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

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1answer
584 views

The problem with the word “quite” [duplicate]

"Quite" is probably the most ambiguous word in the English language. Merriam-Webster defines it three ways: 1: completely, wholly, totally (quite mistaken) 2: to an extreme : positively (quite ...
0
votes
1answer
127 views

Can “did not” be used instead of “should not”?

I'm trying to read "Harry Potter and Methods of Rationality" (Chapter 25), and I'm puzzled with the following phrase: And furthermore, Harry said, his voice emphatic and his right hand thumping ...
34
votes
4answers
7k views

“Two yellow spots on its wings” vs “a yellow spot on both wings”

The bird has two yellow spots on its wings. versus The bird has a yellow spot on both wings. Do they mean the same? Which one describes more accurately the yellow spots of the following bird? ...
0
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3answers
124 views

“Students avoid boring professors” is ambiguity?

Wondering how “Students avoid boring professors” is ambiguity? I know there is one meaning of this sentence, "stay away from". Is there any other possible meanings?
0
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1answer
134 views

What does “This is just mean” mean? [closed]

Generally, I get to see that such sentences are used to express disgust or anger and likewise feelings. But what is the actual meaning? I am not sure about the actual spelling of the word also. ...
1
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4answers
2k views

Meaning of the full title of Darwin's “On the origin of species”

The full title of Darwin's work "On the origin of species" is: "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life". My ...
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1answer
691 views

Do the words 'gift' and 'present' have the same meaning? [closed]

As the question says, do these two words have the same meaning?
2
votes
2answers
473 views

Use of Like/Unlike (Double negative)

What is the correct way? Birds are not mammals like cats. Birds are not mammals, like cats. Birds are not mammals, unlike cats. *Just in case, reminder: Cats are mammals. Birds are not mammals.
-1
votes
1answer
675 views

“Favour” or “favor” [duplicate]

Are the terms favour and favor interchangeable ? Or is there a slight difference perhaps? This is nitpicking but just curious. http://www.merriam-webster.com/info/spelling-reform.htm there are ...
0
votes
1answer
148 views

Difference between chastise and lambaste?

Is there a difference between chastise and lambaste? When should one use chastise and when should one use lambaste?
-2
votes
1answer
525 views

“Went without saying”

it "went" without saying? Does the phrase "went without saying" even exist? When is it more applicable than "goes without saying"?Even in past tense: "the show was hosted by a famous star, ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Meaning of the word “FOR” used at the beginning of a sentence

I have encountered the word "for" many times. But, even if I use the dictionary, I can not understand the meaning of this word used at the beginning of a sentence. Here is an example: It would be an ...
4
votes
3answers
94 views

Difficulty in interpreting a statute

In my home state, there is a statute regarding child seats. § 20-137.1. Child restraint systems required. (a) Every driver who is transporting one or more passengers of less than 16 ...
6
votes
3answers
10k views

Difference between “take a taxi” and “get a taxi”

What is difference between the following sentences? I take a taxi/bus/train. I get a taxi/bus/train.
0
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1answer
554 views

order of magnitude of words describing the size of a group [closed]

Are there any definitive, or even generally accepted guides which indicate the order of magnitude of: pack party throng rabble horde drove swarm plague There is some agreement that "couple" is 2, ...
1
vote
1answer
69 views

'Ambiguous Nuts' or 'To Shell or not to Shell'

How does one remove the ambiguity of shelled peanuts? Must one just not use the adjective 'shelled' in relation to peanuts, or other nuts, or shellfish?
5
votes
2answers
604 views

Is a “blue bird” the same as a “bluebird”?

Is “blue bird” in the following quotation from Lady Chatterley’s Lover referring to an actual bluebird? The lush, dark green of hyacinths was a sea, with buds rising like pale corn, while in the ...
6
votes
3answers
1k views

“to not get” vs “not to get”

I came across this sentence in an article, "As she speaks of her family, friends and life, it's difficult to not get that 'feel good' mood." I'm wondering if the following sentence could also mean ...
8
votes
1answer
557 views

Why and how did “a sensible boy” become “intelligent and prudent”?

Italians often get confused by sensible and sensitive. If I tell them He's a sensible boy; he studies hard, saves his money, and plans ahead. They are quite bewildered. To them, sensible is ...
0
votes
3answers
110 views

Meaning of “I have three books and CDs”

I have three books and CDs. Does this mean I have three books and three CDs? Or are there three items in total? Are both possible? I am asking for a native speaker's opinion.
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2answers
2k views

The use of “had to”

Does the following phrase mean it must be true? This fact had to be true. Or it must have been true? I would like a native speaker's opinion on this. I often hear it used in the second ...
-1
votes
2answers
383 views

Ambiguity in use of relative pronouns

The animal ate the father of Jay, who was an engineer. So who is the engineer here? Father or Jay? How can I use which, that, who to refer to the whole object or only to parts of the object?
18
votes
5answers
3k 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
332 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
65 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
538 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 ...
-2
votes
2answers
954 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
489 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
386 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
383 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
130 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
93 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
984 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
301 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 ...
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3answers
3k 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
263 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
137 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
194 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
94 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
281 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
252 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
657 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
659 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
442 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
111 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
643 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
10k 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
872 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 ...
-6
votes
1answer
73 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
121 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 ...