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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

17
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
183 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
60 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
242 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
votes
1answer
224 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 ...
-2
votes
2answers
384 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
votes
1answer
203 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?
1
vote
1answer
122 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
191 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?
0
votes
1answer
100 views

Is there any difference between remembers everything and never forgets?

If we have the two sentences: John remembers everything. and John never forgets. Are there any nuances or tones that give different meaning to the two phrases.
0
votes
1answer
82 views

Ambiguity about passive in my textbook

In my textbook, it said "In an active sentence we need to include the agent as subject; using a passive allows us to omit the agent by leaving out the prepositional phrase with by" Ex: ...
0
votes
1answer
431 views

“Opulence is the end”: has this a double meaning? [closed]

This quote in its context means "death caused by the opulence (wealthy life)". Opulence is the end because it can make people do things they wouldn't do otherwise. My question is: can this quote also ...
1
vote
1answer
205 views

Is there ambiguity in this sentence?

Further to fathom Aquinas on this matter, however, it is useful to remember that, when he explains what goodness is, he typically says that to be good is, quite generally, the same as being ...
1
vote
3answers
681 views

Use of “may need to” when you actually need to

In software documentation, I recently read: If you move a job to a different folder, you may also need to update configuration that was referring to that job. But if you have a "configuration ...
2
votes
2answers
171 views

Ambiguous? “someone lives between place A and place B” [closed]

Is this sentence: “someone lives between place A and place B” ambiguous? Depending on the cities, I wonder whether it means: "someone lives in a place C between A and B" Or, "someone keeps ...
3
votes
1answer
124 views

What do you call the linguistic ambiguity in an assertion "Blah is the Best X?

I don't know the correct name of the following characteristic or phenomena to search for it on Google for further study and exploration: Someone says they live in the "Best Democracy" and they ...
3
votes
2answers
123 views

Antecedent Precedence?

Background: I was working on a project and was having a colleague of mine proof-read a piece of documentation. He said that one sentence was ambiguous because he couldn't determine what the antecedent ...
2
votes
1answer
82 views

Phrase interpretable as expressing A, or as B, or as “A and B”

Within the world of terms like double entendre, multiple entendre, and polysemy is there a way of more specifically expressing the situation where there is a remark that can be understood to say ...
0
votes
6answers
257 views

Does the professor think that I'm pregnant?

Yesterday, I handed my assignment to the professor as I was reaching the deadline. For some reason it took a while for her to check my paper, which made me uneasy, but eventually she looked at me in ...
-2
votes
1answer
120 views

How to clarify the meaning of “don't forget my son”?

There are two meanings of "Don't forget my son" A directive addressed to your own son. A directive addressed to someone else about your son. You want to use meaning #2. You can emphasize meaning ...
0
votes
1answer
409 views

The use of “actually” and “whatsoever”

The word, actually means to "emphasize a fact or a comment, or that something is really true." So why is whatsoever used in this sentence You have no right whatsoever to read what is written ...
-1
votes
1answer
211 views

What percentage is equal to almost all? [closed]

If you use the term "almost all" in a sentence what percentage would you attribute to that? Example 1: Dan at almost all of the pie. Mary had the rest. Example 2: Almost all kids who go to college ...
3
votes
1answer
219 views

Adjective for “can't think of it now, but I'll know it when I see it”?

This happens when someone asks you about a fairly new song. You can't remember the lyrics or the music, but when it comes on the radio, you'll know that's the one. What adjective would describe that ...
2
votes
1answer
88 views

What would you call this kind of prepositional phrase?

What would you call a sentence that goes something like The foreman sent a worker to find me with a hammer. The sentence is ambiguous, and could mean either: The foreman sent a worker to find ...
1
vote
1answer
231 views

What is the difference between “brush aside” and “brush off”?

He brushed her ideas / accusations aside He brushed her ideas / accusations off She brushed him off / aside after breaking up What's the difference between brush off and brush aside? I looked the ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

Controversy over verb choice in “neither you nor I {is/am/are} in control”

I was watching the film A Game of Shadows starring Robert Downey Junior and Jude law when this line came up, "...neither you nor I is in control..." (I can’t remember the exact words that ended the ...
1
vote
1answer
334 views

Ask: “You don't think this is right”, Answer:“No, I don't”. What does that mean? [duplicate]

English sentences can be very fascinating... or downright confusing, depends on how you look at it. For example, if A asks B:"You don't think the Josh is right on this, do you", and B answers:"No, I ...
-5
votes
1answer
66 views

How to comprehend “The output should be false.”? [closed]

Consider a function in a computer program which returns a boolean value (true or false). The output should be false。 can be interpreted as either of the following two: 1. As we expected, the output ...
-2
votes
2answers
98 views

Usage of the word “commuted”? [closed]

The word commuted has multiple meanings (the arcane one being) - reduction in a judicial sentence. Heretofore, I thought it only meant travelled (from one place to the other). I am looking for ...
0
votes
3answers
227 views

Tricky pronoun and antecedent agreement

I'm currently taking a grammar class and the professor gave us this phrase to ponder upon. She said that there was a problem with it. I can't seem to find the problem nor the solution. Manolette ...
9
votes
2answers
248 views

What is the name of the ambiguity in the phrase “I want to visit clubs with attractive women”?

I want to visit clubs with attractive women. This phrase can be interpreted in two ways: I want to visit clubs myself, but the clubs I visit should have attractive women. I want to take ...
3
votes
1answer
146 views

It was established on a rocky foundation [closed]

It was established on a rocky foundation. Does it mean steady or shaky?
4
votes
2answers
304 views

Can I use the word “must” in subjunctive mood?

I'm a student in China. Our English exam has a grammar item. 54.My boss ordered that the legal documents __ to him before lunch. A.be sent B.were sent C.were to be sent D.must be ...
0
votes
2answers
163 views

Not shifting the adverbial of time in reported speech

I know that generally, in reported speech e.g. tomorrow shifts to "the following day". But I also know that in some cases it can remain, e.g: He said he would do that tomorrow. That one should ...
3
votes
2answers
202 views

Is ”If I leave, it’s because Bob has arrived” ambiguous?

If I leave, it’s because Bob has arrived. Does this mean: Bob has not arrived yet. When Bob does arrive (shortly), I may leave. Bob is here now and requesting my attention. Therefore, I may ...
3
votes
2answers
334 views

If/when in this example?

I am struggling with understanding when I can use if/when interchangeably. The situation is like this, I meet my friend outside who is heading to the dentist. I say (in that situation, knowing he is ...
2
votes
3answers
145 views

Phrase meaning “To have passed or currently be at”

I have 40 characters, (broken up into two lines of 20,) to send hints to users about the location of a "prize" buried somewhere in a grid. There is ambiguity when I tell the user if, at any time ...
4
votes
10answers
656 views

Phrase meaning “North, but not directly North, from here”

I have 40 characters to give hints to users about the location of a "prize" (Broken up into two lines of 20 characters.) There is some ambiguity when I send the following hint: The prize is somewhere ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

What’s the difference between “line” and “row”?

I’m not exactly sure under which circumstances is line or row the more suitable term. In Portuguese, they both translate to the same word linha, which can be used for both a drawing line or for an ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

When is between inclusive and when exclusive?

It seems that the exact meaning of between is very tied to its specific usage. What should I assume in a general situation about the inclusivity of between. Consider: "Pick a number between 1 and ...
1
vote
1answer
188 views

Position of adverbial phrase [duplicate]

Is there a difference in these two sentences, and if so, what is the difference? Immediately afterwards I remembered having met her. I remembered having met her immediately afterwards. I think ...
5
votes
2answers
491 views

Semicolon: Always required before conjunction if internal punctuation follows, even if no ambiguity?

Is the semicolon in the following sentence necessary? Is it preferable? To me, it seems that there would be no ambiguity if the semicolon were replaced with a comma, but the writer insists that a ...
0
votes
0answers
220 views

We got you surrounded. What use of GET is this? [duplicate]

I have heard a sentence "We got you surrounded", what would be difference between "We surrounded you"? I believe the first one implies that it has just been done, i.e. reaching certain condition, ...
1
vote
2answers
267 views

Settle you in vs Get you settled in [duplicate]

As GET has so many meanings, it is hard for me to distinct between them and understand the nuances. Are these sentences all correct? Would you understand the same thing by them? I will settle you ...
-1
votes
2answers
52 views

Can 'filtered' be ambiguous?

I'm working with algorithms that filter their input (that is, remove part of it), and I'm not sure this phrase is unambiguous: This function returns the filtered elements. Is it obvious that ...
1
vote
3answers
969 views

Noun-adjective-noun: Can a noun phrase have an adjective in the middle?

Can a noun phrase have an adjective in the middle as in the following examples? car new tires salad high-calorie dressing house external wall nitrogen fine droplets These examples ...
2
votes
2answers
243 views

Does 'which' refer to the noun immediately preceding it?

Is the 'which' in Proposition 25 suggests a better definition of m-reducibility than given in Definition 23, which is also the one typically given in texts ambiguous? It is a line from an ...
3
votes
2answers
10k views

Are the expressions: “You needn't” and “You don't need to” different in meaning? [duplicate]

While doing some research on a comment I had read on ELL I read the following excerpt from a website called e.grammar You needn't listen to him. (You don't have to listen to him.) x You don't ...
6
votes
1answer
216 views

'Remit' an antonym of itself?

Perhaps I don't fully understand the word, but it always confuses me. When talking about money: The money was remitted. Which means that the money was transmitted/transferred successfully. But ...
-1
votes
1answer
101 views

When he was 7, he killed his first enemy

I want to say that a person (Egill Skallagrímsson, just for the record) committed his first killing of an enemy at the age of seven. However, it seems to me that this phrase: When he was 7, he ...