Questions tagged [meaning]

Questions regarding the meaning of certain terms of phrases used in a work of literature. If your question concerns the symbolic significance of something whose surface meaning is clear, use the [symbolism] tag instead.

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What's meant by “stamp-hunt” in “The Just Men of Cordova”?

In chapter 10 of The Just Men of Cordova (1917) by Edgar Wallace, the author was describing an employer, Jakobs, who usually stole unconsidered stamps and such loose coinage as might be found in the ...
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Why do Albanians “take life whenever they get the opportunity”?

In Reginald on Tariffs, Saki writes: I’m not going to discuss the Fiscal Question (said Reginald); I wish to be original. At the same time, I think one suffers more than one realises from the system ...
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Did “drink to someone” imply the same thing back then?

In a popular song Drink To Me Only with Thine Eyes, first published in 1616 as To Celia by Ben Jonson, did the phrase drink to someone mean the same thing as nowadays, i.e. to say cheers for someone? ...
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Why would the indigo factory's steward be a messenger of death?

Chapter XI of My Boyhood Days (1940; ছেলেবেলা / Chhelebela in Bengali) contains the following passage: The old indigo factory was still standing, with the river Padma in the distance. The zemindari ...
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What's meant by “man of some character” in “The Just Men of Cordova”?

From the beginning of chapter 10 of The Just Men of Cordova (1917) by Edgar Wallace: There was living at Somers Town at that time a little man named Jakobs. He was a man of some character, albeit an ...
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What does cuatro cantos refer to?

In Nick Joaquin's story "Cándido's Apocalypse", Pete Henson tells Bobby, the story's main character, that "Joey Perez and some fellows went joyriding and dog-hunting and they caught a ...
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What has the “younger son” to do with “cow-punching on the pampas”? in “The Just Men of Cordova”

From chapter 9 of The Just Men of Cordova (1917) by Edgar Wallace: “A gentleman and a policeman?” asked the earl incredulously. Horace nodded. “A new profession for the younger son, eh?” remarked ...
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What did Shakespeare mean in King Richard III when he said that ‘G’ Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be?

Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams, To set my brother Clarence and the King In deadly hate, the one against the other: And if King Edward be as true and ...
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What does ‘Kung mapatay di madeadball ’ mean?

In Nick Joaquin's story "Cándido's Apocalypse", the 17-year-old Bobby starts behaving rather strangely. After going "stowaway" and being brought back home, he wakes up the next ...
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What does 'por bida man guid' mean?

In Nick Joaquin's story "The Order of Melchizedek", Sid and Mrs. Borja are trying to retrieve a card that Sid had pushed down an edge of the upholstery in a taxi. The girl who has washed the ...
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761 views

What does “It is not meet” mean in “Idylls of the King”?

From Idylls of the King: The Passing of Arthur by Alfred Tennyson: To him replied the bold Sir Bedivere: 'It is not meet, Sir King, to leave thee thus, Aidless, alone, and smitten through the helm— A ...
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What could “lavender-bag ancestors” mean in Ted Hughes' “Crow Improvises”?

In "Crow Improvises" (text version), the protagonist conjoins a list of disparate objects, where each pair of objects ignites a spark. Putting aside the symbolic meaning of each object, it ...
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Meaning of “Chaos” spoken by Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III)?

In Shakespeare's King Henry 6 part 3, we are truly introduced to that devilishly delightful Richard for the first time by means of his first and longest soliloquy wherein he introduces to the audience ...
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What are “deadly voids and unbidden infidelities” in “Moby-Dick”?

From chapter 7 ("The Chapel") of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville: Oh! ye whose dead lie buried beneath the green grass; who standing among flowers can say—here, here lies my beloved; ye know ...
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What's meant by “melancholy point work” in “The Just Men of Cordova”?

In chapter 6 of The Just Men of Cordova by Edgar Wallace, the author was describing a young boxer constable and his work under his bad superior. Frank Fellowe was agitating a punch-ball in one of the ...
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What does “half-primitive vigor” mean?

In the short story The Planet of the Dead by Clark Ashton Smith, I would like to understand the meaning of "half-primitive vigor": He had lived as an intellectual sybarite; and by virtue of ...
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What's meant by “in the symbol of windows and of doors” in “The Dagger with Wings”?

In "The Dagger with Wings" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing a situation where Father Brown was sitting in a central room with a staircase leading up from it on one side and a door ...
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What is “the waste” and why is it “no whit lesser than thy land” in “Richard II”?‎

What do these lines mean, in Shakespeare's Richard II (act II, scene 1)? A thousand flatterers sit within thy crown, Whose compass is no bigger than thy head; And yet, incaged in so small a verge, ...
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What is “the Segregation of the Queen” in “His Last Bow”?

I’d like to ask about a sentence in "His Last Bow" by Arthur Conan Doyle. Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with Some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen. I’d like to make sure ...
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What is Watson's “old service” in “His Last Bow”?

I’d like to ask about a sentence in "His Last Bow" by Arthur Conan Doyle. As to you, Watson, you are joining us with your old service, as I understand, so London won’t be out of your way. ...
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Implication of “your four-in-hand takes the prize” in “His Last Bow”

I’d like to ask about a sentence in "His Last Bow" by Arthur Conan Doyle. You yacht against them, you hunt with them, you play polo, you match them in every game, your four-in-hand takes ...
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The meaning of the poem “Be Different to Trees”

I'm studying the poem "Be Different to Trees" (1924) by Mary Carolyn Davies: The talking oak To the ancients spoke. But any tree Will talk to me. What truths I know I garnered so. ...
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1answer
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Why did Johnson scoff those “who toil at the lower employments of life” in the preface to his dictionary?

In A Temple of Texts, William Gass writes: In the preface to his Dictionary, Dr. Johnson whines (another persistent feature of the genre)—“It is the fate of those who toil at the lower employments of ...
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The Winter's Tale, Act 2 scene 3, lines 104-108. What do these lines mean?

Paulina, a wife of one of the aristocrats, speaks these lines to Leontes in The Winter's Tale: And thou, good goddess Nature, which hast made it So like to him that got it, if thou hast The ...
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What is a Pehliva?

The word "Pehliva" is used several times in the third part of the Shahnameh (Helen Zimmern translation), particularly to refer to Sam/Saum, apparently a ruler in Seistan (which I thought ...
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What does 'you med ask' mean, from “Jude the Obscure”?

In part first, II, I see this line: "And who's he?" asked one, comparatively a stranger, when the boy entered. "Well, ye med ask it, Mrs. Williams. He's my great-nephew—come since you was ...
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What is the meaning and significance of “urubutinga” in Mário de Andrade's “O lundu do escritor difícil”

The title is suggestive enough to elicit an understanding that Andrade probably purposefully made this poem difficult to read for people who are not familiar with Tupi culture. A conscious effort of ...
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150 views

What are “rubber notations” in “The Just Men of Cordova”?

In chapter 2 of The Just Men of Cordova by Edgar Wallace, the author was describing a business man in London: His was a name to conjure with in certain circles. In others it was never mentioned. The ...
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1answer
49 views

What does Edgar Allan Poe mean by “supererogation is not presumable of any Divine Act”?

I am reading Edgar Allan Poe's Eureka: A Prose Poem, "an essay on the material and spiritual universe". I have come across a sentence where I can't get what the author is trying to say. It ...
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Meaning of “gambled” in “whose wasted right hand gambled against his left” (Aurora Leigh)

From Aurora Leigh - what is the meaning of gambled here? It's hard to understand. I first thought his wasted right hand was somehow pinned to his left one using the brass button, but the dictionaries ...
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What does “raised waves in my mind” mean in Tagore's “At the End of the Day”?

In Rabindranath Tagore's "At the End of the Day", there's one stanza that goes like this: To you I only pray – Before I go let me know Looking at the sky Why mother earth so green Gave me a ...
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1answer
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What does “follow him even in thought” mean in “The Vampire of the Village”?

In "The Vampire of the Village" by G. K. Chesterton, the author was describing Father Brown while visiting some persons, saying: The conversation of Miss Carstairs-Carew, on whom he called ...
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2answers
471 views

What does “at all” mean in “The Vampire of the Village”?

In "The Vampire of the Village" by G. K. Chesterton, Father Brown was talking about an old parson and his son, saying: ‘I mean,’ said Father Brown, ‘that the son still speaks of his father ...
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What's meant by “It would be almost irregular, if the clergyman’s son were quite regular”?

In "The Vampire of the Village" by G. K. Chesterton, Dr. Mulborough was talking to Father Brown about a Great Scandal in their village, while they were going to a village by a train, saying: ...
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Why was the narrator left alone on the shore in Tagore's “Sonar Tari”?

Rabindranath Tagore's poem 'Sonar Tari', written in Bengali, was translated into English as 'The Golden Boat'. The last stanza reads: ঠাঁই নাই, ঠাঁই নাই! ছােট সে তরী আমারি সােনার ধানে গিয়েছে ভরি’। ...
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What does “on his dignity with” mean in “The Case of the White Footprints”?

In "The Case of the White Footprints" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, a woman was talking to a detective about a situation in her hotel, saying: Mr. Bergson wasn't drunk, ...
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What does “precious rascals” mean in “The Blue Scarab”?

In "The Blue Scarab" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, Mr. Blowgrave, whose deed-box was stolen, was talking to Dr. Thorndyke: "The story concerns my great-grandfather ...
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1answer
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What do “fairish man” & “rich complexion” mean in “The New Jersey Sphinx”?

In "The New Jersey Sphinx" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, Thorndyke went to a porter to know the vacant chambers to let, and asked him whether it's quiet: "Quiet?&...
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Why did the stars throw down their spears?

William Blake's poem “The Tyger” from Songs of Experience contains one couplet whose meaning has always puzzled me, lines 17–18, the first two lines of the fifth stanza: When the stars threw ...
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An undecipherable part of 'Goldfish' by Raymond Chandler

"Listen," Sunset complained. "I don't know you from last Sunday's sports section. You may be all to the silk. I just don't know." "Why'd you brace me?" I asked. "You had the word, didn't you?" ...
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What are “half-tips to the heels” in “The Touchstone”?

In "The Touchstone" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, Thorndyke and his friend, Gervis, found a print of a boot with an iron toe-tip on loam soil, then they found another ...
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1answer
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Does “trampling” mean “violence” or “attack” in “The Touchstone”?

In "The Touchstone" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, Thorndyke went to an old disused chalk-pit, where a dead man found after he fall from above path, the edges of which ...
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1answer
59 views

What is “the seventh sphere”?

In the second part (Helen Zimmern's translation) of the Shahnameh, the youngest son Irij is killed by his brothers, who send his head back to their father Feridoun: Now when they were come to the ...
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1answer
57 views

What does “unlikely neighbourhood” mean in “A Fisher of Men”?

In "A Fisher of Men" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, Thorndyke was talking about a man who went to visit another one who wants to buy his expensive necklace, saying: &...
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1answer
122 views

What does “walk for a wager” mean in “A Fisher of Men”?

In "A Fisher of Men" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, Dr. Jervis was digging the earth with his friend, while they saw a stranger man coming along the path, then that man ...
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1answer
58 views

What is the meaning of the Benjamin the donkey's cryptic answer?

George Orwell's Animal Farm contains the following passage in chapter 3: When asked whether he was not happier now that Jones was gone, he would say only “Donkeys live a long time. None of you has ...
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What does “on the top of the spring tide” mean in “Stolen Ingots”?

In "Stolen Ingots" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, Mr. Badger was standing on a bridge watching a barge and brawley “Yes. There’s a little ramshackle bawley from Leigh—...
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1answer
36 views

What's meant by “her sails over the land!” in “Stolen Ingots”?

In "Stolen Ingots" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, there was a boat that chases a barge in a tidal river and amongst muddy banks: Meanwhile the fugitive barge, having got ...
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32 views

Meaning of “profitably watch the expression on the face of a ship's figure” in “Stolen Ingots”?

In "Stolen Ingots" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman,the chief officer and the inspector were insisting on that they have captured the stolen ingots, but Thorndyke was a bit ...
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What does “heavily-leaded” mean in “The Funeral Pyre”?

In "The Funeral Pyre" in Dr. Thorndyke's Case-Book by R. Austin Freeman, Gervis and Thorndyke were at the station where they found the bookstall keeper in the act of sticking up a placard of ...

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