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

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40 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
44 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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0answers
18 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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2answers
67 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
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2answers
123 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
440 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
33 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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2answers
61 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
93 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
41 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 ...
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2answers
64 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
102 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 ...
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1answer
49 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
55 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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1answer
37 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
80 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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1answer
56 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
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1answer
50 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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2answers
95 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
69 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, ...
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1answer
57 views

Can you distinguish the permission to do something from the license, an official document?

According to the dictionary, licence/license refers to an official document which proves you are permitted to do something. What, then, is the word for the permission itself? I'm from Korea, and in ...
1
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1answer
51 views

Using the pronoun 'one' twice in a sentence for the same person

I often read sentences that use the pronoun 'one' twice to refer to the same hypothetical person, but I've always felt reluctant in using it myself. Here's an example: One's experiences shape ...
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2answers
132 views

“one of a kind” idiom

This is an official practice question for the SAT Reasoning Test: Along the curve of islands known as the Florida Keys lies a reef of living coral, the only one of a kind in the continental United ...
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0answers
46 views

Can “yell 'word' for passcode” be considered a wordplay? [closed]

Consider the following sentence: Yell "word" for passcode. Obviously it instructs one to yell "word" in order to get a passcode. To me it looks like the sentence could be read as a wordplay ...
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1answer
42 views

“no longer…when…”--ambiguity?

I was reading this sentence and thought it ambiguous: The trees must have grown since he died because they were no longer young when I first saw them. This could mean: 1) The trees were already old ...
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3answers
81 views

Ambiguous pronouns

I have a statement like The performance of the proposed scheme, and its dependence on … Here, ‘it’ can refer to either the performance of the scheme, or the scheme itself. I changed the ...
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2answers
88 views

Turn “in to” or “into” a lonely lane?

I have a sentence I'm writing where I describe making a turn, as I run, into an empty alleyway. Here is how I would like to say it: I turn into a lonely lane... The problem I find is that it ...
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2answers
76 views

Is there a term for an acronym “parody” / “backformation” / “re-purposing”?

I've engaged the task of trying to legitimize the presence of a listing of DRM standing for "Digital Restrictions Management" on Wikipedia's disambiguation page for the acronym DRM. (This is a case ...
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1answer
65 views

What exactly does “bear witness” mean? [closed]

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "bear witness" as 1- Testify to. 2- State or show one’s belief in. Are both these definitions correct? I mean for instance, you don't bear witness or become a ...
3
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3answers
595 views

Difference between “ad hoc” and “impromptu” [closed]

Is there any difference between "ad hoc" and "impromptu"? Can you find sentences where only one of the words is acceptable and the other is not? And where they are interchangeable? What about the ...
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4answers
121 views

What is the meaning of “poetry” ? And how far it is different from “Poem”? [closed]

In a concert I heard saying Poetry is : "words carrying the meaning little concealed and little exposed." It may sound convincing but thats not word to word meaning neither complete. It is just a ...
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3answers
876 views

Does “speak in a low voice” refer to volume/loudness or to pitch?

Does the low in "speak in a low voice" or "he said in a low voice" refer to the volume/loudness or to the pitch? Does it mean quiet, or low-frequency? EDIT: After understanding from your answers that ...
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2answers
150 views

I promise not to do it, I swear not to do it. Is there a double meaning here?

"I promise [pause] not to do it" seems to me equivalent to "I promise I won't do it". However, "I promise not [pause] to do it" seems to me equivalent to "I do not promise I will ...
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1answer
59 views

Megalomania vs narcissism? [closed]

They look very similar. It's hard for me to discern the difference. Is there any difference between the two?
3
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2answers
90 views

<Grammar/Style> Ambiguous “it”

I recently stumbled upon this joke employing some grammar: Q: How can you drop an egg on a concrete floor without cracking it? A: Any way you want, concrete floors are very hard to crack. ...
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3answers
35 views

Does this sentence make any sense to you?

"Never play the podcast from anywhere but the start" What does this sentence mean to you? By podcast I mean a house music episode that is one hour long.
7
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1answer
132 views

Are “was/were able to” and “could” interchangeable?

In a grammar book, the claim was made that in the following sentences one cannot substitute "was/were able to" with "could." The fire spread through the building very quickly, but everyone was ...
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2answers
44 views

Formatting two adjacent footnote indicators in the body of the footnoted text

I've run into an issue using Microsoft Word 2013. In the following example, there is no way to know whether or not there exists one reference to footnote 12, or two references to footnotes 1 and 2: ...
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4answers
119 views

What's the difference between “title” and “name”?

I'm not sure when it's appropriate to use word "name", and when to use word "title". For example, "file name" feels right, "file title" doesn't; "document name" and "document title" seem ...
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4answers
85 views

Regions and reasons for the usage of “sleep” as “go to sleep”

This question is very closely linked to this english.SE question, which discusses the usage of "sleep" as a verb meaning "go to sleep" and inspired by this ell.SE question, in which the accepted ...
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1answer
46 views

What to use : “that” or “who”? [duplicate]

Consider this sentence : "I was going down the hill and on my step down I saw a guy who appeared to be disguised". "I was going down the hill and on my step down I saw a guy that appeared to be ...
2
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2answers
115 views

What is opposite of “Love”? [closed]

In a argument with my friend who lost her love, I came across her experience of life and what she said is : Opposite of love is NOT Hate. why, Because in love people have feeling and think about ...
2
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3answers
207 views

Does “native Japanese” indicate Japanese people or indigenous people in Japan?

I want to simply indicate that I was born and raised in Japan. I think I can say "I am a native Japanese", but when I google the expression, the results include information about indigenous people in ...
6
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1answer
127 views

Shakespeare's “slow as the elephant”

I am reading Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, in Act 1 Scene 2 Alexander gives the following portrait of Ajax: "[...] he is as valiant as the lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant; ...
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8answers
527 views

How to rephrase “Deliberate failure”?

I have a document that I'm drafting that, at the moment, has a sentence that reads something like: Remove X from all company computers. Deliberate failure to do so constitutes grounds for ...
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5answers
493 views

3 meter square area vs 3 square meter area

A. 3 meter square area B. 3 square meter area I’m wondering what the easiest way is to clearly express the difference between A and B above. In A, one side is 3 (meters). In B, one side is ...
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3answers
147 views

More confusion with relative pronoun ambiguity

What does the relative pronoun refer to in this sentence? It was probably on the darker/smoother side of things, compared to, say, the Sony ZX-1, which I prefer. To me, his preference isn’t ...
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2answers
86 views

Is “Can you carry this book?” acceptable? [closed]

Is it grammatically correct to say: Can you carry this book? I said this to a friend and this person commented that I need to learn grammar. To me the statement seems grammatically correct and ...
2
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3answers
143 views

Is “out” a preposition or an adverb in these sentences?

Is out a preposition or an adverb in these sentences? "We need to get the hell out of this place." "We need to get out and leave this place."
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1answer
118 views

Is the glass half filled with water or half empty? [closed]

If someone asks me this, is there some proper answer according to English grammar? If there is, what is it? If not, shouldn't there be one? And which one? P.S. I am not asking this for fun. This ...