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

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37 views

When did “to forgive” lose its primary meaning for pardoning and become solely about an emotional response?

During a recent debate I was having with a peer, I was shocked to find out that the word "forgive" no longer carries a primary association with the act of pardoning another individual (i.e., ...
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1answer
34 views

'Birthdate vs birthday'- I know three other people who share my birthdate

We say birthday and not birthdate Generally, birthplace is used for place of birth but not birthdate for date of birth. What is the reason that birthday scores over birthdate when it comes to ...
0
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2answers
39 views

Words having two converse meanings [duplicate]

Many words have several meanings and some even have two converse meanings. Two examples of such words are amateur and literally as illustrated by the following: She is an art amateur. This is ...
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3answers
42 views

Modality: Modals with Continuous Aspect

I am not completely sure about the use of 'must' 'can't' and 'should' in continuous aspect. It seems that different people have different opinions, especially regarding their use to refer to the ...
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1answer
37 views

What does “not perhaps” mean?

What exactly does "not perhaps" mean? I encountered it in Smith's The Wealth of Nations In Chapter I. Of The Division Of Labour: The effects of the division of labour, in the general business of ...
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2answers
61 views

Expressing Impossibility in the Future

What are the possible meanings of the following sentence: He can't be coming tomorrow. I think it has the following two possible meanings: It is impossible that he will be coming tomorrow. He is ...
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1answer
13 views

Most appropriate use of 'to prioritise'?

Online dictionaries I have consulted are ambiguous on this. Does 'to prioritise' something mean just to give something a priority value (eg. Low) or to set that value to 'High' (or both)? In many ...
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5answers
65 views

Does “I wouldn't do this, if it wasn't compulsory” sound natural? [closed]

Would the above sentence sound natural? If not, what would be the modification?
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1answer
65 views

Ambiguious anaphora in a speech

On October 31, 2014, President Obama spoke on the topic of women and the economy. Here's a section of the speech. Moms and dads deserve a great place to drop their kids off every day that ...
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3answers
49 views

How to resolve the ambiguity of “two day classes”

Two day classes will take place this week. Here, "day classes" is a compound. I don't want it to sound like it's just one class that goes on for two days.
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2answers
38 views

Is the sentence given below an example of syntactic ambiguity?

The shelf can support a heavier load compared to the others. Would this sentence be considered ambiguous? To me, the pronoun others could refer to either other shelves or other loads, but I wanted to ...
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2answers
29 views

Difference between Interoperability and Interaction [closed]

Is there any difference between those two terms: 'Interaction' and 'Interoperability'?
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3answers
48 views

How to handle ambiguity caused by long clause and compound?

I am composing a sentence: People who have children who score A's in school and have good health are very happy. In this sentence, 'have good health' is intended to be a clause of 'people'; ...
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1answer
82 views

Curious words that make me suspicious

I'm curious about that curious object. I'm suspicious of that suspicious stranger. I'm dubious about that dubious plan. I can't think of any other words that allow this: using the same ...
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3answers
50 views

How can I ask for a user's contact information? [closed]

We have an app in which users will win prizes, and we will be contacting them by email to send them their prizes. In the dialog requesting the user's email address, I've written this text: Please ...
0
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2answers
69 views

What does it mean: “The travel money is good for you”

Someone invited us to participate in a sportive event far away from our home country, and told us "The travel money is good for you and there will be prize money for the event". Does this mean that ...
60
votes
9answers
11k views

Why is the word “Holy” used before swear words?

People usually use the word "Holy" before "Shit", "Crap" or any other bad words to express their feelings, like surprise, anger, etc. Is there any reason why the word "Holy" is used with these bad ...
2
votes
1answer
61 views

Ambiguity of “bag down for a better ride”

Today I saw a sign on the train that said Bag down for a better ride. There was an accompanying picture of someone carrying a large bag on his back, possibly causing inconvenience to others: ...
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3answers
1k views

It's all downhill from here

The phrase "it was all downhill from there" seems to have two, contradictory meanings. The first indicates that things have since gotten a lot worse. For example (from ...
2
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2answers
147 views

“A healthy amount” of sugar… so… no sugar? =( [closed]

I've always heard and used the expression "a healthy amount" to mean "a lot". But as I stirred my coffee this morning, I realized that's exactly how I described the sugar that goes in my coffee, and ...
2
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3answers
105 views

“Ten and several minutes”: Any more natural expression?

Heat the mixture for ten and several minutes. What is a more natural way to express this “ten and several” wording, which is literally translated from Japanese? A. for between ten and 20 ...
2
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3answers
54 views

postmodifying phrase/under the leadership of [closed]

Are these sentences correct: Such activities found favor with the social democrats under the leadership of Schmidt. Such activities found favor with the social democrats , under the leadership of ...
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1answer
32 views

“mine” ambiguity

I have two things: an underground site from which resources are extracted, and a proximity-triggered trap device that explodes upon triggering. Both of these are called "mine" and I cannot afford ...
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2answers
479 views

What does “Shall be” mean? [closed]

What does Shall be mean? I find it in different context, sometimes it seems to me that is means is or Will be and more likely Must be, but sometimes I can't figure it out, so if it means Must be, what ...
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1answer
87 views

What is the difference between “I am able to” and “I can”? [closed]

Please, tell me the difference between these two statements.
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2answers
191 views

What's the accurate meaning of “forget yourself”?

I was looking for a translation of the German expression "bevor ich mich vergesse" (lit. before I forget myself) and looked up if the literal translation could be used. In German this expression ...
4
votes
2answers
93 views

I'd know my life before I had even lived it

Girl: "I've made my decision, Father". Her Father: "You've ruined so many prospects, Lucy". Girl: "Hmm.Nothing but boys, following in their father's footsteps. I'd know my life before I ...
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1answer
157 views

Is there a word or phrase to describe ambiguous sarcasm?

To be specific, this statement refers to a phrase in which the writer/speaker's intention of being sarcastic is not disclosed to the reader/listener (deliberately or accidentally). The effect strongly ...
2
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2answers
67 views

What is the definition of definition?

Does a definition need to provide a unique or near-unique description or can non-unique descriptions also be categorized as definitions? For example: Is the statement "An apple is a fruit" a ...
2
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2answers
67 views

Antedecent of “velocity u” in “particles moving in a medium with macroscopic velocity u”

In the following sentence, whose velocity is u? The particles or the medium? For particles moving in a medium with macroscopic velocity u: The normalized Maxwell’s distribution function (Eq. ...
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2answers
144 views

Question on a job application form

I'm helping a friend fill out a job application where a strange question appears: Do you seldom let your responsibilities interfere with having fun? (Y) (N) Am I crazy, or is this question ...
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1answer
55 views

What is the meaning of lemniscate related with clothing? [closed]

Here is lemniscate is used as a part or feature of clothing. What doses it mean ? TIA
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1answer
50 views

“You could do it better” Past/Future?

While showing my work to my adviser, he uttered a sentence, "You could do it better!". Is it analogous to: You could have done better OR You can do it better (so improve it)? It seems to me this ...
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votes
2answers
80 views

“She was not happy.” - Ambiguity of the 'to be' in English

I always think about this since in my language (Portuguese) the verb 'to be' has two meanings for which I will give two examples: "She was in the room." - here the verb to be has the meaning of ...
4
votes
2answers
268 views

Why does the word “tortilla” refer to three distinct types of edibles?

The crisps[BrEn]/chips[AmEn] that are made of corn (and probably not deep-fried) are called tortilla: The wraps with that special taste, are called tortila: And then, the omelet-like meal is ...
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2answers
560 views

Why do they say “may not” for things which people shouldn't do

I have seen in so many place where they would have mentioned "You may not.." etc for the things people shouldn't do. For eg: in companies where USB is not allowed, they will mention like this "You may ...
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2answers
40 views

The first live processing date is December 29, 2014 for the pay period of December 22, 2014 to December 28, 2014 [duplicate]

The question I have is the use of the word "to" in the phrase "to December 28". Does the "to" definitely include December 28th, or is it (as I think it is) ambiguous? The way it reads, I feel it is ...
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3answers
85 views

If X was not part Y, I'd like it - meaning

I'm trying to fill out a survey that asks me about features that should or should not be included in a smartphone app. The actual questions are confidential, but it's in the style of a sentence like ...
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1answer
98 views

“Elves and Men, the Firstborn and the Followers”

This is a quote from Silmarillion, but I really do not know if there are two meanings or one. Because on my language this "Followers" can means that come after the Firstborn or those who likes ...
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2answers
70 views

How to best correct ambiguity of “in the room next to me”?

A common construction in English is: There is a person in the room next to me. However, this is ambiguous because it’s unclear whether the person is in a separate room that happens to be ...
2
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2answers
85 views

Differentiating homographs [closed]

A homograph (from the Greek: ὁμός, homós, "same" and γράφω, gráphō, "write") is a word that shares the same written form as another word but has a different meaning. When spoken, the meanings may ...
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1answer
126 views

Is “Sad sometimes what happens when kids stop being kids and grow up to become the kind of adults we simply detest” ambiguous?

In the Collins Dictionary entry for the verb detest, the following citation taken from a 2003 Ottawa Sun article is given to demonstrate that verb: Sad sometimes what happens when kids stop being ...
2
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1answer
152 views

What is the meaning of “cooling relations”?

Sometimes relations between nations can be considered to be "cooling"? What does this mean? I can't tell if it means: The relationship is getting better because it's "cooling-off" from "hot" ...
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2answers
82 views

Stay/keep abreast of

Somewhere in my essay it goes as follows: There is a shared assumption that English is estranging people from their own language, inclining them to subordinate it to English. Even so commonly ...
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votes
1answer
136 views

Which word fits better in a cause and effect sentence? [closed]

If there is a sentence- English is not too difficult to master, ____ it gets easier and easier with practice which of these words would be the best fit for the blank and why? So When As ...
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2answers
108 views

Ambiguity in Negation: “John did not come because of the rain”

John did not come because of the rain. This sentence seems to allow the following two completely different interpretations. John did not come. And the reason was the rain. John came. But the ...
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votes
1answer
73 views

Grenade or Granade [closed]

There are a lot of words that have slightly different spelling, but same semantic and sound, such as gray or grey, color or colour. There is also the case of dialog vs. dialogue (*see stackexchange ...
2
votes
1answer
54 views

What does 'disk box' mean here?

The expression is mentioned under the number 1 of the list at the bottom of the picture. The search over the internet hasn't given me a more or less clear idea of what it could be for it to match ...
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votes
2answers
122 views

What does the term 'spoon' refer to? [closed]

Note: This question is not about the assertion from the Matrix that There is no spoon. There are tablespoons and teaspoons which are two different things. However is there a plain spoon or does this ...
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2answers
159 views

Question about “put not your”

An exercise asked me to rearrange the sentence "Put your money not in trust" such that there is no ambiguity to its meaning. At first glance I thought that "Put not your trust in money" sounded right, ...