Questions tagged [literary-english]

Questions related to English vocabulary, forms, phrases, and syntax that is now more commonly seen in written literature than in everyday speech.

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Is the phrase “We may come here from darkness and disguise“ acceptable? If not, what is the most similar phrase I can use? [closed]

I would like to use this phrase in a song lyrics, but I'm afraid it's not correct and the meaning can be confusing. What I'm trying to say is this: Perhaps we come from a place of darkness and ...
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2 answers
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What's the meaning of "that vagabond was made for the next two days"?

I am currently reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. There is one sentence which has puzzled me. But the Doctor himself was the idol of the whole school: and it must have been a badly ...
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3 answers
109 views

What is the meaning of the phrase "striving for effect"?

This phrase seems to be well established in English. I just don't know exactly what it means, beyond the fact that it is used to define "affectation". It may be something that people learn ...
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5 votes
1 answer
379 views

Omission of if in a conditional phrase

This is an excerpt from Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. It is, however, clear that even this apprehension of the manifold alone would bring forth no image and no connection of the impressions were ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Is there a word for "the use of opposite expressions" similar to "comparison"

Is there a word as a use of language when the writer uses an opposite / bad example to make the correct / other ones particularly stand out? Thanks
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12 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is this swastika looking symbol in John Hancock's family papers from circa 1762

I was looking at the "From The Page" software and tried to transcribe a section of the Hancock family papers, and on Page 137 (seq. 139) the author used what seems to be swastikas to ...
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2 votes
3 answers
967 views

What type of literary technique is the phrase 'star-crossed lovers' in 'Romeo and Juliet'?

My child has been asked this at school, and I suspect the teachers want the students to answer that it's a metaphor. However, I don't think it's a metaphor: surely Shakespeare, or at least the people ...
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0 votes
1 answer
184 views

What is a person called if they study poems but do not write them?

I am doing a research paper for Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson. I do not know the term to use if I'm trying to talk about someone who studied the poems they made before they died. Can anyone help me ...
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2 answers
73 views

Affect in something? (a phrase from an older book)

Reading an old tale from C.A.Smith, there is the following sentence: About him, there was nothing whatever of the lineaments of our own period; and he even went so far as to affect in his costume an ...
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0 votes
2 answers
101 views

Is the Usage "I are" proper English? [closed]

So I'm reading a 19th-century novel called The Count of Monte Cristo, and I came across this particular usage, which is: [H]e continued," let us make all possible speed. I are most anxious to ...
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1 answer
63 views

The bigger the tree, the further the fruit falls

I overheard this once, but can't seem to find the origin of this quote. I checked Bartlet, Times, Yale, and Oxford, so I'm positive I heard it wrong. It might have been "the taller the tree."...
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1 answer
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Definition of 'cut out in'

I was reading 'The Hound of the Baskervilles' for the sake of improving my English and have not found the definition of the phrasal verb in bold: ‘I don’t know much about the tariff and things of ...
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1 answer
55 views

Where should the words 'In real life' be put?

Which of these sentences is correct? In real life, do we have anything close to the robots showed in Westworld? Do we, in real life, have anything close to the robots showed in Westworld? Do we have ...
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1 answer
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What does "He is so odd a mixture of" mean?

The following passage is from Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had been ...
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1 answer
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English Word Hunting [duplicate]

My question: Is there any word in English (generically speaking) that have something like this: In our language (Filipino), there's some words that if you subtracted or added a character to it will ...
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1 vote
1 answer
430 views

thyself = yourself, what is the equivalent of *others*?

Is there a Shakespeare style of saying others? Example: Know yourself, know others Know thyself, know ____ By others I mean other people in general. Could be an intended group but not enemy.
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3 votes
2 answers
755 views

What is the literary term for not keeping a story consistent?

For example, if something is established early on in a story but is contradicted by something else later on, almost as if the detail was forgotten.
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1 vote
0 answers
55 views

Why "him" in "For neuer resting time leads Summer on / To hidious winter and confounds him there, ..." instead of it or her?

There is a passage in William's V sonnet that confounds me : For neuer resting time leads Summer on, To hidious winter and confounds him there, Sap checkt with frost and lustie leau's quite gon. ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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What's the origin of the phrase "fatal dower"?

I recently ran across the phrase "Constantine's fatal dower," which sounded like a quotation, so I googled it. The specific reference to Constantine that started my quest comes from Canto XIX of ...
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2 votes
3 answers
136 views

Is 'faithless' a literary version of 'unfaithful' (in the context of a spouse)?

Microsoft® Encarta® 2009. defines 'faithless' as: faithless, (of a spouse): unfaithful (literary) Is 'faithless' really the literary term for 'unfaithful', unlike unfaithful which would supposedly ...
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1 vote
1 answer
215 views

Rase: another spelling of raze (literary) [closed]

Is the spelling using s as opposed to z really literary as the Microsoft® Encarta® 2009 purportedly explains? Raze 1. completely destroy place: to destroy or level a building or settlement ...
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6 votes
6 answers
3k views

Is there any word for a place full of confusion?

I am searching for a word for a place which is full of confusion. I tried searching but couldn't find any link. This website mentions nothing. https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/confused Merriam-...
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1 vote
1 answer
117 views

"This/That is, " used at the beginning of a sentence to clarify a concept from the previous sentence

According to an English native speaker who works with me, the "This is" bit in the following sentence should be replaced by "That is": In fact, the feature space need not be unique. This is, for a ...
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0 votes
1 answer
913 views

Phrase meaning of equal parts

IN THE CUT-THROAT realm of reality TV, “Wanted Down Under” is a survivor. A daytime fixture that has just finished its 13th season, the BBC documentary follows Britons contemplating relocating to ...
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0 votes
1 answer
317 views

Is it OK to use two consecutive 'that' in a sentence? [duplicate]

Is the usage of 2 consecutive 'that' in the following sentence correct, because it looks a bit odd? Should these be separated by comma perhaps? "While I agree that strength and size definitely gives ...
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2 votes
1 answer
62 views

Is it possible to use present and past in one sentence?

In On The Road Jack admits to Justin W. Brierly that he loves Neal Cassady because he reminds him of his brother, Gerard, who dies when Jack was five years old. Is this grammatical? The first part of ...
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0 votes
1 answer
132 views

Meaning of 'a feller' in "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer"

I would like to ask about the meaning a sentence from the following conversation between Tom and Huck from Chapter 27: "No, not rot him. FIND him! Track the money!" "Tom, we'll never ...
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1 vote
1 answer
56 views

Usage of "it's to"

When I finally wake up, it's to his arm slung over me, holding me close to his chest. The sentence above is the extract of a reading source. What possibly could be the meaning of "it's to..."? ...
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0 votes
3 answers
643 views

Origin of the phrase "poles asunder"?

1906: President Roosevelt and Mr. Hearst stand as far as the poles asunder. 1899: Two writers of Marrano origin, wide as the poles asunder in gifts of mind and character ... 1795: ... they were ...
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4 votes
1 answer
233 views

Word for a person who is overly demanding of artists

I'm trying to recall the word used to describe someone tyrannically demanding of talent/artists/actors. A despot. Singali? Pretty sure it's the name of a character from a book. Maybe killed them in ...
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0 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why is it “Who be ye?” and not “Who are ye?” in archaic forms of English?

When I was looking for “ye” in a dictionary, I stumbled upon the phrase “Who be ye?”. But why is it “Who be ye?” and not “Who are ye?”? The modern equivalent of “ye” would be “you”, wouldn’t it? “Who ...
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2 votes
4 answers
478 views

Thematic comparison of 'collaborative' vs 'collective' in literature or culture

I'm trying to brand a product with either the word 'collaborative' or 'collective', but I am having trouble imagining what the well known thematic usage is with either word. I've always seen them ...
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3 votes
2 answers
3k views

Do people actually address their male child "Son" rather than a name, in real life English, or is this mainly a written English usage?

I regularly see films, books, stories and other English usages in which a person uses the term "son" where one might normally use a name. Usually, it's a father and they're portrayed in a reasonably ...
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38 votes
2 answers
5k views

Is this sentence from Orwell's Animal Farm grammatically sound?

Should been really have been included in the following passage from George Orwell’s Animal Farm, or was this somehow an erroneous insertion of a spurious word? Illustration from p. 17 of the 1990 ...
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0 votes
2 answers
4k views

Pride and Prejudice, what does: “decline the office, I will take it on myself” mean?

"I honour your circumspection. A fortnight's acquaintance is certainly very little. One cannot know what a man really is by the end of a fortnight. But if we do not venture somebody else will; and ...
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40 votes
7 answers
11k views

What is this strange sentence by Walt Whitman?

The future is no more uncertain than the present. —Walt Whitman This is supposed to mean "The future is certain, just like the present." But it means the opposite... I learnt in school that no more ...
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0 votes
0 answers
177 views

"How will history remember" vs "How history will remember"? [duplicate]

Context: there is a war going on. Actual use: A difficult winter is heading their way. But Jonas means to change all that. He finds himself wondering how will history remember this day. MS Word ...
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  • 937
7 votes
1 answer
677 views

What does "to fall to upon" mean here?

And they fell to upon their frugal supper. (From Vanity Fair) I can only find either to fall to, or to fall on / upon, but never to fall to on / upon.
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1 vote
1 answer
799 views

Is “Light of moon and ray of star” an idiom?

What is the literary device used for the following quote from The Fellowship of the Ring : By light of moon and ray of star I think that it is an idiom.... I may be wrong!
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2 votes
0 answers
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Name of part of Cormac McCarthy's writing style [duplicate]

Cormac McCarthy has several idiosyncracies in his writing style, but I'm looking for the name of a specific style he employs: When he joins together several actions or clauses with "and". Example ...
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5 votes
1 answer
227 views

Confusing sentence in an 1858 novel by George MacDonald

I’m not a native English speaker, and I was reading George MacDonald’s fantasy novel of 1858 Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for Men and Women. Everything was going fine but suddenly I saw this ...
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4 votes
1 answer
827 views

Is "forsought" right in this case?

I was trying to write a poem in an old fashioned way and I wished to use the verb forseek in a verse, but when I searched about this verb I found that it isn't widely used not even in old texts (if it ...
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  • 351
0 votes
1 answer
940 views

'Seems to have got'

Is there anything odd about the following sentence? 'It seems to have got colder.' I am not a native English speaker. I came across this sentence in a book (Orwell's 1984) recently and am not able ...
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1 vote
1 answer
4k views

Why isn't it appropriate to use an exclamation point in an essay? And how can I get around that? [closed]

I am currently writing a research essay for my English twelve class, and we are not allowed any exclaimation points whatsoever. But this one sentence is something I feel absolutely requires it! HELP: ...
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1 vote
0 answers
16 views

Where can I ommit "a" and "the" articles? [duplicate]

Should I allways use "a" article, when something is indefinite? And should I allways use "the" article, when something is definite? Where can I ommit these articles?
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2 votes
4 answers
1k views

What is the name of the term for character facial expressions showing meaning in a play?

Last year I learnt the term for a character's facial expressions showing the audience what they feel, as well as their tone of voice in the stage directions when reading a play. I am currently writing ...
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3 votes
2 answers
6k views

Is there any relation between the meanings of the word "cataract"?

Oxford defines "cataract" as "a steep waterfall" as well as gives the more common meaning of the word i.e. the medical condition that causes a loss of sight. Also, "cataract", as meaning "waterfall",...
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  • 1,940
5 votes
2 answers
3k views

What do you call someone who (over)uses archaic terms and expressions while writing?

I came across a literary article from one of my cousin's numerous English books. The author, in what I presume to be an effort to showcase their vocabulary and command over English, seems to have ...
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0 votes
1 answer
260 views

Help explain what “miseries were as vast as the sky” mean [closed]

I'm totally confused about the use of this phrase in this situation: After Margaret Sanger saw the worst of many women who had to do abortion with abortionists, they suffered from physical pains ...
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0 votes
1 answer
4k views

A word for someone that loves learning/ curious, has wonder about the world In general [duplicate]

I need a word that describes the love of learning, discovering, or it could even be a word that describes a curious person.
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