Questions tagged [figurative-language]

For questions about language where the words have meaning other than their literal sense. For example, metaphor or simile.

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8answers
2k views

Is there a figure of speech for “illlness which passes without a special treatment”?

In German we have a figure of speech: "Das geht von selbst vorbei", which normally means that an illness will pass without the need to treat it with medicaments or something special at all. Is there a ...
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3answers
434 views

Spooking at shadows

What does 'to spook at shadow' mean in the following context? My sense of the issue is that a lot of engineers are spooking at shadows, worried about their performance reviews if they spend 80% ...
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2answers
258 views

Spine/stem synonym with figurative meaning

I know the word 'spine' can be used like a metaphor for person's courage or assertiveness or inner strength. I'm looking for synonyms for this meaning but with one additional meaning related to a tree ...
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2answers
2k views

Expressing the idea that one can barely live or survive (figurative, if possible)

It took me some time to find out the English word waterline whose presence wasn't as yet included in my vocabulary. As an aside, in my language in a literal translation this would be called floating ...
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2answers
1k views

“No strings attached”: scope, verb to introduce?

This is about the expression no strings attached from the plural of string: strings [plural] : requirements that are connected with something : things that you have to do, give, etc., if you ...
2
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1answer
584 views

Meaning of “Deep Winter ”

I have a question about the meaning of "deep" here: We are about to be confronted with the dangers of deep winter. What does "deep" refer to? Does it mean the later part of winter?
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2answers
78 views

On/Off His Routine

I have a question about the usages of "on" and "off" with "routine": He was on his routine. He was off his routine. The above usages could be found on the web, but not in ...
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1answer
60 views

How can 'turnover' be interpreted figuratively?

[OED:] A. 1. a. The action of turning over, in various senses: see quots.; (Polit. slang) a transference of votes from one party to another. I understand the morphemes 'turn' and over' and the ...
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2answers
47 views

Touched By Controversy

I have a question about the meaning of the verb "touch" here: This year, the candlelight vigil in Hong Kong has been touched by controversy. Definition 6b for "touch" in this dictionary reads: ...
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1answer
280 views

Ellipsis with apostrophe?

This is a strophe from one song: "But the times were hard, Lord, the jobs were few all through Tecumseh valley but she asked around and a job she found tending bar at Gypsy Sally's" ...
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2answers
192 views

Superpowers Emerge From WW2

Definition 1a for "emerge" of this dictionary reads: to become known or apparent Definition 3 reads: used to indicate the usually good state or condition of someone or something at the ...
4
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1answer
508 views

The verb “to plow through”

In which sense the verb to plow through was used in the following sentence? I know it can be used to do a task figuratively or to run down on people or something but I don't think these meanings are ...
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2answers
4k views

“In the wake of”

I have a question about the usage of the phrase "in the wake of" here: We are still in the wake of discriminatory laws against women and children. I could not find a good dictionary definition ...
2
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1answer
92 views

Through Vs Outside Of

I have some question about the usage of "through" and "outside of". Consider these sentences: 1a. He made transactions through Amazon Payments. 2a. He made sales through Ebay. 3a. He made ...
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4answers
139 views

Go Down In A Notebook

I have a question about the usage of "go down" in this dictionary: It all goes down in her notebook. I was thinking this sense of "go down" should be used with "in history", not "in a notebook"...
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1answer
1k views

pledge your first-born child to Microsoft — I don't understand what that means

From a book called Access 2013: The Missing Manual: At this point, you're probably wondering how much that part in the center of Figure 21-1—the SQL Server database engine—actually costs. ...
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2answers
2k views

“To mingle from single”

Which one is correct out of the below two? If possible, I request that you give a justification also. 1) He is going to mingle from single. Or 2) He is going to mingle to single.
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1answer
1k views

Is it ungrammatical to end a list preceded by a colon without an “and”?

Example: The mansion looked like a castle: crenelated roof, lancet windows, cylindrical towers with crosses on top. As yo can see I omitted the and. Is it ungrammatical?
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3answers
9k views

Is “without” the opposite of “within?”

I've seen the famous quote from Hermes Trismegistus: "As above, so below. As within, so without. As the universe, so the soul." Is without actually the opposite of within? For example, these ...
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2answers
2k views

Usage of “Hold Its Shape”

I have a question about the usages of the verb "hold" here: New Breast Implant Holds Its Shape I checked this dictionary, but cannot find a definition that fits the usage of "hold its shape" ...
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1answer
84 views

Usage of “Keep Any Shape”

I have a question about the usage of the phrase "keep any shape" here: Liquids, says Bauman, do not keep any shape for long and are constantly prone to alteration. I looked up a dictionary, but ...
2
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3answers
476 views

Meaning Of “Under”

I have a question about the meaning of "under" here: It remains an open question whether flags such as this one, which contains corporate logos in place of the fifty stars, would fall under the ...
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1answer
107 views

wax about Orthodox swords but don't actually go to church much — meaning?

Usage example with a context: Ukraine's Orthodox Church, which is powerful politically — Ukrainians tend to be more personally devout than Russians, who like to wax about Orthodox swords but don't ...
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3answers
151 views

Meaning Of “See” 2

The correct meaning for a particular usage of "see" was discussed in some thread. In that thread, it was agreed that, according to this dictionary, "see" could mean either (definition 1) "to notice ...
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2answers
250 views

Why were security cameras “seeing”?

I have another question about the verb "see". According to dictionaries, "see" loosely means "become/be aware of something by using the eyes". Yet, on the web, I found sentences along the lines of ...
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2answers
1k views

Meaning Of “See”

I have a question about the meaning of "see". Suppose teachers at a school are talking about how this year's test scores are not as good as previous years. We have seen better test scores than ...
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2answers
505 views

How to dissect/parse 'no sooner X than Y'?

I ask not about the meaning, but about its derivation: no sooner F than S {phrases} = [Please check my additions of F and S 1. Used to convey that the second event S mentioned happens ...
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2answers
124 views

The Pain Went Down

I have a question about the usage of the phrase "go down". According to this dictionary definition for go down (3a+b), I could use "go down" like this: The swelling went down. His fever went ...
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5answers
465 views

How is “made FROM virgin [any material]” possible? Shouldn't it be “made OF virgin”?

What I know about 'made from' and 'made of' is this: Chairs are made of wood - the wood is still wood, you see that AND Paper is made from wood -wood disappears, you don't see wood What I know ...
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2answers
9k views

“Dare to be dull”

What does "dare to be dull" mean? Is it a common cliché? If so, what are the situations in which people use it? If it's not a familiar phrase, how does a native speaker make sense of it? I heard it ...
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1answer
184 views

Meaning of 'solitudes'

[4th and 5th last paras] Professor Hugo Cyr, of the University of Quebec in Montreal, a law clerk at the time when LeBel was appointed, ... ... says LeBel was good “at bringing people together. ...
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1answer
151 views

Usage, Meaning Of “Around”

I have a question about the preposition "around" here: The Arleigh Burke-class of guided missile destroyers (DDGs) is the United States Navy's first class of destroyer built around the Aegis ...
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2answers
518 views

Confrontation With Beijing

Could there be something wrong with this sentence from some webpage: Police used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse pro-democracy protesters in the city’s most serious confrontation with ...
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2answers
247 views

Newspaper Usages of “In The Lead”

I am so confused about the correctness of the following usages of "in the lead" of a newspaper: The U.K. government promised new powers for Scotland if it votes to remain in the U.K. after a ...
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1answer
100 views

Cross Over From …To

A question about "cross over" here: "We all joke about the ways that we could maliciously behave in our jobs," Goldman said. "That's gallows humor. Going online gets problematic. With (Hodges) it ...
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3answers
4k views

Meaning of “no day at the beach”

Those kids are terrible and I am no day at the beach either. There is no definition on the internet, but it sounds like "I am trouble."
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1answer
185 views

Restive Northern Mali

Could there be an error here: French officials dispatched a military unit to secure the site in restive northern Mali where an Air Algerie plane crashed with the loss of 116 people. "Restive" ...
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2answers
350 views

Meaning of “On” in “Roll On”

I am not sure about the meaning of "on" in: link Ukraine rolls on separatists while Russia holds back What does "on" meaning here? Does it mean Ukraine tanks/vehicles ran over the separatist ...
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2answers
588 views

What is the meaning of the verb “willed” in the following context:

Douglas Robson, USA TODAY Sports says: The favorite when defending champion Serena Williams toppled out in the second round, Sharapova virtually willed her way to the title. I think in this ...
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6answers
4k views

What is the meaning of “you know, be the pie”?

Source: Head First JavaScript by Michael Morrison (2008) With the right ingredients and a few flicks of the wrist, I can whip up just about anything. I just have to get close to what I'm making... ...
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2answers
211 views

Shuffle Through Motions

I am not sure about the meaning of the phrase "to shuffle somebody through the motions": link Lynette laughs about these blind dates because she knows most of her single friends are being ...
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3answers
15k views

What does *bend the rule* mean?

Malfoy certainly did talk about flying a lot. He complained loudly about first years never getting on the house Quidditch teams . . . "He's just the build for a Seeker, too," said Wood, now ...
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5answers
5k views

Is it proper to use “broke” in “Broke his feelings”?

My colleague broke his feelings. (English Syntax and Argumentation, Bas Aarts) Aarts says this sentence is abnormal, because of the selectional restrictions: ‘feelings’ is abstract and not proper ...

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