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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.

111
votes
1answer
458k views

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 ...
66
votes
5answers
9k views

When does thousand turn into thousands?

My boyfriend and I are arguing whether thousands of miles means 1000+ or 2000+ miles. The first argument is that 1000+ is over 1000 and therefore 'thousands of miles' by rounding up. The other ...
63
votes
10answers
8k views

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?
62
votes
2answers
6k views

What did “pop a cap” mean, other than “shoot someone,” in the 19th century?

Popping a cap Green's Dictionary of Slang defines "pop a cap" as: to fire a weapon; to shoot someone. In recent uses, the slang meaning is clear, and often extended to "pop a cap (in somebody's ...
59
votes
8answers
371k views

“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 ...
58
votes
5answers
12k views

What does “Your hair is so white now, it can talk back to police” mean?

Vanity Fair magazine (April 27) introduced a barrel of jokes about political figures Cecily Strong delivered at Best White House Correspondents’ Dinner held on April 25th in Washington under the ...
54
votes
4answers
9k views

“What would you with the king?” -From the book “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”

In the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves, in order to show how punctuation changes meaning and can be used for jokes, it says: Instead of “What would you with the king?” you can have someone say in ...
51
votes
7answers
36k views

What does “you will want to” mean?

I often find people (mostly American people) telling to me "you will want to do this" or "you will not want to do this". Does it mean they are telling me that I should do something (in the sense of ...
51
votes
2answers
117k views

“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 ...
50
votes
1answer
2k views

What does “Barack Obama’s real crime is presiding while black” mean?

I thought it’s unusual for me to be able to come to the end of Maureen Dowd’s’ article without any second thoughts on her particular turn of phrases when I’ve read today’s NYT article titled “Reindeer ...
49
votes
2answers
4k views

What does “went through the guards of the broadsword” mean?

It was upon the evening of this memorable Sunday that Sir Everard entered the library, where he narrowly missed surprising our young hero as he went through the guards of the broadsword with the ...
45
votes
4answers
260k views

Is it “peek”, “peak” or “pique”?

I have always thought the phrase was "pique my interest" as in: Her mysterious background piqued my interest. However, of late, on blogs and social networks, I have seen people using "peek my ...
43
votes
2answers
7k views

I can understand 'Disaster Preparedness' but what is 'Pediatric Terrorism?'

I was googling for something else related to ELU and came across the page heading Pediatric Terrorism and Disaster Preparedness which according to the introduction is a new comprehensive report (.....
36
votes
3answers
4k views

What does the term “a free concert in the mud” mean in this sentence?

I came across the following sentence in a The Atlantic article: Even when a seismic event—a war, a technological leap, a free concert in the mud—plays an outsize role in shaping a group of young ...
35
votes
2answers
150k views

“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 ...
34
votes
4answers
8k views

Meaning of “He's got more bottle than a milkman”

I was watching a game of snooker the other day and heard one of the commentators say "This player has got more bottle than a milkman" after a particularly good shot. What does this mean and how could ...
34
votes
3answers
5k views

What does “Pitchforks change hands” and “Pitchforks have their uses” mean?

The New Yorker’s (March 6 issue) article that came under the title, “Trumpcare vs. Obamacare” begins with the following paragraph; The pitchforks are changing hands. In 2009, it was Democratic ...
33
votes
8answers
45k views

What does “vanilla” mean in the context of gaming?

Consider this comment: I've been playing WoW(an online multiplayer game) since vanilla. I'm an older white male, my first toon was female, created with my wife coaching me. We did it just for fun. ...
32
votes
4answers
20k views

What does “There she blows’” mean?

This question regards the sentence in the New Yorker’s (June 14) article “Lunch at Gitlitze” I quoted in my previous question, "“Battled-hardened,” Is this one of New Yorker's renowned ...
32
votes
6answers
5k views

Who is “That Guy”?

I found the term “that guy”, used as “He embarked on a career as a 'that guy',” in the following sentence of the article of the New Yorker (Feb. 7, 2011) titled “the Most Interesting Man in the World”:...
32
votes
2answers
2k views

What were—or are—“odd pants?”

From the mid 19th century to about the mid 20th century, there were a lot of advertisements in newspapers and magazines for something called odd pants. Judging from context, I suspect they were not ...
31
votes
5answers
5k views

Does “pass” mean OK or not OK? [closed]

Today, I received a folder of Recruiting candidate CVs from one of our HR. In this folder, there is a sub-folder named "pass". Question is does this "pass" mean the CVs inside are OK or not OK? If I ...
31
votes
7answers
205k views

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 ...
31
votes
3answers
10k views

What does President Obama’s phrase “We don’t need to spike the football” mean?

President Obama made the following statement regarding his decision not to show dead body of Osama bin Laden to the public: "I think that Americans and people around the world are glad that he is ...
31
votes
5answers
129k views

“Best Before” says “11 MA 23”; is it May or March?

I bought a bottle of juice today, and the "Best Before" date it's "11 MA 23". I always see "MA" as for March, but the store staff said that was May. What is your opinion?
29
votes
3answers
8k views

What does “five-ten one-twenty” mean?

I'm watching a stand up of Janeane Garofalo. She is saying she hates high fashion and models and then she says: You know, and when there are statistics, you know. Five-ten, one-twenty, fuck you. ...
28
votes
5answers
86k views

Difference between “I am really sorry” and “I really am sorry”

I know they are slightly different, but I can't tell how. I've read about the usage of the word "really" in a negative sentence. But it didn't tell me about how the position of the word "really" can ...
28
votes
5answers
10k views

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 ...
28
votes
6answers
265k views

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?
26
votes
2answers
4k views

A martini before and a cigarette after [closed]

I read a quote from an unnamed source: I asked my friend, "what are your three favorite pleasures in life?" and she replied, "A martini before and a cigarette after." As far as I can tell, a ...
26
votes
3answers
6k views

Why is there a “mean” in “Greenwich Mean Time” (GMT)?

What's the meaning of the word "mean" in "Greenwich Mean Time"? Shouldn't we simply say something like "Greenwich Time"? I don't understand what the word "mean" is doing there.
25
votes
4answers
6k views

What does President Obama's “pro-knowledge” remark mean?

Today’s (May 17) New Yorker carries an article written by Andy Borowitz under the title, “Obama alienates millions with incendiary pro-knowledge remarks," which begins with the following passage: “...
25
votes
8answers
57k views

“We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”

It is from the song "Hotel California" by the Eagles. I have a hard time interpreting the meaning of device in this context.
25
votes
4answers
364k views

What does “10-4 ” mean?

I could have asked this question personally to my respected colleague who gave me a valuable answer to the question, “Is the ‘tame the infinite becoming an idiom or a popular phrase,” which I posted ...
25
votes
11answers
23k views

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 ...
24
votes
6answers
40k views

What does “better angel” mean in Abraham Lincoln’s first inaugural address?

I'm reading the book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. It mentioned that Lincoln replaced the phase "guardian angel" to "better angel". I don't understand what the phrase means. ...
24
votes
7answers
7k views

Does “gay” still include the meaning “merry”?

Dictionary.com 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 ...
23
votes
1answer
2k views

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 ...
22
votes
7answers
6k views

What does “get rolled” in “Eight ways Trump got rolled in his first budget negotiation” mean?

The Washington Post (May 1st) runs an article under the headline, “Eight ways Trump got rolled in his first budget negotiation,” which is followed by the following paragraph: “Democrats are surprised ...
22
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the meaning of “candy striper” in the following paragraph?

What is the meaning of "candy striper" in the following paragraph? Samuel Beckett gets all the credit for being the darkest playwright — fail, fail again, etc. — but compared to Edward Albee, ...
22
votes
2answers
784 views

What are “city sevens”?

In the novel "The Clock That Went Backward", in chapter II, there is this sentence: Aunt Gertrude's will left me her bank and gas stocks, real estate, railroad bonds, and city sevens, and gave ...
22
votes
4answers
76k views

What is the difference between “daemon” and “demon” in a religious context?

Is there a difference between demon and daemon in a religious context?
21
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the meaning of joke “may it plizzle the cozizzle” in Futurama?

In Futurama 5ACV16, character Leela, while in court, says "May it plizzle the cozizzle" instead of "may it please the court" to the judge (Snoop Dogg's head). I am not native English speaker, but I ...
21
votes
1answer
7k views

Where is the wordplay of “A chicken crossing the road is poultry in motion”

I saw this sentence as an example of pun or wordplay. But I couldn't find out where the wordplay is. Any idea?
21
votes
3answers
78k views

“I am on it” vs. “I am at it”

What are the differences between I am on it and I am at it? What does the latter mean? I found the definition of the former on Urban Dictionary and understand that it means I'm going to solve it ...
21
votes
5answers
4k views

What does “It’s always a pig in a poke. So why not a pig who pokes?”mean?

In an article under the title, “Trump the disrupter,” (New York Times August 10 issue), Op-ed columnist, Maureen Dowd wrote: “It is really hard to know who you’re electing. That’s because you can’...
21
votes
9answers
5k 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 ...
20
votes
5answers
4k views

What is the context for calling someone “bones”

What is the context for using the term "bones" to refer to someone. I have seen that in the original "Star Trek", Kirk calls Dr. McCoy as "bones" and this word was translated to portuguese, my natural ...
20
votes
5answers
134k views

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 ...
19
votes
12answers
4k views

What sense of “hack” is involved in “five hacks for using coffee filters”?

I was drawn to the usage of the word, “hack” in the following message in today. com: 5 unexpected ways to use coffee filters (that have nothing to do with coffee) Coffee filters are good for more ...