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Questions tagged [phrase-meaning]

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

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1answer
21k views

What's the meaning of “due cause”?

This is the definition of choke up from Collins Dictionary: (informal) usually passive to overcome (a person) with emotion, esp without due cause What does due cause in the definition mean? I've ...
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2answers
311 views

How can I understand the phrase “in the toilet paper”?

The following passage is from the book Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Halfway through the summer, I decided I was pretty much done with swim team. So I came up with a trick to get out of practice. I'd swim ...
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1answer
22k views

“grab some lunch” versus “pick up some lunch”

Do the two phrases mean what I proposed below? Let's go grab some lunch Meaning: go and have a quick lunch, maybe sandwiches or something similar. Let's go pick up some lunch Meaning: go and ...
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4answers
714 views

What exactly is meant by “modified love”?

I am reading a book called Howards End by E. M. Forster. In the first chapter there is a letter and at the end of letter are the following words: . . . Much love. Modified love to ...
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1answer
1k views

The meaning of “come back to the self”

A quote from The Conspiracy against the Human Race Everything comes back to the self and must come back to the self, for it is the utmost issue in our deciding whether we are something or nothing, ...
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1answer
282 views

What does this “all other dung” mean here?

Later, Cato the Elder recommended that Romans “save carefully goat, sheep, cattle, and all other dung. Source Does this mean goat's, sheep's, cattle's and all other animals' dung?
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2answers
5k views

What does “of late he had fallen on evil days” mean in this sentence?

A sentence from George Orwell's Animal Farm: In past years Mr. Jones, although a hard master, had been a capable farmer, but of late he had fallen on evil days. You can find the entire chapter at ...
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1answer
872 views

Air is all around us

Air is all around us. All around means in every way according to the dictionary. But this explanation doesn't make sense in above sentence, so I guess something maybe wrong here. Does it mean ...
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1answer
3k views

Meaning of “has my best wishes”

What does "has my best wishes" mean here? he told his long-suffering publisher John Murray that Napoleon 'has my best wishes to manure the fields of France with an invading army' Source Isn'...
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1answer
114 views

What is the mouse's starvation referring to

As always when they met, Lan's and Rhuarc's icy blue stares nearly struck sparks. A braided leather cord held Lan's dark hair, gray-streaked at the temples. His face looked to have been carved ...
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2answers
280 views

What does “switch to the heart of” mean?

What does "switch to the heart of" mean in the following sentence? Why? There are women in the orchestra; people indifferent to a women’s charms. Besides, how many times would you be enraptured by ...
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1answer
341 views

What does “uncomfortable with taking a political stance” mean? [closed]

If people in the classical world are uncomfortable with taking a political stance, they might at least worry about appearing to be stupid. What does this mean?
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1answer
3k views

What does “that could” mean?

For example: A plan that could I see this "that could" part (with no complement) everywhere, as in: The Little Engine that Could. What does this phrase mean?
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1answer
81 views

“Only then is the survival brain turned down and the personality fever cooled.”

Does the author omit that between is and the? Are the verbs about turned down and cooled in the subjunctive? The Buddha taught that kind of happiness. He put it this way: “True happiness can only ...
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1answer
3k views

What does “Easy does it” mean? [closed]

It's here in this old radio play: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOr3VaEqoDI&feature=share&list=UUJJ-L-Gxh432qktFvkFV6VA at 1:53 The man says: "Easy does it." What does that mean?
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1answer
2k views

Structure of “which they are”

I don't understand the structure of "which they are." Does it mean "which are infringements and they are such proposals"? France and other countries regard such proposals as infringements on their ...
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2answers
61 views

“Born + a name”

In Born Lev Bronshtein on 7 November 1879 in the village of Yanovka in the Ukraine, Leon Trotsky, the son of a prosperous Jewish farmer, became involved in politics from a young age. Does Born ...
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2answers
1k views

Understanding the meaning of “breathe the air of human spirit”

I found this sentence in a sample letter, from a brother to a sister: Since Mother's passing I have yearned for nothing more than the acknowledgment of my own kin, to be treated as human again, to ...
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1answer
91 views

What does “with their own command” mean in the context of playing a sport?

What does this "play with their own command" mean? Captain’s Cup Navy Sports Week Monday-Friday, September 30 – October 4 • 0900 Various Locations Participants must play with their own command. ...
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1answer
1k views

The meaning of “brought up”

Is this usage possible and common? In order to provide a more accepting and comfortable setting for children with autism or other special needs, AMC movie auditoriums will have their lights brought ...
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3answers
14k views

What does “I have got some time on my hands” mean?

My shift at work's kinda long, so I've got some time on my hands to, you know...whatever. Think, I guess. What does "I have got some time on my hands" mean in the above quote?
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3answers
1k views

What does “rolled over on her back” mean?

I can't picture this: I don't understand what "rolled over on her back" mean. What does the highlighted phrase mean? He demonstrated by holding his own arms above his head and making a swooning ...
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3answers
81 views

“Who has emerged as the less gutsy Nadal to his less regal Federer, playing to the heart-warmed fans”

What does the bold part mean? I don't understand the structure of it, especially the "less […] to […]" part. The match itself was something of an anticlimax. Djokovic, spent from his encounter ...
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1answer
442 views

What does “I don’t even count them in the till” mean?

I don’t even count them in the till. What is the meaning of "in the till" here? I googled but got nothing for this.
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2answers
580 views

What question is an open question?

What are possible definitions of the phrase "open question" in a given context? In other words, if I would like to name a yet to be answered question, a question requiring more than a simple Yes or ...
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1answer
4k views

The meaning of the phrase “much as”

According to dictionaries the phrase "much as" can mean either "even though" or "in a similar way". As these two meanings are almost opposite, I was wondering on the basis of what principles should ...
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1answer
17k views

the meaning of “will have to do”

I don't understand the meaning of "will have to do" in the following paragraph. What does it mean? "However, whatever significant portion of Earth's satellite will be visible Sunday, July 21, will ...
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1answer
484 views

What does it means “The strength of any business network is essentially its weakest link.”

On a website, I saw a line that said: In Information Technology, the “network” defines the layered infrastructure by which information is moved. Given the vital nature of a well-functioning, ...
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3answers
652 views

What does “just” mean in this context?

He’s got France and Turkey and maybe a few others, and a statement from about ten other countries wanting some sort of international move—just not necessarily a military strike. Does "just not ...
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2answers
292 views

What does “temporary chicken” mean? What about a “one time chicken”?

I listened to a song called "temporary chicken". Wikipedia explains that it was a strange joke track about a man so desperate for work that he accepted a part-time job in a chicken costume. I would be ...
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4answers
6k views

What does “Bid my blood to run before I come undone” mean?

The following quote is a part of the song "Bring me to life" by Evanescence. Would you please tell me what it means? (I'm aware that not all lyrics are necessarily grammatical, yet was wondering how ...
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2answers
5k views

What is the meaning of “spoken of” in the last of a sentence?

I am reading a book, in which there is the following sentence. Some 150 of them are in the native Army, and beyond being quoted as somewhat dull, are very highly spoken of. What does spoken of ...
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1answer
104 views

What's the role of this -ing phrase?

Afflicted by crushing shyness throughout childhood, I felt nurtured through the words of authors who wrote in the context of their communities, triggering images and memories of extraordinary ...
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1answer
233 views

What does the term “dream-skinners” mean in this paragraph? [closed]

What does dream-skinners mean? Does it mean the people who cheat others in dream, like the people in the film named "Inception"? In spite of her name (an elegant, whimsical female name which meant ...
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1answer
568 views

“Aim life with Money”

I am planning for a tattoo with an image of a target, and the caption I thought of is "Aim life with money". Money being an arrow, and life being the "center of the target". I want to make a point, ...
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2answers
314 views

Ears pop with pressure?

What does "even as her ears popped with pressure" mean in the following text? Does it mean her ears will be blown up almost by great pressure? Outside, everything was dark. There was only the ...
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1answer
451 views

What does “focused and narrowed” mean?

What does the highlighted part means? The ground rumbled beneath her, even as her ears popped with pressure –more laughter from The Tortoise in the Lake, even as the darkness of space focused and ...
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1answer
671 views

In this passage, what does “a pair of” refer to?

“Er — Petunia, dear — you haven’t heard from your sister lately, have you?” As he had expected, Mrs. Dursley looked shocked and angry. After all, they normally pretended she didn’t have a sister. ...
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1answer
288 views

Noun phrase modified or raised

As he sat in the usual morning traffic jam, he couldn’t help noticing that there seemed to be a lot of strangely dressed people about. People in cloaks. Mr. Dursley couldn’t bear people who ...
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1answer
10k views

What is the meaning of “idiot's tale”?

This is from the book Nazi war on cancer by R.Proctor: I tend to agree with Omer Bartov that the Holocaust is a kind of idiot's tale we can understand only in parts, never altogether I searched ...
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3answers
1k views

What does “looking after” mean?

“Ready, are you?” It was Uncle Vernon, still purple-faced, still mustached, still looking furious at the nerve of Harry, carrying an owl in a cage in a station full of ordinary people. Behind him ...
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1answer
140 views

How should I understand “I will read pages that only weary me”?

This is a quote from W. Somerset Maugham's On Reading as a text in our textbook. And the whole sentence look somewhat like the following: To know how to skip is to know how to read with profit and ...
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3answers
138 views

“Hyacinths on (what I fondly call) my rockery”

Satin white, Persian purple, oil-paint yellow. When I planted these birches they were broomstick-height, and now look at them. They tap our bedroom window on stormy nights. Hyacinths on (what I fondly ...
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1answer
105 views

What does 'by the glint of possibility' mean?

That’s what makes me cry. I was once a vice-president, a member of the Chairman’s Club. In the past it was always enough to be connected to humanity in a more abstract way, by the glint of possibility....
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1answer
8k views

What does “that's saying something” mean? [closed]

“You know how I think they choose people for the Gryffindor team?” said Malfoy loudly a few minutes later, as Snape awarded Hufflepuff another penalty for no reason at all. “It’s people they feel ...
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3answers
1k views

What does “I love you” mean?

In Italian, there are two phrases you say to the people for which you feel something: ti voglio bene and ti amo. The first is less strong, and it is not something that you would say to your lover; you ...
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1answer
384 views

What does “twittering away to itself” mean?

What does "twittering away to itself" mean? Does it mean that the radio is twittering and the sound generated by the radio is outward from it? White hair endows you with the demeanour of a friendly ...
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2answers
7k views

What does “be to” mean?

Harry swallowed and looked around him. He realized he must be in the hospital wing. He was lying in a bed with white linen sheets, and next to him was a table piled high with what looked like half ...
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3answers
965 views

What is a “complete secret”?

“Good afternoon, Harry,” said Dumbledore. Harry stared at him. Then he remembered: “Sir! The Stone! It was Quirrell! He’s got the Stone! Sir, quick —” “Calm yourself, dear boy, you are a little ...
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1answer
15k views

What does 'be done' mean?

“Seize him! SEIZE HIM!” shrieked Voldemort again, and Quirrell lunged, knocking Harry clean off his feet landing on top of him, both hands around Harry’s neck — Harry’s scar was almost blinding ...