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

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78 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 ...
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1answer
288 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 ...
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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 is ...
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27 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 ...
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3answers
34 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 ...
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1answer
40 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 ...
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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? ...
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1answer
40 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 ...
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1answer
52 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.'' ...
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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 ...
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1answer
218 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 ...
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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.. ...
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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 ...
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2answers
143 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 ...
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3answers
98 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 ...
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80 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 "...
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2answers
93 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, ...
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2answers
91 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 ...
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1answer
132 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?" ...
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1answer
66 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 ...
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1answer
675 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 ...
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2answers
256 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 ...
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1answer
73 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 ...
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1answer
64 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 ...
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1answer
132 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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171 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 options,...
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1answer
180 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 ...
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1answer
57 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?
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1answer
86 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: ...
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5answers
1k views

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

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 this....
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1answer
101 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 ...
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3answers
62 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 ...
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1answer
55 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
36 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 ...
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0answers
87 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 verb+...
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3answers
72 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.
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2answers
159 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 may ...
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1answer
76 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 ...
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2answers
293 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 ...
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2answers
798 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.
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2answers
292 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 ...
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1answer
161 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?
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2answers
103 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 ...
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2answers
128 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 ...
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3answers
223 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 ...
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1answer
81 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 ...
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5answers
460 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 ...
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1answer
257 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 ...
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2answers
805 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. ...