Topics having to do with multiple meanings of a word or phrase.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

2
votes
2answers
80 views

“I saw him playing football”

In this sentence, is "playing football" a participle phrase describing the object "him", or is "him playing football" all a gerund phrase functioning as the object? The problem with English grammar ...
15
votes
12answers
4k views

Does a “fact” have to be true? [duplicate]

I'm struggling to decide whether to jettison use of the word fact, because the definition appears to be not solid enough to support continued usage. What do I mean by that? Look at one "meaning ...
2
votes
2answers
64 views

To which 'court' does 'courtyard' refer?

courtyard (n.) 1550s, from court (n.) + yard (n.1). Strangely, the OED forgoes the etymology. Wikipedia also is ambiguous. So please disambiguate the meaning of court? I know that court ...
3
votes
1answer
61 views

Is a dark polka dot necktie dark?

In The Syntactic Phenomena of English, McCawley considers the phrase "a dark blue necktie", and concludes that "blue" in that phrase is simultaneously a noun and an adjective. It modifies the noun ...
1
vote
1answer
38 views

Etymology of 'inexorable' : What does 'out' + 'pray' mean?

inexorable (adj.)    1550s, from Middle French inexorable and directly from Latin inexorabilis "that cannot be moved by entreaty," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + exorabilis "able ...
0
votes
1answer
35 views

Writing one academic year to another academic year

I am a bit confused. When do we write 2014-2015 and when do we write 2014-15? Are the two the same? If yes, which is more formal?
3
votes
2answers
93 views

A sentence with double negative [on hold]

I came across the following sentence in Kurt Vonnegut's book Slaughterhouse Five. “Trout would have gone upstairs if Billy hadn't asked him not to.” If this sentence is considered independently, ...
0
votes
0answers
14 views

“elected” vs. “selected” [duplicate]

The board has elected the team members OR The board has selected the team members. Is there a difference between elected and selected in this sentence?
2
votes
2answers
105 views

“She left small pins in the shoes he wore to injure his feet” – is this ambiguous?

She left small pins in all the shoes he wore to injure his feet. I wrote this sentence and I thought it was fine. When I re-read it, the meaning became unclear to me. I want it to mean that she ...
1
vote
1answer
48 views

How do you reconcile these definitions of the word 'cynical'?

From the Google Search dictionary (similar definition at oxforddicationaries): 1.believing that people are motivated purely by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. ...
0
votes
1answer
28 views

Meaning of for in this poetry

The word for creates ambiguous ideas in my native language, so I really can't understand the main objective in this phrase: "Why does she sing her sad songs for me, I'm not the one" It is a verse of ...
2
votes
1answer
47 views

tenant vs lodger meaning

What is the difference between a tenant and a lodger? Both words seem to mean the same, so when is one preferred over the other, or is it a case of different terms to name the same thing?
1
vote
0answers
61 views

What is the correct interpretation of “The state of Computer Vision and AI: we are really, really far” [closed]

There was a recent blog post created with the title "The state of Computer Vision and AI: we are really, really far" which I originally did not think of as ambiguous (I interpreted it as 'we are not ...
0
votes
2answers
21 views

Role Title Word That Conveys a Sense of Direction/Command as well as Engagement of Particular Skills in Work

I'm looking for an eloquent word, if one exists, for a role in one's profession whereby they direct and mentor a team with a particular set of skills, but also clearly engage in work with said skills ...
1
vote
3answers
58 views

Ambiguity of “last” [closed]

I find "last" ambiguous in the following context: I destroyed his report in our last meeting. IMHO, both of the following interpretations make sense: "He can get however pissed he wants; ...
0
votes
4answers
94 views

“learnings” to talk about things that were learned but that were not taught

I understand that the use of learnings is very controversial. Some say you can't use it, while others say, "there is nothing wrong with teachings, so why with learnings?". I want to use learnings not ...
0
votes
3answers
108 views

What word would best represent a combination of being alive, thinking differently, and having atmosphere [closed]

I know it sounds pretty hard to find such a word, but I'm needing a title that flows and is pretty, and attractive. This is a title for a project. The word I'm trying to think of would try to express ...
4
votes
6answers
100 views

In the phrase “No more than two cats or dogs”, how many total pets are possible?

It seems this phrase can be read in two ways: A) No more than 2 (cats or dogs) [2 total] B) No more than 2 cats or (2) dogs [4 total] Does this phrase have a singular meaning, or is it ambiguous?
1
vote
4answers
108 views

What does this sentence mean: “You watched his face crack open and your world shifted, …”?

quoted from: To Forget: The look on your son’s face when you accused him of taking fifty dollars out of your purse. You were so certain; nothing he said could sway you. You watched his face crack ...
5
votes
4answers
231 views

Is “crash into a bend” BrE and must there be a structure at the bend in order to use the phrase?

Includes 10 uses, showing it is far from a one-off phrase. Numbers 4 & 5 (bicycle) and 7, 8, 9, 10 ("everyday usage") are the uses I am most interested in. Question 1 If a vehicle ...
-1
votes
1answer
26 views

Ambiguity using because

Are you feeling hot because my lingerie is cool? What is the speaker asking here? Is the speaker offering advice to someone? Or, perhaps the speaker is asking a question about the cause of a ...
0
votes
0answers
40 views

Is “Positions will be filled starting from August 1st, 2015.” unambiguous?

This is from a job listing for multiple positions, with a submission deadline of May 30th. Does this have an unambigious meaning? I can interpret it in two ways: They will decide upon the suitable ...
3
votes
7answers
306 views

How do I make “X is the thing I wanted to win” unambiguous?

When I say, StackExchange is the website I wanted to win (in an implied context of best website award), it sounds like I wanted to win (own) StackExchange, whereas I'm trying to imply that I wanted ...
0
votes
1answer
40 views

Differences between expressions including [not/no + more/less + than~]

I have read an article on English expressions of comparison on a website in Japanese, however I am still unsure about the content and would like to check if it is correct. It gives 4 examples as ...
0
votes
2answers
60 views

Does “unexpectedly” apply to one or both following verb phrases?

We're having a discussion in a forum on rulings in duplicate bridge. In duplicate bridge, each partnership has their own set of bidding system agreements, and there are regulations that specify that ...
-1
votes
2answers
67 views

Etymology: 'pray in aid'

I wish to delve into the definition, which I already understand and so ask NOT about. I already tried the OED; it doesn't explain 'between the lines'. (See 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary ...
2
votes
1answer
64 views

“Do not rely” on something, does rely focus on never using “something”?

So, I was talking with a friend of mine a little while back about what "relying" on something means. His take was that to "rely" on something was to completely depend on the "something", as in only ...
2
votes
1answer
47 views

Should “unmeasurable” be used to describe missing data due to obstacles in obtaining measurements?

I am seeing the term "unmeasurable" used occasionally to describe measurements that could not be taken due to unusual circumstances. For example, audio qualities might not be measurable if there is a ...
1
vote
2answers
205 views

The meaning of ETA - to origin or to destination?

I'm writing an application with the embedded Uber taxi app functionality. In short, when the user points to a point near his or her location in our app, a Uber button appears, with the following text: ...
0
votes
2answers
48 views

Does vacillation imply intention or a mind? Can non-intelligent things vacillate?

A friend and I are arguing about this. Does vacillation imply a mind? Can a non-intelligent thing vacillate? In the context of video games my friend mentioned that his ping was vacillating. I argued ...
1
vote
2answers
115 views

Why are ambiguous phrases like “ain't no something” still used? [duplicate]

There are some phrases in English that lead to nothing but unnecessary confusion and frustration, especially for non-native speakers. For instance, I've seen the phrase ain't no something being used ...
6
votes
2answers
80 views

Never perhaps did any man suffer death with more justice, or deserve it less

Source: From Alexander Hamilton to Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens, 1780 October 11 ... [Major John André] he ought to be considered as a spy and according to the laws and usages of nations to ...
2
votes
1answer
201 views

Charles Bukowski's “best dick” [closed]

I am reading Charles Bukowski's Pulp and as non-native English speaker I am finding decoding certain expressions challenging. For example the main character, Nicky Belane, often refers to himself ...
3
votes
1answer
235 views

Does 'extraordinary', 'exceptional', 'outstanding' always carry positive connotations nowadays?

When I take the word 'extraordinary', 'exceptional' and 'outstanding' literally, it simply means something 'out of the ordinary', 'rare and/or unusual', or something which 'stands out from the rest', ...
0
votes
2answers
59 views

Using “Oldtimer” for items?

Can I use oldtimer for a place or an item that people get used to using during certain times? For example: That photo booth has become an oldtimer for the fair goers.
-1
votes
1answer
261 views

Words to use instead of 'because' because 'because' is inherently ambiguous

What alternatives do we have other than 'because'? 'Because' guarantees you will be partially understood at best because unmodified uses of the word 'because' could mean 'solely because' or 'partly ...
2
votes
1answer
55 views

Memorable or Recall or what

I used in a sentence: your most memorable dream. I meant it as the dream I thought of first. It was interpreted as the dream which is remembered with the most detail. Memorable means, "worth ...
3
votes
2answers
548 views

One sentence with two meanings! “The door was locked”

I'm learning English. I think the sentence "The door was locked" has two meanings!. I'm very confused. First of all, let's look at this example: I broke the glass (Active) The glass was broken ...
-3
votes
2answers
71 views

a word that is commonly used as either an adjective or a noun [closed]

I'm trying to come up with some sort of play on word, but for that I need a common word that can be used as either a noun or an adjective. here is what I am trying to write: you are a little [word] ...
0
votes
2answers
77 views

What is the difference between “in March” and “by March” [duplicate]

What is the difference between "in March" and "by March". Is there any ?
2
votes
3answers
922 views

What is the difference between “illness” and “disease”?

Are there any differences when those words are used? By whom they are used? Google n-gram All English English fiction: I would guess that "illness" is rather a term which is used in spoken ...
1
vote
4answers
420 views

Does 'affect' imply negative effect?

when I say A affects B, does it imply that A has a negative effect on B?
12
votes
9answers
1k views

Safer alternative to “opaque”?

As a child I was taught that opaque means doesn't let any light through at all, as opposed to translucent (lets some light through, but diffused/frosted) or transparent (completely clear, lets you see ...
3
votes
4answers
89 views

Is there a name for this: an idiom that ambiguously refers to itself?

Two examples I can think of: The athlete's Achilles heel was her Achilles heel. The chef's bread and butter is his bread and butter. In both cases, the order of the idiom and the thing it ...
0
votes
3answers
48 views

How to determine the right meaning of 'no not I' ? (1762, UK)

Source: The original Miller of Dee from Bickerstaffe's "Love in a village" (1762) There dwelt a miller, hale and bold, beside the river Dee; He danced and sang from morn till night, no lark so ...
0
votes
0answers
31 views

“Sales” ambiguity

I'm a software developer and for a store system I need to have two tabs in a menu. One tab for listing all the "sales" (a list of every time some items have been sold) and another tab for listing ...
1
vote
2answers
105 views

because I am funny, not good-looking [duplicate]

a. He likes me because I am funny, not good-looking. b. He likes me because I am funny, not because I am good-looking. In which case am I good-looking? In which case is it possible that I am ...
-3
votes
2answers
116 views

Idiom or phrase meaning

I can not find the meaning of this phrase: perished of fits. What does it mean? It is an idiom? Thanks for help and understanding.
2
votes
3answers
86 views

I can make it, I will leave. What's the precedence and ambiguity?

Here's a scenario. I am confounded when after a discussion with a friend, they arrive at my place on Saturday, here's the transcript. her: I can make it on Saturday. me: Ok, see you then anytime! ...
1
vote
2answers
63 views

Is saying “back to back” an AmE or BrE usage [duplicate]

I have been often intrigued by the phrase "back-to-back". Referring to "back" is reminiscent of the rear of the human body. I usually hear- back-to-back meetings