John Walsh gives his view on the meanings of English words…
Given the breakdown (or break-up) of the single dictionary definition as an authority, is it still possible to answer the question “What is the meaning of (a word or phrase)”? The role of the dictionary has been superseded by the new authority, usage, and by the time you have added in factors such as colloquial and idiomatic use, register, pragmatics, formal and informal, spoken or written, context, and a whole host of other influences, I feel the task of answering the question is nigh on impossible. I write not from the view of a grumpy old grammarian but more as someone with feeling for those trying to learn our vibrant developing language where the linguistic goalposts are constantly moving.
John H Walsh
The Bournemouth English Book Centre Ltd (BEBC)