I have a question about how does native English speakers more use proper question sentence form?

for example,

1. What is meaning ~

2. What does mean ~

So I am curious about which of the following sentence is more used in native English speaker?

  1. An English speaker would ask, "What is the meaning of ____?" For example, "What is the meaning of 'cricket'?"

  2. An English speaker would ask, "What do (or does) ____ mean? For example, "What does 'don't put the cart before the horse' mean?"

Both forms are common and correct.

  • 1
    Er, it should be noted that "What is the meaning of ___?", while grammatically correct, is typically used as an interjection, and not a question. I, as an American, have never heard anyone use that sentence form to ask an actual question about, for instance, the meaning of a word. You might be familiar with the common sentence, "What is the meaning of this!" which means "This is outrageous; why are you doing this?"
    – Crazy Eyes
    Oct 15 '14 at 20:57
  • 1
    @CrazyEyes: I agree the second form, "What do (or does) ___ mean?" is more common, and is the form I would use. Oct 16 '14 at 3:56
  • ngram suggests that "what is the meaning of _" and "what is the meaning of this" are almost equally common phrases, suggesting very strongly that the "what is the meaning of _ " use is almost entirely specialised to the interjection "what is the meaning of this?" implying as @CrazyEyes says a sense of outrage. They are certainly not to be treated as similar in British English. The first usage is marked and distinct. If you want to know what something means, use 2. Dec 13 '14 at 8:49
  • 1
    "What is the meaning of life" is another example usage of the first form, specialised to philosophical meaning. If I heard "What is the meaning of cricket?" I would assume someone was asking for something philosophical rather than a definition of cricket. In British English that is a more likely question anyway :-). Dec 29 '14 at 7:40

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