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

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1answer
65 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.
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1answer
54 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 ...
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3answers
721 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 ...
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2answers
415 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 ...
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1answer
174 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"?
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1answer
558 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 ...
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3answers
224 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 ...
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2answers
114 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 ...
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3answers
533 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 ...
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2answers
52 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 ...
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2answers
104 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 ...
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2answers
133 views

Why does i.e mean that is? [closed]

I learned that i.e means : that is or in other words but how does this make sense? shouldn't it be: t.i in this case?
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3answers
139 views

“Half” for unequal divisions

A topic came up today concerning the usage of the word "half". I was describing a separation of labour into two obviously unequal groups. A colleague corrected me, saying that the word "half" ...
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3answers
155 views

What does “be proactively available to help others” mean?

Actively going to others to provide help even if they don't need it? Being available actively to help others whenever they need it? Or something else?
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2answers
110 views

Using source as a verb to mean “to provide a citation”

Recently on the meta for English.se, I used the following sentence: Personally, I think we should source answers if possible, but this is also sensitive to the level of the asker. My question ...
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1answer
44 views

Task definition and its instances

I have a system which allows to set tasks for users. Each task has to be completed everyday and has a recurring due time. To keep the history of completions/failures, there is another entity: a task ...
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2answers
129 views

How do I say “to record” meaning “to audio and video record” (in contrast to “to audio record”)?

The context here is "You should record your speech". I mean you should record both your audio (the speaking) as well as the visual (gesticulation, etc.), but the context of this sentence strongly ...
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2answers
492 views

SAT Writing ambiguous pronoun error?

Can anyone please explain why this sentence is incorrect? When Russell Wallace and Darwin independently proposed similar theories, Darwin had already accumulated extensive evidence with which ...
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1answer
221 views

The problem with the word “quite” [duplicate]

"Quite" is probably the most ambiguous word in the English language. Merriam-Webster defines it three ways: 1: completely, wholly, totally (quite mistaken) 2: to an extreme : positively (quite ...
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1answer
119 views

Can “did not” be used instead of “should not”?

I'm trying to read "Harry Potter and Methods of Rationality" (Chapter 25), and I'm puzzled with the following phrase: And furthermore, Harry said, his voice emphatic and his right hand thumping ...
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4answers
6k views

“Two yellow spots on its wings” vs “a yellow spot on both wings”

The bird has two yellow spots on its wings. versus The bird has a yellow spot on both wings. Do they mean the same? Which one describes more accurately the yellow spots of the following bird? ...
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3answers
108 views

“Students avoid boring professors” is ambiguity?

Wondering how “Students avoid boring professors” is ambiguity? I know there is one meaning of this sentence, "stay away from". Is there any other possible meanings?
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1answer
95 views

What does “This is just mean” mean? [closed]

Generally, I get to see that such sentences are used to express disgust or anger and likewise feelings. But what is the actual meaning? I am not sure about the actual spelling of the word also. ...
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3answers
568 views

Meaning of the full title of Darwin's “On the origin of species”

The full title of Darwin's work "On the origin of species" is: "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life". My ...
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1answer
408 views

Do the words 'gift' and 'present' have the same meaning? [closed]

As the question says, do these two words have the same meaning?
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2answers
274 views

Use of Like/Unlike (Double negative)

What is the correct way? Birds are not mammals like cats. Birds are not mammals, like cats. Birds are not mammals, unlike cats. *Just in case, reminder: Cats are mammals. Birds are not mammals.
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1answer
127 views

“Favour” or “favor” [duplicate]

Are the terms favour and favor interchangeable ? Or is there a slight difference perhaps? This is nitpicking but just curious. http://www.merriam-webster.com/info/spelling-reform.htm there are ...
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1answer
104 views

Difference between chastise and lambaste?

Is there a difference between chastise and lambaste? When should one use chastise and when should one use lambaste?
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1answer
378 views

“Went without saying”

it "went" without saying? Does the phrase "went without saying" even exist? When is it more applicable than "goes without saying"?Even in past tense: "the show was hosted by a famous star, ...
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1answer
425 views

Meaning of the word “FOR” used at the beginning of a sentence

I have encountered the word "for" many times. But, even if I use the dictionary, I can not understand the meaning of this word used at the beginning of a sentence. Here is an example: It would be an ...
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3answers
82 views

Difficulty in interpreting a statute

In my home state, there is a statute regarding child seats. § 20-137.1. Child restraint systems required. (a) Every driver who is transporting one or more passengers of less than 16 ...
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3answers
6k views

Difference between “take a taxi” and “get a taxi”

Which of the following is correct? If both are correct, do they have different meanings or usage? Take a taxi/bus/train OR Get a taxi/bus/train
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1answer
402 views

order of magnitude of words describing the size of a group [closed]

Are there any definitive, or even generally accepted guides which indicate the order of magnitude of: pack party throng rabble horde drove swarm plague There is some agreement that "couple" is 2, ...
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1answer
60 views

'Ambiguous Nuts' or 'To Shell or not to Shell'

How does one remove the ambiguity of shelled peanuts? Must one just not use the adjective 'shelled' in relation to peanuts, or other nuts, or shellfish?
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0answers
15 views

should “that” be used, or not? [duplicate]

should "that" be used in this instance or not, and why? I have come to the conclusion that I want to study international relations" or "I have come to the conclusion I want to study international ...
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2answers
284 views

Is a “blue bird” the same as a “bluebird”?

Is “blue bird” in the following quotation from Lady Chatterley’s Lover referring to an actual bluebird? The lush, dark green of hyacinths was a sea, with buds rising like pale corn, while in the ...
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3answers
734 views

“to not get” vs “not to get”

I came across this sentence in an article, "As she speaks of her family, friends and life, it's difficult to not get that 'feel good' mood." I'm wondering if the following sentence could also mean ...
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1answer
451 views

Why and how did “a sensible boy” become “intelligent and prudent”?

Italians often get confused by sensible and sensitive. If I tell them He's a sensible boy; he studies hard, saves his money, and plans ahead. They are quite bewildered. To them, sensible is ...
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3answers
102 views

Meaning of “I have three books and CDs”

I have three books and CDs. Does this mean I have three books and three CDs? Or are there three items in total? Are both possible? I am asking for a native speaker's opinion.
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2answers
1k views

The use of “had to”

Does the following phrase mean it must be true? This fact had to be true. Or it must have been true? I would like a native speaker's opinion on this. I often hear it used in the second ...
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2answers
219 views

Ambiguity in use of relative pronouns

The animal ate the father of Jay, who was an engineer. So who is the engineer here? Father or Jay? How can I use which, that, who to refer to the whole object or only to parts of the object?
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5answers
2k views

Etymology of “nick” in, in the nick of time?

We have the nick meaning prison, as in "he served time in the nick", then we have the verb to nick, meaning to steal; but if the police catch you red-handed, then "you've been nicked". And if you led ...
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1answer
247 views

Meaning of “Smiles Slip”

I don't quite understand something: source Brazil will, in one form or another, be ready for the World Cup. But when it comes to hosting the tournament, those famous Brazilian smiles may ...
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1answer
62 views

Is there an ambiguity in “the most purified gold”?

Is there an ambiguity in the question: Which country has the most purified gold?" Which has (the most purified) gold? say 24 carat gold Which country has the largest amount of purified ...
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3answers
341 views

Meaning of “Discretion”

I saw this dictionary entry, and it says "discretion" could mean approximately either 1) the right to choose what to do or 2) the quality of being careful what you do. The dictionary has these two ...
0
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1answer
247 views

On English Phrases with Essential Changes in Meaning [closed]

In any living language the change in meanings of the words and phrases is a natural phenomenon. But sometimes this change is very essential and a certain word or phrase loses its original meaning ...
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2answers
554 views

What does “Tell me if you love me” really mean? [closed]

What does "Tell me if you love me" really mean? I have two interpretations, please tell me which one is correct: 1) Tell me whether you are in love with me or not. 2) Tell me about XXX, to prove ...
0
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1answer
283 views

Difference Between “View” and “Viewpoint”?

Suppose the context is people giving their opinions in a discussion. How are "view" and "viewpoint" different? Some dictionaries seem to say they are the same. What do native speakers think?
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1answer
190 views

“falling due” vs “due”

What's the definition of falling due and how did its sense materialise? Please compare it against "due"? I'm mindful that it's an accounting/business term: here are its matches on Google Books. I'm ...
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2answers
244 views

Meaning of “I had just finished year 10 and summer break had begun”

I had just finished year 10 and summer break had begun. What's the meaning of that year 10? Does it mean his age is 10? Or does it mean it's his tenth year of his school?