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

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3
votes
2answers
580 views

“Even that she left lying”

In a story titled "Prelude" written by "Katherine Mansfield" I came across the following sentence in this paragraph: The fireplace was choked up with rubbish. She poked among it but found ...
4
votes
1answer
23k views

Nerd vs. Geek vs. Dork [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which term correctly identifies those who enjoy programming/technology: “geek” or “nerd”? I'm somewhat perplexed on the usages of these terms. Most references appear an ...
8
votes
6answers
2k views

“No head injury is too trivial to ignore”

I was looking at the book Introduction to Mathematical Thinking by Keith Devlin, and came across a question where the reader is asked to reformulate this sentence to avoid the unintended second ...
2
votes
0answers
669 views

Shakespeare: “Asses are made to bear” [closed]

When Petruchio invites Katherine to sit on his lap, she replies, "Asses are made to bear, and so are you." (Taming of the Shrew Act II, Scene 1.) The denotation is clear, donkeys (Equus africanus ...
0
votes
3answers
143 views

Does inserting a comma change what is modified?

My question pertains to the usage of comma after a list of clauses of the form "X, Y, and Z (,) to/in order to <do something>" Example: Apply Equation 1, use Lemma 2, and exploit Theorem ...
2
votes
4answers
735 views

Does the word “Loyal” have other meaning than “remaining faithful to somebody/something and supporting them or it?

I found the following definition in the answer to “What are pimps and hoes?” in Music Genres Questions in Wiki.answer.com.: “A pimp is a loyal person who pimps out girls of so called hoes ...
2
votes
2answers
219 views

And/or in total negation: “Some people are not able to interpret and/or analyze”

In the following sentence, the “and/or” seems odd in a case of total negation: Evidently some people are not able to interpret and/or analyze at that deeper level. Because the sentence says “are not ...
5
votes
1answer
714 views

How do you disambiguate phrases like “killing doctors” when you can't use an article? [closed]

In singular, indefinite articles help to disambiguate some phrases, like for example: a killing doctor Would be a doctor who kills people. versus killing a doctor Would be an act of ...
3
votes
2answers
849 views

“Heard of anything” or “heard anything”

I always think when you use hear, of should follow it like heard of anything. But I saw I haven't heard anything from him. Is that correct, or should it be I haven't heard of anything from ...
8
votes
5answers
389 views

Nationality modifier vs. Language modifier

"Chinese writer Mo Yan wins Nobel literature prize" (USA Today) "Chinese author Mo Yan wins Nobel Prize for Literature" (BBC) Q. Are we to understand that Mo Yan wrote in Chinese, that he was a ...
4
votes
4answers
21k views

“A good memory” vs. “good memories”

If I say, "I don't have a good memory of my childhood", would it imply that I cant recollect it or that I have bad memories (bad stories, unhappy) childhood? I think that "good memories" implies the ...
22
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the origin of “hot” as “good-looking” or “attractive”?

I'm not sure if "hot" as "warm" or "heated" existed before "hot" came to mean "good-looking" or "attractive", but if so, how did this new meaning come to be?
-1
votes
2answers
117 views

What is the meaning of "foldin’ your Fruit of the Looms”?

in the quotation below, what the meaning of "foldin’ your Fruit of the Looms” is? “There’s got to be more to life than sittin’ here watchin’ ‘Days of Our Lives’ and foldin’ your Fruit of the Looms.” ...
6
votes
1answer
321 views

Implication(s) of “Though you wouldn't think it”

(This question arose because on some other SE many of us tried to translate this expression. It turns out it was not so easy, and it would certainly help if we had a better grasp on it.) I believe ...
5
votes
1answer
591 views

What does “state” in “State University” refer to? [closed]

There are many universities and colleges in the United States with names such as "... State University". The word state has many distinct meanings, but pertinent to this question are: government, ...
0
votes
2answers
103 views

Who does “who” apply to in this example?

His governors, some of them incompetent and tactless, quarrelled bitterly with the people, who were constantly demanding greater political control. In this sentence, who are demanding greater ...
0
votes
2answers
253 views

Disambiguating of dialogue

Let us read the dialogue below between two people, A and B: A :   Have you even eaten squid fried? B :   Yes. A :   How was it? B :   Better ...
-2
votes
4answers
137 views

“(both)/(either) only available to men (and)/(or) women under pension age” [closed]

Let us suppose we are writing a legal document in which it must be stated that benefit are available to: (1)  men under pension age; (2)  women under pension age. Which of the following ...
5
votes
2answers
515 views

Is “proximity” a real grammatical rule?

(a)  "The daughter of the colonel who had a black dress left the party." (b)  "The daughter of the colonel who had a black mustache left the party." (c)  "The daughter of the ...
0
votes
1answer
106 views

Is on/before 15 July better than by 15 July if I want to be precise and unambiguous? Which is the more common form?

When the last day of registration is, let's say, 15 July, we currently say "please confirm your registration before 16 July" but students often send their confirmation on 16 July, rather than 15. I ...
-1
votes
3answers
659 views

“You didn't build that” — but what was Obama referring to by “that”?

During the opening night of the Republican National Convention, many speakers took to the podium and took advantage of a phrase spoken by President Obama that some are calling a grammatical error. In ...
2
votes
2answers
163 views

How to determine if an attribute applies to a group or a specific individual

I am in the middle of an argument, and therefore trying to figure out the breakdown of the definition: a member of a military group devoted to engineering work which appears in Merriam-Webster's ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Ambiguous use of infinitive after “It's needed”

After writing this sentence, I found myself thinking that its meaning may be a little confusing to other people: It’s needed to make clear some issues regarding absences. I used the phrase to ...
4
votes
2answers
258 views

Is “Betty learned that Albert telephoned after Isaiah visited” ambiguous?

Betty learned that Albert telephoned after Isaiah visited. Can anybody explain whether "after Isaiah visited" tell us: (1) when Betty learned something about Albert or (2) when Albert telephoned? ...
10
votes
4answers
852 views

Ambiguous connotation of “just” - How do natives interpret these?

First of all, these questions are a bit related but not what I'm actually asking about: Is “I just spent all my money” grammatically incorrect? “I just ate them” and “I've just eaten them” - What's ...
2
votes
3answers
508 views

Multiple 'as' (subordinate conjunction) in the same sentence [closed]

Performance is poor as losses have increased and are projected to remain negative going forward as the company works through problem assets and realizes related expense. Is this sentence correct? ...
5
votes
10answers
579 views

How to avoid ambiguous wording: “Each has the same number of each type of flower”

I'm editing a math word problem that has the following ambiguous set up. A florist has 18 carnations, 24 daisies, and 12 lilies. She wants to make flower arrangements that each have the same ...
2
votes
4answers
374 views

Ambiguity of “We discourage X from doing Y by using Z” [closed]

Given the sentence, We discourage people from committing crimes by using law enforcement, religion and education. I see two possible interpretations: [We discourage people by using law ...
2
votes
1answer
948 views

Usage of “make it” in this context [closed]

Consider the following sentence . My boss (say Mr X) wrote this to me in an email and before this paragraph he actually gave a list of items that I need to work on : We will have a Webex meeting ...
-2
votes
1answer
136 views

Ambiguity in “free shipping of the product” [closed]

Trying to write a mail in English I have a problem with the following sentence: Only free shipping of the product will be asked I tried many ways to tell that using other words, other ...
2
votes
6answers
4k views

What does “don't shoot yourself in the foot” mean? [closed]

What does "Don’t shoot yourself in the foot" mean? Unfortunately, most salary decisions are based on perceived performance, not on actual performance. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot.
5
votes
2answers
295 views

What does the phrase “a fine one” mean in this context?

In one one Daniil Kharms' short stories, Tikakeyev “insults” Koratygin by saying: A fine one you are! This causes a fight between the two. When I first read this, I didn't see the “insult”, ...
4
votes
2answers
551 views

“Has reported” as present perfect vs. “has” as present + “reported” as a noun

In the following sentence below, I want to use the word reported as a noun, but it looks like I’m using the present perfect form has reported. How can one be clear when constructions like this ...
60
votes
14answers
5k views

How to avoid ambiguity in “I am renting an apartment in New York”?

Does the sentence: I am renting an apartment in New York. imply that I am the landlord or the tenant? How can I unequivocally communicate that I am the tenant (or the landlord)?
13
votes
5answers
1k views

What to call it when someone takes something the most negative possible way

Is there a word for the situation when someone takes something said in the most negative possible way, basically stretching what is said to fit the negative meaning that they desire it to mean. ...
0
votes
2answers
1k views

Can “myself” stand for both “me” and “I” in “my mother and I/me”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is it correct to use “yourself” and “myself” (versus “you” and “me”)? In one of my older questions I asked for an ...
2
votes
3answers
9k views

A word to describe a situation where something said has multiple meanings? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: A word with a wide range of meanings Is there a word that describes a situation where someone says something that has multiple meanings? or can be taken multiple ways. ...
5
votes
3answers
744 views

“Principle” or “Principal”?

I was solving a grammar exercise from the book, Word Power Made Easy, when I came across this question A feeling of one's worth is one of the principle/principal goals of psychological therapy. ...
2
votes
0answers
950 views

Words that contain other words but which aren't anagrams [closed]

What are words that contain other, often contradictory words or phrases, such as "manslaughter" ("man's laughter") or "therapist" ("the rapist")? I found "to get her" ("together") on another site. No ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Can “show-stopper” have a negative connotation?

If not, what word do I mean to use when I use "show-stopper" negatively? It seems that in high-tech culture a show-stopper is a development problem that prevents forward progress, or an unacceptable ...
5
votes
1answer
951 views

Is it offensive when using the word 'animals' (in this context)?

I have read this question on Travel.SE, and I am kinda confused about the use of the word animals in that question: These are entirely different classes of travel. Portugal+Spain is an easy trip ...
7
votes
5answers
4k views

Difference between “robot”, “machine”, and “automaton”

What is the difference in meaning between a robot, a machine, and an automaton? I was inspired to ask this because I really can’t understand the subtle (or not so subtle) difference in meaning here. ...
4
votes
6answers
601 views

“Obstacles along the road to success” vs. “obstacles across the road to success”

My sister got this question for one of her tests. There are many obstacles __ the road to success. Her options were: across along I initially thought that across would make more ...
0
votes
6answers
749 views

Can “the man from Earth” mean “caveman”? [closed]

There is a movie called "The Man from Earth" and someone told me that the title is referring to "caveman" because "Earth" meant "cave". I doubt that. I can't find any dictionary supporting that ...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

The etymology of “religion” comes from “legere” meaning to read + “re” meaning again. Or does it? (more inside) [closed]

The etymology of religion as mentioned in the title comes from Etymonline. And that's very interesting. It makes sense too. My question is, how do the phrases, "to read", "to choose", "to gather", ...
3
votes
2answers
4k views

The meaning of: “Why don't you just beat it?”

I would like to know what does this phrase means: "Why don't you just beat it?" My dictionary says only that: beat it: get lost Can you beat it? : Do you get it?
2
votes
1answer
2k views

What does “get to” mean?

I know there are a lot of meanings to the verb "get", so I am unable to understand which one is used in the following sentence: They had a baby which was different, so it got to live. I know ...
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Is “SSA triangle problems may have zero or two solutions.” an ambiguous statement?

A test I took included the question True or false: SSA triangle problems may have zero or two solutions. SSA triangles, as was taught in the lesson, can have zero solutions, one solution, or ...
4
votes
6answers
3k views

What's the meaning of 'squared away' here?

We had a death in the family this weekend, so I haven't had the time to spend on this... We've the funeral next weekend, so hopefully we can get squared away before Friday... Looking it up at ...
-1
votes
2answers
4k views

How would you parenthetically cite an author that appears twice in a works cited page? MLA [closed]

How would you parenthetically cite an author that appears twice in a works cited page? I would like to cite Wachs. Here is a piece of my works cited: Wachs, Juan, Helman Stern, Yael Edan, Michael ...