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

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3
votes
2answers
196 views

Is “to fight with” ambiguous?

I've read about a Dutch volunteer, who died in Syria "fighting with the rebels". Obviously from the context you could understand, that he was fighting for the rebels, against the government troops. ...
6
votes
3answers
7k views

Why does “I am in your debt” mean the opposite of what it suggests?

I don't understand why if someone says "I am in your debt" it seems to mean the opposite of the literal meaning. The person saying this says that they are in the debt of the person the phrase is ...
1
vote
2answers
176 views

“My job is not to worry about those people” — what does “not” refer to?

In the famous leaked video, Mitt Romney says My job is not to worry about those people An equivalent sentence probably is It is not my job to worry about those people Some media in my home ...
2
votes
2answers
181 views

What is the term for this ambiguous sentence?

I apologize that I don't know how to search for this question--it may be a duplicate, or maybe I just should have learned it in English class! I'm a teacher, and in another StackExchange, I wrote the ...
1
vote
1answer
152 views

Is there a technical term for when verbs in a sentence appear as if they have been swapped around? [closed]

Is there a technical term for when verbs in a sentence appear as if they have been swapped around as in the example here? 'her fingers creased in gold [and] her body ringed in folds' In this ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Quintessential vs essential?

While quintessential means 'representing the most perfect or typical example of a quality or class' [OED], it defines essential as 'absolutely necessary; extremely important'. I have noticed frequent ...
2
votes
1answer
177 views

When a sentence contains both “not” and “or”, which one has priority?

I am changing a piece of text which current reads: Payment not deducted to also include the situation where payments are withheld. The suggested revision of text given to me is Payment not ...
-3
votes
1answer
158 views

Whats the meaning of “Outta” In a song of Metallica called “ain't my bit-ch” [closed]

((Dear Native English Speakers Please Help Me.)) Metallica is my favorite band and I love them but I have some serious problems in translating and understanding the meaning of the lyric entitled ...
1
vote
3answers
323 views

Is “have not worked here for a long time” ambiguous?

I have not worked here for a long time/for many years. Is it ambiguous? Which of the two below is the correct meaning? I have been working here, but only for a short period of time. I once ...
0
votes
2answers
142 views

Valid? “The river is flowing.”

What is the meaning of the "the river is flowing?" Is this valid usage? Websters, #2: River: A large quantity of a flowing substance The river is already a flow by definition. Can the river be ...
3
votes
1answer
272 views

Interpretation of the adjective “outstanding”

In my holidays I met a woman who is originally from Australia. She told me she lived in many places due to her husband's work and also traveled much around the world. Although she's already seen many ...
-1
votes
1answer
61 views

An ambiguous sentence from the music Dreamtale

The whole sentence is As the last ship sailed towards the distant horizon, I sat there watching on a rock. My mind slowly drifting away, forming into my...dreamtale. I can't figure out whether ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

Do phrases such as “by tomorrow” or “by Thursday” include the day mentioned? [duplicate]

I wasn't sure how to research this without being able to explain what I mean. When someone says something like "I will have it done by tomorrow", does that phrase mean that they will have it done ...
2
votes
1answer
433 views

Justice as a title … where does it come from?

In the US supreme court judges, among others, are called "justice [name]". Where is this use rooted? Obviously the term comes from Latin "justitia" originally, but that means justice as in the the ...
1
vote
1answer
336 views

Present perfect or past simple? [duplicate]

I know the basic rules about using PP and PS (like specified time in the past etc.) but in some cases, it is not clear to me: I have finished painting. - present perfect, I just announce that. I ...
-1
votes
3answers
190 views

Meaning: “Any more” in context [closed]

I am not sure about the meaning of the "any more" in the following phrase and how can I spot it: Would the things I've said and done matter any more? 1) Would it matter any longer? 2) Would it ...
3
votes
2answers
567 views

Should I follow English conventions, or write what sounds better?

How a sentence sounds when read aloud or in your head can often "sound" different for each individual doing so; however, I was reading details regarding the usage of "data" and "datum" and was ...
1
vote
1answer
102 views

For the title alone

Someone has voted for one of my questions with this comment: +1 for the title alone. Which of these two possible meanings is the most correct: The title itself is so nice that I would have ...
1
vote
2answers
127 views

Antedecent of “its” in “the dog attacked the cat and its friends” [duplicate]

The dog attacked the cat and its friends. Does the sentence imply that the dog attacked the cat and the cat's friends or that it attacked the cat and the dog's friends? How would one properly ...
0
votes
2answers
162 views

Pre-clause, Post-clause

I have two possible sentences of the some situation and I am confused: Realizing he did not belong there, he left the meeting early. He left the meeting early, realizing he did not belong ...
-1
votes
1answer
75 views

Possessive Ambiguity: sharing a house [closed]

Could this: Jason shared Michael's house. be an acceptable shortened version of this: Jason shared Michael's house with Michael. ?
-3
votes
1answer
248 views

What should be done for making this sentence more clear? [closed]

"About the scenario, there are insert transactions on every 3 seconds. In a busy day, about 3000 rows for big table, another 100 for medium table and around 30 for small table." There is a question ...
-2
votes
2answers
210 views

Ambiguities and use of infinite and “-ing” form [closed]

I was looking for videos on YouTube, in my (almost) daily exercise to attempt improving my understanding of the spoken English, when I settled for a video entitled: "Why you will fail to have a great ...
4
votes
1answer
961 views

Fall Hard For Something

I am trying to find the right definition of "hard" in this piece of writing: newspaper Looking for a tranquil hideaway after years as a paparazzi magnet, Mr. Frazier bought the single-level ...
-1
votes
1answer
138 views

What does “is there any book around …” mean?

Is there any book around which I can read? What does the above sentence mean? "Is there any book available in the market which I can read?" "Is there any book in this room/or nearby which I can ...
9
votes
2answers
118 views

notionistic education / teaching?

What's the right word to indicate a type of education based on memorizing facts or a superficial understanding of things, without real insight or critical mind development? In my native language ...
1
vote
2answers
143 views

Multiple Instances of Same Noun: Does the use of “that” distinguish between them?

Consider the following sentence taken from some co-operative housing rules: "Any costs of repairing a suite are the responsibility of the owner of a suite, which could be a different suite from ...
-1
votes
1answer
620 views

About the word “casual” [closed]

According to what I knew and I have found on the web, in general the word casual is the opposite of everyday. But in the special case when it refers to clothing, it has a similar meaning to "everyday ...
0
votes
1answer
603 views

What is the meaning of “at its discretion”?

What does "at its discretion" mean in the following sentence? Dual Gadgets undertakes, at its discretion and cost, to repair or replace defective equipment covered by warranty in 3.b., provided ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

“much too [something]” vs “too much [something]”

Which are the differences in meaning and usage between the two expressions "much too [something]" and the most common "too much [something]"? Are they completely interchangeable? i.e.: "much too ...
1
vote
1answer
110 views

What is the meaning of “He was a myth made man”?

I can't understand the meaning. Is it "He was a mythical person" or "He was a myth that became a man"?
1
vote
1answer
240 views

What is the average number of meanings for a word in English?

Many words have multiple meanings. Sometimes they are related (like "theory" as opposed to "practice", versus "theory" as in "scientific theory"), but sometimes they’re completely different (like ...
0
votes
2answers
4k views

Are “that's it” and “that's all” interchangeable?

Are "that's it" and "that's all" interchangeable? Is there any specific case where I should use one instead of the other?
6
votes
2answers
2k views

“Suspect” versus “Suspicious” as Adjectives

A recent question on this site ("to suspect" vs "to be suspicious of") asks about the difference between "to suspect" and "to be suspicious of." An even more complicated situation ...
3
votes
1answer
180 views

Scan Method vs Scanning Method

The question here is what is the meaning of the two: Scan Method Scanning Method My assumption is that the interpretations are, respectively: A method which describes how the scanning procedure ...
0
votes
3answers
81 views

December 15th to December 16th

In general, if I say: From December 15th to December 16th Would you expect the range to be from 12/15 00:00 to 12/16 23:59 or would you expect it to be from 12/15 00:00 to 12/15 23:59?
1
vote
1answer
131 views

Parenthetical statement that expresses a condition

I am studying a book and one of the lines (which was written in the 30's) is, We had admitted that we were powerless over alcohol — that our lives had become unmanageable. My question is ...
-1
votes
4answers
319 views

Using any punctuation, how many meanings does this sign have? [closed]

I was walking in the Norfolk countryside today, when I spotted this sign. Notice that it is devoid of punctuation. It is obviously a warning sign to motorists. However, it made me giggle. Using any ...
2
votes
2answers
180 views

Commision on stock market

Is it correct to use word commision as a synonym to order on stock market? In meaning: an instruction from customers to brokers to buy or sell on the exchange. I know that commision is a fee or ...
3
votes
2answers
383 views

Is “I don't work here” literal or does it mean “I am not an employee of this establishment”? [closed]

Part of my work involves visiting retail establishments during business hours. Often, when mistaken for an employee of the store, I am asked a question about where to find something in the store, to ...
1
vote
1answer
70 views

deep roll of blue at the tops

I want some help with my question about the meaning of “deep roll of blue at the tops”: "The men were dressed in blue, of the same shade as their hats, and wore well-polished boots with a deep ...
3
votes
4answers
938 views

Semantic or pragmatic ambiguity?

When one says "Do you want a cup of coffee?" he can mean: either an informative question — "Do you feel a desire to a cup of coffee?", or a polite offer — "I can make you a cup of coffee if you ...
1
vote
0answers
365 views

What does 'next Monday' mean? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which day does “next Tuesday” refer to? Meaning of “last/this/next Monday” Scenario: You get a phone call on Wednesday, saying "you have to report to X next ...
1
vote
2answers
115 views

Is the title ambiguous?

I am writing a paper for a conference, and I am a bit worried about correctness of the title that I chose. The title is "Energy Functions of X and their Existence Conditions" Where X is long ...
4
votes
2answers
281 views

Meaning and etymology of “down with”

I've searched a lot and found out that down with as a slang phrase means "being in an agreement with something". On the other hand, I know that it also means "death upon something". So in a sentence ...
5
votes
3answers
191 views

Is it safe to use “old” to mean “previous” for a person?

Is it safe to use "old" to mean "previous" or "former" for something like "my old teacher"? Or is it a bit risky, because "old" also has a meaning with respect to age (i.e., chronologically gifted)? ...
-3
votes
2answers
4k views

Only then or then only?

I am not a native speaker. I have seen people at my place uses similar kinds of sentences interchangeably. If he comes, only then I will go. If he comes, then only I will go. Which of these ...
5
votes
5answers
831 views

She was carrying twins and a bulky bag in her hands [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Using verbs with multiple meanings I am not sure if this is Indian English but the verb carry is often used in India to speak of a pregnant woman and often without an ...
3
votes
1answer
190 views

“Tabled”, US vs UK [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the meaning of the expression “We can table this”? Here's an example snippet for some context. Ann had an idea. We tabled her idea. In the UK this means ...
-1
votes
2answers
1k views

“Least expected” or “least unexpected”

When I was talking to my girlfriend, she mentioned an incident where one of her friends surprised her with a gift. She said something like that least unexpected ... after which we got into a debate ...