4
votes
7answers
2k views

“I'm only grandfathering you in because of Serena.”

In Gossip Girl Season 4 Episode 19 "Petty in pink," Blair says the following sentence to Serena's cousin Charlie after she tried to explain to both of them about her plan. I'm only grandfathering ...
7
votes
1answer
3k views

Ellipses at the end of unfinished lists

After reading a question wrongly posted on programmers.SE and especially the post at PR Daily quoted in one of the answers, I have some doubts about the usage of ellipses. In French, ellipses are ...
10
votes
5answers
9k views

Where does “on one's last legs” come from?

To be on one's last legs means to be worn out, tired, run down, and ready to die or otherwise cease working. Some examples I've found are Grandfather is on his last legs. He'll be on his way to ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Usage of [to be] + had

While discussing What does "I was had" mean? I've found there are some not so common usages of had in English like: I have/had been had (meaning "to get fooled") but further Google ...
3
votes
2answers
14k views

“That hurts” or “that hurt”?

I checked on the Internet, it's all out there, sometimes it is "That hurt" and sometimes it's "That hurts", so which one is correct?
5
votes
4answers
153 views

Use of “it” in titles

Is the following question title grammatical or not, despite some missing articles? Way of obtaining Chomsky normalform, does it influence performance of CYK parser? P.S.: is there an English ...
12
votes
4answers
18k views

What are the origins of the word “nice”?

The word "nice" tends to be used in rather a wishy-washy sense these days. In general use it tends to mean anything that is satisfactory. But what are the origins of this word? What did it originally ...
1
vote
3answers
71k views

Difference between “then” and “than” [closed]

I am having difficulty trying to distingush between then and than. What I find confusing is their pronunciation, and when to use them. For example: He walked, stopped, than/then picked up a ...
2
votes
1answer
6k views

What does “I was had” mean?

Maybe he would help me with Deborah's pablum, take turns pushing the wheelchair. It's good to have someone. That reminded me that I had someone -- or perhaps I was had. In any case, Rita would ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Should we avoid using words that have alternate offensive meaning [closed]

There are many English words that could be used to refer to something innocent that also has a common slang meaning, such as pussy, ass, bitch, etc. For convenience' sake, should we avoid using ...
6
votes
10answers
3k views

A far away place

Is there an English idiomatic expression to indicate a place which is very far away from the speaker's location? Something like in the middle of nowhere but not necessarily implying that the ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

“It did the job” meaning

Does it mean "it could be better but is ok" (small disappointment), or "it really worked!" (surprise and content)? Depends on the context? Also, is there a difference between "That did the job" and ...
3
votes
5answers
5k views

“What were you thinking…”

I want to ask about what emotion motivated someone to do something. Can the phrase "what were you thinking when you..." be used for this? It seems kind of unnatural to ask, "what were you feeling when ...
1
vote
2answers
337 views

What does “bar hate” mean?

The controversial law will also bar hate speech and harassment. What does it mean in the example above?
1
vote
4answers
5k views

Electronic or electronics for the adjective

Is it correct to say "electronics products" or "electronic products"?
3
votes
3answers
892 views

Word for “on this side of the ocean”

I'm looking for a word akin to 'cismontane' that refers to oceans or seas. Does this exist?
5
votes
4answers
5k views

Where does “otay” come from?

I've heard a few people (all native English speakers) recently use "otay" in place of "okay", both in writing and when speaking. Where does that word come from? For that matter, is it a word at all? ...
9
votes
4answers
19k views

What are alternative responses for when someone sneezes?

Question: What is an appropriate English response to reply when someone nearby sneezes? Background: I am American by birth, and was raised to respond 'God Bless You' when someone sneezes -- though I ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

What is rose up here, and what does it mean “out of it”? And pantomime demon

He never finished what he was going to say for at that moment something happened. The high-backed chair in front of the fire moved suddenly and there rose up out of it - like a pantomime ...
2
votes
3answers
316 views

Meaning of “my fool of a sister can't get at you”

Another phrase/sentence I don't understand from Narnia Book 1 Magician's Nephew: Digory was quite speechless, for Uncle Andrew looked a thousand times more alarming than he had ever looked before. ...
3
votes
5answers
5k views

What's a Denver accent sound like?

I'm trying to learn to imitate the accent of someone from a slummy area of Denver (for a roleplaying game). Info on different local accents is welcome; a sound bite would be especially useful. If you ...
1
vote
1answer
228 views

'where they would all' vs 'where they all would'?

I just read this but it didn't sound too natural to me: ... trying to predict where they would all end up. Maybe I'm wrong here but I thought that, in this case, all is changing they, so I'd ...
0
votes
3answers
691 views

Which symbols can I use as shorthands to convey specific meanings?

For example, "/" (slash) can be used to mean "or" for two things that are interchangeable: I am taking my car/automobile to meet with my date/girlfriend. Are there other symbols like this that ...
0
votes
3answers
207 views

Is “driving the reins” used as a deliberately erroneous phrase?

In her blog post introducing Blog Overflow, the estimable Rebecca Chernoff committed the following, uh, sentence: Have someone driving the reigns. After cringing (read: screaming in pain) and ...
20
votes
16answers
21k views

What is a synonym for “girlfriend”?

I'm in my mid 40s and dating this lady of a similar vintage. I am trying to find a good word to describe our relationship, but "girlfriend" and "boyfriend" seems inappropriate for us. It reminds me of ...
-3
votes
2answers
28k views

“can hardly” vs. “can't hardly” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Can hardly wait” versus “can't hardly wait” These two seem to be opposites of each other because of the additional "not" in one of them. ...
2
votes
5answers
8k views

'Shelled' vs. 'deshelled'

Are they interchangeable? Do they really mean the same thing in this context? As in the sentences: I really enjoy these already shelled pistachios. I really enjoy these already deshelled ...
0
votes
4answers
451 views

What is the meaning of “drains” in here?

"I expect someone lives there in secret, only coming in and out at night, with a dark lantern. We shall probably discover a gang of desperate criminals and get a reward. It's all rot to say a house ...
1
vote
3answers
3k views

“can hardly” vs. “there's no way”

Does "can hardly" mean the same thing as "there's no way?" I can hardly ____________ There's no way I can _______ Do these two mean the same thing? What's the difference, if any?
2
votes
3answers
882 views

What is the difference between a catch and a handle?

What is the difference between a catch and a handle? Ain't they the same thing? But here it said they got no handle but a catch: It was very dark and dusty and draughty and they stepped from ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

What does “all rot” mean in here?

I expect someone lives there in secret, only coming in and out at night, with a dark lantern. We shall probably discover a gang of desperate criminals and get a reward. It's all rot to ...
2
votes
3answers
219 views

Can the word 'aggregation' be used to mean a collection of people?

I'm wondering if one can use the word "aggregation" to mean a team or a collaboration of sorts, or even a certain collection of individuals in general, not just objects. Any thoughts?
7
votes
2answers
1k views

Understanding appositives and the use of the m-dash ( — )

My understanding of a dash is that it sets off a lengthy appositive, but can also be used to introduce a summary. Consider the following passage from Stephan Jay Gould: If evolution worked ...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

Use of “Sure” in reply to help offering and to appreciation

In American English, "sure" is often heard in reply to offering help or expressing appreciation. I was wondering if it may not be a good choice? For example, - Would you like a cup of water? - ...
10
votes
11answers
14k views

A single word for someone who is not pleased no matter how hard you try

I'm looking for a word that means someone (especially a boss) who is not pleased (with your work, attitude etc.) no matter how hard you try.
9
votes
8answers
63k views

Difference between “little” and “small”

Is there a difference between them? If so, how and when are they used? For example: I fixed a little/small typo.
20
votes
9answers
3k views

Referring to past times with “hence”

From Tor.com, an interesting use of the word hence: Minutes ago, J.K. Rowling finally announced her plans behind Pottermore, the mysterious website that appeared a week hence with only a “Coming ...
4
votes
3answers
5k views

Is the sentence “It is removed” grammatically correct?

There is another form of the same sentence — "It has been removed". But in the sentence "It is removed," the last word is an adjective so I believe it is correct as well. Am I right?
4
votes
2answers
9k views

Meaning of “I'm not your friend, buddy”, besides the literal meaning [closed]

Does the expression "I'm not your friend, buddy" have a colloquial meaning? I've now seen it used twice. I am guessing it has more than just a literal meaning.
11
votes
3answers
5k views

What does “bespoke” mean in this context?

The synthetic CDOs that caused the trouble were expensive bespoke instruments that were very profitable for the banks involved – JPMorgan was paid $19m to structure and market the Squared CDO alone ...
8
votes
6answers
1k views

To what extent do English words sound like what they describe?

Is it true that the way languages develop causes the tonal qualities of the words to have a tendency to match the nature of the thing the word stands for? I am not talking just about obviously ...
1
vote
0answers
468 views

Best practice for reply to thanks? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Response to “Thank you!” When somebody emails me or sends me thanks, I just reply "You're welcome." So what will be the professional and good alternative ...
26
votes
9answers
123k views

Is “receival” a valid word for the act of receiving something?

In the course of reviewing a standard operating procedure, I came across the subheading: "Receival, Costing and Charging of Work". I immediately began to doubt whether the word "receival" was a ...
9
votes
7answers
3k views

Simple sentences that demonstrate differences among similar-looking words [closed]

While searching online for the difference between "sometime" and "some time", I stumbled upon this page. At the middle of the page you can see these two sentences that demonstrate the difference: ...
6
votes
5answers
23k views

Speaking with a forked tongue

What does it mean for someone to be "speaking with a forked tongue"? I've heard it used by my boss when referring to particular customers of ours.
14
votes
5answers
1k views

Can a noun (such as “duct tape”) be used as a verb?

I found the phrase “duct-tape together” in the following sentence of a Washington Post (June 21) article written by Chris Cillizza under the title “Gingrich campaign hit by more departures.” The ...
20
votes
6answers
16k views

“anymore” vs. “any more”

any more requests anymore requests Are these two the same? It seems that "any more requests" is grammatically correct while "anymore requests" is not. Am I right? Why are they different?
16
votes
5answers
80k views

Is there a difference between “holiday” and “vacation”?

What is the difference, if any, between these two words?
8
votes
4answers
2k views

How should I parse the sentence “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”

Why is the following statement valid, and how can I break it down so that it is easier to understand? Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
4
votes
2answers
2k views

Etymology of “what gives”?

Where does this expression "what gives" come from? Especially when used as "what's happening?"

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