Questions tagged [meaning-in-context]

This tag is for questions about the meaning of a word or a phrase in a specific context, which a dictionary cannot answer. Please give as much context as possible.

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210 votes
5 answers
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How does the "Dalai Lama walks into a pizza shop..." joke work?

On YouTube, there's that famous joke the Dalai Lama didn't understand — and neither did I. It even made headlines in my part of the world, and on some of the sites I frequent, yet nobody ever ...
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114 votes
11 answers
153k views

What does the line "So long and thanks for all the fish!" mean?

I got a mail with the subject "So long and thanks for all the fish!" from my Manager. What does it mean?
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98 votes
11 answers
8k views

Free as in "free speech", not as in "free beer"

Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer. — Richard Stallman Translating free to my language (...
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  • 7,865
74 votes
13 answers
13k views

What's up with the "pun (not) intended" thing?

Whenever I read a carefully composed English text with a pun in it, the stated "pun" is always followed by an explanation whether or not it was intended. Why is that? Where I come from (the Czech ...
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  • 943
60 votes
4 answers
7k views

Can I write "nonsensual data" for data that makes no sense?

I am worried that "nonsensual data" might come across as data that does not have a lot of erotic vibe....
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  • 703
58 votes
4 answers
11k views

Is "I was had" standard English?

I've recently watched West Side Story and heard some weird expressions, one of which is "I was had": Dear kindly Judge, your Honor, My parents treat me rough. With all their marijuana, They ...
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  • 1,095
58 votes
12 answers
10k views

Difference between "illegal" and "very illegal"

From my understanding of English, "very" means "more than the usual" or "to a higher extent". I've seen on several places the expression "very illegal", such as here as an example: https://youtu.be/...
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  • 1,023
57 votes
9 answers
15k views

What does "Although the Second Amendment people" mean?

I don't quite understand what Donald Trump just said, especially the phrase in bold: "Hillary wants to abolish—essentially abolish the Second Amendment. By the way, if she gets to pick, if ...
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  • 5,133
57 votes
2 answers
7k views

What does 'the Twelfth' mean in Article 7 of the US Constitution?

I first encountered the sentences below on p 121, The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution (2004; but the newest edition dates at 2015) by Linda Monk. I rewrote the numerals ...
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54 votes
6 answers
39k views

When a girl mentions her girlfriend, does she mean it like lesbian girlfriend?

I have a classmate and sometimes she says something like "I told my girlfriend that she has to blah blah". Does this wording imply a lesbian relationship, or is she referring to a her best friend (a ...
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  • 1,413
49 votes
6 answers
25k views

Meaning of "Sue me"

I came across a dialog between two people struggling on a cutting the line situation. Here is the dialogue: A: Hey man, the end of the line is over there. B: Yeah... A: No seriously, I was here ...
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49 votes
3 answers
288k views

What does "viewer discretion is advised" mean?

Viewer discretion is advised. I've stumbled upon this phrase a few times (mainly at the beginning of video clips or movie trailers), but I'm still not quite sure what it really expresses. What is ...
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  • 601
47 votes
8 answers
26k views

What is 'explain like I'm five'?

In my recent question, I got this link in an answer. Here, 'Explain like I'm five' is written. I tried to find its meaning on the Internet, but I got only an acronym ELI5. Is 'explain like I'm ...
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  • 3,778
46 votes
4 answers
8k views

How to understand "I had two try"

"You're not the first one who's had trouble with money," said Mr. Roberts, scrutinizing Mr. Weasley closely. "I had two try and pay me with great gold coins the size of hubcaps ten ...
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45 votes
3 answers
4k views

What is the meaning of "prairie-dog" in this sentence?

I read a sentence in Word by Word by Kory Stamper which was: People prairie-dog over the tops of their cubicles and call to their co-workers: "Hey, you going for a walk at lunch today?" Although ...
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  • 519
43 votes
2 answers
5k views

What is mom-pkin?

My bae asked me about the meaning of mom-pkin in the book she's reading. I'm stunned and google searching produced but acronyms and chemical stuff. The full sentence is as follows. She still had ...
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41 votes
5 answers
9k views

Who is frowning in the sentence "Daisy looked at Tom frowning"?

I read this sentence from The Great Gatsby: “Plenty of gas,” said Tom boisterously. He looked at the gauge. “And if it runs out I can stop at a drug-store. You can buy anything at a drug-store ...
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  • 1,007
39 votes
8 answers
49k views

What does "resp." mean in these sentences?

The abbreviation resp. has been used a number of times in the following paragraph: For each of these problems (resp., tools), we start by presenting the natural concern underlying it (resp., its ...
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  • 827
38 votes
9 answers
7k views

Your English is better than my <<language>>

I am a native Czech speaker and English is my secondary language. I communicate with foreigners including both English and non-English natives. Sometimes, before we meet in person, I let them know I ...
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37 votes
2 answers
6k views

What's the meaning of phrases that include "ship", "shipping", when there is a conversation about the heroes of TV series?

I saw such phrase "Fans have been shipping these two for years, and it’s easy to see why. They’re attractive, single, and they’ve got a lot in common..." in this article. What does "shipping" mean in ...
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37 votes
5 answers
5k views

How to understand "throwing science at the wall here to see what sticks"?

It's said by Cave Johnson -- an character in Portal2. Full voice line is: "Just a heads up: We're gonna have a superconductor turned up full blast and pointed at you for the duration of this next ...
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  • 2,181
37 votes
3 answers
7k views

What does "two-by-four" mean in this context?

Here is the text: My parents’ divorce was final. The house had been sold and the day had come to move. Thirty years of the family’s life was now crammed into the garage. The two-by-fours that ran ...
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35 votes
3 answers
6k views

What does the ‘thank you very much’ mean in “they were perfectly normal, thank you very much”?

I have started reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. I was way too excited for my first English book reading. But after I started reading it, I got stuck and can’t go onward. The question ...
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34 votes
3 answers
11k views

What does "this will date me" mean?

What does the phrase "this will date me" mean? I searched for it here on "English Language Learners" and on Google but I could not find the meaning.
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  • 451
33 votes
5 answers
8k views

What does it mean by "my days-of-the-week underwear only go to Thursday" in this context?

Emily: Lorelai? I'm going shopping this afternoon. I thought I'd pick up a few things for Rory. Lor: I already took care of all that, mom. I got her two skirts and a bunch of tops. Emily: ...
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  • 3,339
33 votes
1 answer
9k views

What does "M.C." in "M.C. Esker" mean?

In the article New York - style time machine, there is a drawing: What does M.C. Esker mean? The clue for this, as said by a redditor, is in the line These deposits, which remain as ridges called ...
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  • 2,408
33 votes
1 answer
18k views

What does "on a day with no 'y' in it" mean?

Can anybody explain Warren Buffett's sentence for me, please? "The only time to buy these is on a day with no 'y' in it."
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  • 5,133
32 votes
2 answers
5k views

Follow me, and your urologist will be buying himself a new yacht

The following1 is a retort from the dean of a hospital to her highly insubordinate lead-diagnostician. In a little place called "follow me, and your urologist will be buying himself a new yacht." ...
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32 votes
7 answers
3k views

How is double negation interpreted in English?

In my native language, double negations "cancel out". I have been trying to learn English using movies and such things, but double negation confuses me. I see instances when double negation cancels ...
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30 votes
3 answers
19k views

What does "go blue" mean here?

I was watching Emmys when I heard the phrase "go blue" from Darren Criss who won the award for the lead actor in a limited series. He said: Congratulations to all of you. Thank you to the ...
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  • 4,194
30 votes
1 answer
4k views

What is the meaning of Brown-Bagged it?

Some unknown guy punched Brendan. Brendan appeared before V.P Trueman. V.P Trueman: So you didn't know this boy? Brendan: No sir, never seen him. V.P Trueman: And he just hit you? ...
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  • 1,047
29 votes
6 answers
8k views

What's the meaning of "be broker than the Ten Commandments"?

The meaning of "the Ten Commandments" is clear (see Wikipedia for example). Also, Oxford Dictionaries show "broke" means "Having completely run out of money". But I don't understand the meaning of ...
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  • 5,118
29 votes
1 answer
5k views

I can't imagine John is driving a car

Are the following sentences correct? and what is the difference in meaning? I can't imagine John drives a car. I can't imagine John driving a car. I can't imagine John is driving a car. ...
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  • 4,430
28 votes
6 answers
6k views

What does "One CPU is going to 'smoke' another CPU" mean?

I faced the following sentence: You really can’t say a 4.1GHz FX-8350 is going to smoke a 3.5GHz Core i7-3770K because in a hell of a lot of workloads the 3.5GHz Core i7 is going to dominate. I ...
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  • 399
28 votes
1 answer
5k views

"Crashing at the Y" What does it mean?

I heard in the movie Adventureland: Em Lewin : So what's the plan? James Brennan : I'm gonna crash at the Y for a week, I'm gonna look for a shitty job, and I don't know. IMDB has a longer ...
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  • 18.6k
27 votes
4 answers
10k views

Why doesn't the couple want to eat the dessert in this comic strip?

So, why do the couple not want to eat the dessert? Is it because they know their suggestions were in fact terrible?
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26 votes
5 answers
9k views

What's the difference between "vanilla" and "plain" when talking about yogurts?

Merriam Webster explains vanilla (when used as an adjective) as: lacking distinction : plain, ordinary, conventional It's not obvious why vanilla has such a meaning, and why plain is listed as its ...
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  • 967
26 votes
6 answers
25k views

What is the difference between "you are being" and "you are"?

Having a debate on whether "You are being a jerk" and "You are a jerk" have the same meaning in context. Are you calling someone a jerk if you state they are "being" a jerk or is the context that they ...
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  • 277
26 votes
10 answers
50k views

Does this have two meanings: 'how do you like your coffee'?

How do you like your coffee? Can I use the above sentence either on an offering situation that I ask if they like it black or with sugar, or during having situation that I ask if the coffee tastes ...
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  • 24.1k
26 votes
2 answers
7k views

Unusual meaning of "wet"

In the movie "Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children" Jake was saved by the peculiar children while he was into a pub. An invisible child made pots and glasses fly all around and another start a ...
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  • 415
25 votes
5 answers
7k views

Is "Ram married his daughter" ambiguous?

Ram married his daughter is ambiguous because: Marry means marry somebody to become a spouse. The second meaning is perform the marriage ritual as a priest. So, if Ram is a priest he can marry his ...
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25 votes
4 answers
5k views

"The bass drop is so sick!..." - What does it mean?

Being a fan of a dubstep music, I often see comments like this: "Looooove this tune! The bass drop is so sick!..." To my understanding, sick has negative connotation. Merriam-Webster defines this ...
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  • 7,865
24 votes
12 answers
22k views

Stuck writing a sentence because tea is a 'beverage' and water is not!

I am writing an article on tea. I want to say that... Tea is the most consumed _____________ after water. The problem is tea is a beverage but water is not. So, if I come up with this sentence, ...
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  • 64.7k
24 votes
5 answers
6k views

In “a so-called "HPACK Bomb" attack”, if "so-called" is not sarcasm then what is it?

I was reading this CVE describing a vulnerability in the implementation of a compression algorithm used in HTTP/2. The summary says: A HTTP/2 implementation built using any version of the Python ...
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  • 1,023
23 votes
7 answers
4k views

Does "upset victory" mean "a victory that people are not happy about"?

I'm reading a book Merriam-Webster's Vocabulary Builder. When it comes to the word acme, the author gives the following example: Last Saturday's upset victory over Michigan may prove to have been the ...
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22 votes
7 answers
9k views

"a dollar and change". What does "change" mean?

The company, which is unprofitable, said that its average shopper spent less than $90 on the platform last year. That translates into revenue per shopper of a dollar and change. source The most ...
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  • 3,393
22 votes
4 answers
4k views

What is the meaning of "dog-food" here?

I was watching a programming course ("Kotlin for Java Developers" on Coursera). The instructor of the training course said: "We focused on the use cases we knew about from our ...
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22 votes
5 answers
7k views

What does web-mistress imply as a job title

I love that none needs my permission to take my code and do something cool with it, and someone else can do the same with that code. I love that an "end user" is usually only a few hours work away ...
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  • 374
22 votes
3 answers
9k views

"I immediately got her with child"?

In th English translation of The Kindly Ones, a 2006 novel by Jonathan Littell set during World War II and its aftermath, the narrator states: the source I picked a woman from a good family; she ...
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  • 2,897
22 votes
3 answers
35k views

What does it mean "to talk over someone"?

I saw this video where two policemen, in three different times tell citizens "Don't talk over me" (0:12) or "you are talking over me" (3:37 also 3:44). It seems that all of these mentions in the video ...
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