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Use this tag for questions about the meaning and usage of a particular phrase, for which a dictionary cannot answer.

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Term of usage for information after the conjunction before the main sentence

What is the term of usage for the information that goes after the conjunction but before the following independent sentence. Example: contrary to popular belief, not withstanding
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What does “rogue killers” mean?

US President Donald Trump has recently described the murder of a journalist in Saudi embassy in Turkey as being committed by "rogue killers". I first came across rogue in the context of rogue planets, ...
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“as of” has one or two meanings?

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1122940.shtml The police report has been read over 100,000 times as of press time. Most netizens said they appreciate the police's work and urged that Zheng be ...
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371 views

What does “put someone on his/her back” mean?

In the TV show House of cards, angry President Garry Walker finds out his vice president, Frank, has been betraying him possibly to replace him as president. Garry says to Frank: From this moment ...
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27 views

Help to understand “Making more noise than was wise”?

That third night he found his way more quickly than before. He was walking so fast he knew he was making more noise than was wise, but he didn't meet anyone. I don't understand the structure of "...
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2answers
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damned thing will do me

While I’m reading The Martian, I may as well yell toward Earth for all the good that damned thing will do me. What is the meaning of “damned things will do me” here?
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1answer
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The meaning of “a sick set of wheels!”

"That's a sick set of wheels!" I've heard it from someone and I'm wondering what the exact meaning is. I googled the phrase and all I found was a twitter status. I know that one of the meanings of "...
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1answer
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How to understand “sat by the hour” in this sentence?

They sat by the hour eating anything they could spear on a toasting fork -- bread, English muffins, marshmallows -- and plotting ways of getting Malfoy expelled, which were fun to talk about even if ...
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Practice of virtue or practice of virtues

Is it correct to say: Hence, the practice for death in this life on earth is the practice of virtue so that one can square with death in the face. I am confused whether it is the practice of ...
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Does “fastener” include “screw”?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines "fastener" as follows: 1. A device, such as a clip, pin, or clasp, that attaches something firmly to something else. 2. A device, such as a seat belt, ...
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The meaning of the following sentence

Can anyone help me with these sentences? The middle classes jeer at the collier for buying pianos-but what is the piano, often as not, but a blind reaching after beauty? I don't understand what ...
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What does “better you than me” mean in this context?

Harry felt restless. He wanted Quidditch Through the Ages back, to take his mind off his nerves about tomorrow. Why should he be afraid of Snape? Getting up, he told Ron and Hermione he was going to ...
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What does “make your night a living hell” mean in this context?

Ortiz also accuses Lettman of illegally filming him and says, “So, I’m going to make sure, while you’re recording this, that you never have a job as a Lyft driver again.” When Lettman finally speaks, ...
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The immediate meaning of “The video is powerful”

If a native English speaker finds a piece of paper with "The video is very powerful" written on it, what will be his first possible interpretation of its meaning? Will it be like it's a phrase about ...
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3answers
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What does “the house Quidditch teams” mean?

Malfoy certainly did talk about flying a lot. He complained loudly about first years never getting on the house Quidditch teams and told long, boastful stories that always seemed to end with him ...
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38 views

What does the phrase “A falling knife has no handle” mean?

I saw this commented on reddit, and I can't understand the phrase. Is it metaphorical or literal?
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27 views

Meaning of “By her example”

What is the meaning of the phrase in bold? Through her courage, and by her example, she helped lay a foundation that could live up to its creed. [Obama]
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What's the meaning of “cross any of our desks”?

So I saw this line from a TV drama (again) and couldn't understand it. Here is the line: But Michaela Stone remains a person of interest in the most perplexing investigation ever to cross any of ...
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1answer
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Meaning of semi-friendly arrangement

In a book I'm reading there is the phrase "semi-friendly arrangement" that I don't fully understand. Here is the context He and I silently acknowledged each other, and although I wondered ...
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2answers
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“Runes: Letters used for cutting” - Meaning of “used for”

I've read The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien in Spanish but trying to answer a question about a possible typo in another StackExchange forum, I've found this text in its English original preamble Runes ...
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If I dress awkwardly, then is it out of social context?

The general meaning of "out of context" I know is with the word 'take' i.e. when you take something out of context then it means that it has a chance of being misinterpreted. As my question says: If ...
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1answer
28 views

What does “loves birds and get moving” mean?

Why Learn This Stuff? 1.1 Every introduction to every language book seems to have this section. I don’t know what it is about programming languages that causes such existential doubt. I don’t ...
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29 views

What does the meaning of the sentence in bold?

As the day was pleasant, Madame Valmonde drove over to L'Abri to see Désirée and the baby. It made her laugh to think of Désirée with a baby. Why, it seemed but yesterday that Désirée was little ...
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Database is [nothing but] an organized form of data

I encountered a sentence Database is nothing but an organized form of data [...]. and got confused by the part "nothing but". What is it used for and what meaning does it convey here? How ...
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Sealed vs sealed off

Let's say you can't open a strawberry jam's jar, and you are describing it this way: The strawberry jam is sealed. Or The strawberry jam is sealed off. Which of them is expressed correctly?
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“study a book” VS “study out of(from) a book”

I'm not sure if 'study a book' is a correct phrasing. "Study out of a book" or "study from a book" looks more correct to me, and they mean to learn from a book. Will "study a book" mean the same ...
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Type of clause in these examples/usage

The character was intentionally designed to be very charismatic and articulate, his main source of fear being derived from his warped sense of reasoning. His features contort with obvious pain as he ...
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How to understand “fer cryin' out loud” in this context?

“Sorry?" barked Hagrid, turning to stare at the Dursleys, who shrank back into the shadows. "It's them as should be sorry! I knew yeh weren't gettin' yer letters but I never thought yeh wouldn't even ...
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What's the meaning of the phrase “take a swing out”?

Just take a swing out to Rockaway after work I saw this sentence in the movie The Flamingo Kid. What's the meaning of the phrase "take a swing out" here?
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23 views

What's the meaning of “ding on the head”?

I'm an English learner and I read this news below: Concussion? Oh, got a little ding on the head, no, no you can't play for the rest of the season. Our people are tough! Trump said. What's the ...
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1answer
19 views

What does “jumped at small noises” mean in this context?

Uncle Vernon stayed at home again. After burning all the letters, he got out a hammer and nails and boarded up the cracks around the front and back doors so no one could go out. He hummed "Tiptoe ...
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1answer
63 views

What's the grammatical explanation behind these sentence?

Please bear with me, I'm not a native speaker and I'm struggling with English. I wanted to ask about the bolded parts in the paragraph below. First, what's the grammatical explanation behind the ...
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3answers
39 views

Help to understand this sentence from the book Harry Potter

Only the photographs on the mantelpiece really showed how much time had passed. Ten years ago, there had been lots of pictures of what looked like a large pink beach ball wearing different-colored ...
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I don't get the meaning of the phrase in bold clearly?

At night he went home and there was Lucile - less like a flower, but still silent, fragrant, hopeful. He said to her: "you will never have anything more than you have now, Lucile, do you realize that?"...
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midnight oil runs the engine of growth - What does this expression mean?

I'm reading a book and just found this phrase: "midnight oil runs the engine of growth". What does it mean? I've googled for it and didn't find a definition. It seems it's just an old saying and it'...
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What does “long read” mean?

Meanwhile, Karen Pence "wouldn't so much as say hello to Trump," Michael Lewis, the author of "Moneyball" and "The Big Short," wrote in a Guardian long read based on several interviews with Trump ...
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to “freeze on” somebody

In Kate Bush's song Babooshka, we can hear these lines right before the second chorus: Uncanny how she Reminds him of his little lady Capacity to give him all he needs Just like his wife ...
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What does the phrase 'in the enterprise' mean?

I saw it in the title of a book. My guess would be "on an enterprise level", is that correct or does it convey something more than that? Edit: I can understand what an enterprise is, but why is it ...
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Which answer is right? I had a steady (job)?

The question below is from my homework. I had a steady_____ Career Job Work Profession I searched on the internet and I found it difficult to get the answer. I think job is ...
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2answers
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What does “leagues away” mean?

https://www.webnovel.com/book/9795095706003005/26751507756023404/Seized-by-the-System/The-System-is-Fighting-for-Justice- Fang Ning’s height was comparable to his in a fight, but that body size ...
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Is this a misprint?

It's from a CNN report about the trade war. Here is the context: Driving Trump, according to aides, is a persistent aversion to appearing weak, even in the face of dire warnings and political ...
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What does “mother ship of close encounters” mean?

This is the opening monologue of The Cafe, Seinfeld's 24th episode. There's always that one location, one store location that's constantly changing hands. Everybody has this in their neighborhood, ...
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1answer
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Is there any difference between “differ widely” and “differ dramatically”?

The phrases "differ widely" and "differ dramatically" are both translated to "very different" or "have great difference" in my learner's dictionary. It seems that "differ widely" means differences in ...
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2answers
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What does “held an edge” mean in this context?

"It's an environment like nothing I've ever seen," said Democratic nominee Gretchen Whitmer, a former legislative leader, who has held an edge in state public opinion surveys. I think "held an edge" ...
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Which is correct “I work nights” or “I work at night”

I have learned that the correct form is "I work at night". Recently, I saw a movie and one of the characters mentioned "I work nights", Is there any difference between them? Or which one is correct?
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What does “a recent iteration” mean here?

I've been wondering what "a recent iteration" mean here in the following? I think the word "iteration" generally mean a repetition, a different form or version of something, and so on. I've been ...
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What does “Gringo Price” mean?

What does "Gringo Price" mean in the following context? "A lot of places will “Gringo Price” you. Remember those scammy repair places in the US? They exist in Portugal too." Source: How to Buy ...
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Which one is correct “What to say and what not to” or “what to say and what to not”

In short sentences like these : "What to say and what not to" or "what to say and what to not" and "What to buy and what to not" which one is correct?
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Go down the hall meaning? (For giving directions)

When I asked for the directions to the HR's cubicle, I got this reply: Go down the hall then take the first left, You will find the HR's cubicle there. (I don't remember exactly what he said.) I ...
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Doesn't matter what sort of business they are, all of them count money

I want to paraphrase the title phrase with but, to get something like: Business is anything but counting a money. With an emphasis on 'counting money'. But that looks for me that the meaning is ...