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

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2
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1answer
34 views

whether - followed by positive or negative form?

''Pascal attempted the experiment of seeing whether, with the aid of the most incisive knowledge, everyone could not be brought to despair: the experiment miscarried, to his twofold despair.'' ...
0
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0answers
22 views

Should less be repeated to clarify it applies to a series?

For a sentence like this: That setting results in a less firm and stable surface. Is it clear that less applies to both firm and stable or should it be repeated to avoid ambiguity between the ...
1
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1answer
109 views

Interpretation of ambiguous sentence “You Can’t Put Too Much Water into a Nuclear Reactor”

"You Can’t Put Too Much Water into a Nuclear Reactor" This sentence is from a book, "The Definitive ANTLR 4 Reference" authored by Terence Parr. The author used this sentence as an example of ...
0
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0answers
39 views

What does “sanction” actually mean? [duplicate]

I have read this word quite often and always tried to elicit its meaning from the context and circumstances in which it was said.. More often than not I took it as a word for official ban or penalty.. ...
0
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0answers
25 views

When or where did “sth” come to mean “something”? [duplicate]

This is not the same question as What is meant by "sth"? although one of it's answers is a partial answer to this question. This question does not relate to "what does sth mean?" but those ...
0
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2answers
72 views

Would you consider “sound idea” (usable as) a pun?

Today I read this comment in the Csound mailing list see full post (emphasis mine): The interface could be polished, IMO, but the idea is sound [...] it took me (as a German native speaker) a ...
1
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3answers
90 views

What is the word for a statement which most probably is wrong but is said to convey a different meaning?

Example : Paul McCartney said "If Slaughter Houses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian." Now, it also means that everyone who works at a slaughter house is a vegetarian. But, what Paul ...
1
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0answers
58 views

The meaning of “pure” vs “clear”

So I'd like to express the "clearness" (in sense of elegance) of some spatial shapes (BTW not sure about this phrase, probably "spatial forms" is more correct). I'm going to use either "pure" or ...
0
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2answers
84 views

France-educated or French-educated

If a renowned scholar was born, let's say, in Japan, and he/she receives a Nobel Prize thanks to a dissertation he/she wrote in France after studying there for a master's degree and a doctor's degree, ...
0
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2answers
81 views

Problems with pronouns (ambiguity)

Mary likes John a lot, but Cindy doesn't. She(Cindy) doesn't allow him to talk to her(Cindy), because she(Cindy) thinks he is annoying. Although the pronouns in bold are intended to refer back to ...
4
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1answer
96 views

How to parse “Do you have the time?” correctly

When someone asks "Do you have the time?", my first instinctive response is: "The time for what?" I have to think for a few more seconds to realize that the question was actually "What time is it?" ...
-1
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1answer
63 views

What does 'helping handis' mean? [closed]

It's the name of an American Dad episode i.e. Helping Handis. Stan tries to help Steve to become more masculine by injecting him with some hormones, but instead Steve grows boobies. Is handis the ...
0
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1answer
133 views

What does “as good as it gets” mean?

Is it meant as a compliment or is it more acceptance of a situation? For instance, having loved a partner who died and feeling that you could never feel that way about anyone again and then describing ...
1
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2answers
193 views

Meaning of “appear” in “She appears to have had two children”

What is the meaning of appear in the following examples: She appears to have had two children. He appears to have been elected as the first pope outside of Europe. Their aircraft appears to have ...
0
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1answer
66 views

Sawmills vs other mills [closed]

A flour mill makes flour. A paper mill makes paper. A puppy mill breeds puppies. But a sawmill makes... saws? No - it uses saws to make wood products. Can anyone explain the etymology or language ...
-1
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1answer
60 views

Ambiguity in this sentence?

Is this sentence ambiguous: Licensor grants licensee one license to install and use this software on as many computers owned and operated by employees of your company That is, who owns the ...
1
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1answer
65 views

meaning of “quite+adjective” in Canadian English

I am translating a Canadian article, and here's a sentence I need some help with: There are innumerable colour choices when choosing gladioli corms but until recent years, those colours classed ...
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0answers
117 views

I wonder if _____ will show up at the meeting?

I wonder if _____ will show up at the meeting? a. someone b. anyone c. one d. everyone I know the answer isn't someone or one. I'm more confused between the other two ...
0
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1answer
99 views

“Up until 8th” - including 8th or not? [duplicate]

I've got this message from my friend: "I'll be pretty busy basically up until the 8th November." In this case, which is correct, he will be pretty busy including 8th or he will not be pretty busy from ...
0
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1answer
49 views

Is the following sentence ambiguous?

Bob bought Anna's house. Does this mean Bob bought a house from Anna, or Bob bought Anna's house for her, or both?
2
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1answer
67 views

Religious vs spiritual?

Is there a difference beween being religious and being spiritual? Or for that matter, is there any such thing as a "Spiritual Atheist"? Writings supporting the idea that the two are different: ...
4
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4answers
1k views

What does “I don't suffer from insanity” mean?

I'm pretty confused about a quote I've read on a website. It was written: I don't suffer from insanity. I enjoy every minute of it. I'd like to know what it really means when a person says ...
1
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1answer
93 views

Is “my class” generally understood as “the class I'm attending” or “the class I'm teaching”?

Example: I refused her invitation to join her swimming class. For a native English speaker, does it read as "I refused her invitation to join the swimming class she's attending" or "I refused ...
0
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3answers
58 views

“Do not … and …” grammar confusion

I recently read this sentence: Do not declare this callback function with a void return type and cast the function pointer to LPTHREAD_START_ROUTINE when creating the thread. and wasn't sure if ...
0
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1answer
43 views

Precise interpretation of “in excess of”

I'd like to have some precision on the meaning of "in excess of" in following sentence. Commissions in excess of 180% of quota in a given fiscal year will be calculated at 0.3x of the base rate. ...
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2answers
35 views

Ambiguity of “… is not to …” [duplicate]

The purpose is not to dance like an elephant. I see two ways of interpreting this sentence: It is incorrect to say that "dance like an elephant" is the goal. The objective is to prevent dancing ...
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0answers
20 views

The front and back door(s) are red [duplicate]

If I have only one front door, and only one back door, and they are both red. Which is correct: The front and back door are red; The front and back doors are red. I feel that (1) looks ...
0
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0answers
79 views

Enlighten the difference between phrasal verb and the verb followed by a preposition

I can't help getting confused! Though the question has been asked, the coherent answer describing why sometimes two names (ie phrasal verb and prepositional verb) are given to the same ...
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3answers
70 views

“Wizards” in software. “A wizard who” or “A wizard that”

Is a wizard in software design animate or inanimate? More of a philosophical question I guess.
2
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2answers
100 views

What does “all not” mean exactly in this context?

All DriveTest Centres do not provide car rentals to applicants. The sentence above is taken from here. In my understanding, it means some DriveTest Centres may provide car rentals while others ...
0
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1answer
67 views

“piecemeal” (about a theatre prop)

I'm translating an American article on a theatre production that is really challenging for a non-native speaker. Here's a passage describing one of the props, a car: Indeed, the set, by Maria ...
1
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2answers
226 views

What is an unambiguous term for a square standing on its corner?

I'm helping write descriptions for a catalogue of Pacific artefacts, and have stumbled upon a problem. A fan is shaped like a square, with a handle coming down from one of the corners. What is the ...
0
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2answers
734 views

Is “sh*t” rude, or can it be a compliment? [closed]

Is it rude to say shit? I heard someone say it today and I think they used it as a compliment. I think they said this: You look shit. I looked in the dictionary, but I couldn't find anything.
0
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2answers
206 views

Is a handful of rice the amount of rice that fills up one or two palms? [closed]

If we say “we only have a handful of rice, then technically do we only have the amount of rice that fills up just one palm alone, or is it the amount that fillms the palms of both hands? Is there ...
1
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1answer
119 views

What is the difference between “regretting one's decision” and “ going back on one's decision”? [closed]

1- I regretted my decision to go there. 2- I went back on my decision to go there. Did the narrator go to that given place or not?
6
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2answers
84 views

“… get just deserts.” Can ambiguity be syntactic and also semantic?

On the page, but not when spoken, this line has a double meaning: "Lost travellers in Egypt get just deserts." The key word is the homograph ( or homogram) deserts which can be abstract , (when ...
1
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2answers
91 views

Options for disambiguating a sentence?

The phrase 'deliberation related to emotions and values about what’s good and bad' has a potential ambiguity about whether 'emotions' is to be understood generally or as also being about 'what's good ...
6
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3answers
191 views

“This page intentionally blank” … but it isn't!

We are all familiar with user manuals or documents with pages printed with "intentionally blank" ... but with those words on them, they are no longer blank! I'm pretty sure I saw a user manual once ...
4
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1answer
79 views

Moonlight raked the lawn

Years ago, I saw a discussion about a writer who had, allegedly without humorous intent, injected some surprising atmosphere into a story by saying that "moonlight raked the lawn". The contributors ...
7
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5answers
369 views

Wording of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation

The following bit of Lincoln's Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation of September 22nd, 1862 was quoted in the Emancipation Proclamation: That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord ...
0
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1answer
205 views

Reading Comprehension Question: How to narrow down to correct answer? [closed]

Passage (Its a bit long) The pioneers of the teaching of science imagined that its introduction into education would remove the conventionality, artificiality, and backward-lookingness which ...
0
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2answers
511 views

To be sound in doing something?

I've looked up each and every possible meanings of sound. I've reduced the options to two or so. But I still find it hard to ascertain the meaning of sound and the way its is used in this context. ...
2
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3answers
185 views

Reading Comprehension question [closed]

Here is a GRE practice question that I have an issue with. It is given here, Question #7. Passage: French cuisine is highly regarded all over the world. Yet in Paris there are more ...
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2answers
42 views

How far 'outside' was 'beside'?

[Source:] Note that the substitute of “beside” for “outside” was perfectly appropriate since, at that time (although today obsolete), “outside” was one of the well-used meanings of “beside,” having ...
2
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3answers
267 views

Could “giving aids” be ambiguous?

In Wiktionary the noun aid is defined as aid (plural aids) 1. Help; assistance; succor, relief.   He came to my aid when I was foundering. 2. A helper; an assistant.   3. Something which ...
0
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3answers
231 views

How best to use the word “best”?

The word best means: Best: of the most excellent, effective, or desirable type or quality It seems that we only use best for the top highest quality of a certain thing. For example, there are ...
0
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1answer
234 views

What does the phrase “deceptively spacious” mean? Spacious or not? [duplicate]

This is a phrase oft-used by real estate agents. Their use of it typically implies a positive connotation i.e. a deceptively spacious house is really spacious, perhaps surprisingly so. But really this ...
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0answers
39 views

How is 'notwithstanding' governed by some preposition that is the 'subject of the verb'?

Source: p 993 of the book itself (but p 497 of the online viewer with the scroller at the bottom), An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, volume 2 (1921), by Ernest Weekley: ...
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1answer
207 views

What is 'less' about 'unless'?

[Etymonline:] unless (conj.) [:] mid-15c., earlier onlesse, from on lesse (than) "on a less condition" (than); see less. The first syllable originally on, but the negative connotation and the ...
2
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2answers
149 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 ...