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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

1
vote
1answer
276 views

What is the meaning of “He was a myth made man”?

I can't understand the meaning. Is it "He was a mythical person" or "He was a myth that became a man"?
1
vote
1answer
454 views

What is the average number of meanings for a word in English?

Many words have multiple meanings. Sometimes they are related (like "theory" as opposed to "practice", versus "theory" as in "scientific theory"), but sometimes they’re completely different (like "dye"...
2
votes
2answers
16k views

Are “that's it” and “that's all” interchangeable?

Are "that's it" and "that's all" interchangeable? Is there any specific case where I should use one instead of the other?
6
votes
2answers
9k views

“Suspect” versus “Suspicious” as Adjectives

A recent question on this site ("to suspect" vs "to be suspicious of") asks about the difference between "to suspect" and "to be suspicious of." An even more complicated situation ...
3
votes
1answer
343 views

Scan Method vs Scanning Method

The question here is what is the meaning of the two: Scan Method Scanning Method My assumption is that the interpretations are, respectively: A method which describes how the scanning procedure ...
0
votes
3answers
240 views

December 15th to December 16th

In general, if I say: From December 15th to December 16th Would you expect the range to be from 12/15 00:00 to 12/16 23:59 or would you expect it to be from 12/15 00:00 to 12/15 23:59?
1
vote
1answer
212 views

Parenthetical statement that expresses a condition

I am studying a book and one of the lines (which was written in the 30's) is, We had admitted that we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable. My question is ...
-1
votes
4answers
626 views

Using any punctuation, how many meanings does this sign have? [closed]

I was walking in the Norfolk countryside today, when I spotted this sign. Notice that it is devoid of punctuation. It is obviously a warning sign to motorists. However, it made me giggle. Using any ...
2
votes
2answers
229 views

Commision on stock market

Is it correct to use word commision as a synonym to order on stock market? In meaning: an instruction from customers to brokers to buy or sell on the exchange. I know that commision is a fee or ...
3
votes
2answers
757 views

Is “I don't work here” literal or does it mean “I am not an employee of this establishment”? [closed]

Part of my work involves visiting retail establishments during business hours. Often, when mistaken for an employee of the store, I am asked a question about where to find something in the store, to ...
1
vote
1answer
115 views

deep roll of blue at the tops

I want some help with my question about the meaning of “deep roll of blue at the tops”: "The men were dressed in blue, of the same shade as their hats, and wore well-polished boots with a deep ...
3
votes
4answers
2k views

Semantic or pragmatic ambiguity?

When one says "Do you want a cup of coffee?" he can mean: either an informative question — "Do you feel a desire to a cup of coffee?", or a polite offer — "I can make you a cup of coffee if you want"...
1
vote
0answers
641 views

What does 'next Monday' mean? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which day does “next Tuesday” refer to? Meaning of “last/this/next Monday” Scenario: You get a phone call on Wednesday, saying "you have to report to X next Monday". ...
1
vote
2answers
251 views

Is the title ambiguous?

I am writing a paper for a conference, and I am a bit worried about correctness of the title that I chose. The title is "Energy Functions of X and their Existence Conditions" Where X is long ...
4
votes
2answers
491 views

Meaning and etymology of “down with”

I've searched a lot and found out that down with as a slang phrase means "being in an agreement with something". On the other hand, I know that it also means "death upon something". So in a sentence ...
6
votes
3answers
254 views

Is it safe to use “old” to mean “previous” for a person?

Is it safe to use "old" to mean "previous" or "former" for something like "my old teacher"? Or is it a bit risky, because "old" also has a meaning with respect to age (i.e., chronologically gifted)? ...
-3
votes
2answers
12k views

Only then or then only?

I am not a native speaker. I have seen people at my place uses similar kinds of sentences interchangeably. If he comes, only then I will go. If he comes, then only I will go. Which of these ...
5
votes
5answers
2k views

She was carrying twins and a bulky bag in her hands [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Using verbs with multiple meanings I am not sure if this is Indian English but the verb carry is often used in India to speak of a pregnant woman and often without an ...
3
votes
1answer
419 views

“Tabled”, US vs UK [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the meaning of the expression “We can table this”? Here's an example snippet for some context. Ann had an idea. We tabled her idea. In the UK this means "We ...
-1
votes
2answers
4k views

“Least expected” or “least unexpected”

When I was talking to my girlfriend, she mentioned an incident where one of her friends surprised her with a gift. She said something like that least unexpected ... after which we got into a debate ...
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Guidelines for interpretation of “all but a few”

For a clause of the type [all but a few X] [Y], there seem to be two possible interpretations. The first one is "Y is the case for all things/people/places, except for a few X," as in the following ...
0
votes
3answers
12k views

“Within” and “in” when referring to time

I know that both can mean "inside" but what I don't have clear is whether both mean the same when talking about time. For example: The party is in two days = The party is within two days ?? ...
12
votes
3answers
14k views

Use of “Or”, inclusive or exclusive?

My wife and I are playing a game where you roll dice and move so many spaces in a grid "vertically or horizontally". In the use of English it is very common to say, this or the other when it comes ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

When is Christmas Eve Eve?

I have recently seen weather forecasters making predictions for Christmas Eve Day, Christmas Eve Night, and for Christmas Day. One also reads of Christmas Eve Eve, with two eves. Are those all ...
1
vote
1answer
852 views

Meaning of “Apply at 4–6 weekly intervals”

I purchased some fungicide. The instructions on the back of the bottle say "Apply at 4–6 weekly intervals." Does that mean it should be applied 4–6 times a week? Or every 4–6 weeks?
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Using the word “difference” in the meaning “result of subtraction” taking into account the negative values

The result of subtraction is called "difference". At first glance it might seem that it shouldn't cause an ambiguity over the value denoted by this word; until we stumble upon subtractions that ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

What is the meaning of “sanity” in “sanity check”?

The phrase "sanity check" comes up often in programming, e.g. It's a good sanity check before attempting to decrypt the key. Usually, its context is one in which a commonly assumed state (e.g. ...
-2
votes
1answer
66 views

“ground occupied..” meaning

I cannot figure out the meaning of this sentence: There is a ground in between the voluntary and the involuntary occupied by expressions that were once learned but come to operate ...
-2
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the meaning of “empty of joy”? [closed]

Please go through the below excerpt from "The Story of My Life" from "Helen Keller" I have met people so empty of joy, that when I clasped their frosty finger tips, it seemed as if I were shaking ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Ambiguity of “to be” + gerund

I would like to ask about a basic sentence that really confuses me. My favorite sport is swimming. I think it is strange. "Swimming" can be interpreted as a gerund ("I like to swim; it is my ...
1
vote
3answers
7k views

Meaning of “saved my sanity” [closed]

What is the meaning of the phrase saved my sanity? I attempted another sip and winced. He smiled and poured more water in my drink to dilute it. It ruined the scotch but saved my sanity. The ...
0
votes
3answers
4k views

Is “increment” perfectly synonymous with “increase”? [closed]

My advisor replaced all the occurrences of "increment" with "increase" in one of my papers. Is it true that "increment" can always be replaced with "increase"? If not, please show me some examples.
1
vote
3answers
511 views

additional local and domestic long distance minutes are $0.10 per minute [closed]

All airtime is billed by the second after the first minute, additional local and domestic long distance minutes are $0.10 per minute. My phone company and I are arguing over the use of the word '...
7
votes
4answers
16k views

What is the correct definition and usage of “for all I know”?

I saw some sentences using this phrase "for all I know" but wasn't quite sure what is its exact definition and also whether a modal verb such as "could, may or might" expressing uncertainty must be ...
3
votes
2answers
770 views

“Even that she left lying”

In a story titled "Prelude" written by "Katherine Mansfield" I came across the following sentence in this paragraph: The fireplace was choked up with rubbish. She poked among it but found ...
5
votes
1answer
29k views

Nerd vs. Geek vs. Dork [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which term correctly identifies those who enjoy programming/technology: “geek” or “nerd”? I'm somewhat perplexed on the usages of these terms. Most references appear an ...
8
votes
6answers
3k views

“No head injury is too trivial to ignore”

I was looking at the book Introduction to Mathematical Thinking by Keith Devlin, and came across a question where the reader is asked to reformulate this sentence to avoid the unintended second ...
2
votes
0answers
1k views

Shakespeare: “Asses are made to bear” [closed]

When Petruchio invites Katherine to sit on his lap, she replies, "Asses are made to bear, and so are you." (Taming of the Shrew Act II, Scene 1.) The denotation is clear, donkeys (Equus africanus ...
0
votes
3answers
149 views

Does inserting a comma change what is modified?

My question pertains to the usage of comma after a list of clauses of the form "X, Y, and Z (,) to/in order to <do something>" Example: Apply Equation 1, use Lemma 2, and exploit Theorem 3(...
2
votes
4answers
1k views

Does the word “Loyal” have other meaning than “remaining faithful to somebody/something and supporting them or it?

I found the following definition in the answer to “What are pimps and hoes?” in Music Genres Questions in Wiki.answer.com.: “A pimp is a loyal person who pimps out girls of so called hoes ...
2
votes
2answers
287 views

And/or in total negation: “Some people are not able to interpret and/or analyze”

In the following sentence, the “and/or” seems odd in a case of total negation: Evidently some people are not able to interpret and/or analyze at that deeper level. Because the sentence says “are not ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

How do you disambiguate phrases like “killing doctors” when you can't use an article? [closed]

In singular, indefinite articles help to disambiguate some phrases, like for example: a killing doctor Would be a doctor who kills people. versus killing a doctor Would be an act of ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

“Heard of anything” or “heard anything”

I always think when you use hear, of should follow it like heard of anything. But I saw I haven't heard anything from him. Is that correct, or should it be I haven't heard of anything from ...
8
votes
5answers
407 views

Nationality modifier vs. Language modifier

"Chinese writer Mo Yan wins Nobel literature prize" (USA Today) "Chinese author Mo Yan wins Nobel Prize for Literature" (BBC) Q. Are we to understand that Mo Yan wrote in Chinese, that he was a ...
4
votes
4answers
40k views

“A good memory” vs. “good memories”

If I say, "I don't have a good memory of my childhood", would it imply that I cant recollect it or that I have bad memories (bad stories, unhappy) childhood? I think that "good memories" implies the ...
22
votes
3answers
7k views

What is the origin of “hot” as “good-looking” or “attractive”?

I'm not sure if "hot" as "warm" or "heated" existed before "hot" came to mean "good-looking" or "attractive", but if so, how did this new meaning come to be?
-1
votes
2answers
143 views

What is the meaning of "foldin’ your Fruit of the Looms”?

in the quotation below, what the meaning of "foldin’ your Fruit of the Looms” is? “There’s got to be more to life than sittin’ here watchin’ ‘Days of Our Lives’ and foldin’ your Fruit of the Looms.” ...
6
votes
1answer
472 views

Implication(s) of “Though you wouldn't think it”

(This question arose because on some other SE many of us tried to translate this expression. It turns out it was not so easy, and it would certainly help if we had a better grasp on it.) I believe ...
5
votes
1answer
819 views

What does “state” in “State University” refer to? [closed]

There are many universities and colleges in the United States with names such as "... State University". The word state has many distinct meanings, but pertinent to this question are: government, ...
0
votes
2answers
121 views

Who does “who” apply to in this example?

His governors, some of them incompetent and tactless, quarrelled bitterly with the people, who were constantly demanding greater political control. In this sentence, who are demanding greater ...