132

The literal meaning The meaning they told you in school is not the literal meaning. "A is no more X than B" literally means that the degree of X possessed by A is no greater than the degree of X possessed by B. Or you could say that B has at least as much X as A. Usually there is an implication that both A and B possess X in approximately equal ...


57

If it's mild, but witty, it's simply word-play. If it's humorously argumentative, it's repartee. or perhaps verbal tennis (I made that one up). They are trading ripostes. if they try to outdo one another with their words, they are having a battle of wits or a battle of words. if they insult one another, they are trading barbs or trading insults. They are ...


41

I think the meaning of 'use' had set you on the wrong track, plus an assumption that English always was as it is now. The meaning of 'use' here (all definitions from OED) is not the sense of 'To put to practical or effective use; to make use of, employ, esp. habitually.' nor 'To observe, practise, or engage in.' but IV. To accustom; to be ...


38

I am free & determined to be so & will not willingly & quietly subject myself to slavery. & = "and" I am free and determined to be so and will not willingly and quietly subject myself to slavery. Look carefully at the circled symbols in the document. You can see that the first and last are clearly the standard ampersand symbol &...


33

The printing press changed everything. Prior to Gutenberg, English was primarily a spoken language and stories were often passed on in the oral tradition. The introduction of printed works in the mid-15th century had two major effects: Standardization, as printed works were distributed beyond the reach of the local authors. This led to standardization ...


33

How about flyting? It was a fairly commonly-practised activity in Shakespeare's time. Essentially it was the equivalent of a rap battle, in which it was not unusual for participants to insult the virility of their opponent, or suggest that their mothers were... promiscuous.


30

There was a huge political crisis in the works, and portions of the country were preparing for war with each other - one that would take 600,000 lives in the end. Lincoln is comparing these feelings to the ones that created and unified the nation for the previous 80+ years - people working in unison to build a great nation. The 'better angels' are these ...


26

The context To understand the quotation, consider the context. It's from a poem called Song of the Broad-Axe. Here are the surrounding lines: Muscle and pluck forever! What invigorates life, invigorates death, And the dead advance as much as the living advance, And the future is no more uncertain than the present, And the roughness of the earth and of ...


22

Both “better angel” and “better angels” have long pedigrees in English literature, though there is some disagreement as to whether an individual person has only one better angel or many, and conversely whether many people collectively have multiple better angels or just one. My better angel The phrase “my better angel” has been in use since the very late ...


22

Bedlam is exactly the word you are looking for. The name comes from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bethlem_Royal_Hospital or Bedlam : an asylum for the mentally ill a place, scene, or state of uproar and confusion


21

There is the word pandemonium: [Oxford Dictionaries] Wild and noisy disorder or confusion; uproar. ‘there was complete pandemonium—everyone just panicked’ ‘I knew that a lack of heir undoubtedly lead to pandemonium and anarchy.’ Origin Mid 17th century: modern Latin (denoting the place of all demons, in Milton's Paradise Lost), from pan- ‘all’ + Greek ...


15

The comparative better implies there must also be worse angels, and these would be those that (per Christian mythology) fell with Satan or Lucifer, and are commonly referred to as demons or devils. The image being evoked corresponds essentially with the hoary cartoon trope of a person with an angel sitting on one shoulder and a devil on the other, both ...


15

It means "the future is not more uncertain than the present" The present is uncertain; so is the future.


12

The meaning of the sentence relies on the word 'Change, which is a shortened form of Exchange - the stock exchange. The sentence means that Scrooge had a good reputation on the stock exchange and that his signature carried weight. There is a clue to working out the meaning, since Change begins with a capital letter, indicating that it is a proper noun and ...


10

Proof by (repeated) assertion? … is an informal fallacy in which a proposition is repeatedly restated regardless of contradiction. Sometimes, this may be repeated until challenges dry up, at which point it is asserted as fact due to its not being contradicted (argumentum ad nauseam). In other cases, its repetition may be cited as evidence of its truth, in a ...


10

/'kwɪksət/ is clearly an anglicization of the Spanish spelling. It's equally clear that such spelling pronunciations have always been very common. This one, in particular, can be seen in action at the very end of Canto 13, Stanza 10 of Byron's Don Juan   (a title, incidentally, pronounced /dan'dʒuwən/ by the author, as the poem makes clear) ...


10

The noun turmoil immediately springs to mind. Turmoil, in very simple words, is a chaotic or confusing situation. A country might slide into economic or political turmoil after a coup d'état, for example. A person can be in a state of inner turmoil. In that case, it means a state in which a person feels deeply confused about something problematic going on in ...


9

All languages in the world have borrowed words from other languages. That is how language works. In the title to your question there are four words of non-English origin: "foreign", "used", "modern" and "vernacular".


9

Sounds like you’re searching for "svengali". The word "svengali" has come to refer to a person who, with evil intent, dominates, manipulates, and controls a creative person such as a singer or an actor. source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svengali


8

The quoted line had 'used to' as an adjective in the sense 'habituated'. As a modal auxiliary it is not used. The verb phrase is 'had been'. When 'used to' is a modal auxiliary, it means habitual action in the past and doesn't have verb conjugation except omission of infinitival 'to' after it. In this sense, your substitution is incorrect.


7

It means the landlord of the little inn was scouring his doorstep, probably with sand and water as it is described as 'sanding'. Stone floors and stone stairs are sometimes scrubbed with sand and water, sometimes with the hearth-stone, or with pipe-clay prepared after the following receipt: Boil half a pint of size [glue] with the same quantity of whiting ...


7

Wherefore is a word that first arose in Middle English and saw much use in Early Modern English as well, dwindling then across the 18th and 19th centuries, and whose use is today mostly limited to literary, poetic, and oratorical registers. You found it in literature, where it still at whiles appears. It is also still found in modern ecclesiastical writings, ...


7

According to Greek mythology, one of the most ancient of gods; the personification of the infinity of space preceding creation of the universe was known as Chaos. You can use the adjective form of chaos i.e. chaotic to modify the noun [some place]. Though, chaotic in contemporary English means Meaning: In a state of complete confusion and disorder....


6

It means of “of common understanding”: she didn’t understand much. The OED gives: II Inferior in rank or quality. 2a. Of persons, their rank or station: Undistinguished in position; of low degree; often opposed to noble or gentle. (Cf. common adj. 12).) Obs. But the citations date up through the 19th century, so it was not yet “obsolete” in the time of ...


6

There are words that are retained in their original language because they impart a certain feel, say, of elegance, snobbery, belonging, etc. hors d' oeuvres, maitre d', and garçon were retained by French restaurants, and came to be generalized because of the connotation of elegance and sophistication of French restaurants. The same could be said of concierge ...


6

There were several ways of conjugating to be in Early Modern English. I am; thou art; he is; we are; ye are; they are; I be; thou beest; he is; we be; ye be; they be. I believe a combination of these was also used by some sources: namely, am/art/is in the singular and be in the plural. "Who be ye?" is simply using the alternate form. But "...


5

How about, "received wisdom"? "The received wisdom is that Alberto Fujimori is responsible for the capture of the head of the guerilla group Sendero Luminoso, but in fact he had nothing to do with it." Also, "accepted version"?


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