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. Please add specific tags as well: for the author (if known), the language (if not English), and either the work itself (if long) or the [poetry] or [short-stories] tags for short works.

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1answer
825 views

Explain the third stanza of Donne's “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning”?

This is the third stanza of John Donne's "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning": Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears, Men reckon what it did, and meant; But trepidation of the spheres, ...
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318 views

What does “once removed either way” mean?

From Book I Chapter 1 of The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien: Mr. Drogo married poor Miss Primula Brandybuck. She was our Mr. Bilbo's first cousin on the mother's side (her mother being ...
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1answer
178 views

What does “set out fair and square” mean in the characterization of the Hobbits?

This is taken from from The Fellowship of the Ring prologue where JRRT lays out some of the characteristics of Hobbits: The genealogical trees at the end of the Red Book of Westmarch are a small ...
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1answer
246 views

What do “nothing that lived” and “doughty at bay” mean?

The following quote is from the chapter "Concerning Hobbits" in The Fellowship of the Ring: Though slow to quarrel, and for sport killing nothing that lived, they were doughty at bay, and at need ...
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2answers
262 views

What does “rough handling by grief” mean in “The Fellowship of the Ring”?

From the Prologue ("Concerning Hobbits") to The Fellowship of the Ring (1954) by J. R. R. Tolkien: Nonetheless, ease and peace had left this people still curiously tough. They were, if it came to ...
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What does “they were in name his subjects” mean?

While there was still a king they were in name his subjects, but they were, in fact, ruled by their own chieftains and meddled not at all with events in the world outside. What does "they were in ...
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1answer
117 views

What does “reckoning of years” mean?

About this time legend among the Hobbits first becomes history with a reckoning of years. What does "reckoning of years" mean in this passage from The Lord of the Rings?
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1answer
161 views

Meaning of “tally” in Whitman's “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”

From "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d" by Walt Whitman: To the tally of my soul, Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird, With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night. ...
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1answer
126 views

Meaning of these dialect words and phrases from Artemus Ward, “On Forts”

I'm not a native English speaker and cannot get the full meaning of this part of Artemus Ward's work named "On Forts". I have highlighted difficult words: It is rarely seldum that I seek ...
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1answer
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Meaning of “cloudless at dawn” and connection with Shakespeare's head?

I was reading one of the master-pieces by Stephen Spender, "An Elementary School Classroom in a Slum". Following are the starting lines of the second of four octaves: Our sour cream walls, ...
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1answer
128 views

What is the meaning of “editorial novelist” and “literary dude”?

Could someone please answer the following questions? 1- What is an “editorial novelist”? 2- What does “dude” and “literary dude” mean in the following passages: All are mentioned in a New Yorker ...
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1answer
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What does “hold” mean in this context from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein?

his grief only became more deep and rankling when he had leisure for reflection, and at length it took so fast hold of his mind that at the end of three months he lay on a bed of sickness What does "...
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meaning of 'dash about'

"That is a very dreadful story," said the Padre. "Very," said I, "and there are some rather odd points about it. Did commercial travellers dash about in motorcars when Popper ...
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1answer
131 views

What does “cold died beyond knowledge” mean in Ted Hughes' “Owl's Song”?

In Ted Hughes' "Owl's Song" (in Crow collection), the last line of the first verse seems quite obscure: He sang how the swan blanched forever How the wolf threw away its telltale heart And ...
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1answer
267 views

What does H. G. Wells means by “Subject Races” in The War in the Air?

The term "Subject Races" is used a few times in H. G. Wells's novel The War in the Air. I have been looking around but only found a paper called "The Treatment of Subject Races", is this related?
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1answer
468 views

Conclusion of 'The Trial for Murder' by Charles Dickens

What does the last quote of the short story 'The Trial for Murder' mean? Why did the 'Murderer' says [...] Before I was taken, he somehow got to my bedside in the night, woke me, and put a rope ...
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83 views

What does Walt Whitman mean by “going in for my chances”?

From "Song of Myself" by Walt Whitman: What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me, Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns, Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first ...
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1answer
55 views

What is the meaning of “decorator” and “got up in”?

The following text is an excerpt from "Wifey Redux" by Kevin Barry: I sighed and left the den. The way it worked, Ellie had the use of the sitting room down back of the ground floor; no teenager ...
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1answer
64 views

How to understand “ eight million quids’ worth of dental work”

The following sentence is taken from Wifey Redux by Kevin Barry: "He was seventeen, six two, with blonde, floppy hair, and about eight million quids’ worth of dental work." How to understand the ...
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2answers
86 views

How to understand the title “Wifey Redux”

"Wifey Redux" is a short story by Kevin Barry and I am at a loss as to what the author meant by that title. Literally, it means Wifey Brought Back, but there is no indication in the story which ...
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1answer
212 views

“inlooped flags” in Whitman's poem

What is the meaning of "inlooped flags" in a poem of Whitman (When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd)? He is describing the Lincoln funeral: Coffin that passes through lanes and streets, ...
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1answer
54 views

What is the Distracted Preacher never anxious to do in this long sentence?

In Hardy's The Distracted Preacher, the first page has this really long sentence: But when those of the inhabitants who styled themselves of his connection became acquainted with him, they were ...
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121 views

“…the gallant vessel on its course and wrecked it—thus!”

How do I understand explicitly the meaning of this last sentence from the fourth letter of Frankenstein? Why would the ship be "wrecked" when it was not? Also, how do I account for the usage ...
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1answer
103 views

What is meant by 'patient' in Hamlet's famous soliloquy?

The insolence of office and the spurns That patient merit of the unworthy takes, When he himself might his quietus make With a bare bodkin? Is there a veracious etymological basis for the ...
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2answers
61 views

How to understand the meaning of “ Columbine types” and “sniper material”?

The following is an excerpt from Wifey Redux by Kevin Barry: "He wasn’t her usual type, so immediately I was worried. The usual type – so far as it had been established – was black-clad, pale-...
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1answer
221 views

What does “ongtray” mean?

In "The Bird with a Broken Wing," part of Agatha Christie's story collection, The Mysterious Mr Quin, Inspector Winkfield tells Mr Satterthwaite: Must find out what terms they were on. That’s ...
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1answer
71 views

How to understand “made a picture” and “dates can work out”?

The following sentence is an excerpt from "Wifey Redux" by Kevin Barry: And we made a picture – I was a gorgeous kid myself. A Matt Dillon-type, people used to say, which dates me. But your dates ...
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2answers
274 views

The meaning of the poem “Crucified” by Kahlil Gibran

I am a high school student, and my assignment was to find intertextuality of the crucifixion of Christ and write a reflection about it. I was surfing on the web, and found a poem called "Crucified" ...
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1answer
64 views

Who does “he” refer to in this passage from Les Miserables?

In the following passage from Les Miserables, with characters Mr. Thenardier and Jean Valjean, who does the bold "he" refer to? Be that as it may, on entering into conversation with the man, sure ...
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1answer
1k views

In “Howl”, what does “Blake-light tragedy” mean?

In the passage from Ginsberg's Howl: who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war How does the hyphen in Blake-...
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1answer
237 views

Deeper meaning of Richard Siken's quote

The following quote from Richard Siken comes from an interview with James Hall: Eventually something you love is going to be taken away. And then you will fall to the floor crying. And then, however ...
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2answers
117 views

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 does “fail us” mean in the book “Pachinko”?

I just began reading the book "Pachinko," and it starts thus: History failed us, but no matter. At the turn of the century, an aging fisherman and his wife decided to take in lodgers for ...
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1answer
41 views

Why is the be-verb here infinitive in “the Female Persuasion”?

I have been reading a book titled "the Female Persuasion." There is a phrase with a infinitive be-verb, which I am curious about why "be" should be instead of am. "I wasn't ...
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1answer
84 views

Meaning of “and a good halfpenny where 'twas a bad one” in Thomas Hardy's “Far from the Madding Crowd”

From Far from the Madding Crowd, from the scene in which Bathsheba is paying her workers their wages: "What do you do on the farm?" "I do do carting things all the year, and in seed time I shoots ...
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1answer
1k views

What's the meaning of the last two sentences in Macbeth, Act 4, Scene 3?

Here, Malcolm is talking to Macduff as they are now determined to overthrow Macbeth. Generally speaking, I know what is going on but I'm not sure what Malcolm means by "cheer" and "...
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1answer
35 views

What does “pick up shop” mean in “Hillbilly Elegy”?

Let me share some part of the book, and I would appreciate if you give me the answer to my question. There were undoubtedly many of these children and grandchildren, as hillbillies tended to have ...
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1answer
100 views

What does “get to” mean in “Hillbilly Elegy”?

I have been reading a book titled "Hillbilly Elegy," and I have its Korean translation too. But at some part, especially which I am curious about in meaning, the translation seems so ...
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1answer
737 views

What does it mean when Ralph is thinking about Piggy's death in Lord of the Flies by Golding

I have a question about this quote: "He yearned for a bed and sheets- but the only whiteness here was the slow spilt milk, luminous round the rock forty feet below, where Piggy had fallen. Piggy ...
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0answers
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What does Athena’s statement to Zeus at the beginning of The Odyssey reveal?

I was told to analyze this passage in book 1 of The Odyssey, having read only books 1-4: And sparkling-eyed Athena drove the matter home: “Father, son of Cronus, our high and mighty king, surely he ...
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1answer
57 views

In Kipps, what does H. G. Wells mean by “colonial meat by contract at threepence a pound”?

I came across this following sentence in H. G. Wells' Kipps and I don't understand what it means. What he put into Kipps was chiefly bread and margarine, infusions of chicory and tea-dust, colonial ...
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1answer
48 views

What does H. G. Wells mean by “ha'penny longcloth to sell, he put it thus to startled customers: 'Can DO you one, six half if y' like.”?

I'm having trouble deciphering what appears to be a string of colloquialisms in H. G. Wells' novel Kipps. The passage in question describes a business owner Mr. Shalford, and it goes as follows: He ...
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5answers
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Meaning/translation of title “The Light Fantastic” by Terry Pratchett

I have read The Light Fantastic by Terry Pratchett in English and always interpreted the title as "The Fantastic (adjective) light (noun)". Mostly because I do not see "Fantastic" as noun. To my ...
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1answer
64 views

What does H. G. Wells mean by “He had added to exceptional business 'push', bankruptcy under the old dispensation, and judicious matrimony.”?

I encountered this following sentence while reading the second chapter of H. G. Wells' novel Kipps. He was an irascible, energetic little man, with hairy hands, for the most part under his coat ...
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1answer
162 views

In Master and Commander, why is the cook told to put his pans upside down?

In Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander, during the encounter with the Cacafuego, Aubrey says the following to Ellis: "Cut along to the galley. Tell the cook to put all his dirty pans and coppers ...
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1answer
175 views

What does Neruda mean when he says ‘Maybe January light will consume My heart with its cruel Ray.’?

I’ve been a fan of Neruda for a while now. In his Sonnet LXVI: I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You, he says: Maybe January light will consume My heart with its cruel Ray, stealing my ...
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1answer
66 views

What did H. G. Wells mean by “Manifestly their line lay straight along the lane to the sea”?

I've been reading Kipps by H. G. Wells, and I came across this sentence, which I am having trouble understanding. They (the protagonist Kipps and his friend Sid) proceeded to the question of how ...
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1answer
326 views

“to give a bloody for someone”? what does that mean?

There is a song: Fare Three Well (Dink's Song) performed by Marcus Mumford & Oscar Isaac for the movie ''Inside Llewyn Davis'' (...) If I had wings like Noah's dove I'd fly the ...
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2answers
902 views

What's the meaning of “give someone the lie” in Macbeth?

As I have noticed there are multiple interpretations of the following lines from William Shakespeare 's Macbeth. For example, "drink gave thee the lie" has been interpreted as diversely as "deceived ...
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1answer
45 views

What does “ought to make a good thing out of this” mean in “New Grub Street”?

I would like to know what "ought to make a good thing out of this" means in the following passage: His utterance of the name ‘Mr Fadge’ sufficiently intimated that he had some cause of personal ...

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