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

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18
votes
2answers
3k views

“Dial M for Murder” meaning

For me, the title of Alfred Hitchcock's film Dial M for Murder is ambiguous, it may mean either Dial M to order a murder (instead of a pizza) / for a murder to occur (similar to the previous, but ...
2
votes
1answer
38 views

How to distinguish between temporary and long-term hate/hating?

When I say I hate someone in could be in a heat of a moment. "I hate him." (right now, because he ate my chocolate). However I could "I hate snakes." (all my life). It is still the same word. Are ...
3
votes
1answer
94 views

“available (availability)” vs. “valid (validity)” for “having sufficient power or efficacy” in AmEng vernacular

Per Random House Webster's College Dictionary, Ed. 1991, available suitable or ready for use; of use or service; at hand: I used whatever tools were available. readily obtainable; ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Date as a synonym for anus

In the Song "Ten Foot Cock And A Few Hundred Virgins" Tim Minchin uses the phrase "it's a sin to take it up the date, even if it's great, even with your cowboy mate". I'm not a native English speaker ...
0
votes
2answers
45 views

The first is convex, and the second is linear when x>2. is it ambiguity?

In my paper, I want to say, the first is convex all the time, and the second is linear when x>2. I am afraid that some people will think that: The first is convex when x>2, and the second is linear ...
1
vote
1answer
68 views

directory path or directory’s path

I know that I should use an apostrophe if I want to show possession. My questions: Which form should I use? Are the forms interchangeable?
0
votes
1answer
47 views

Low values vs small values [duplicate]

I would like to describe the indication of some numerical index, let us say x. I would like to say that if x << n then this indicate positive impact however x >> n this indicate negative ...
0
votes
1answer
45 views

Is there any difference between 'in the control of “ and ”in control of"

For example: the terrorist is in the control of the government the terrorist is in control of the goverment
1
vote
2answers
98 views

Appearances: Ambiguity in meaning

People care way too much about their appearance/ appearances? Google provides much more evidence for the singular but I have learnt not to trust it. In a formal essay I would opt for the plural ...
-1
votes
1answer
95 views

The Who/Whom examples in Strunk and White's Elements of Grammar [duplicate]

From Strunk & White, Elements of Grammar, 3rd Ed., p.11: "When who introduces a subordinate clause, its case depends on its function in that clause." They then give four examples without ...
1
vote
0answers
32 views

Is there a term for using a correct word having a double meaning that creates ambiguity given the context of the sentence? [duplicate]

Tough to describe this in the title so I'll give an example many English speakers have come across: Speaker 1: "Should we go left or right?" Speaker 2: "Looks like our friends went left." Speaker 1: ...
-1
votes
1answer
59 views

What does “vested” mean? [closed]

In the context of "the Consultant's Materials are vested, and shall remain vested, in the Consultant." I can't guess the meaning!
3
votes
1answer
101 views

Are “pay phones” still, if ever, called “pay stations” in the U.S.?

What is pay station in the U.S.? If you look it up, say, on ODO, it is defined as an AmEng equivalent of pay phone. pay station: n. US term for pay phone ODO Now, if you search Google Images ...
2
votes
2answers
53 views

Does this sentence regarding “coleopteran” make sense? [closed]

There's some ambiguity between Polish and English ( as far as beetles are concerned). Please help me determine if this sentence makes any sense at all. Thank you. I know that a (forest) dung ...
0
votes
2answers
51 views

“Due to buy a house” vs “due to look for a house”

I know that "due to do something" is the correct way. For example: Sometime next month, we're due to buy a house in Rutherford. However, Sometime next month, we're due to look for a house ...
0
votes
1answer
64 views

Two different meanings of Present Perfect Tense [duplicate]

I have a problem in the interpretation of the following sentences in the present perfect tense. 1) I have worked for them since 2006. Does it mean I am still working for them or I don't work for ...
1
vote
1answer
256 views

“I have 4 people in my family” vs “I have 5 people in my family”

Recently, a colleague created a warm up question: How many people are in your family? And the model answer was: I have 4 people in my family; my mother, my father, and my 2 brothers. ...
4
votes
2answers
169 views

Disambiguation of “fluff” vs. chiefly AmEng “lint” vs. chiefly BrEng “bobbles” vs. “pills” for French “peluches”

Robert & Collins French and English Dictionary, Ed. 1985 gives: lint: (US: fluff) peluches nfpl peluche (=bouloche): bit of fluff; fluff Collins French-English Dictionary Now, these are ...
0
votes
1answer
253 views

What exactly does “the deadline for submissions is January 1, 2016” mean? [duplicate]

Although I'm a native English speaker, I'm confused by the above sentence found on the page here. I've been debating with myself throughout the day whether I should interpret it as meaning before ...
1
vote
1answer
71 views

“I got to shoot a few animals” - kill or take a picture? [closed]

I wanted to say that I had managed to take a few pictures of some animals. But when I say "I got to shoot a few animals", is that clear? As shooting animals to me sounds more like killing..
1
vote
1answer
68 views

How to use the word “rave” [closed]

I am a little confused about how to use rave, because sometimes it means a bad thing like: A madman cried (raved) loudly. Yesterday, my friend recommended me a movie by saying: My people ...
8
votes
3answers
926 views

Why there are two different meanings for “triweekly”?

Context: I am looking for a term to indicate a time period of 3 weeks/21 days For instance, a "fortnightly" event would occur every 2 weeks/14 days. My Usage: The "Read for the Visually ...
0
votes
3answers
149 views

Word to define person with bad social skills

How would you define a person without (or with very bad) social skills? I don't mean a totally anti-social, but one that struggles to behave in a social context, and feels awkward or out-of-place ...
1
vote
1answer
56 views

Is “ho-hooo” familiar as an owl sound?

I am writing an article and I am wondering if the readers will understand that hoo-hooo is an owl sound. It's for an American audience. The article starts like this Everything was silent except ...
3
votes
1answer
95 views

The rain/snow/storm “let up”

What does "let up" denote in "the rain/storm has let up so we can go out/drive back home"? With a context lacking clarity, should it be understood as, "the [hard] rain/storm has lessened up to a ...
7
votes
4answers
398 views

Ambiguous syntax tree and phrase structure rules

I’m studying for a final for my English Linguistics class and going through example sentences that we should be able to draw syntax trees for. The sentence He looked at the dog with one eye was marked ...
0
votes
0answers
64 views

Unnamed vs Nameless

I've scouted around and found that: Unnamed defined is "not having being given a name" Nameless defined is "not having a name / unknown as to what the name is My main question is what is the term ...
1
vote
1answer
39 views

Is there a precedence of clauses in a sentence without commas, or is it just ambiguous?

I have been asked to make symbolic translation of an English sentence during a formal logic exam, which I believed to be rather ambiguous. The TA asserted that the sentence is not ambiguous, and the ...
3
votes
1answer
85 views

why the following answer is not correct?

Which of the following statements is the best paraphrase of the highlighted sentence? On a more optimistic note however, humans are fully capable of overcoming limitations once we have identified ...
3
votes
1answer
107 views

Why does “eastwardly” have two opposite meanings?

"Eastwardly" can mean either from the east or to the east. How does one use it without ambiguity?
-1
votes
1answer
51 views

Ambiguous or Unambiguous? [closed]

a. John will arrive at the station in five minutes. b. John will eat the pizza in five minutes. c. John will play football in five minutes. Which sentence triggers ambiguity? and How? ...
4
votes
3answers
109 views

What does 'measuring cast' mean? (1660, UK)

Source: 'Things Necessary to be Continually had in Remembrance', by Sir Matthew Hale (1609-1676) If in criminals it be a measuring cast, to incline to mercy and acquittal. How do you ...
3
votes
1answer
33 views

Which independent clause should a sentence immediately following a coordination of the two independent clauses be interpreted to refer to?

Consider the following coordination of two independent clauses (joined by "but"): Homework is due in my office hour on Tuesday, but (emphasis added) you may hand it to me earlier, e.g., in lecture ...
2
votes
2answers
118 views

“Each” in potential subject position in compound sentence always pronoun?

This question is related to: "Each" — pronoun or adverb The sentence in that question is: M and W are letters and each has 4 strokes In that sentence, how do we know that “each” is a ...
3
votes
1answer
88 views

The meaning of ''give up''

If Molière had given himself up to his abyss, Pascal — with his — would look like a journalist. E. M. Cioran, All Gall is Divided What does ''give up'' means here? Does it mean that Molière decided ...
0
votes
2answers
112 views

class vs. group

So this is what I get from dictionary.com: class: a number of persons or things regarded as forming a group by reason of common attributes, characteristics, qualities, or traits; kind; sort: a ...
1
vote
2answers
67 views

what is the difference between the following 2 sentences in their meaning regarding the word 'just'? [closed]

You have to push this button. You have to just push this button. What role does the word 'just' play in the sentence above?
0
votes
4answers
97 views

Can “harsh” be used as a noun?

I came across the word "harsh" used as a noun today. For example: I consistently showed up late to work, which turned out to be a harsh on my ambitions. The above example is very recent (from ...
1
vote
0answers
39 views

The relationship between and correct usage of the words Chronometry and Horology

Wikipedia for 'Chronometry' states: Chronometry applies to electronic devices, while Horology refers to mechanical devices. While on 'Horology', Wikipedia describes it in more detail, creating ...
1
vote
1answer
80 views

What does “fail successfully” mean? [closed]

From reading the words it sounds like teaching someone how to fail, however I hear people use it to motivate others to succeed!. So what does the expression "fail successfully" mean? Also, are there ...
0
votes
0answers
73 views

Roboticist v.s. Robotician

I am wondering about the right word to explain the people, are who involved in the robotics realm. I've seen both Roboticist and Robotician within the technical literature. But I have no idea about ...
1
vote
1answer
257 views

What does “pending publication” mean?

When you have submitted a manuscript to a publisher, and the publisher is still reviewing it to see whether they should publish it or not. Does that mean that your manuscript is pending review or ...
4
votes
1answer
85 views

“This boys hat”: Ambiguity of demonstative with possessive

A. [This boy]’s hat is cute. B. This [boys’ hat] is cute. In sentence A, "this" modifies "boy," and in sentence B, "this" modifies "boy's hat," as the brackets show. Questions What ...
0
votes
0answers
26 views

How would one specify that Noun 2 in “[Prepositional phrase] [Noun 1] and [Noun 2]” is not an object of the prepositional phrase?

I will give an example of this problem. In fact, this example is the reason why I am asking! I am blending a quote taken from a book into an assignment on which I am currently working. (Don't worry, I ...
0
votes
3answers
33 views

Does using 2 Present Simple verbs create ambiguity in their ordering?

One of the Facebook configuration features has the following label: "If you don't want a Facebook account after you pass away, you can request to have your account permanently deleted." My friend ...
1
vote
1answer
39 views

“The spell can cause much damage to enemies with special effects on them”: is it ambiguous?

It is a description about a skill of an hero in a game and it goes like this: The spell can cause much damage to enemies with special effects on them. After I wrote it down, I wondered: would a ...
0
votes
2answers
22 views

“at once” ambiguous between simultanous and immediate

I have a statement that uses "at once". It is supposed to mean "in one sweep" but the longer I look at it, the more it sounds to me like "immediately". What would you suggest? Keep it or change it? ...
0
votes
1answer
39 views

Ambiguity of if-clause

I'm not an English speaker, so my question might seem a little bit weird, but I'm truly confused. I saw some other cases like this one, which caused me to question what they really meant. There's a ...
2
votes
1answer
44 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
votes
0answers
25 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 ...