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

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6
votes
2answers
96 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
210 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
523 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
60 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
412 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
77 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
805 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 ...
-2
votes
2answers
93 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
91 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 ?
4
votes
3answers
4k 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
553 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
104 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
52 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
34 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
126 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
167 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
126 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
73 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
-3
votes
3answers
79 views

“Their ”Is being used in the below sentence for whom? Please reply fast [closed]

Mental-health practitioners whose clients kill themselves can face stigma from "their colleagues".Whose Colleagues ,their own or the client?
1
vote
3answers
74 views

2 nights per week per month [closed]

When I asked a rehearsal studio how much time I would be allowed to use their studio if I payed the monthly fee, the reply I got was "2 nights per week per month". When I asked for clarification I ...
1
vote
5answers
108 views

Ambiguity with adverbs when using the word “or”

If you take the sentence "Bob will run or walk fast." how is the ambiguity resolved between the following two meanings? Bob will either run fast or he will walk fast. Bob will either ...
1
vote
1answer
49 views

What does “what has changed with” means here?

What has changed with this tragedy is people’s willingness to recognize that religion really does make people do terrible things. This is from the latest New Republic, the author means that as ...
-3
votes
1answer
59 views

Writing a sentence being less ambiguous [closed]

I have following paragraph with two corrections. A- In the 1980s the largest single provider of day care for children was the federal government, which offered B- The federal government was the ...
0
votes
1answer
124 views

Calculus vs calculation

It is becoming more popular on American talk shows to say "calculus" instead of "calculation." To my mind, calculus is either a branch of Mathematics or a stone like in the gall bladder. Any comments? ...
3
votes
3answers
169 views

How to use the phrase “come doing” properly?

How do you use the phrase 'come doing' properly? On the one hand, 'come doing' means that someone comes for doing something. For example, "Why not come dancing tonight?". This sentence never means ...
0
votes
2answers
136 views

Comma required to avoid syntactical (but not semantic) ambiguity?

Consider this sentence: You may worry about the Fed raising interest rates, or a market meltdown, but these risks should not change your investment plans. Could the comma before "or" be omitted? ...
0
votes
2answers
124 views

Is “sub-project” more like “support project” or “child project”? [closed]

I have a controversy of my project's leader about the meaning of "sub-project". When we need to translate sub-project from English to our native language (Vietnamese), I think that we should ...
2
votes
2answers
245 views

why say “take” when we really mean “leave” (a piss, etc.)

The use of "take" in colloquial expressions of urination and defecation continues to both confound and amuse even the youngest of language enthusiasts. Just ask my son, who will insist with a smile ...
1
vote
3answers
814 views

How do you write the expression of disgust that sounds like “er”?

My daughter said to me this morning (the context is irrelevant): Er, it's all wet! The interjection I have written here as Er was synonymous with Yuck. Its wetness did not cause great happiness. ...
-4
votes
2answers
52 views

ambiguity of a phrase

my grammar book deals with the ambiguity of phrases. I read that "EMT Helps Raccoon Bite Victim" can grammatically - in addition to the wrong meaning that the medical personell helped a raccoon bite ...
0
votes
1answer
136 views

Can “extremely professional” have a negative connotation? [closed]

If someone is described as extremely professional, might there be a negative side to it? This is how I would take it in many contexts, and I'm wondering whether it's justified. If some chap at work ...
6
votes
5answers
399 views

How to avoid ambiguity in the question: “Why do you think…?”

Let us say I want to know why the sky is blue, my understanding is that I can ask you: "Why do you think the sky is blue?" regardless of whether you have thought about it before or not. It seems from ...
0
votes
1answer
67 views

Commas for parenthetical info when against technicality and ambiguity

I write the following sentence as follows: "The lady spent a few seconds gently patting the two chocobos at the coach, a popular species of avian bred throughout the country". Where does one draw the ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

You do not need to take further action/s. Action or actions?

Okay, so this as been a great bother for me over the years. As a general rule of thumb, I usually follow this format: using "a" for singular and none for plural. Like so, You do not need to take ...
0
votes
2answers
453 views

Meaning of Evenly distributed [closed]

What is the exact meaning of evenly in phrases such as: Users are evenly distributed between these types or Users were split roughly evenly among these categories does it mean on the ...
1
vote
1answer
53 views

Ambiguity of “just” in a context

I know that there are similar questions, but I'd like to know what's the "preferred" meaning of "just" in a specific sentence in this context. I was watching a GTA V movie, called "Meltdown". In a ...
1
vote
1answer
65 views

use of expediency and entail?

I wonder if the following sentence conveys the right meaning. Even if they make a big mistake, expediency entails to forgive each other for the bigger cause of friendship. Can expediency entail ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

“For he that fights and runs away, May live to fight another day”: wisdom or mockery?

The question is about the contemporary usage of the following distich: For he that fights and runs away, May live to fight another day ; ...and whether historical events and imprecision ...
0
votes
4answers
591 views

Why is 'weird' given a sexual connotation nowadays? [closed]

Anyone who watched the chilling ITV drama this week The Lost Honour of Christopher Jeffries, will be aware of the context in which the tabloid news media, back in 2010/11 depicted him as a sexual ...
2
votes
1answer
71 views

What does this sentence mean generally? [closed]

"I am off it" What does this sentence mean generally? I am not well, interested etc?
1
vote
1answer
718 views

Does “Friday midnight” refer to the beginning of the day on Friday or to the end? [duplicate]

I always thought it would be end of the day, but I'm not sure.
3
votes
1answer
203 views

This long sentence is ambiguous, and difficult for me to understand [closed]

I got this sentence Property value litigation is no different than any other type of litigation where experts are used in that expert opinions are fair game for attack by the opposing side in ...
2
votes
1answer
151 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., ...
2
votes
1answer
1k 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
votes
2answers
95 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
143 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
78 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
132 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
91 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 ...