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

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0
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1answer
340 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 ...
1
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2answers
230 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 ...
0
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1answer
66 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 ...
-1
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1answer
61 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
107 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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0answers
147 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 ...
0
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1answer
140 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 ...
0
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1answer
51 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?
2
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1answer
80 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: ...
2
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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 ...
1
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1answer
99 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
60 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 ...
0
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1answer
47 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
35 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 ...
0
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0answers
85 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 ...
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3answers
70 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.
2
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2answers
115 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 ...
0
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1answer
74 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
271 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
764 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
261 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 ...
1
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1answer
145 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
97 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
103 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 ...
6
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3answers
208 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 ...
4
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1answer
80 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
417 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 ...
0
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1answer
236 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
686 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. ...
2
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3answers
215 views

Reading Comprehension question [closed]

Here is a GRE practice question that I have an issue with. It is given here, Question #7. Passage: French cuisine is highly regarded all over the world. Yet in Paris there are more ...
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2answers
45 views

How far 'outside' was 'beside'?

[Source:] Note that the substitute of “beside” for “outside” was perfectly appropriate since, at that time (although today obsolete), “outside” was one of the well-used meanings of “beside,” having ...
2
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3answers
295 views

Could “giving aids” be ambiguous?

In Wiktionary the noun aid is defined as aid (plural aids) 1. Help; assistance; succor, relief.   He came to my aid when I was foundering. 2. A helper; an assistant.   3. Something which ...
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3answers
288 views

How best to use the word “best”?

The word best means: Best: of the most excellent, effective, or desirable type or quality It seems that we only use best for the top highest quality of a certain thing. For example, there are ...
0
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1answer
318 views

What does the phrase “deceptively spacious” mean? Spacious or not? [duplicate]

This is a phrase oft-used by real estate agents. Their use of it typically implies a positive connotation i.e. a deceptively spacious house is really spacious, perhaps surprisingly so. But really this ...
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0answers
41 views

How is 'notwithstanding' governed by some preposition that is the 'subject of the verb'?

Source: p 993 of the book itself (but p 497 of the online viewer with the scroller at the bottom), An Etymological Dictionary of Modern English, volume 2 (1921), by Ernest Weekley: ...
0
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1answer
258 views

What is 'less' about 'unless'?

[Etymonline:] unless (conj.) [:] mid-15c., earlier onlesse, from on lesse (than) "on a less condition" (than); see less. The first syllable originally on, but the negative connotation and the ...
2
votes
2answers
170 views

“I saw him playing football”

In this sentence, is "playing football" a participle phrase describing the object "him", or is "him playing football" all a gerund phrase functioning as the object? The problem with English grammar ...
17
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11answers
6k views

Does a “fact” have to be true? [duplicate]

I'm struggling to decide whether to jettison use of the word fact, because the definition appears to be not solid enough to support continued usage. What do I mean by that? Look at one "meaning ...
3
votes
2answers
187 views

To which 'court' does 'courtyard' refer?

courtyard (n.) 1550s, from court (n.) + yard (n.1). Strangely, the OED forgoes the etymology. Wikipedia also is ambiguous. So please disambiguate the meaning of court? I know that court ...
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3answers
127 views

Is a dark polka dot necktie dark?

In The Syntactic Phenomena of English, McCawley considers the phrase "a dark blue necktie", and concludes that "blue" in that phrase is simultaneously a noun and an adjective. It modifies the noun ...
0
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1answer
73 views

Etymology of 'inexorable' : What does 'out' + 'pray' mean?

inexorable (adj.)    1550s, from Middle French inexorable and directly from Latin inexorabilis "that cannot be moved by entreaty," from in- "not, opposite of" (see in- (1)) + exorabilis "able ...
0
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2answers
73 views

Writing one academic year to another academic year [closed]

I am a bit confused. When do we write 2014-2015 and when do we write 2014-15? Are the two the same? If yes, which is more formal?
3
votes
2answers
140 views

A sentence with double negative [closed]

I came across the following sentence in Kurt Vonnegut's book Slaughterhouse Five. “Trout would have gone upstairs if Billy hadn't asked him not to.” If this sentence is considered independently, ...
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0answers
18 views

“elected” vs. “selected” [duplicate]

The board has elected the team members OR The board has selected the team members. Is there a difference between elected and selected in this sentence?
2
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2answers
126 views

“She left small pins in the shoes he wore to injure his feet” – is this ambiguous?

She left small pins in all the shoes he wore to injure his feet. I wrote this sentence and I thought it was fine. When I re-read it, the meaning became unclear to me. I want it to mean that she ...
2
votes
2answers
128 views

How do you reconcile these definitions of the word 'cynical'?

From the Google Search dictionary (similar definition at oxforddicationaries): 1.believing that people are motivated purely by self-interest; distrustful of human sincerity or integrity. ...
0
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1answer
49 views

Meaning of for in this poetry

The word for creates ambiguous ideas in my native language, so I really can't understand the main objective in this phrase: "Why does she sing her sad songs for me, I'm not the one" It is a verse of ...
2
votes
1answer
104 views

tenant vs lodger meaning

What is the difference between a tenant and a lodger? Both words seem to mean the same, so when is one preferred over the other, or is it a case of different terms to name the same thing?
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2answers
62 views

Role Title Word That Conveys a Sense of Direction/Command as well as Engagement of Particular Skills in Work

I'm looking for an eloquent word, if one exists, for a role in one's profession whereby they direct and mentor a team with a particular set of skills, but also clearly engage in work with said skills ...