Questions tagged [meaning]

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

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199 votes
12 answers
206k views

"Unregister" vs "Deregister"

The concept of "undoing a registration" is widely used in my line of work. While most dictionaries define unregister as the proper verb for it, several widely used and highly considered sources also ...
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199 votes
15 answers
157k views

What is wrong with the word "performant"?

I keep getting the red underlining in Word whenever I write the word "performant". Here I intend to refer to something that performs well or better than something else (i.e., it's more performant). ...
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  • 2,101
165 votes
8 answers
180k views

"Status" vs. "state"

Can anyone explain what the difference between status and state is when I talk about the condition or situation of an object? Here's what I got from Longman English Dictionary. status: a situation ...
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  • 1,753
135 votes
6 answers
193k views

Difference between "artifact" and "artefact"

Is there any usage preference between artifact and artefact? My understanding was that an artifact was properly applied to physical, historical objects, while an artefact was more correct for more ...
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  • 2,250
123 votes
19 answers
27k views

Is "women men girls love meet die" a valid sentence?

Is "women men girls love meet die" a valid sentence? If so, what does it mean? The sentence shows up in academic papers about the "Sausage Machine" for natural language processing. ...
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122 votes
24 answers
1.0m 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 ...
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  • 1,351
115 votes
15 answers
46k views

"Jane makes over six figures" - how much money does she make?

Suppose you are told that "Jane makes over six figures". Assuming this to be true, what is the minimum amount of money that Jane can be making? I have always understood this to mean "Jane makes at ...
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  • 2,127
112 votes
5 answers
321k views

"Here's looking at you, kid" meaning?

I'm sure many will know Rick's famous line from the film Casablanca: Here's looking at you, kid. While I can guess at it, I was never fully confident about the meaning of this phrase. I am not a ...
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  • 1,089
110 votes
1 answer
526k 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 ...
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  • 9,984
109 votes
4 answers
305k views

What does "something 101" mean? [closed]

Many times I saw the phrase something 101, such as Microsoft Excel 101. What exactly does it mean?
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  • 5,547
104 votes
6 answers
165k views

When I say "comment out", does it mean to uncomment something or comment it?

When I say I commented out a line written in a programming language, does that mean I uncommented that line or that I made it a comment?
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  • 2,409
104 votes
8 answers
181k 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?
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  • 12.2k
102 votes
21 answers
23k views

How to say that food is hot (temperature) without the listener thinking that I mean "spicy"?

There is an excellent discussion of spicy vs. hot here: Difference between "spicy" and "hot" However, having read the previous question, I did not see any answer that tells how to ...
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  • 1,851
100 votes
3 answers
91k views

Difference between "delete" and "remove" [closed]

I am writing a mobile application that will, as a part of its functionality, display a list of recorded thoughts. Now I am deciding the textual content of the menus and that left me thinking whether ...
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99 votes
5 answers
13k 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, ...
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  • 32.1k
98 votes
9 answers
390k 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 ...
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  • 3,584
96 votes
9 answers
45k views

History of "X is dead. Long live X"

What is the history of "X is dead. Long live X"? For example, Location is dead. Long live Location. JavaScript is dead. Long live JavaScript. I feel like I'm missing out on a joke.
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  • 1,095
96 votes
3 answers
66k views

Why does "Mickey Mouse Operation" refer to a poorly run company?

A phrase I commonly hear (and use myself) when a company (or individual, in some cases) does something that seems foolish or not planned is to ask What kind of Mickey Mouse operation are you ...
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  • 3,814
93 votes
5 answers
53k views

What does 'TL;DR' mean and how is it used?

I do my best, at my advanced age, to come to grips with the apparent acceptability of such widely used words/expressions/abbreviations as lol/LOL, IMHO, AFAIK, etc. However, TLDR/tl;dr defeats me. ...
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  • 4,680
91 votes
6 answers
179k views

What's the difference between a graph, a chart, and a plot?

A graph, a chart, and a plot can all refer to the same thing. Is there any even somewhat consistent distinction in these three words? (I mean, in this particular sense of the words; it is not ...
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  • 1,034
83 votes
2 answers
854k views

"Have a look" vs. "Take a look"

What is the difference between Have a look and Take a look (meaning/connotations)? For example: Have a look at the question. Take a look at the question. For some reason I only found first version, ...
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  • 1,215
82 votes
5 answers
177k 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 ...
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  • 1,063
78 votes
2 answers
503k views

Which is correct: "rack my brain" or "wrack my brain"?

Which is the correct usage: "rack my brain" or "wrack my brain"? Google turned up pages with conflicting recommendations. One argument is that to "rack a brain" comes ...
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  • 1,253
77 votes
5 answers
20k views

What is "ass door"?

I'm not English speaking, I understand the joke but say please what is "ass door"? Is it the same as butt door? Didn't find it in the dictionary.
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  • 777
76 votes
12 answers
156k views

What is the difference between "it's up to you" and "it's down to you"?

I see both "It's up to you" and "It's down to you" in conversations. So what's the difference?
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  • 853
76 votes
2 answers
261k views

"Queueing" or "Queuing"

Which spelling is better, queueing or queuing? Both words seem to mean the same, but there are two different spellings. My context is: Queueing Latency versus Queuing Latency If both ...
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  • 879
72 votes
1 answer
307k 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?
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  • 1,614
69 votes
9 answers
216k views

What is the correct usage of "myriad"?

The vast majority of the time when I see the word "myriad" it is in a sentence like "He had a myriad of things." However I don't like the extraneous words so I normally use it like "He had myriad ...
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  • 1,606
68 votes
4 answers
195k 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 ...
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  • 1,393
67 votes
4 answers
10k views

What is the purpose of using the word "automagically" when we already have "automatically"?

Is there a difference between the two? I see it used regularly in the tech community to mean automatically. Has the word been adopted into any recognised dictionary? For example: That was the day ...
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66 votes
15 answers
96k views

When to use "nude" and when "naked"

The question is quite clear. Is there any difference (semantically or connotationally, if that's a word) between nude and naked? Nude seems more formal to me, but I'm not quite sure. Interesting: ...
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63 votes
3 answers
11k 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 ...
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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 ...
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61 votes
10 answers
19k views

Which is more wet: ‘moist’ or ‘damp’?

Which contains more liquid, something that is moist or something that is damp? Context of question: This question was asked to a young friend of mine in her high school freshman English class. It was ...
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  • 736
61 votes
3 answers
361k 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 ...
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61 votes
7 answers
49k views

Where does the "quint" in "quintessential" come from?

Doesn't "quint" mean "five"? What does that have to do with the meaning of "quintessential"?
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61 votes
3 answers
845k views

"Agree on" vs. "agree with" vs. "agree to"

What are the differences between "agree on", "agree with" and "agree to"?
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60 votes
11 answers
12k views

You "show" someone a picture. You "---" someone a song?

In Maltese, we have a verb meaning "to show" corresponding to "to see/to look", and we have a different verb corresponding to "to hear/to listen": inti tara stampa (you ...
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  • 1,058
59 votes
5 answers
82k views

Why do people say "to be honest"?

For quite some time, I've been hearing the phrase "to be honest" almost every day. I've heard friends say it, characters on TV shows, and even an NPR reporter said it in an interview. Example: "To ...
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  • 727
59 votes
10 answers
180k views

"Insecure" or "unsecure" when dealing with security?

Which is the appropriate word to be used in the sentence: The system we were testing was determined to be insecure/unsecure. The usage is in the context of security, specifically a lack thereof. ...
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  • 1,262
59 votes
5 answers
328k views

Difference between "publicly" and "publically"

I know publically appears as an incorrect spelling in most dictionaries (in fact as I type this up on my Safari browser it keeps trying to correct the spelling to publicly). However I have seen the ...
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  • 2,061
58 votes
5 answers
58k views

"Screwed" vs. "nailed": why is the slang so different?

While the two names nail and screw have similar shapes and functions, why do the verbs differ so much? Someone has screwed something sounds like they have ruined something to me, while someone has ...
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  • 737
57 votes
8 answers
239k views

Distinction: "What can I do you for?" vs. "What can I do for you?"

Usually, when being served the phrase "What can I do for you?" is used but sometimes I also hear "What can I do you for?" in quite the same context. So is there a difference or is it just a slip of ...
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  • 800
57 votes
9 answers
18k views

Is "faff" well understood outside Britain?

Google says "faff" is just British English. Is it well understood in other English speaking regions? If not, is there an international alternative? faff BRITISH informal verb: faff; 3rd person ...
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  • 966
57 votes
3 answers
23k views

What does "non-normative" mean in this context?

From the ECMAScript language specification ECMA-262 page 1 Section 4 This section contains a non-normative overview of the ECMAScript language The text goes on to say ECMAScript is an object-...
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56 votes
4 answers
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 ...
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  • 933
56 votes
3 answers
16k views

White Noise: Why White?

I'm always surprised when I hear the term white noise. White noise itself sounds a little more "evil" than anything else, I would almost expect it to be called black noise. Why is white noise called ...
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  • 5,339
56 votes
7 answers
45k 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 ...
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  • 561
56 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is "musset"?

I came across the word "musset" in Gregory Maguire's Wicked-- Her green traveling gown with its inset panels of ochre musset suggested wealth, while the black shawl draping just so about ...
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55 votes
6 answers
29k views

How did phobia ever come to mean hatred?

I understand the word 'phobia' to mean an irrational fear of something, tracing its roots to the Greek word ῾φοβια᾽ associated with flight, dread, or terror. How then did this word ever come to ...
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