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Questions tagged [meaning]

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

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110 votes
8 answers
197k views

Which day does "next Tuesday" refer to?

At what point does next Tuesday mean the next Tuesday that will come to pass and no longer the Tuesday after the Tuesday that will come to pass? And, when does the meaning switch back?
Chris's user avatar
  • 12.4k
108 votes
5 answers
15k views

Why is it "geometric" but "theoretical"?

I just came across a course name: Geometric and Theoretical Optics. The mismatched endings bug me. Why do we have both -ical and -ic endings? Is there any difference in meaning between, say, ...
Marthaª's user avatar
  • 32.9k
39 votes
12 answers
104k views

What does “a couple” mean to you, and what does “a few” mean to you?

What is the proper way to use the terms “a couple” or “a few”? How should one use these words to avoid confusion? How do people use these words in practice. It was striking to hear that “a couple” ...
user avatar
22 votes
2 answers
30k views

What is the term for the double consecutive use of a word with stress on one of the words to alter its severity?

What is the term when a word is used consecutively twice, with intentional stress placed on the first word, as a means to alter the severity of the word's meaning? I am not referring to a past ...
JoshDM's user avatar
  • 1,729
70 votes
1 answer
326k views

Why use "need not" instead of "do not need to"?

The header of psyco.sourceforge.net states: High-level languages need not be slower than low-level ones. Why use need not instead of do not need? What does it mean? Also, why no to before be?
seriousdev's user avatar
  • 1,614
26 votes
7 answers
136k views

What does "had had" mean? How does this differ from "had"?

For example, what is the difference between the following two sentences: I had a bad day I had had a bad day
Casebash's user avatar
  • 724
35 votes
2 answers
10k views

What kind of noun is 'picture'?

I'm not sure of the right place to ask this, but I got confused trying to understand how the computer will interpret the sentence: This is my picture. In actual sense, the real owner of the ...
Chibueze Opata's user avatar
22 votes
4 answers
43k views

Use of "Or", inclusive or exclusive?

My wife and I are playing a game where you roll dice and move so many spaces in a grid "vertically or horizontally". In the use of English it is very common to say, this or the other when it comes ...
Onema's user avatar
  • 323
14 votes
2 answers
267k views

"A number of students" vs. "the number of students" [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: A number of questions “has been” or “have been” asked? From the grammatical view both are correct, but please explain the difference in meaning: The ...
Danial's user avatar
  • 741
100 votes
9 answers
392k views

"A few" vs. "few"

I have few friends. I have a few friends. I thought "few" means just one, two or even none. "A few" typically means more than two. However it seems to me some people say "few" when they really ...
grokus's user avatar
  • 3,684
9 votes
6 answers
14k views

Are there any pairs of words like "beloved"/"belovèd", "learned"/"learnèd" that maintain a semantic difference to the present day?

When I first read Romeo and Juliet in high school, I remember being intrigued by pairs of words such as, beloved/belovèd and learned/learnèd where there's an accent grave on the 'e' of the ...
Uticensis's user avatar
  • 21.9k
124 votes
24 answers
1.1m views

"Lunch" vs. "dinner" vs. "supper" — times and meanings?

I've seen cases where a noon-time meal is referred to as dinner, and the evening meal is called supper. There's also lunch around noon followed by dinner in the evening. Is there a particular ...
Jeff Ferland's user avatar
  • 1,371
94 votes
5 answers
186k views

Substitute X for Y

An awful lot of people seem to use the phrase "substitute X for Y" to mean "replace X with Y", while I've always used and understood it as "replace Y with X". This makes sense to me, given that a ...
Cascabel's user avatar
  • 1,183
0 votes
3 answers
12k views

Semantics of "on" versus "in"

Please help me in choosing the right preposition in this sentence: The returned values seem a bit confusing on/in its semantics, Here I'm talking about returned values of a computer programming ...
utxeee's user avatar
  • 2,425
43 votes
4 answers
649k views

Difference between "think of" and "think about"

Is there a difference between "think of something" and "think about something"? I've also met "have heard of/about something".
zeliboba's user avatar
  • 559
38 votes
7 answers
107k views

"Biweekly", "bimonthly", "biannual", and "bicentennial": dual usage and rationale

What do lengths of time with the "bi" prefix mean"? I have understood bicentennial as once every two hundred years, but biannual as meaning twice a year. Do biweekly and bimonthly mean twice a week or ...
Peter Olson's user avatar
  • 6,130
19 votes
2 answers
10k views

The construction of "Known but to God"

The Tomb of the Unknown Solider has the engraving "KNOWN BUT TO GOD", as presumably no man knows his name, but shouldn't it read "unknown, but to God", as the default for everyone is "unknown", with ...
Nick T's user avatar
  • 1,234
39 votes
12 answers
37k views

What is it called when words are deliberately spelled incorrectly but pronunciation is kept unchanged?

For example, Night -> Nite Through -> Thru The -> Da Though -> Tho Nite even appears in some dictionaries as having the same meaning as night. What is it called when words are ...
Mehper C. Palavuzlar's user avatar
18 votes
5 answers
13k views

How does a word come to have two completely opposite meanings?

Words like cleave and egregious have meanings that are completely opposite to other meanings of the same word. How did such a bizarre, confusing state of affairs ever develop? I mean, I just can't ...
Seamus's user avatar
  • 2,795
17 votes
4 answers
2k views

If I invent a word, what language is it?

I invented a word using medical terminology, Latin and maybe a bit of Greek. (I'm not honestly sure of the etymology of all the morphemes.) Considering that this word is primarily not of English ...
Icode4food's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
5k 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.
sagarkothari's user avatar
12 votes
5 answers
32k views

What are the meaning and possible origin of "word!" and "word up"?

Several times, I have had conversations, all over instant messenger, finish with "word" or "Word up G". As it ends a conversation, I am guessing it is like "goodbye". My question is what is the ...
Wulfhart's user avatar
  • 231
7 votes
6 answers
2k views

Do the following negations mean the same thing?

I don't think you understood me. / I think you misunderstood me. Do these senteces mean the same thing? If not, what's the difference? Edit: I just realized that I asked something different from ...
user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
1k views

Can object complements make any difference to sentences?

I'm reading a grammar book, and I have some questions. A. We ate the fish raw. I want Sue drunk. I prefer the music soft. I like coffee black. We drank the beer cold. This type of ...
KSS's user avatar
  • 151
74 votes
4 answers
205k views

"Relation" versus "relationship"

What is the difference between relation and relationship? Some say that relationship often refers to social connections. For instance, She has a close relationship with her daughter. How about the ...
Fountain's user avatar
  • 1,483
46 votes
7 answers
294k views

What is the correct way to use "neither" and "nor" in a sentence together?

Given these facts: The tool cannot be found in the kitchen. The tool cannot be found in the bathroom. Which is the correct sentence to represent the situation above? I can find the tool ...
Display Name's user avatar
  • 1,945
39 votes
5 answers
271k views

What is the difference between "nothing but", "anything but", and "everything but"?

What is the difference between these phrases? When is it valid to use which? Should they be avoided as being ambiguous?
Eli Bendersky's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
80k views

Can a positive statement be combined with a positive question tag like "did you" or is "didn't you" necessary?

Typically, when we ask for confirmation/denial of a statement, we say something like the following: We turn left here, don't we? You have a cat, don't you? We've met before, haven't we? ...
yoozer8's user avatar
  • 8,769
8 votes
3 answers
57k views

"I just ate them" and "I've just eaten them" — What's the difference in American and in British?

I know there are differences between American and British English in this area. So when answering, please specify whether you speak American or British English.
brilliant's user avatar
  • 8,998
40 votes
3 answers
171k views

Meaning of "native speaker of English"

Who is considered a native speaker of English? I am a little confused by the various answers found online.
user avatar
35 votes
3 answers
143k views

May you please explain this?

At a family dinner, my 18-year-old niece asked my sister, "May you please pass the salt?" My sister said that she was impressed with her daughter's politeness, but that that particular wording was not ...
sarah's user avatar
  • 2,698
31 votes
6 answers
7k views

Does "I am eating vegan cheese in my underpants" really imply that the vegan cheese is inside my underpants?

I am having a debate with someone about possible interpretations of a sentence and we have come to a stalemate. The sentence is as follows: "I'm at home eating vegan cheese in my underpants and ...
spectralbat's user avatar
22 votes
4 answers
51k views

What word means what many people think 'ironic' means?

'Ironic' is often used to mean an unusual coincidence rather than its true meaning which is closer to sarcastic. That being said, is there a word that would be a good replacement for what many people ...
dave's user avatar
  • 3,755
20 votes
5 answers
162k views

What does 'ten of six' mean in regard to time?

I am referring of course to the expression describing time. Today a corporate trainer (From north Philadelphia) that is teaching a class at my company used it in the context that the current time was '...
bakoyaro's user avatar
  • 377
10 votes
4 answers
33k views

What does "ain't" mean? [closed]

What does the contraction ain't mean? Is it appropriate to use it in formal settings?
Andro Selva's user avatar
3 votes
5 answers
8k views

“Everything is not…”

I keep hearing people say everything is not… which frustrating because it is ambiguous. It could mean either Nothing is… (for the set of all things, no thing is…) or Not everything is… (for ...
Synetech's user avatar
  • 2,333
-2 votes
1 answer
115 views

What's the meaning of "hardly seem more implausible"?

In the following text, what does "the latter scenario could hardly seem more implausible" mean? The result suggests one of two scenarios. One is that arctic foxes gave rise to swift foxes, ...
ebrahimi's user avatar
  • 121
62 votes
10 answers
18k views

What is the difference between "gender" and "sex"?

What is the difference between gender and sex? Wiktionary says that gender is The mental analog of sex but that's too high English for me. Basically, I'm developing a web-application that stores ...
Vikrant Chaudhary's user avatar
38 votes
9 answers
105k views

What are the similarities and differences between "irony" and "sarcasm"? [duplicate]

This seems to be one the long-standing arguments between people on the internet. When is something "irony" and when is it "sarcasm"? And can a quip be both at the same time? ...
MrHen's user avatar
  • 35.8k
28 votes
2 answers
249k views

"Covered with" vs. "covered in" vs. "covered by"

I want to find out the differences in meaning among covered by, covered in, and covered with. For example, what is the difference between: covered with blood covered in blood or the differences ...
fairouz's user avatar
  • 281
26 votes
9 answers
33k views

"All that is gold does not glitter"

"All that is gold does not glitter" is the first line of a poem from the Lord of the Rings and it's supposed to mean "not all gold glitters" but I'm struggling to see how this can be deduced. If all ...
RobertRW's user avatar
  • 379
22 votes
3 answers
75k views

"Between A and B" or "from A to B"

Suppose we are talking about the numbers 1, 2, ... , 10. When we use the phrase between 1 and 10, do we include the end-points 1 and 10? Is there any difference if we say from 1 to 10 instead?
user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
31k views

Is “man” the opposite of “woman”?

I heard someone today say that lad is the opposite of lass. And we picked up a debate on whether woman is actually the opposite of man, which led me to question whether nouns can have opposites at all....
Chibueze Opata's user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
12k views

A depends on B, is A dependant, or is B dependant?

If A is dependant, what does one call B?
Lenik's user avatar
  • 5,155
0 votes
3 answers
50k views

"Within" and "in" when referring to time

I know that both can mean "inside" but what I don't have clear is whether both mean the same when talking about time. For example: The party is in two days = The party is within two days ?? ...
user avatar
60 votes
3 answers
369k views

'Made of' vs. 'Made from'

What is the basic difference between "made of" and "made from." Both expressions are used in English. For instance, "This chair is made of wood," and "Cream is made from milk." Though the question is ...
Carol Hardin's user avatar
41 votes
8 answers
222k views

How did "sinister", the Latin word for "left-handed", get its current meaning?

Sinister is the Latin word for left-handed. What evolution of meaning turned left-handed into evil and threatening?
Daniel's user avatar
  • 57.7k
31 votes
4 answers
11k views

Can I use "US-American" to disambiguate "American"? If not, what can I use?

Based on this question, I wonder: as an alternative to USAian (which is very nonstandard) is it OK to use US-American to more clearly indicate "inhabitant of the USA"? According to Google Ngram, this ...
gerrit's user avatar
  • 2,263
29 votes
5 answers
127k views

"Criteria" versus "criterion"

I came across several forums and articles saying that criteria is plural and criterion is singular. Some gave me the impression that criterion is used to denote a set of rules. What is the correct ...
Niroshan's user avatar
  • 395
29 votes
8 answers
147k views

What's the difference in meaning between "emigrate" and "immigrate"?

What's the difference between emigrate and immigrate? They seem to have the same definitions in the dictionary but they are antonyms...  
JFW's user avatar
  • 4,767

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