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

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5
votes
2answers
633 views

Why are the notes or protocol of a meeting referred to as its 'minutes'?

A minute is 60 seconds. Something 'minute' is small, minor, perhaps short. Now, what about the minutes of a meeting or a session? As in, its written protocol? Are they called that because: The ...
2
votes
1answer
130 views

What does a “visiting writer” mean?

From wiki page about Michael Crichton": In 1988, Crichton was a visiting writer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology What does exactly the term visiting writer mean? Does it mean he ...
2
votes
1answer
122 views

“Feeling well” adverb ambiguity

Am I just crazy, or is there some ambiguity in the phrase "feeling well"? Example: Billy has a genetic defect that causes him to lose sensation in his fingertips every few days, or so. "How are you ...
3
votes
3answers
140 views

Counting stops without ambiguity

A typical conversation on a bus: Alice: Have we reached our stop yet, Bob? Bob: No, Alice. Two more stops to go. Alice: Do you mean "two more stops, then ours" or "one more stop, then ...
-1
votes
2answers
164 views

Ambiguous “inline” enumerations

I am currently writing a thesis in computer science and have stumbled upon an interesting ambiguity that I would like to better understand. Consider the following sentence: The importance of this ...
-2
votes
2answers
79 views

“Only for A, B, and C”: Includes cases where not all are present? [closed]

After submitting the report, changes can be made only for the font size, margins, and line spacing. Does this sentence imply that changes can be made only if all three types of changes are ...
0
votes
3answers
2k views

'Oldest' for age vs. length of time

This discussion arose around the statement "PersonX was my oldest high-school friend" The intention was to refer to length of time known (roughly the opposite of 'most recent') as opposed to meaning ...
8
votes
2answers
363 views

Drink 7 to 10 days after opening?

Is this label telling the consumer that it is best to consume the drink 7 to 10 days after opening it? I know what they are getting at, but I feel like it should say "Best if consumed within 7 to ...
-1
votes
2answers
774 views

Why does “issue” have a negative connotation in the US? [closed]

Why does "issue" have a negative connotation in the US? I have used issue as a synonym of tema in Spanish.
2
votes
1answer
139 views

“My late friends” — they're not dead!

Context: We're discussing about how we used to get penalized in school for being late to classes, many years ago. I wanted to say: In my old school, it was hilarious to see my late friends get ...
0
votes
1answer
732 views

Objectivity vs. Objectivism vs. Objectiveness [closed]

What are some clear-cut distinctions between objectivity, objectivism, and objectiveness?
2
votes
1answer
367 views

“sallow complexion”

In Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, in several places he describes people having a "sallow complexion". According to Collins dictionary: Sallow (esp of human skin) of an unhealthy pale or ...
2
votes
5answers
417 views

“stop to do something” vs. “continue to do something”

A transcript of a recent speech by Barack Obama contains the following sentence: Boston police, firefighters, and first responders as well as the National Guard responded heroically, and continue ...
3
votes
2answers
213 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
8k 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
183 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
155 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
178 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
163 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
333 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
145 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
281 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
62 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
2k 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
447 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
344 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
196 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
568 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
128 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
169 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
252 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
211 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
1k 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
139 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
145 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
649 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
649 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
115 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
244 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
5k 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
185 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
82 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
133 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 ...