Questions tagged [meaning]

This tag is for questions related to definitions and nuances of meaning of a word or phrase.

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Does 'pre-empt' have 'presage, signal, or indicate' as one of its meanings in current British English usage?

A UK Ministry of Defence 'Intelligence Update' posted on Twitter on October 29, 2022, includes the following bullet point: In the Russian national identity, [Prince Grigory] Potemkin is heavily ...
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What's the meaning of "this side of Albania"?

In this diary excerpt, Alan Rickman wrote: "Emma [Watson]’s diction is this side of Albania at times." I understand the general meaning of the idiom (What is the meaning of the phrase "...
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How should I understand the nuances between "astringent" and "acerbic"

I keep on getting these two words mixed up in my head. How should I understand the nuances that distinguish "astringent" and "acerbic"? Is there ever a reason to use one over the ...
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Do dictionaries disfavor "disfavor"?

A question on ELU asked for A word for making an event more likely or less likely and I proposed the verb pair favor/disfavor in an answer, with these examples: For example, in the case of the Ising ...
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Can the word ''alternate'' be used to mean ''alternative'' in British English?

I recently noticed people use phrases like ''alternate'' news/facts/sources/etc. I would say ''alternative'' in those situations. I had a look online and it seems that ''alternate'' is used to mean '...
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Semantic Difference between "Skill" and "Skills"

I believe that there is a subtle semantic difference between skills and skill. According to the Oxford English dictionary, the uncountable noun "skill" refers to the ability to do something well ...
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What does the phrase 'ground and grist' mean?

If moral reflection is dialectical, it needs opinions and convictions, however partial and untutored, as ground and grist. What does the phrase 'ground and grist' mean? Source: Justice, Michael Sandel
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Working vs walking on both sides of the street

Dictionary.com renders "work both sides of the street" as: To take two contrary positions at once; have it both ways Similarly, idiom.thefreedictionary.com has "work both sides of the street" as: ...
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How does one determine when a comedian is also a humorist?

Wikipedia's list of humorists are categorised as people who write or perform humorous material, but the article also states: A humorist is usually distinct from a stand-up comedian. Woody Allen ...
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1 answer
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Why would you do that?

When my friend say "I'm gonna wear weird costume.", could I say "Why would you do that?" in future meaning? When my friend say "I took your panties yesterday.", could I say "Why would you do that?" ...
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Distinguishing among classification, typology, taxonomy, and ontology?

I recently wrote a thesis applying archaeological typology to art attribution. In the process, it became clear that disparate disciplines share analogous debates regarding classification. I'd like to ...
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What's the meaning of the idiom "to lie flat" when applied to a document or project?

I'm encountering this idiom in a government/business context. For example, someone will say that changes to Document A affect Person X's workload, so we'd like to get that document "lying flat" for a ...
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in fact, in point of fact, as a matter of fact

Today I was tempted to write "in point of fact" and immediately wondered if this expression differed at all from "in fact" or "as a matter of fact." Dictionaries define one with the others. Ultimately,...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Is there any expression for 'things that are innocent but appear or look bad'?

Is there any phrase or expression or idiom for a situation where things are actually innocent but appear bad. Example: A young girl is not supposed to go to a boy´s home if his parents are not there. ...
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1 answer
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Ad hominem for non persons

An ad hominem argument is typically, according to Wikipedia, "a rhetorical strategy where the speaker attacks the character, motive, or some other attribute of the person making an argument ...
3 votes
1 answer
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Are “Get” or “Grasp” stative or dynamic verbs?

In Merriam–Webster, the definition of understand is as follows: to get the meaning of something / to grasp the meaning of something. Now my questions are regarding a sentence like: I don’t ...
3 votes
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232 views

English can be a right dastard sometimes. Why not?

Bastard, meaning one begotten and born out of wedlock, is a very old word from Old French (earliest OED citation 1297). Dastard, meaning one who meanly or basely shrinks from danger; a mean, base, or ...
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2 votes
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Architectural firm vs. architecture studio

I regularly translate Hungarian articles into English, and an expression that keeps coming up is architectural firm. Now, these companies in Hungarian are called studios, thus some of my colleagues ...
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285 views

Is "thus forth" valid English, and if so, what does it mean?

Is "thus forth" valid English, and if so, what does it mean? Searching through Google, this can be found in place of therefore and thenceforth/henceforth, but I don't see any specific ...
2 votes
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What is the etymology or history of "Your" for addressing a noble?

There are several ways of noble addressing, such as: Third person - female (Her) Third person - male (His) Second person (Your) e.g : Your Highness But, what are the meanings behind that? Why it ...
2 votes
1 answer
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Am I interpreting the sentence correctly?

I'm having trouble understanding the bolded sentence in the following paragraph. The use of enslaved laborers was affirmed — and its continual growth was promoted — through the creation of a Virginia ...
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What is the effect of using dashes between each word in a sentence?

In The Bluest Eye, there is a quote: Grown people frowned and fussed: 'You-don’t-know- how-to-take-care-of-nothing. I-never-had-a-baby-doll-in-my-whole-life-and-used-to-cry-my-eyes-out-for-them. Now-...
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Does "multiple" mean no more than "more than one" or is it better used to connote division, duplication, or repetition?

Today "multiple" is widely used as a synonym for "many," fancy jargon, in my opinion, to say "more than one." Is there any support for a more precise meaning or ...
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What does "one more step from the future" mean?

I'm not sure it's a correct English sentence. Can it be interpreted as "bringing something back from the future and advancing the present"? Maybe it would be better to use "one more ...
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"Party on sideways" meaning

"This is one of my favourite couples to smoke up, drink down or party on sideways (does that sound weird?) with." This appears on a backpacking blog which suggests other blogs to follow. The ...
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1 answer
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What is a role of 'how' in 'How so many people' : [how][so many people] or [how so many people]?

I realize how so many people don't have those simple things that we so much take for granted. "how so many people don't have those simple things that we so much take for granted" is an ...
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Does "stipulated" in a mathematical context mean "assumed"?

I don't have a specific example, but I seem to remember mathematical texts using the word "stipulated" to mean "assumed". Say something like ... and the validity of the last ...
2 votes
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'born into this skin'

my first time posting a question. Recently I found this sentence: 'I was born into the position and skin to do so.' The writer is talking about how he was fortunate to have been given the opportunity ...
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Does "gentle" have the figurative meaning of castrate?

In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time the male Aes Sedai (magicians or sorcerers) are being "gentled", because their magic use is dangerous for themselves and others. I'm not a native speaker of ...
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What does this sentence mean exactly?

I edited the sentence so it gives better sense to you guys & thank you: These effects are rather as of the psychic forces of the body not being brought into cooperation with the physical forces, ...
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What is a Rood Lebaxer?

I've been doing some geneaology and found an ancestor in the 1841 Scottish Census with an occupation of Rood Lebaxer. This person lived in Southern Scotland so I'm guessing they would have been ...
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What does "Nothing is too good for him to eat." mean?

I don't exactly know what it means. Which is the correct form below? All are good enough for him to eat. There is not any good thing (or food) for him to eat. From The Forsyte Saga: The Man of ...
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What is the meaning of "pent"

Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the voices of children and women, The many-moving sea-tides, and I saw the ships how they sail’d, And the summer approaching ...
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Confusion about the meaning of "narrowly"

What does this adverb really mean? Sometimes I even cannot understand if it has negative or positive implication. Oxford has three definition for this word: Only just; by only a small margin. ‘...
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Has anyone come across the word 'subscrub' or 'sub-scrub'?

I was at a Scottish boarding school (long since closed) and each table in the refectory had six boys. The most senior boy was called 'the divider; the second 'the sub-divider; the third was called '...
2 votes
2 answers
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What does teleology/teleological mean (ie a teleological explanation)?

A doctor (while giving me a physical) recently said to me that we needn't have to look for teleological explanations for my condition. I looked at many web sites, but not one could provide a simple ...
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Confused of "beat around the bush"

I have searched "beat around the bush" but it seems that it has two meanings based on my understanding. First is it's like you're insinuating or implying a topic/question to someone so it is not ...
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'up' meaning each/apiece in sports?

I often hear sport scores being mentioned as '5 up' meaning the score is tied at 5 each/apiece. AHD gives: up adv. ... Each; apiece: The score was tied at 11 up. Can anyone ...
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Why is “remove to” no longer used?

By Googling, the difference between remove and move can be found as follows: As verbs the difference between remove and move is that remove is to move something from one place to another, especially ...
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Can the phrase "once more" be a noun in American English?

Can the phrase "once more" be a noun in American English? I'm wondering if it can, as the two Japanese online dictionaries I'm using for my translation of 今一度 both say that the entry, -which only ...
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"Luke drove as if they were in a jeep, in high gear with hammer changes on the corners."

This is a sentence from John le Carre's novel 'The Honourable Schoolboy'. Does anyone know what 'hammer changes' mean?
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Difference between supplemental noun phrase and absolute clause?

What is the difference between a supplemental noun phrase and a absolute clause? In these examples and in general. Is it just the non-finite nature of the second example? Are they not serving a ...
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find vs find out

I know "find" is commonly used with something, and "find out" with information. However, I did see this sentence before: "I found that....", like, "I found that it costs more than I thought." My ...
2 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of "to live one's own bit"

Speaking of Richard Henry Dana, at the end of his study, D. H. Lawrence states: Dana lived his bit in two years, and drummed out the rest. Could we say that "lived his bit" is akin to &...
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Best practice regarding the words until, till, til, 'till, 'til and to

I often see in English the word 'till used as until. Example I'll wait 'till the end of time. Now I have found out that this may be wrong. The correct writing is without the apostrophe 'till and ...
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What does "some hats wear men" mean?

In the movie Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), there is a scene where Peter and his friend Ned are in Aunt May's car before they go to Liz's party. Aunt May says this line to Ned: May: Ned, some hats ...
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How did *vegetate* take this meaning despite its etymology?

vegetate intransitive verb 1 : to lead a passive existence without exertion of body or mind 2 a : to grow in the manner of a plant; also : to grow exuberantly or with proliferation of ...
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Difference between intrusion on/upon/of/into

Different dictionaries suggest different answers. One example, suggests that all of them, except for of work. However, as we can see here the of structure is also possible. There must be a ...
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The meaning of the word nonce in a specific context

I came across this word in a biography of the Beatles and I can't grasp its meaning, so I would be grateful to anybody who could try to explain it to me. I looked up various definitions in a ...
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What is the difference between the singular and plural forms, "varieties of choice" and "variety of choices"?

What is the difference between (i) "varieties of choice" and (ii) "variety of choices"? Does the location of singular or plural in a sentence affect the entire meaning of a ...
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