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

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25 views

Is this sentence ambiguous? “For all subsets c, d belong to a, …”

I wrote a math practice question as For all subsets C, D belong to A, is it true..... What I meant was both C and D are the subsets of A. However, a student said what he understood is the "...
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1answer
42 views

Different meanings of “supported” software

Let's say I write a computer program for Linux. People pay me, they get this computer program and my support staff will "support them" using it. There is different (well, actually many) different ...
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2answers
67 views

Is there an easy way to identify whether or not a pronoun is ambiguous?

It seems like I have the most trouble with ambiguous pronouns. I wrongly assume that a pronoun is ambiguous very often. Consider these three examples: The city of Conway, Wales, now surrounds the ...
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2answers
169 views

Why is “is” not the error in this SAT sentence?

In this practice SAT question, the test-taker is required to identify the existence and location of an error in a sentence: True chalcedony is different from blue agate [in] the purity of its ...
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2answers
62 views

Connotation of “Notorious”

I used to think "notoriety" is "negative fame", but saw "The keynote speaker is notorious for his work in the field" with the obviously positive connotation. So which is it? Both?
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1answer
100 views

In what varieties of English can “does not qualify” mean “disqualifies”? [closed]

Are there any (nonstandard?) varieties (dialects/registers/styles) of English where "does not X" can mean "does the opposite of X", either in general, or specifically for the transitive verb qualify, ...
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0answers
45 views

Aramean vs. Aramaic?

What is the difference in usage between the adjectives Aramean and Aramaic? It seems that we use Aramaic to describe the language and Aramean to describe the people. But which one should we use to ...
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1answer
37 views

“improve upon” another party's design - meaning?

My supervisor in Japan is currently translating my CV from English into Japanese, however she has asked me to reword one sentence (in English) as to her its meaning is not what I intended it to be. ...
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6answers
485 views

What is the origin of 'as long as' meaning 'on condition that'?

According to dictionaries 'as long as' means "during a period of time" (as long as you live), but it also means "on the condition that" (I will attend the conference as long as I can arrive on time). ...
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0answers
22 views

did not think he would steal some

a. I did not think he would steal some of my ideas. b. I did not think he would steal certain of my ideas. Could these sentences have two meanings: I did not think he would steal any of my ideas. ...
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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 ...
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1answer
45 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 ...
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1answer
103 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; ...
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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 -...
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2answers
47 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 ...
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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?
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1answer
52 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 ...
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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
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2answers
107 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 ...
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1answer
99 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 ...
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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: ...
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1answer
63 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!
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1answer
102 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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
316 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. ...
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2answers
173 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 ...
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1answer
264 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 ...
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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..
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1answer
71 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 ...
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3answers
984 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 ...
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3answers
164 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 ...
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1answer
57 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
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1answer
102 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 ...
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4answers
458 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 ...
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0answers
69 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 ...
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1answer
40 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 ...
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1answer
91 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
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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?
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1answer
54 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?
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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
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1answer
36 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 ...
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2answers
119 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
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1answer
92 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 ...
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2answers
116 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 ...
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2answers
69 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?
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4answers
99 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 ...
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0answers
42 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 ...
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1answer
83 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 ...