31

I don't think "to have a parsnip" is at all related to the meaning here. Rather, this is figurative language. These are parsnips: As you can see, parsnips do not have any color. They aren't particularly interesting or "dynamic" either. Since parsnips have no color or dynamism, "all the color and dynamism of a parsnip" is ...


28

One of the big problems in written English is representing spoken conversation. When someone speaks, they typically emphasize certain words. HTML even provides a tag for this: The placement of stress emphasis changes the meaning of the sentence. The element thus forms an integral part of the content. The precise way in which stress is used in this way ...


13

You're right, "I'm glad you think it's funny" is used sarcastically. It is almost always used in that way. For example, if I trip and fall and you start laughing, I might say to you: "I'm glad you think it's funny." Presumably Athena is laughing at Dexter's having been caught in a tedious conversation, and he is responding to her laughter ...


11

The meaning of "as it was" has been asked about on the English Language & Usage Stack Exchange site in 2013: Meaning of “as it was” in context. In short, "as it was" is the past tense of "as it is", here used in the second of the two senses given by Merriam-Webster: 2 : with the situation that exists now We have enough to ...


8

The sentences you quote appear to be straightforwardly literal rather than metaphorical. The father was walking away simply means that in the picture, the older man is walking while facing away from the child. Side-on from Vicki's description means he's in profile. Yes, Vicki imagines that since the man is walking away from the child, he could keep moving ...


8

They're inventing a joke story based on puns. Elizabeth says "Mosquito Girls' High" and then the two girls proceed to make a number of jokes and puns based around insects, starting from the "Mosquito" in the name of the school. The reason why they suddenly break into such jokes is presumably in an attempt to relax their anxiety about the ...


7

In context, it surely means clearing phlegm from the throat and spitting. There are a few meanings of the word "hawk", but just two main meanings (or collections of related meanings) as an intransitive verb, and one of them doesn't really fit here: to hunt birds by means of a trained hawk (see hawk entry 1 sense 1) : to practice falconry to soar ...


6

Yes, it means Dexter was walking quickly, albeit in a bandy or bow-legged fashion. To keep pace means not to fall behind or go ahead of someone you're walking or running with, so it means that they easily were able to keep up with each other without either of them going too quickly or too slowly for the other. I think touching simply means that they walked ...


6

Yes, your understanding is correct. If she had not been half-drunk, she would have felt guilty about the untidiness of the room. But because the drink subdues her ability to feel emotions clearly, she experiences that guilt only vicariously, as though she was observing somebody else feeling guilty rather than feeling it herself.


6

The context of the quoted passage is that Dexter found, in a magazine, a photograph of the poet Tennyson, his wife and their two sons walking in the garden of their house on the Isle of Wight. So we can be confident that this is the photo: It was taken c. 1862 at Farringford House on the Isle of Wight, and from left to right shows Hallam Tennyson (1852–...


5

Gareth Rees found the photo itself, which answers your question about the meaning, but let's also clear up any doubt about grammatical ambiguity of the phrase. You asked whether "light shows between his tightly buttoned torso and his father’s leg" could mean either of the following: There is light between his tightly buttoned torso and his father’...


5

Her sexual life is solitary: This bit is important, it sets the context for the rest. 'Her sexual life is solitary'. A solitary sexual life is one that does not include a partner, so it needs must include masturbation. This clause is followed by a colon. So what is the colon doing? Between independent clauses when the second explains or illustrates the ...


4

It means the former: he screamed "Eeeee!" in a high voice that echoed in his skull. There are six main areas of vocal resonance in the human body. Of these six, one is the upper skull. In speaking or singing, the skull cavity is used to produce very high vocal pitch. Billy's shriek is therefore high up in his skull.


4

To press someone is to try hard to get a response from them. See sense 6b of the verb press in Merriam-Webster: to insist on or request urgently. When Athena tries to get an answer from the man, he avoids a straightforward response. All his statements disagree with anything she says, even if they contradict what he himself has said previously. He says ...


4

This is Australian spoken English and the phrase is fairly common. I would argue "I'm glad you think it's funny" in this context is meant both ways by the character. It's both "I'm glad you think it's funny" [because I don't] and "I'm glad you think it's funny" [because at least one person got enjoyment out of it]. They're not ...


4

The phrase "the kind of woman who’d throw round terms like the orthodox feminist position" does not imply that the woman in question is a feminist, or talks like a feminist, but simply that she uses words such as "the orthodox feminist position". This is a fancy, academic-sounding term. Since the woman has a "desire to impress" ...


4

Vicki observes that Dexter eats in an incredibly sloppy, even disgusting, way. She thinks that the worst thing about the entire situation is the way he eats; he could not possibly be any more off-putting. Nothing at all could match the awfulness of his table manners. So you are correct: Vicki is thinking that "now things can only get better," ...


4

Sometimes you have to bring a little imagination to your interpretation of a work. This author seems to use a lot of non-standard similes and imagery in her work, so there will not always be a straightforward source to point you at, and any interpretation you read here may not be exactly what the author was thinking of when she wrote it. To me the line about ...


3

This is meant sarcastically. A more accurate word than sarcasm would be antiphrasis. Antiphrasis is the rhetorical device of saying the opposite of what is actually meant in such a way that it is obvious what the true intention is.


3

Apricot here is a color, the color of the horizon as the sun was setting.


3

Set means, assuming these people are in a band, means the group of songs they perform. Rather than take a break after each song, or not take a break at all they take a break between each ‘set’. ‘Mazing’ just represents his pronunciation of ‘amazing’, some people say it that way. The mild stammer may be a factor but that isn’t necessary to explain the ...


3

“The blushing apricot, and woolly peach. Hang on thy walls, that every child may reach.” This presumably refers to espaliered fruit trees, which are trained to grow flat against a wall, tied to a trellis; the lowest branches would be low enough for a small child to reach. Quoting Wikipedia: Espalier as a technique seems to have started with the ancient ...


3

Your understanding of the "repeated the performance in his language" is correct. The word "performance" is being used in sense 4 of the Dictionary.com definition: a particular action, deed, or proceeding So yes, the Italian repeats the Greek's actions, probably using the same diagrams, to describe the "government’s health scheme&...


3

The sentence means: In the way he stood with his feet placed widely apart, and in his belief that people would naturally want to listen to what he had to say, the boy reminded her of Dexter. I have not read the novel, but I would assume Dexter is the boy's father who is not with them at this point. The boy's body language and mental attitude appears to ...


3

It's not possible to understand the full meaning of this sentence by just giving the meanings of the individual words. It's a simile, and a complicated one at that. You are correct in thinking that "air" is wind and "blood temperature" is "high temperature". As Mary notes, "blood temperature" more specifically connotes ...


3

‘Things can only get better’ is a general phrase expressing optimism for the future after bad experiences. Similar to ‘the only way is up’, it expresses the view that the worst is past and improving circumstances are inevitable. This is a standard phrase with no particular special meaning in context. (Edit: Having dug about a bit more at the plot of this ...


3

Graffiti is often opaque in meaning, it is okay to accept an author’s description of it as purely scene setting. It may not be necessary to know what was in the mind of the person who wrote it. We might each have our own interpretation. My own assumption is that a person called ‘Darren Lourd’ was indulging in some escapism and flirting with the idea that he ...


2

The pronoun "it" in "Then it began again" refers back to "Mrs Fox’s discourse", which is the grammatical subject of the preceding sentence. This discourse is very long (since it "winds on and on through the afternoon"), does not have a guiding idea, is as soothing or calming as the soft speech of a dressmaker. The ...


2

These characters care more about surface-level, outward agreement than true understanding of each other. They want to feel as if they are together and in harmony with each other. They want this even if they must inwardly pretend that the other thinks exactly like them, instead of having an honest conversation about their ideas and values. They travel and ...


2

Exactly. An "imbalance" would indicate a lack of proportion -- he loved her much more than she loved him. I would say -- in view of the "knit meaning" -- that he used the past to interpret his present, so that it did not seem pointless and meaningless. This may not solve problems but it would lend them significance. The anecdotes do ...


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