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132 votes

What is this strange sentence by Walt Whitman?

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 ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
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41 votes

Is this sentence from Orwell's Animal Farm grammatically sound?

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 ...
Spagirl's user avatar
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39 votes
Accepted

What is this swastika-looking symbol in John Hancock's family papers from circa 1762?

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 ...
chasly - supports Monica's user avatar
26 votes

What is this strange sentence by Walt Whitman?

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, ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
  • 1,255
22 votes

Is there any word for a place full of confusion?

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 ...
dogfacedog's user avatar
21 votes

Is there any word for a place full of confusion?

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 ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
21 votes

Meaning of "shade" in "a shabby green shade shoved up from one of his eyes"

I presume the author is referring to the green eyeshade that was once popular in certain professions, pushed up at one side. Image from First Things Wikipedia has an entry: Green Eyeshades are a ...
Weather Vane's user avatar
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16 votes

The unusual phrasing "verb + the + comparative adjective" in the Lord of the Rings novels

The, in the uses listed above, is used adverbially. Here is the definition of the (adverb) from the OED 1: Used with a following comparative adjective or adverb to emphasize the effect of ...
Jack's user avatar
  • 486
15 votes

What is this strange sentence by Walt Whitman?

It means "the future is not more uncertain than the present" The present is uncertain; so is the future.
Xanne's user avatar
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10 votes

Is there any word for a place full of confusion?

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 ...
Michael Rybkin's user avatar
10 votes
Accepted

Omission of if in a conditional phrase

Yes, were there not is a an inverted conditional and means if there were not ("were" is subjunctive): Although conditional clauses are often called if-clauses, they don’t always include the ...
fev's user avatar
  • 34.5k
10 votes

Meaning of “a dizzard”

From Robert Nares, James Halliwell & Thomas Wright, A Glossary or, Collection of Words, Phrases, Names, and Allusions to Customs, Proverbs, Etc., Which Have Been Thought to Require Illustration (...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
  • 165k
9 votes
Accepted

Word for a person who is overly demanding of artists

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 ...
Michael Benjamin's user avatar
8 votes

Is this sentence from Orwell's Animal Farm grammatically sound?

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 ...
Barid Baran Acharya's user avatar
7 votes

Why is it “Who be ye?” and not “Who are ye?” in archaic forms of English?

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 ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
7 votes
Accepted

What does "god Audate" mean?

Andraste, also known as Andrasta, was, according to the Roman historian Dio Cassius, an Icenic war goddess invoked by Boudica in her fight against the Roman occupation of Britain in AD 60. Audate is ...
Greybeard's user avatar
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6 votes

Is there any word for a place full of confusion?

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 ...
Ubi.B's user avatar
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5 votes

What is this strange sentence by Walt Whitman?

Since Xanne and Ben Kovitz have already given an excellent answer each, I will keep it simple and just add this point: taking it literally, IF THE FUTURE IS NOT MORE UNCERTAIN than the present, then ...
English Student's user avatar
5 votes

Pride and Prejudice, what does: “decline the office, I will take it on myself” mean?

The passage you quote is taken out of context. But in this whole chapter we see Mrs Bennet and her daughters wishing that they could be introduced to their new neighbour, Mr Bingley. Mr Bennet, ...
Kiloran_speaking's user avatar
5 votes

Is "Son" actually used to address a male child, or is this a literary usage? (As opposed to by name)

In Britain it is quite common for a man to refer to his own son as "Son", in place of the son's given name. My own father used it with me, and I with my own son and grandson. "Daughter" is far less ...
WS2's user avatar
  • 64.7k
4 votes

Is "Son" actually used to address a male child, or is this a literary usage? (As opposed to by name)

My father called me son; I call my son "son" and I never thought about it being odd or cold before. It's not the only way I address him, and I often add "my" to the word, so that &...
dclxvispqr's user avatar
4 votes

Is "Son" actually used to address a male child, or is this a literary usage? (As opposed to by name)

I almost always address my son Elias as son, it's possessive in a way and I think enjoys it. I've never talked to him about it. I just started doing it a couple years back. I have addressed my ...
T French's user avatar
4 votes

What is this strange sentence by Walt Whitman?

Yes, the construction no more ... than is usually negating; you can generally replace it with as not ... as: This construction is no more confusing than irony. Becomes This construction is as ...
1006a's user avatar
  • 22.9k
4 votes

Confusing sentence in an 1858 novel by George MacDonald

ᴛʟᴅʀ Try reading it this way: I noticed her dress but I wasn’t nearly as surprised as you might expect, given how strange she looked. The author’s original is written in a style common to the way ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 136k
4 votes

Origin of the phrase "poles asunder"?

A likely source of the phrase, and a probable cause of its later popularity (such as that may be) is a couplet from the end of the second act of Dryden's 1690 (London premier and "Epistle Dedicatory") ...
JEL's user avatar
  • 32.9k
4 votes

What does "god Audate" mean?

From Google search: UChicgago journals "In John Fletcher’s dramatization of ancient Britain’s martial struggle against Roman conquest, Caratach, the British general, invokes Andate before a ...
Jack O'Flaherty's user avatar
4 votes

Meaning of “a dizzard”

You'll need a bigger dictionary. :) OED says a dizzard is: = disour n.; a jester, a ‘fool’. 2. A foolish fellow, idiot, blockhead. The spelling can vary. Here are two of their citations: 1817 I. ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 136k
3 votes

Is “Light of moon and ray of star” an idiom?

Eye of newt and toe of frog If idioms by their words invoke some special meaning hard to guess, then no, this turn of phrase you’ll note has none of that: it’s for the stress. Instead it turns the ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 136k

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