47 votes

Is the expression "hold the fort" used incorrectly here?

The context, and the intonation Macdonald uses to deliver the line, make it clear that "meant" to say hold the phone. hold the phone idiom US informal used for telling someone to wait, for ...
  • 7,346
10 votes

What's the meaning of "the cause of common sense"?

In this, "cause" means a principle and its supporters. He supported common sense, true science, and religion itself so effectually that his early death was a great loss to those causes, and ...
  • 4,469
7 votes

Is the expression "hold the fort" used incorrectly here?

That’s not how I would use it, but I don’t think I’d call it wrong. The literal meaning of “hold the fort” is a military order to guard a strongpoint. (As you’re probably aware from having searched ...
  • 5,387
5 votes

What does the phrase "come in" mean in this context?

The phrasal verb "come in" has many meanings. Look at the list in the definitions by: Macmillan Collins Merriam-Webster Cambridge Oxford Learner's Oxford Learner's gives as one meaning: ...
  • 36k
4 votes
Accepted

What does recycling gift boxes mean?

'Boxing Day', the day after Christmas, is a holiday in the UK and a number of countries that previously formed part of the British Empire. If Christmas or Boxing Day or both fall on a weekend the ...
4 votes

What's the meaning of "the cause of common sense"?

“Cause” means in this sense an important aim or principle that people believe in. I have to say that the quotation seems to me fairly nonsensical. It may be that common sense is an aim or principle, ...
  • 30.4k
3 votes

"meagre ambition"

An ambition of self-denial and competition is a somewhat positive description. Combining that with meagre makes it align with the general evaluation harmless little man, what Coombes was before his ...
3 votes

"Eating of itself"

I would say that "eating of itself" in the quoted passage means"eating itself" or "consuming itself". Further I would say that this passage uses "eating" in a ...
  • 36k
3 votes

Is the expression "hold the fort" used incorrectly here?

It seems likely to just be a malapropism, with MacDonald meaning to say "hold that thought". An expression used to interrupt someone mid-speech and indicate that one's attention is being or ...
3 votes

What does "get messed up with someone" mean?

Here, to be "messed up with" something or somebody means to be involved with it/them, and it's a bad thing/person to be involved with. It's almost always used in questions like this, which ...
  • 21.8k
2 votes
Accepted

Could anyone explain these two sentences to me? I don’t really get what mindful and catching myself in a cycle mean

after about four or five Fridays, you're just mindful of what happened last Friday. You are only really thinking about (or remembering, or focusing on) the events of the previous Friday. "You ...
2 votes

Interpretation of saxon-genitives in various contexts

In the first two cases, the genitive is wrong, or at least distracting. "The book's page" means that the book has only one page. In the first case the friend would need to say "page 50 ...
  • 158k
1 vote

"Maybe" she reviewed the vocabulary so that she was able to pass the exam - do I need to change anything?

Prefixing a statement with 'maybe' indicates that the speaker is only guessing that it is true. Lacking context, Example 4 could mean either "I know she received a good grade, and this may be the ...
1 vote

What does the phrase 'in the case of'' mean?

Case Meaning of case in English noun (SITUATION) a particular situation or example of something: Case (Cambridge Dictionary) In the situation of a wave there is not the smallest quantity of water ...
1 vote

What does this sentence mean? "Of service", "probable baby"... Are there some idioms lurking around?

Service in this era and context meant "domestic service", that is, working as a maid or other domestic in a middle or upper class household. With a probable baby I would guess means that she ...
  • 66.9k
1 vote

What does the word 'but' mean?

Your suggestions of however or although both seem to me to fit. The contrast here is within the second sentence. But where there is no real unchanging entity, no soul, there one cannot speak of the ...
  • 4,334
1 vote
Accepted

Is it possible to Rewire castle's candle brackets?

It just means "put in new wires". Yes it might logically incorrect, and perhaps a mistake, but it is a mistake of fact, and not a mistake of grammar. It seems a common enough use. Here is ...
  • 158k
1 vote
Accepted

The meaning of "brittle humor"

“Brittle wit” or “brittle humor” is difficult to explain but Collins Dictionary makes a stab at it: Someone who is brittle seems rather sharp and insensitive and says things which are likely to hurt ...
1 vote
Accepted

How to express 3 people are coming tomorrow

Whenever there is concern about possible misunderstanding, say it differently. In this case, rather than: name-1, name-2, and name-3 are in which might make one wonder "are in what?", you ...
1 vote

What does "to a skin-crawling effect" mean?

Expressions like Something happens with or to adjective effect mean that the event or action at the beginning causes an effect described by the adjective. The text you quoted means '"His ...
1 vote
Accepted

What does "to a skin-crawling effect" mean?

"His lascivious eyes flicker over you to skin-crawling effect." Does this mean that his eyes flickered over him you with the result that his your skin crawled? Yes. Although I would say &...
  • 1,535

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