89 votes
Accepted

The meaning of "half woman, half girl"

The text has nothing to do with whether she has a spouse or boyfriend. She's referring to back to a past time when she was a youth, which is a noun meaning "a young person between adolescence and ...
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47 votes

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

To add 'thank you very much' at the end of a statement can be a sarcastic way of dismissing someone or something, or of implying indifference or lack of interest. It expresses the opposite of ...
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39 votes

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

It emphasizes how perfectly normal they insist they are (thank you, John :). I was wondering if I would be able to find this specific definition of the phrase, but Wiktionary actually has an entry for ...
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  • 1,478
32 votes

The meaning of "half woman, half girl"

"Half woman" and "half girl" are not idioms or anything. She's trying to evoke a more literal meaning, using this "half X, half Y" construction similarly to how you could describe a mule as "half ...
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  • 1,108
29 votes

Is learning English with the Bible a good idea for ESL people?

It's not a bad idea, and in fact there are some real advantages to learning from the KJV specifically, but there are some pitfalls too. First, the advantages. Bible translators (especially in ...
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  • 9,399
25 votes

What does "that public schoolboy polish" mean here?

Public schools in the UK are fee-paying schools, of which Eton and Harrow are probably the most prestigious (but there are many less expensive ones). For an explanation of the name, see the Wikipedia ...
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  • 29.9k
25 votes

What does "until she passes the five-year mark, Dad’s record to date" mean here?

"Dad's latest wife" implies that he has been married several times. Apparently five years is his record (the longest time any of his marriages has lasted). To date = until now. Jules can't ...
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  • 29.9k
23 votes
Accepted

What does "Stands the wind in that quarter" mean?

Literally, it is a nautical term meaning "Is the wind coming from that direction?" The actual meaning is "Is that how things are?" with an implication of either surprise or (here) cynicism. It uses ...
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21 votes
Accepted

What does "that public schoolboy polish" mean here?

If you go back 300 years or so, most people didn't get any education. Only the wealthy could afford it. There were two types of education: Private education, at home with a tutor. Or Public education ...
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  • 147k
18 votes

What does "Stands the wind in that quarter" mean?

It's a reference to the points of the compass which name the direction from which the wind comes. The four cardinal directions (N,S,E,W) and the four ordinal directions which bisect them (NE,SE,SW,...
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17 votes

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

“Thank you very much,” is a phrase often used to end a conversation politely. In this context, the phrase would tell someone that the Dursleys don’t want to discuss the topic any further. You might ...
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  • 3,891
16 votes

What does "until she passes the five-year mark, Dad’s record to date" mean here?

Yes "mark" is used in the sense of a record. It comes from things like "high-water mark" -- an actual mark on something showing an important distance. Using it with time is a ...
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12 votes

The meaning of "half woman, half girl"

Briefly, "half girl, half woman" practically equals Britney Spears' "not a girl, not yet a woman" which means that she has almost grown out of her childhood and she is no more a girl, but she hasn't ...
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  • 24.3k
12 votes

What does "that public schoolboy polish" mean here?

In short: it means you have the accent and mannerisms of a posh upper-class person. The other answers cover the basics, but I don't think emphasise enough the role of public schools in maintaining ...
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  • 505
12 votes
Accepted

What does "until she passes the five-year mark, Dad’s record to date" mean here?

I'll break the passage up into two parts to address your two questions. I can’t be bothered to spend much time on her until she passes the five-year mark, … The narrator is using mark here to mean ...
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11 votes
Accepted

Confusion about the use of the present simple in a story

There is a difference between telling a story and explaining what happens in a story. They are different. When we tell a story, we often use the past tense. We try to get our reader or listener ...
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11 votes

“…presume not God to scan” – what does it mean?

It means that human beings should not try to study God, because God is beyond human understanding. To presume is to exceed limits undesirably. The first definition for presume on the Merriam-Webster ...
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  • 1,955
11 votes
Accepted

What does "eternal skill" mean?

"Eternal skill" means exactly what a dictionary would tell you it means. Eternal means 'lasting forever'; in some cases 'without beginning or end'. Infinite. A skill is an ability that one ...
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  • 72k
9 votes

Confusion about the use of the present simple in a story

It has been a literary convention for at least four hundred years that plot summaries are cast in the present tense. I imagine that the device is intended to exhibit the action of the work as it will ...
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9 votes
Accepted

What's the meaning of "to beat the bleach out of the chick’s skin"?

As you may well know, Abi Dare writes books about life in Nigeria, and a lot of the slang in her books are from the Nigerian dialect of English. Some of these expressions are just as unfamiliar to ...
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  • 72k
9 votes
Accepted

What does "little earth" mean when used as an adjective?

"Little" is used here as a diminutive and conveys a poetic sense of endearment. "Pressed upon the edges of true reverence" is also very poetic and not idiomatic at all. But its ...
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  • 12.1k
9 votes

Can the verb "to impress someone with something" be used in a negative way?

This is a meaning that impress had at its origins: late 14c., "have a strong effect on the mind or heart, to stamp deeply in the mind," [whether it is by something positive or negative - it ...
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  • 8,049
8 votes

Away they went over stock and stone - What is stock and stone?

I think stock means tree stump. I'm German and "over stock and stone" is a typical German expression (über Stock und Stein).
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  • 8,400
8 votes

“…presume not God to scan” – what does it mean?

Normally in modern English, non-auxiliary verbs can't be directly negated, so we need the dummy verb "do". Also, the object of a verb follows the verb. Here, the verb "presume" is ...
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7 votes
Accepted

'Should have' in a factual sense

You are right it means nearly the same as: the more grieved I am that I have spoken those mistrusting words But saying the more grieved I am that I should ever have spoken those mistrusting ...
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  • 5,221
7 votes

What is the meaning of "But no last trump" in following sentence?

Its origin is a biblical quotation. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. ...
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7 votes

What does "eternal skill" mean?

The "tempter" is the devil, Satan. His "eternal skill" is to get people to do wicked things. The thought "I hope the devil..." (phrased the same as "I pray God...&...
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  • 147k
7 votes

What does "Some Polos" mean in this passage from "The Ferryman"?

Polo mints. A hard, mint flavoured sweet made in the shape of a ring. The IRA, was never a military force like the British army. It was a resistance movement and a terrorist organisation. There ...
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  • 147k

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