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

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2answers
811 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
245 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
48 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
322 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
327 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 ...
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1answer
379 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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1answer
290 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 lack ...
2
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2answers
186 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 ...
18
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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 ladder"...
3
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2answers
224 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 ...
5
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3answers
130 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 ...
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1answer
76 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 to ...
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2answers
81 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
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2answers
145 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?
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2answers
127 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 put ...
2
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2answers
133 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. 2....
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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
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1answer
110 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
63 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 ...
1
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3answers
92 views

Ambiguity of “last” [closed]

I find "last" ambiguous in the following context: I destroyed his report in our last meeting. IMHO, both of the following interpretations make sense: "He can get however pissed he wants; ...
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3answers
348 views

“learnings” to talk about things that were learned but that were not taught

I understand that the use of learnings is very controversial. Some say you can't use it, while others say, "there is nothing wrong with teachings, so why with learnings?". I want to use learnings not ...
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3answers
298 views

What word would best represent a combination of being alive, thinking differently, and having atmosphere [closed]

I know it sounds pretty hard to find such a word, but I'm needing a title that flows and is pretty, and attractive. This is a title for a project. The word I'm trying to think of would try to express ...
4
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6answers
239 views

In the phrase “No more than two cats or dogs”, how many total pets are possible?

It seems this phrase can be read in two ways: A) No more than 2 (cats or dogs) [2 total] B) No more than 2 cats or (2) dogs [4 total] Does this phrase have a singular meaning, or is it ambiguous?
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4answers
253 views

What does this sentence mean: “You watched his face crack open and your world shifted, …”?

quoted from: To Forget: The look on your son’s face when you accused him of taking fifty dollars out of your purse. You were so certain; nothing he said could sway you. You watched his face crack ...
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5answers
389 views

Is “crash into a bend” BrE and must there be a structure at the bend in order to use the phrase?

Includes 10 uses, showing it is far from a one-off phrase. Numbers 4 & 5 (bicycle) and 7, 8, 9, 10 ("everyday usage") are the uses I am most interested in. Question 1 If a vehicle "...
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1answer
44 views

Ambiguity using because

Are you feeling hot because my lingerie is cool? What is the speaker asking here? Is the speaker offering advice to someone? Or, perhaps the speaker is asking a question about the cause of a person’...
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0answers
73 views

Is “Positions will be filled starting from August 1st, 2015.” unambiguous?

This is from a job listing for multiple positions, with a submission deadline of May 30th. Does this have an unambigious meaning? I can interpret it in two ways: They will decide upon the suitable ...
4
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7answers
329 views

How do I make “X is the thing I wanted to win” unambiguous?

When I say, StackExchange is the website I wanted to win (in an implied context of best website award), it sounds like I wanted to win (own) StackExchange, whereas I'm trying to imply that I wanted ...
0
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2answers
224 views

Differences between expressions including [not/no + more/less + than~]

I have read an article on English expressions of comparison on a website in Japanese, however I am still unsure about the content and would like to check if it is correct. It gives 4 examples as ...
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2answers
76 views

Does “unexpectedly” apply to one or both following verb phrases?

We're having a discussion in a forum on rulings in duplicate bridge. In duplicate bridge, each partnership has their own set of bidding system agreements, and there are regulations that specify that ...
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2answers
188 views

Etymology: 'pray in aid'

P2. to pray in aid: (a) {intr.} to call on the assistance of (also †for), to make use of, esp. in proving an argument (now rare); (b) {trans.} (esp. Law) to ask for the assistance of (a person or ...
2
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1answer
482 views

“Do not rely” on something, does rely focus on never using “something”?

So, I was talking with a friend of mine a little while back about what "relying" on something means. His take was that to "rely" on something was to completely depend on the "something", as in only ...
2
votes
1answer
221 views

Should “unmeasurable” be used to describe missing data due to obstacles in obtaining measurements?

I am seeing the term "unmeasurable" used occasionally to describe measurements that could not be taken due to unusual circumstances. For example, audio qualities might not be measurable if there is a ...
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2answers
516 views

The meaning of ETA - to origin or to destination?

I'm writing an application with the embedded Uber taxi app functionality. In short, when the user points to a point near his or her location in our app, a Uber button appears, with the following text: ...
0
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3answers
161 views

Does vacillation imply intention or a mind? Can non-intelligent things vacillate?

A friend and I are arguing about this. Does vacillation imply a mind? Can a non-intelligent thing vacillate? In the context of video games my friend mentioned that his ping was vacillating. I argued ...
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2answers
215 views

Why are ambiguous phrases like “ain't no something” still used? [duplicate]

There are some phrases in English that lead to nothing but unnecessary confusion and frustration, especially for non-native speakers. For instance, I've seen the phrase ain't no something being used ...
6
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2answers
154 views

Never perhaps did any man suffer death with more justice, or deserve it less

Source: From Alexander Hamilton to Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens, 1780 October 11 ... [Major John André] he ought to be considered as a spy and according to the laws and usages of nations to ...
2
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1answer
263 views

Charles Bukowski's “best dick” [closed]

I am reading Charles Bukowski's Pulp and as non-native English speaker I am finding decoding certain expressions challenging. For example the main character, Nicky Belane, often refers to himself ...
3
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1answer
3k views

Does 'extraordinary', 'exceptional', 'outstanding' always carry positive connotations nowadays?

When I take the word 'extraordinary', 'exceptional' and 'outstanding' literally, it simply means something 'out of the ordinary', 'rare and/or unusual', or something which 'stands out from the rest', ...
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2answers
62 views

Using “Oldtimer” for items?

Can I use oldtimer for a place or an item that people get used to using during certain times? For example: That photo booth has become an oldtimer for the fair goers.
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1answer
2k views

Words to use instead of 'because' because 'because' is inherently ambiguous

What alternatives do we have other than 'because'? 'Because' guarantees you will be partially understood at best because unmodified uses of the word 'because' could mean 'solely because' or 'partly ...
2
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1answer
107 views

Memorable or Recall or what

I used in a sentence: your most memorable dream. I meant it as the dream I thought of first. It was interpreted as the dream which is remembered with the most detail. Memorable means, "worth ...
3
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2answers
2k views

One sentence with two meanings! “The door was locked”

I'm learning English. I think the sentence "The door was locked" has two meanings!. I'm very confused. First of all, let's look at this example: I broke the glass (Active) The glass was broken (...
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2answers
197 views

a word that is commonly used as either an adjective or a noun [closed]

I'm trying to come up with some sort of play on word, but for that I need a common word that can be used as either a noun or an adjective. here is what I am trying to write: you are a little [word] ...
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2answers
723 views

What is the difference between “in March” and “by March” [duplicate]

What is the difference between "in March" and "by March". Is there any ?
6
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4answers
27k views

What is the difference between “illness” and “disease”?

Are there any differences when those words are used? By whom they are used? Google n-gram All English English fiction: I would guess that "illness" is rather a term which is used in spoken ...
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4answers
2k views

Does 'affect' imply negative effect?

when I say A affects B, does it imply that A has a negative effect on B?
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9answers
2k views

Safer alternative to “opaque”?

As a child I was taught that opaque means doesn't let any light through at all, as opposed to translucent (lets some light through, but diffused/frosted) or transparent (completely clear, lets you see ...
3
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4answers
184 views

Is there a name for this: an idiom that ambiguously refers to itself?

Two examples I can think of: The athlete's Achilles heel was her Achilles heel. The chef's bread and butter is his bread and butter. In both cases, the order of the idiom and the thing it ...