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Questions tagged [meaning-in-context]

This tag is for questions about the meaning of a longer passage of English. A SPECIFIC CONCERN must be emphasized.

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35 votes
5 answers

Does "notified by [date]" include the end date?

I have read the Rules of a competition. The text of the Rules include a sentence as follows: As per stated in the Rules the entrants will be notified by May 30th 2010. Does the sentence above mean ...
ezpresso's user avatar
  • 1,515
1 vote
0 answers

Meaning of the structure [be + to + verb] in this context

I’m trying to understand the meaning of “whom they are to admire” in this long sentence: From these causes it results that the advocates of drastic reform divide themselves into opposing schools, ...
apadana's user avatar
  • 455
70 votes
1 answer

"All but" idiom has two meanings?

Here's two ways I've seen the "all, but" idiom used: "Close all tabs but this one" (Any modern application with a number of tabs might have this as an option.) It means "close all the tabs, but not ...
Carlos's user avatar
  • 5,925
22 votes
2 answers

What does "be it" mean in this passage?

What does be it mean in this context and what kind of sentence is this? (grammatically) There is no one in our society who is not ethnocentric to some degree, no matter how liberal and open-minded ...
solmazpanaahi's user avatar
55 votes
2 answers

"X times as many as" or "X times more than"

Suppose John has 5 sweets. Is there any difference between the following two sentences? Jack has 3 times as many sweets as John. Jack has 3 times more sweets than John. I prefer the first ...
user avatar
12 votes
4 answers

What does "I Can't Get No Satisfaction" mean?

This song by The Rolling Stones, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". As a non-native speaker, I always wondered what's the exact meaning of this phrase? Is it "I'm not getting any satisfaction" (this ...
GSerg's user avatar
  • 535
9 votes
3 answers

Specific usage of the word 'but'

The Aesop's Fables translated by George Fyler Townsend book has a line which reads as follows: ... If you had but touched me, my friend, you ... I've seen the word 'but' used this way a couple of ...
martinthenext's user avatar
19 votes
3 answers

"to be all but X"

What does "all but" mean in this expression? Today, under pressure from P2P distribution, optical disc piracy in wealthy countries is "all but eliminated" and profit margins ...
badp's user avatar
  • 1,532
28 votes
11 answers

How should "deceptively" actually be used?

I'm not sure if this is a duplicate question, but I couldn't find anything on here on the topic. I can't seem to figure out what is actually meant when using the word "deceptive," or rather, what is ...
DeVil's user avatar
  • 867
4 votes
2 answers

How does negation affect the use and understanding of "or" and "and"

I'm trying to make more sense of how negation effects how a sentence is parsed and understood if and's and or's are used within them. Pop quiz: You are trapped on a bus with a bomb going 50 MPH. You ...
Ants's user avatar
  • 669
2 votes
1 answer

Can a bare infinitive verb as the first word of a sentence form a clause?

I’ve stumbled upon the following sentence reading a blogpost: Come C++11 (programming language) there are some extra options for our ownership policies. What does come mean here? It doesn’t look ...
ledonter's user avatar
  • 177
27 votes
4 answers

Is "up to" inclusive or exclusive?

The study was carried out up to visit 11 under the name of X1, whereas all later visits were carried out under a different name, X2. In the above sentence, does V11 belong to X1 or X2? I want the ...
doctorate's user avatar
  • 469
9 votes
3 answers

What kind of human character or regional trait does the habit of “the g-dropping” represent?

Further to the question I posted today about the meaning of the expression, “treat somebody pretty ugly,” which appeared in New York Times’ article (September 17) titled “Rick Perry, Uber Texan,” I ...
Yoichi Oishi's user avatar
  • 70.2k
1 vote
2 answers

Meaning of a sentence [closed]

I was reading an article but I don't quite understand the part made bold: In accordance with the ideals of Kemalism expressed above, education or school emerged as the most efficient apparatus ...
Tarik's user avatar
  • 2,573
0 votes
3 answers

Meaning of "as" in following sentence [closed]

I am not sure of the meaning of this sentence: The significance of culture and identity in development has to do not so much with the cultural factor in the process of development as with ...
Pietro's user avatar
  • 1,407
-1 votes
4 answers

What is the word or term used to describe doing an activity or work with a high level of concentration and intention, trying your best? [closed]

It would be similar to trying to be extremely careful or precise. In French it would be "application", For example: "Qui est fait avec application". Example usage: John worked with ________. ...
jpx's user avatar
  • 3
21 votes
9 answers

Difference between "commit suicide" and "suicide"

One of the examples in my English composition book (for learning to write my language's sentences in English) was "Why he committed suicide under such a good circumstance is an unsolved question.", ...
JiminP's user avatar
  • 313
19 votes
3 answers

Does the word, ‘peruse’ have a single meaning of ‘attentive reading,’ or double, contradicting meanings of ‘attentive’ and ‘cursory’ reading?

I’m confused to find opposite definitions in the same word, ‘peruse’ in Readers English Japanese Dictionary published by a leading foreign language dictionary publisher in Japan. It defines ‘peruse’ ...
Yoichi Oishi's user avatar
  • 70.2k
15 votes
3 answers

What does "period" mean when someone says "Sth... Period"? [closed]

I often hear US citizens say something like this: <Some phrases>. Period. What does period mean when it appears in a sentence by itself in this type of situation?
Ted Wong's user avatar
  • 423
2 votes
2 answers

What does "should something happen" mean?

What is the meaning of should loss occur in the following text? Backup and recovery procedures protect your database against data loss and reconstruct the data, should loss occur. The ...
Yousui's user avatar
  • 5,695
67 votes
8 answers

"The Dude abides" — what does "abide" mean in that context?

I'm unfamilar with the word "abide" which is famously used the the movie quote "The Dude abides" (The Big Lebowski). Looking it up in a German/English dictionary makes me believe it's "The Dude lives ...
Michael Stum's user avatar
49 votes
3 answers

Why is there confusion between depreciated and deprecated?

For at least a year and half, I read "deprecated" as "depreciated", even when writing it down myself, I would spell it as "depreciated", even though pretty much every time I read it, it was spelt ...
Jonathan.'s user avatar
  • 788
26 votes
7 answers

Does “gay” still include the meaning “merry”? lists eight meanings of gay, with “merry, lively” as the first entry. Microsoft banned an Xbox user for listing Fort Gay (a real place) as his hometown: Xbox Live considered the term ...
j-g-faustus's user avatar
  • 1,014
24 votes
3 answers

When is "between" inclusive and when exclusive?

It seems that the exact meaning of between is very tied to its specific usage. What should I assume in a general situation about the inclusivity of between? Consider: "Pick a number between 1 and 10."...
Dávid Natingga's user avatar
22 votes
7 answers

What does "canonical" mean?

Sometimes I read a sentence containing the word canonical, but I cannot find appropriate meaning of the word. For example, in this link: Returns a canonical representation for the string object. ...
Sanghyun Lee's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers

Meaning of "last/this/next Monday" [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which day does “next Tuesday” refer to? Suppose today is Tuesday. What do last Monday, this Monday and next Monday mean?
zhanwu's user avatar
  • 437
7 votes
4 answers

Arguable ("susceptible to doubt") vs arguable ("susceptible to being supported")

According to, the adjective arguable has two definitions susceptible to debate, challenge, or doubt; questionable: Whether this is the best plan of action or not is arguable. ...
Louis Rhys's user avatar
  • 3,488
4 votes
5 answers

What is the meaning of "ought not"?

Consider this example: A few strong branches over water reach for what they ought not reach. Which of the meanings comes closest to “ought not” in this sentence? Is it “doesn't have to”, “should ...
Dan's user avatar
  • 777
3 votes
3 answers

How do I answer "Where do you work?"

What are the main purposes to ask someone 'Where do you work?' apart from to find out the type of place he or she works in? I can answer: I work in a shop. I work in a hospital. I work in an ...
Selio's user avatar
  • 113
0 votes
1 answer

Meaning of "did not so much as" do something [closed]

What does the following sentence, especially the highlighted phrase, mean? In that state of union, president Obama did not so much as mention the 10 sailors that had been arrested by the pirates.
Soltaan's user avatar
110 votes
1 answer

What does a single letter "J" mean in emailing? [closed]

Today is Halloween. After a successful party, many conversations have been going on in my company's email box. The end of one email said "Till next time J". I had no idea what "J" meant in this ...
Terry Li's user avatar
  • 10.1k
32 votes
6 answers

Meaning and usage of "bite me"

I often come across the phrase bite me in many TV shows. What does it mean and is there a specific context in which this phrase can be used?
Vamsi Emani's user avatar
  • 1,765
10 votes
4 answers

Playing sports - does swimming count?

This is a common IELTS speaking exam question: Do you play any sports? How do you answer that if you're a professional swimmer? In my mind 'playing sports' implies team sports (I play football, I ...
Sasha's user avatar
  • 109
9 votes
4 answers

"Back up data" or "back data up"?

Which is correct? To back up data. To back data up. The context is the following: He was careful enough to perform tests and [back up data | back data up] to avoid any problems.
Shawn's user avatar
  • 543
8 votes
3 answers

Is Wayne's World's (NOT) a modern invention?

Older users of this site may recall the 'Bill & Ted' 'Wayne's World' series of movies of the early 1990s. They were mindless but fairly amusing and their eponymous characters spoke in a unique ...
immutabl's user avatar
  • 3,129
8 votes
3 answers

What does the expression "With a twist" mean?

I would like to know the meaning of the expression "With a twist" and the context in which it can be used - examples are welcome. I have an understanding of it in the lines of "Traveling with a ...
Eli's user avatar
  • 83
8 votes
5 answers

Usage of 'Dear All' [duplicate]

Is it correct to use "Dear All" at the beginning of the e-mail, when you are writing to more than one person? It seems so informal to me. Is there any better way?
tugberk's user avatar
  • 1,112
5 votes
2 answers

What does "sunset" mean in this text?

In the definition of USA PATRIOT, I read the following text: Many of the act's provisions were to sunset beginning December 31, 2005, approximately 4 years after its passage. In the months ...
avpaderno's user avatar
  • 59.4k
5 votes
5 answers

"One of those is flags"

Jeff Atwood ♦ has just posted something that I'm confused about Stack Overflow, due to its size, has some unique problems. One of those is flags I'd say that those and flags are both in plural, ...
genesis's user avatar
  • 2,459
2 votes
7 answers

What do you call the rhetoric strategy of purposely writing a paragraph that no one can understand?

Most of us have come across a paragraph which sounded meaningless to us or which made us wonder if we were intellectually equipped to read it. That may have been the case, but sometimes one writes a ...
Centaurus's user avatar
  • 50.2k
0 votes
3 answers

Dickens (a tale of two city, chapter 1): what do "they were awake" and "was to be atheistical and traitorous" refer to?

But that Woodman and that Farmer, though they work unceasingly, work silently, and no one heard them as they went about with muffled tread: the rather, forasmuch as to entertain any suspicion that ...
user76770's user avatar
  • 259
65 votes
10 answers

What's the difference between the adjectives "strategic" and "tactical"?

I recently read this sentence: It was a strategic move rather than a tactical one. I have trouble interpreting it. Can someone help?
harithski's user avatar
  • 1,373
32 votes
7 answers

What is the meaning of "don't mention it" (in response to "thank you")?

I read at several places that "don't mention it" is equal to "you're welcome". But for me, the word means something like "don't go around talking about this to anyone". So what is the real meaning of ...
Can't Tell's user avatar
27 votes
5 answers

What does the term "hot dog lawyer" mean?

What does the term "hot dog lawyer" mean? I've heard this term quite a few times, and I am not sure what does the term "hot dog" as an adjective describe? For example: “And they usually don't ...
LearnByReading's user avatar
23 votes
3 answers

Meaning of "couple o' pins" in this poem by Tolkien

Here's part of a poem from Tolkien: 'For a couple o' pins,' says Troll, and grins, 'I'll eat thee too, and gnaw thy shins. A bit o' fresh meat will go down sweet! I'll try my teeth on thee ...
doubleOrt's user avatar
  • 391
14 votes
7 answers

In what occasion could the word “precious” be taken disapprovingly, or sarcastically?

I understand that the word “precious” in the following quote of Maureen Dowd’s article “Heart of Darkness” (NYT, March 20) literally means “2. valuable or important and not to be wasted” as defined in ...
Yoichi Oishi's user avatar
  • 70.2k
13 votes
2 answers

have somebody do something vs. have somebody doing something

History, as recounted by the victors, had the capitalists winning. I think that the above sentence means that history caused the capitalists to win. Can I say History, as recounted by the victors, ...
bart-leby's user avatar
  • 739
13 votes
5 answers

What does "if and when" mean, and is it the same as "when and if"?

Rather than trying to describe my beef with this idiom, I will give a bunch of successively objectionable examples. None of these are taken from real life. As I see it, if (and when) both "if" and "...
Ryan Reich's user avatar
  • 1,452
13 votes
1 answer

Is it “backward/forward” or “backwards/forwards”? [duplicate]

Can backward and forward be used interchangeably with backwards and forwards, or is there some particular situation in which one pair is consistently used over the other?
Mark Fishman's user avatar
12 votes
5 answers

Is "one" unnecessary in this quote of Melville?

I cannot make much sense of one in the following passage from Moby-Dick: Now the various species of whales need some sort of popular comprehensive classification, if only an easy outline one for the ...
John Smith's user avatar
  • 1,758

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