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

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5
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1answer
79 views

Can you distinguish the permission to do something from the license, an official document?

According to the dictionary, licence/license refers to an official document which proves you are permitted to do something. What, then, is the word for the permission itself? I'm from Korea, and in ...
1
vote
1answer
117 views

Using the pronoun 'one' twice in a sentence for the same person

I often read sentences that use the pronoun 'one' twice to refer to the same hypothetical person, but I've always felt reluctant in using it myself. Here's an example: One's experiences shape ...
0
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2answers
577 views

“one of a kind” idiom

This is an official practice question for the SAT Reasoning Test: Along the curve of islands known as the Florida Keys lies a reef of living coral, the only one of a kind in the continental United ...
1
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0answers
61 views

Can “yell 'word' for passcode” be considered a wordplay? [closed]

Consider the following sentence: Yell "word" for passcode. Obviously it instructs one to yell "word" in order to get a passcode. To me it looks like the sentence could be read as a wordplay ...
0
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1answer
50 views

“no longer…when…”--ambiguity?

I was reading this sentence and thought it ambiguous: The trees must have grown since he died because they were no longer young when I first saw them. This could mean: 1) The trees were already old ...
1
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3answers
90 views

Ambiguous pronouns

I have a statement like The performance of the proposed scheme, and its dependence on … Here, ‘it’ can refer to either the performance of the scheme, or the scheme itself. I changed the ...
1
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2answers
107 views

Turn “in to” or “into” a lonely lane?

I have a sentence I'm writing where I describe making a turn, as I run, into an empty alleyway. Here is how I would like to say it: I turn into a lonely lane... The problem I find is that it ...
5
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2answers
87 views

Is there a term for an acronym “parody” / “backformation” / “re-purposing”?

I've engaged the task of trying to legitimize the presence of a listing of DRM standing for "Digital Restrictions Management" on Wikipedia's disambiguation page for the acronym DRM. (This is a case ...
1
vote
1answer
82 views

What exactly does “bear witness” mean? [closed]

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "bear witness" as 1- Testify to. 2- State or show one’s belief in. Are both these definitions correct? I mean for instance, you don't bear witness or become a ...
3
votes
3answers
839 views

Difference between “ad hoc” and “impromptu” [closed]

Is there any difference between "ad hoc" and "impromptu"? Can you find sentences where only one of the words is acceptable and the other is not? And where they are interchangeable? What about the ...
1
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4answers
210 views

What is the meaning of “poetry” ? And how far it is different from “Poem”? [closed]

In a concert I heard saying Poetry is : "words carrying the meaning little concealed and little exposed." It may sound convincing but thats not word to word meaning neither complete. It is just a ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Does “speak in a low voice” refer to volume/loudness or to pitch?

Does the low in Speak in a low voice! He said in a low voice. refer to the volume/loudness or to the pitch? Does it mean quiet, or low-frequency? EDIT: After understanding from your ...
0
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2answers
262 views

I promise not to do it, I swear not to do it. Is there a double meaning here?

"I promise [pause] not to do it" seems to me equivalent to "I promise I won't do it". However, "I promise not [pause] to do it" seems to me equivalent to "I do not promise I will ...
-1
votes
1answer
188 views

Megalomania vs narcissism? [closed]

They look very similar. It's hard for me to discern the difference. Is there any difference between the two?
3
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2answers
136 views

<Grammar/Style> Ambiguous “it”

I recently stumbled upon this joke employing some grammar: Q: How can you drop an egg on a concrete floor without cracking it? A: Any way you want, concrete floors are very hard to crack. ...
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3answers
43 views

Does this sentence make any sense to you?

"Never play the podcast from anywhere but the start" What does this sentence mean to you? By podcast I mean a house music episode that is one hour long.
7
votes
1answer
384 views

Are “was/were able to” and “could” interchangeable?

In a grammar book, the claim was made that in the following sentences one cannot substitute "was/were able to" with "could." The fire spread through the building very quickly, but everyone was ...
1
vote
2answers
69 views

Formatting two adjacent footnote indicators in the body of the footnoted text

I've run into an issue using Microsoft Word 2013. In the following example, there is no way to know whether or not there exists one reference to footnote 12, or two references to footnotes 1 and 2: ...
2
votes
4answers
417 views

What's the difference between “title” and “name”?

I'm not sure when it's appropriate to use word "name", and when to use word "title". For example, "file name" feels right, "file title" doesn't; "document name" and "document title" seem ...
3
votes
4answers
92 views

Regions and reasons for the usage of “sleep” as “go to sleep”

This question is very closely linked to this english.SE question, which discusses the usage of "sleep" as a verb meaning "go to sleep" and inspired by this ell.SE question, in which the accepted ...
-2
votes
1answer
59 views

What to use : “that” or “who”? [duplicate]

Consider this sentence : "I was going down the hill and on my step down I saw a guy who appeared to be disguised". "I was going down the hill and on my step down I saw a guy that appeared to be ...
2
votes
2answers
152 views

What is opposite of “Love”? [closed]

In a argument with my friend who lost her love, I came across her experience of life and what she said is : Opposite of love is NOT Hate. why, Because in love people have feeling and think about ...
2
votes
3answers
445 views

Does “native Japanese” indicate Japanese people or indigenous people in Japan?

I want to simply indicate that I was born and raised in Japan. I think I can say "I am a native Japanese", but when I google the expression, the results include information about indigenous people in ...
6
votes
1answer
145 views

Shakespeare's “slow as the elephant”

I am reading Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, in Act 1 Scene 2 Alexander gives the following portrait of Ajax: "[...] he is as valiant as the lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant; ...
6
votes
8answers
609 views

How to rephrase “Deliberate failure”?

I have a document that I'm drafting that, at the moment, has a sentence that reads something like: Remove X from all company computers. Deliberate failure to do so constitutes grounds for ...
5
votes
5answers
1k views

3 meter square area vs 3 square meter area

A. 3 meter square area B. 3 square meter area I’m wondering what the easiest way is to clearly express the difference between A and B above. In A, one side is 3 (meters). In B, one side is ...
1
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3answers
199 views

More confusion with relative pronoun ambiguity

What does the relative pronoun refer to in this sentence? It was probably on the darker/smoother side of things, compared to, say, the Sony ZX-1, which I prefer. To me, his preference isn’t ...
1
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2answers
101 views

Is “Can you carry this book?” acceptable? [closed]

Is it grammatically correct to say: Can you carry this book? I said this to a friend and this person commented that I need to learn grammar. To me the statement seems grammatically correct and ...
2
votes
3answers
888 views

Is “out” a preposition or an adverb in these sentences?

Is out a preposition or an adverb in these sentences? "We need to get the hell out of this place." "We need to get out and leave this place."
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votes
1answer
266 views

Is the glass half filled with water or half empty? [closed]

If someone asks me this, is there some proper answer according to English grammar? If there is, what is it? If not, shouldn't there be one? And which one? P.S. I am not asking this for fun. This ...
2
votes
0answers
190 views

Is language inherently circular? [closed]

I looked up "Hallelujah" in etymonline.com today, and the result, as often happens with etymological research, ended in following a rabbit warren of possibilities. Take the word "Hallelujah" for ...
1
vote
1answer
53 views

Ambiguity in the statement of an Indian politician.

Derek O' Brien is celebrity turned politician in India. Recently in a TV debate on a National TV channel he was recorded saying that he was a Christian first, before that an Indian. (Watch the video ...
0
votes
1answer
84 views

Figuring out what's wrong with the sentence

I took a quiz given in the BBC magazine. it had the following sentence. The Queen arrived at the castle with the King by her side, in a dress adorned with hand-sewn embroidered dragons. please ...
2
votes
5answers
137 views

“Find ten apples and oranges” Do I find 10 or 20?

If I read the sentence Find ten apples and oranges. Do I need to find ten or twenty pieces of fruit?
1
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4answers
127 views

How do I pluralize the coffee drink “shot in the dark”?

For those that do not know, there is a coffee drink that it sometimes called a shot in the dark. It consists of an espresso shot poured in a regular cup of Joe. Suppose that I would like to order two ...
1
vote
3answers
129 views

When an author lets you decide what happened?

Is there a word to describe when an Author doesn't fully explain a particular scenario, and leaves it rather ambiguous, so that the reader may decide what happened? SPOILERS for Mockingjay and Life ...
2
votes
1answer
129 views

Is it accurate/correct/proper to call an abusive dictator a megalomaniac?

The definition of megalomania indicates that it is the delusion of power, wealth, greatness, importance, etc. So when talking about malicious dictators, especially those known for mass murder of ...
3
votes
7answers
531 views

A person who goes to gymnastics school — a 'student' or a 'pupil?'

I am trying to find an exact answer of this question: Is a person who goes to gymnastics school a 'student' or a 'pupil?'
0
votes
1answer
427 views

“Life is short. Work somewhere awesome.” Is it ambiguous?

At a company some HR person put a label on the wall with a slogan: "Life is short Work somewhere awesome " /+ Name of the company The question is: May this label sound conversational? Like I ...
0
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1answer
64 views

meaning of edge in this sentence

belligerent speeches by leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States throughout the Cold War were keeping the world on edge.
0
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1answer
49 views

When distinguishing 'in which' and 'which' is ambiguous

I'm a Korean high school student (who really likes reading English novels), and I'm curious regarding the usage of 'in which' and 'which' in a sentence. Which one do I have to use in the following ...
2
votes
3answers
623 views

“Small Latin and Less Greek”

About a third of the way through his poem "To the Memory of My Beloved the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare and What He Hath Left Us," Ben Jonson writes: And though thou hadst small Latin and less ...
3
votes
2answers
364 views

What does “feeling a little precious” mean? [duplicate]

I ran across this phrase in a video made by an Australian walking the Camino de Santiago. He describes a horrible sleep-deprived night and suffering from food poisoning, and states that he's feeling a ...
-5
votes
1answer
170 views

Antedecent of “naked” in “I would like to paint a picture of you naked”

You’re such a pretty person, I would like to paint a picture of you naked. Does this mean "you’ll undress while I get my brushes", or does it mean "strike a pose while I take my clothes off"?
0
votes
1answer
503 views

Does saying 'then' after 'sorry' imply reluctance?

A did something wrong but didn't realize it. B explained to A why what (s)he did was wrong. Then A said: "Sorry then". Is A really sorry? Literally, "sorry then" (in my head) means in light of the ...
0
votes
3answers
217 views

Difference between “college” and “university”

I have seen the words college and university sometimes mixed in the same article. But there are lots of sources where only one is used. I've looked up them in various dictionaries, but couldn't figure ...
1
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2answers
98 views

Ambiguous relative clause

In the following expression, whom does 'who' refer to? The friends of the participants or the participants themselves? "The friends of the participants who were told to order soft drinks" This was ...
3
votes
3answers
419 views

Is the verb “hustle” used mostly positively or negatively these days?

I am confused about the uses of the word hustle. According to the dictionary, to hustle means a lot of negative things, like: force (someone) to move hurriedly or unceremoniously in a specified ...
0
votes
2answers
51 views

Disambiguating fictitiousness

I think that confronted with the statement: The claim is fictitious. or even The claim is made up. most people would interpret it to mean, "The claim was actually made, but its content is ...
0
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2answers
101 views

Specific use of “where”

Do these two sentences convey the same meaning? What is more I detailed the difficulty that arises in such an investigation where it is one person's word against another. What is more I ...