Questions tagged [phrase-meaning]

The meaning of phrases.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
104
votes
5answers
258k 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 ...
69
votes
6answers
5k views

“Why does paper cut so well?”, ambiguous question?

I have posted a question titled "Why does paper cut so well?" (on the Physics stack exchange). After a while, I noticed that over 40 people understood the question as "Why is it so easy to cut paper (...
66
votes
12answers
137k views

What is it called when someone says something like: “I'm not a racist, but…”

Other examples are: I'm not sexist but (sexist comment) Not to be a dick, but (dick comment) No offense, but (offensive comment) And so on... where they are trying to excuse themselves ...
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 ...
52
votes
10answers
13k views

Is the word “repeat” really used as a synonym of “vomit”?

I came across an online English language course where the teacher claimed that if one used the expression "Could you please repeat?" instead of "Could you please repeat that?" over the phone it would ...
35
votes
3answers
9k views

What does “Dis sho' am good” mean in this old advertisement?

I was looking through this list of old, racist advertisements. Here's one of them: What is "Dis sho' am good" supposed to mean? I'm assuming it's some sort of attempt at stereotypical vernacular ...
28
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the meaning of “his downfall was a mistletoe”?

While listening to the song Death of the God of Light, I noticed the following sentence. His downfall was a mistletoe Now I only know a mistletoe as the plant/Christmas decoration, which does not ...
27
votes
8answers
6k views

Mine’s a gin and tonic

I encountered a sentence that's full of British culture: I have found a pair of my father’s old tan driving gloves, the sort that say ‘Mine’s a gin and tonic’ and that my mother would have ...
27
votes
3answers
4k views

What does it mean: think “table” and not “kill"?

The following is from Designing for Growth: A Design Thinking Toolkit for Managers: Ultimately, learning launches need to result in decisions. If you have tested key assumptions, you should also be ...
26
votes
10answers
18k views

Why does “big cheese” mean someone important?

This is one of those common phrases that I have never really questioned until now. According to the free dictionary, "Big cheese" means an "important person". But what on earth does "cheese" have ...
26
votes
1answer
7k views

Meaning of “with a hose-pipe on him”

I'm listening to the song What shall we do with the drunken sailor and now can't understand what they advise to do with the drunken sailor: Put him in the scuppers with a hose-pipe on him. ...
24
votes
6answers
44k 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
5answers
12k views

What does “you're no rainbow-pooping unicorn” mean?

The following is a quote from the CNN news of October 10. Whether you're strapping lawn chairs between the seats to keep the kids from maiming each other or secretly fantasizing about that bottle ...
23
votes
6answers
3k views

What is the meaning and origin of the saying “top brick off the chimney”?

My parents use the term “top brick off the chimney” for my children sometimes, implying they get the best of what is on offer. For example, the best cut of meat. None of us quite know what it exactly ...
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, ...
21
votes
13answers
5k views

Word for a body of water that is sufficiently populated with fish and worthy of fishing in

My game is exploration-and-interaction base. Now that the player has struggled and found a fishing rod, I would like my character to convey the message that "this pond appears to be sufficiently ...
21
votes
11answers
6k views

A term for a woman complaining about things/begging in a cute/childish way

I'm trying to find a fitting translation for a Chinese term, which means that a woman is trying to be cute in front of her man in order to get what she wants. While she does this, her voice will ...
21
votes
4answers
5k views

What does Mr. Trump’s “inner rabbit” mean?

There was an article written by Gail Collins, op-ed columnist in the New York Times (February 19) under the title, “Trump Shows His Inner Rabbit.” The article starts with the passage; I am sorry to ...
19
votes
2answers
30k views

“Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar” — meaning?

I know this quote was supposed to be uttered by Sigmund Freud (may not be definitely). What I'm concerned here is not 'who said it?' but the idea behind this quote/phrase and it's actual meaning. I ...
19
votes
4answers
6k views

When is the phrase, “Are you sitting down?” used, and what does it exactly mean?

There was the following paragraph in the article titled “How Russia wants to undermine the U.S. election” in Time magazine (October 10): One day in June she (Arizona Secretary of state, Michele ...
18
votes
8answers
8k views

Do you say “please yourself” in a non-sexual context?

In an English grammar textbook, I found this example sentence: Dinner's at 8 o'clock, but there's nothing planned for the afternoon, so you can all please yourself until then. I googled please ...
18
votes
4answers
4k views

alternative meaning of “pickle”

I've been reading a book by Sue Grafton titled "W is for Wasted" and have encountered a phrase "to pickle the average adult" I have looked up the meaning of the verb and that's what the Oxford ...
18
votes
1answer
2k views

“Have to split” in the film “The Running Man”

In the film The Running Man (1987), Arnold Schwarzenegger cut a man into two halves. His name was Buzz Saw. Then another man said: "Where did Buzz Saw go?" And Arnold Schwarzenegger said: "He had to ...
17
votes
5answers
56k views

Why do we “chalk it up” to something (or someone)?

What is the etymology and meaning of the phrase "chalk it up"? For instance: "I will chalk it up to a colloquialism" (source). "Just chalk it up as an odd case and move on" (source). "I would chalk ...
17
votes
2answers
3k views

Shoes with no laces?

In a recent tweet, a former Democratic ethics adviser had some less than flattering comments for the current president (as is the norm in Washington.) When discussing the investigation, he said, ...
17
votes
4answers
6k views

What is the origin of the idiom “To Stand Someone Up”?

I was curious as to if anyone knew of the origins of the idiom "to stand someone up" in the sense of: My date stood me up. Do you think he'll stand us up again? She stood me up last night. ...
16
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “Clearasil-scented grammatical sloth” in casual American speech mean?

John McWhorter, associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University comments on the growing sophistication (or devolution) of English language among Americans in the ...
15
votes
4answers
20k views

Do 'learn by heart' & 'learn by rote' mean the same?

Here in India, both the phrases learning by heart and learning by rote are taken to have the same meaning, i.e., blind memorisation without true understanding. However, some sources say that to ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

Meaning of “take down” in “I met her at some dinner and took her down.”

I've encountered this particular use in Greville Fane (1893) on two different occasions and am quite perplexed by the actual meaning as none of the meanings for that idiom given by the dictionary seem ...
14
votes
5answers
2k views

What does the word, “truth-up” mean?

There was the following paragraph in the article titled “Welcome to the post-truth presidency” in Washington Post (December 2). “As Politico’s Susan Glasser wrote in a sobering assessment of ...
13
votes
6answers
62k views

Never fail to disappoint

When you say "he doesn't fail to disappoint", to me it has a negative meaning as in he always disappoints. But I've heard some people using it as a compliment and in a positive way. So, am I wrong ...
13
votes
5answers
4k views

What's the meaning of “let it fly” in this context?

I'm an English learner and I'm reading this article from the NYT: College is the Goal. The Problem? Getting There. But I'm confused by one of its paragraphs: A dove hurtles out of the cedar trees, ...
13
votes
2answers
696 views

Flaying Foxes and Vomiting People

The phrase to flay a fox occurs many times in English translations of Rabelais. According to many sources, it means to vomit. For example, A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue by ...
12
votes
6answers
14k views

What's the difference between “He dumped her” and “He walked out on her”?

What's the difference between "He dumped her" and "He walked out on her"? Are there any different shades of meaning in these two phrases? Are they completely different?
12
votes
4answers
12k views

What does the slang “in my arrogant opinion” convey?

I have seen it on the Internet as follows (abbreviated as IMAO): Only the Muggles will find it offensive IMAO. I know it's contrasted with the common phrase "in my humble opinion," but I still don'...
12
votes
2answers
2k views

Origin of “Armchair X”

Where does the term Armchair Psychologist come from? I understand it means someone who has no formal training who 'sits in their comfortable armchair' and gives (usually) unsolicited advice to others, ...
12
votes
3answers
11k views

What is a “hot meal”?

The obvious answer is "a meal which is hot", but when I see this phrase it often seems as if there is a deeper meaning present, as if there is some major distinction between hot meals and other meals (...
11
votes
5answers
5k views

What does “as intuitive as mud” mean?

What does it mean when someone says, for example, That problem was "as intuitive as mud".
11
votes
3answers
4k views

What does “in the world of unicorns” mean?

I was reading one article where founder was talking about his failure due to inability to raise money for his startup. He says: Every investor is chasing something shiny, they do not care for the ...
11
votes
4answers
11k views

Meaning of “Hunky Dunky”

What is the meaning of the phrase hunky dunky? I heard this phrase in a conversation in an episode of The Big Bang Theory, an American sitcom. I haven't seen many usages of it. The sentence goes ...
11
votes
3answers
108k views

Is there a difference between the phrases “I am fine with it” and “it is fine with me”?

In my experience there has been a diachronic split between these phrases: It is fine with me. I am fine with it. The latter has overtaken the former in usage although they continue to ...
11
votes
2answers
4k views

Is “A Moveable Feast” more than home catering?

I read Hemingway's A Moveable Feast before I knew the term describing moveable feast days on the calender. Comparing Hemingway's famous quote about Paris: "If you are lucky enough to have lived in ...
10
votes
2answers
5k views

Meaning of 'pretty man' [closed]

I use 'pretty man' as my nickname. But recently I have heard that the word 'pretty' is used only with women. Please tell me if 'pretty man' sounds good or it sounds weird and I should be embarassed? ...
10
votes
2answers
7k views

What does “Small-ball crap” mean?

I heard it on House of Cards, the American TV series. The Congressman says it during a political discussion: I hate this small-ball crap! What is its meaning and etymology?
10
votes
6answers
4k views

What is the nuance of the phrase “have never not liked”?

I was drawn to the phrase, “Anne Hathaway, who, for the record, I have never not liked, is extremely appealing” in the following paragraph in the review of movie, “The Intern,” of which source I ...
10
votes
1answer
4k views

What does a “lips and teeth” diplomatic relationshp mean?

I have seen this expression to describe the China - North Korea relationship, but not with enough context to know what it means: China, while not pleased about the nuclear advancement of North ...
10
votes
6answers
25k views

A word to the wise?

I don't get the phrase "a word to the wise". Shouldn't it be "a word from the wise"? Isn't the person with the word the one with the wisdom? Isn't the person receiving the word the one in need of ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

What is “roots and hacks”?

I was reading comments on this website, and I stumbled upon such an expression: Roots and hacks and whatnot just to get a custom screensaver. I tried to google it, but I found just a couple of ...
9
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the origin of the phrase “triple threat”?

"Triple threat" means things in different contexts. For performers, it refers to someone who excels at acting, singing, and dancing. In basketball, it refers to a person who has the option to pass, ...
9
votes
12answers
22k views

Does “one of the only” actually mean anything?

I'm a little confused by the phrase "one of the only" - as far as I can tell, it just means the same as "one of the" with the vague implication that the number of things in the set is relatively small....