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Taking ourselves too seriously???

Posted by Lotg on December 15, 2003

In Reply to: Swearing off English posted by ESC on December 14, 2003

: : : : : : : : hi,
: : : : : : : : need to know the meaning to the following phrases, could you give examples?..Thank you.

: : : : : : : : 1.The Orwellian qualities.

: : : : : : : : 2.en masse.

: : : : : : : : 3.witch-hunt.

: : : : : : : : shore up its position.

: : : : : : : : 5.veggie libel.

: : : : : : : : 6.clean-cut couple.

: : : : : : : : 7.her biggest hold on fame.

: : : : : : : : 8.has come full circle.

: : : : : : : : 9.trail-blazing female.

: : : : : : : : 10.lurch into

: : : : : : : : 11.booby-traped assignment.

: : : : : : : : 12.spelled out red lines.

: : : : : : : : 13.trotted out some cold war rhetoric.

: : : : : : : : don't poke a lion.

: : : : : : : : 15.calling the shots in the current crises.

: : : : : : : : fend off someone.

: : : : : : : : 17.grinding down his economy.

: : : : : : : : worked the phones.

: : : : : : : : facto

: : : : : : : : gobble something up and move on

: : : : : : : Nope, I can't help you this time. Maybe someone else can. I am still waiting for some acknowledgement from you for the last time you asked for help. Several people, including me, gave you information on 147 phrases. Never heard a word from you.

: : : : : : Kathaab, I would be glad to help, but my band-aids would not solve the basic problem, nor could the combined efforts of the Phrase Finder gang. You obviously are not a native English-speaker, and you need a strategy for extending your knowledge of the language. Many of the words and phrases you have asked about are easily available in almost any dictionary. You need, besides a good dictionary, an immersion program in English, or any course at all in English literature that has a professor willing to explain allusions, or even a reading program in English literature just for yourself. English isn't easy, but it's not that hard, either. Keep in touch. SS

: : : : : Kathaab, the people who answer questions here aren't paid. We give our time because we like language, we like to help people, or both. That may help to explain why some of us set limits on how much we're willing to do.

: : : : And setting limits -- boundaries -- on what we're willing to do here is a healthy action, it shows we value ourselves enough not to feel that we MUST comply with requests.

: : : ESC..if you see carefully, I do say THANK YOU at the end of the question..anyway if you don't want to help, that's fine with me..I can forget about the english language all together..I don't need it..GOODBYE.

: : Just because you said 'thank you' after your initial request doesn't excuse you from thanking people for the (really extraordinary) effort they put in on your behalf. You may not need the English language but you certainly need a lesson in common courtesy. I think you'll find it applies no matter what language you speak.

: I feel a little bad that the postee has sworn off English all together.

I've only just joined this thread and I'm amazed at this strangely strong response to something that looks reasonably harmless to me, and could probably be dealt with in a more relaxed way. But hey, I'm an Aussie, and we like to relax. So sit back, pour yourself a glass of red (or whatever your poison), relax and read on...

Kathaab, I think the issue here (although I'm not entirely sure), is that if everyone posted 20 questions each, it would be tough going, although I don't really think it warrants the emotional response I see here. But I've made an attempt to answer your questions, and I have to admit it was very time consuming, so I suppose it's more logical and reasonable for everyone to limit their posts to say one or two questions at a time.

But here's my attempt to answer some of these.

1. Orwellian, as in George Orwell. The following example might help to explain. It's taken from a Discussion Group Report by Richard Layton in October 2003, entitled, "Is America Becoming Orwellian?". This might assist you in understanding the term 'Orwellian qualities':

George Orwell in his classic book, 1984 , depicted a world in which humans had given up their liberties to become the minions of an all-powerful elite. The story suggests that people tend to have an inability to resist tyranny. They have an inclination to give up liberty to obtain security and happiness. The media of 1984 are broadcast technology imagined as totally in the service of the state, and no different from the media of Saddam Hussein's Iraq or of today's North Korea.

As the control of the media in our own country is coming more and more under the control of fewer and fewer people because of a loosening of regulations that help guarantee freedom of the press, are we becoming more and more a controlled society?

Now the above example might cause you to query some other words used in the example, but I suggest you try some of the dictionaries I've mentioned at the end of my offering (and any others that could be provided by other interested parties), before hitting the Phrase Finders. I used some of these dictionaries to answer some of these questions.

2. as a whole

3. searching out & deliberately harrassing someone who's views differ from the norm

4. bolster, support, sustain

5. ???

6. wholesome couple

7. ???

8. This one's from When something "comes full circle," it completes a cycle, returns to its beginnings: "The novelist's vision of human life has come full circle-from optimism to pessimism and back to optimism again."

9. dynamic, pioneering female, a female who has paved the way for something new and set new dramatic standards

10. move suddenly and abruptly forward into something

11. a trap for the unsuspecting or unwary

12. not sure about the red lines bit, but to 'spell something out' is to make something explicit or specify something in detail

13. I've never heard this and would need to hear it in context, but I'll try to split it up into parts...

trotted out: brought forward for display

Cold war: a conflict over ideological differences carried on by methods short of sustained overt military action and usually without breaking off diplomatic relations

rhetoric: effective use of speech

14. you don't poke a lion: never heard this one before, but it sounds like it means, don't tempt fate, don't take stupid risks, poking a lion just has to be asking for trouble - eg. like asking 20 questions at once on this site - he he.

15. to be in control, to be in charge, to make decisions... in the current crises

16. to ward off or repel someone

17. ???

18. can't find a definition, but in my opinion, it means to take and manage several phone calls. I would expect this to be used say in a marketing situation, where there might be an advertising campaign, and it's necessary for someone to take all the phone calls that arise from that advertising, or maybe a telethon, etc.

19. actual, but not formally recognized, eg. defacto relationsip, means people living together as if wedded, without being formally wedded.

20. ???

OK, well that's my best effort for now.

Meanwhile Kathaab, to reduce some of the pain and drama, try a couple of the websites below, they could give you some clues too.
eg.,, (this is a good one, because it can search several dictionaries at once),

Don't give up on the English language. As you've no doubt often seen, we often misunderstand ourselves and each other too - aint that the truth!!!