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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1answer
78 views

Pronoun reference & other enigmas in a poem by H. D. Thoreau

I'm trying to understand an excerpt from a poem — "Inspiration", by Henry David Thoreau (see below) — but there are two bits I can't quite get. The first confusing part is the verse "and in my day ...
2
votes
1answer
139 views

What does “ought to have been a wheelbarrow” mean?

My grandmother (who was of Irish descent) was born in the New England area of NSW, Australia. She used an idiom that she "ought to have been a wheelbarrow". I think it meant something about a lack of ...
2
votes
1answer
113 views

Information unavailable to the audience

What is it called when a character knows something the audience doesn't? For example, if the character was stating something obvious like "today is your birthday", saying it only to inform the ...
1
vote
1answer
23 views

A word for 'to empathize without identifying with'

I'm looking for a verb or noun that refers to our capacity to abstract someone else’s experience or experiences vicariously. Such a word would be good for describing what it takes to be able to ...
1
vote
1answer
46 views

What does “stage-cutch” mean?

I would like to ask about the meaning of "stage-cutch" in David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. it appeared in my translation test this afternoon and I didn't find any definition of it. In my opinion, ...
1
vote
1answer
153 views

Difference between logs, timber, and lumber

I'm interested in the distinctions between these three terms. Here's what I already know: timber is wood that is still attached to the ground, and still has its bark on. Lumber is already felled, and ...
1
vote
1answer
116 views

Meaning and use of “would have to be” in this sentence

I'm a beginner of English and really appreciate that you can help me learn more. I noticed a sentence: I think all the girls in the anime are awesome, but my favorites would have to be Nozomi and ...
1
vote
1answer
44 views

Is it correct to use the phrase - “he / she fights on”?

Is it correct to use the phrase "he / she fights on" to say that a person is fighting / struggling for a cause?
1
vote
1answer
106 views

Help understanding a sentence/reference

The introductory paragraph of the book An Introduction to Mathematics, written for general audience by the great British mathematician Alfred North Whitehead goes like this: Chapter 1: THE ...
2
votes
0answers
72 views

What does “#Race together” mean? Is this a perfect English sentence?

Starbucks decided to stop their baristas writing “Race together” on customers’ cups in response to raging public criticism. Totally apart from political, social, or racial dispute involved in this ...
1
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0answers
51 views

What does someone not good at "faking cheer” mean?

There was the following passage in New Yorker's (March 25) article titled "A bad day in American-Israeli relations: “I talk to him all the time. He is representing his country’s interests the ...
1
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0answers
45 views

What's the meaning of “I+verb+not+object1+the less, but+object2+more”?

What's the meaning of: I verb not object 1 the less, but object 2 more. Example: I love not man the less, but Nature more.. I've searched Google about the meaning of it, but unfortunately ...
1
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0answers
80 views

Descry, Espy, Spot, Spy

I know as a general rule that no two words are identical in meaning and use. I was wondering if I could get help in understanding the different meanings and uses of descry, espy, spot and spy. I know ...
1
vote
0answers
151 views

What's the meaning of the word “spitters” in The Chemical Worker's Song?

Amongst the different versions of this song (Known by various names including "The Chemical Worker's Song", "Process Man" and "The ICI Song") that are floating around, there seem to be two variations ...
0
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0answers
34 views

What does “dredging deep for steel” mean?

I read the leader column - 'Should an ex-jockey be allowed free rein as pseudo sleuth? (Answer: no, of course not.)' and then, dredging deep for steel, I finally returned to India Cathcar's piece. ...
0
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0answers
31 views

can the adjective “sexist” be replaced by “chauvinistic” in this context?

"the nature of these rituals generates a sexist mentality among the new members" can "chauvinistic" denote the same meaning as "sexist" in this phrase?
0
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0answers
31 views

“This isn't the place for you” meaning?

Would you say that this line is an indirect way of telling someone they shouldn't come/be somewhere? Or if not indirect, maybe some other adjective?
0
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0answers
46 views

What's the meaning of “we couldn't shake it”

I've heard this phrase in a song, but I don't think its meaning lies in terms to get rid off something. I'll never forget you Although at times we couldn't shake it
0
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0answers
25 views

The Subject of a Participial Construction

The following passage is quoted from the article in Newsweek by Leah McGrath Goodman, titled "Thomas Piketty Says He Was Ambushed": [Financial Times’s economics editor Chris] Giles, in his ...
0
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0answers
64 views

Clarification on sarcasm/type of personality-stumped

I am hoping to get some help. I have always been told that I am the most sarcastic person people have ever met. After 20 years, I decided to dive a little deeper to see if I fit the definition. It ...
0
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0answers
25 views

What does “ceremonial” mean in this context?

What does "ceremonial" mean in this context? Thus, it was for freedom (legitimate moral and ceremonial freedom) that Christ set us free. Definitions of "ceremonial": 1. relating to or used for ...
0
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0answers
23 views

What does “size availability” mean in the following context?

It's about woods, more precisely about the tree called "Thuya Burr" : USES: Mostly used for decorative veneers as size availability is limited. Many thanks for your help
0
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0answers
28 views

Do you still “know” something you have temporarily forgotten?

Sometimes people say, for example I know it, but I can't think of it at the moment. But if you can't think of it at the moment, then can you truthfully state that you "know" it? Dictionary ...
0
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0answers
34 views

Midnight at the Halls or Midnight in the Halls

I was writing a title for an article and I was curious which version of the title would be more grammatically proper: "Midnight at the Halls" or "Midnight in the Halls" It's trying express the fact ...
0
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0answers
28 views

Make in-roads - meaning

At Marina Polliack's jewelry stand, Bennett was making in-roads. I am not sure how to understand in-roads. The sentence appears here ...
0
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0answers
52 views

Is it possible to 'claim' a concession?

Underlying most OED definitions of the word claim, both noun and verb, is some notion of right or entitlement. ( An exception arises in the case of meaning 2c - the loosely used he claimed to be ...
0
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0answers
36 views

Electronic module or unit?

I make circuit boards with micro controllers that I mount inside plastic cases. I've always referred to them as electronic control modules. But what is really the best word for these? Electronic ...
0
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0answers
41 views

Difference between discourses and worldviews

I wondered if any one could help me to differentiate between worldviews (see the Cultural Theory of Risk for further information) and discourses (and their interrelation, if applicable). Thanks in ...
0
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0answers
40 views

What's the difference between Earthed Line and the Earth Line?

What's the difference between Earthed Line and the Earth Line? Are they same meaning?
0
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0answers
46 views

Sift and Sieve definition

Recently, while reading a novel, I stumbled upon the word 'sifted'. This immediately got me questioning the difference between the verb 'sift' and the verb 'sieve'. Some dictionaries say 'sieve' is ...
0
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0answers
37 views

It is to the feminine as the hug of a bear is to the scratch of--well;--anything with claws

"A man's sense of humor is a barbarous and a cruel thing, Miss Innes," he admitted. "It is to the feminine as the hug of a bear is to the scratch of--well;--anything with claws. Is that you, Thomas? ...
0
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0answers
56 views

I'll just toss it out again

Every moment of the day feels like a race against the clock. To borrow a phrase from Carrie Fisher, which is in my bio there; I'll just toss it out again -- "These days even instant gratification ...
0
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0answers
49 views

On a certain usage of the word “only”

Some documents such as medical prescriptions and cheques employ the word "only" in an interesting manner: (Dpbsmith via Wikipedia) On cheques the usage is something like "Three hundred dollars ...
0
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0answers
30 views

“relaxed flying fingers” associated with ergonomic keyboard computer interface?

I want to start an open source software project and call it "relaxed flying fingers". The project is about a better keyboard interface, especially for touch typers (people typing with ten fingers). ...
0
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0answers
100 views

Meaning of “well” in full and meaningful sentences

In everyday English, people use "well" in their speech very loosely. "Well, I don't know." "Well yeah!" "Oh well..." ...etc. I know "well" has different meanings and emotions attached to them, ...
0
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0answers
673 views

Far more … than meaning

Theft of an idea is far more difficult for proving in court than word-for-word plagiarism. Can far more be used in that sentence? What does it mean?
0
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0answers
82 views

What is the meaning of “ironically” in this passage?

A rocket launched and shortly exploded on Tuesday. Below is passage from a news article written about it: This was the second launch attempt for the mission. Monday evening's try was thwarted by a ...
0
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0answers
245 views

Is there a difference between: “The coming year” and “next year”?

If it were now January, would "the coming year" be taken to mean this year? If it were November would "the coming year" refer to the next calendar year or a period running from November to November?
0
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0answers
183 views

What does “trabacaloes” refer to?

The book I'm reading contains the following excerpt: He thought of men he knew, junior to him but with better luck or better interest, who were now lieutenants in command of brigs or cutters, or ...
0
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0answers
72 views

“Comfort me in accomplishing my task”

In a formal letter, can one say comfort me in accomplishing my task as in Your presence will significantly enhance this scientific event and comfort me in accomplishing my task. ...
0
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0answers
148 views

Morpheme Division

I just have a short question regarding the morpheme contextualizes. When I divide it into morphemes, is it: 1. contextual ize s lexical derivational inflectional ...
0
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0answers
71 views

Is there a proper name for saying something like “stack'em”?

Is there a proper name for saying something like stack'em instead of stack them or any other "'em" in place of "them"? Is it slang or something to do with dialect? UPDATE It is a ...
0
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0answers
61 views

What does “ be upon mental” mean?

What does " be upon mental" mean? For example in this sentence: "we Both must be upon our mental". Is it somehow about being crazy? It's a story in verse; it refers to Grimm's Fairy Tales. ...
0
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0answers
84 views

What is the difference between “matter-containing media” and “matter”?

I'm reading the english wikipedia entry titled "Radiation". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiation you can find the word in the first paragraph, or by searching. so... What is the difference between ...
0
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0answers
71 views

The meaning of “Alexis” in Pope's Second Pastoral

"Alexis" comes from Greek, meaning "to help, defend." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexis_(given_name) Alexander Pope seems to use it in a different sense. His Second Pastoral is entitled Summer ...
0
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0answers
77 views

meaning of “Winner quote” - best “saying” or best “offer”?

Since the word "quote" can be understood as "saying" and also as "offer" I have the following question. If you hear someone saying "that's a winner quote", what would you understand? Would most people ...
-1
votes
0answers
35 views

Is there a word for helping someone when you are better equipped than them?

Is there a word or phrase for doing a favour or helping someone because you are in a better position than them to get it done? For example, it would take me a lot longer to herd some cattle than it ...
-1
votes
0answers
45 views

What does run up on someone like a “J” mean?

I was listening to Ciara's "G Is for Girl" lyrics and I want to clarify the meaning of the phrase: "I" dont want you tryna run up on me like a "J" The most suitable explanations I found for (to) ...
-1
votes
0answers
20 views

a nomadic though punctual disposition?

Mrs. Cornett, who spent much time at her toilet table, and whose complexion was reputed to be of a nomadic though punctual disposition, looked as ill at ease as the Major. The above is a part of ...
-2
votes
0answers
40 views

What is the term used to describe something very big and something very small at the same time?

I heard it used in the context of describing God in Christian theology. God is big enough to create the whole universe, but small enough to live inside our hearts?