colder?

As the title says, I've heard two possible meanings for turning down the air conditioning: It could mean set the target temperature lower (i.e. colder) or make it work less (i.e. warmer). Turning ...
0
votes
2answers
60 views

what is the difference between verbal and oral? [on hold]

what is the difference between verbal and oral ? I am looking forward to the answer and I appreciate your effort
2
votes
1answer
84 views

What to call words with permanent prefix, but no unprefixed form? (ex: nonchalant, untoward) [duplicate]

What do you call prefixed words with no unprefixed counterpart? For example, there's no such thing as a "chalant person". Bad behavior may be "untoward", good behavior is never "toward". What are ...
1
vote
1answer
50 views

When do you use the plural of “medicine”?

Or in other words, I am asking: How do you "count" medicine? Is the word "medicine" like "gas" where a collection of gas is still called gas: The air was filled with nitrogen gas. Instead of: ...
0
votes
1answer
37 views

What is the meaning of “constituent” in this phrase?

Site Location : This is a process that organizations use to identify retail locations most suitable to the "constituent customer profiles ".
1
vote
5answers
126 views

a word for a person who never attains a desire or goal

Is there a word in English that describes a person who never attains a desire or goal? I have found loser or dud or flop but these all seem to be informal, is there a better, more formal word that ...
0
votes
2answers
37 views

Infiltration & Neoplasia

I'm working on/reading a scientific article about the use and effects of Corticosteroid or Ketorolac on rabbit tendons and I got stuck at infiltration in the following excerpts: "Despite the ...
1
vote
1answer
71 views

As I said - is it polite way or not really to point out again something what has been missed or unnoticed? [on hold]

If someone missed sth in our conversation or let say did not read the email properly is it polite to say... Dear John, As I said before or As I wrote before ...or it would not look polite from UK ...
0
votes
2answers
5k views

What does “Thanks for having me” mean?

It seems to be used like "Thanks for inviting me". But it sounds like "Thank me, cause I was there". Looking for a better explanation and situations it should be used in.
0
votes
2answers
47 views

Are there any differences? - to buy x to purchase [on hold]

Are there any differences between the meanings of "purchase" and "buy"? Thanks in advance.
1
vote
1answer
31 views

Cannot understand sentence in preface to “Old Indian Legends” by Zitkala-Ša

I'm reading the preface to Old Indian Legends by Zitkala-Ša, originally published in 1901. My mother tongue is not English, and I am having some trouble understanding - in detail - what she actually ...
2
votes
2answers
14k views

“Further, …” versus “Furthermore, …” at the beginning of a sentence (meaning the same thing)?

I am not a native speaker (my mother tongue is German). In the context of a technical paper (computer science), is there a difference between Further, ... and Furthermore, ... at beginning of a ...
0
votes
1answer
40 views

“Charges levied” Actually a thing?

I am positive I've heard of "charges levied," as in "criminal charges brought against" (e.g. the sentence "The charge levied against my client is unfounded."). However, while searching for a ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

What does it mean to be “worth someone's keep”?

“Do not get any gold or silver or copper to take with you in your belts no bag for the journey or extra shirt or sandals or a staff, for the worker is worth his keep. What does it mean ...