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

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2
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2answers
53 views

What is the definition of definition?

Does a definition need to provide a unique or near-unique description or can non-unique descriptions also be categorized as definitions? For example: Is the statement "An apple is a fruit" a ...
0
votes
8answers
9k views

Which one is correct? “A teacher of English” or “An English teacher”? [closed]

I want to know which is correct teacher of English or English teacher.
7
votes
3answers
940 views

Does “speak in a low voice” refer to volume/loudness or to pitch?

Does the low in speak in a low voice he said in a low voice refer to the volume/loudness or to the pitch? Does it mean quiet, or low-frequency? EDIT: After understanding from your answers ...
2
votes
2answers
62 views

Antedecent of “velocity u” in “particles moving in a medium with macroscopic velocity u”

In the following sentence, whose velocity is u? The particles or the medium? For particles moving in a medium with macroscopic velocity u: The normalized Maxwell’s distribution function (Eq. ...
6
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
0
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2answers
82 views

Why does i.e mean that is? [closed]

I learned that i.e means : that is or in other words but how does this make sense? shouldn't it be: t.i in this case?
1
vote
2answers
47 views

Question on a job application form

I'm helping a friend fill out a job application where a strange question appears: Do you seldom let your responsibilities interfere with having fun? (Y) (N) Am I crazy, or is this question ...
1
vote
1answer
46 views

What is the meaning of lemniscate related with clothing? [closed]

Here is lemniscate is used as a part or feature of clothing. What doses it mean ? TIA
4
votes
2answers
132 views

Why does the word “tortilla” refer to three distinct types of edibles?

The crisps[BrEn]/chips[AmEn] that are made of corn (and probably not deep-fried) are called tortilla: The wraps with that special taste, are called tortila: And then, the omelet-like meal is ...
11
votes
8answers
4k views

Ambiguity of “quite”

The adverb "quite" has the following meanings according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary: 1: wholly, completely ("not quite finished") 2: to an extreme : positively "quite sure" —often ...
0
votes
0answers
19 views

“You could do it better” Past/Future?

While showing my work to my adviser, he uttered a sentence, "You could do it better!". Is it analogous to: You could have done better OR You can do it better (so improve it)? It seems to me this ...
-1
votes
2answers
68 views

“She was not happy.” - Ambiguity of the 'to be' in English

I always think about this since in my language (Portuguese) the verb 'to be' has two meanings for which I will give two examples: "She was in the room." - here the verb to be has the meaning of ...
1
vote
2answers
62 views

If X was not part Y, I'd like it - meaning

I'm trying to fill out a survey that asks me about features that should or should not be included in a smartphone app. The actual questions are confidential, but it's in the style of a sentence like ...
1
vote
2answers
444 views

Why do they say “may not” for things which people shouldn't do

I have seen in so many place where they would have mentioned "You may not.." etc for the things people shouldn't do. For eg: in companies where USB is not allowed, they will mention like this "You may ...
0
votes
2answers
36 views

The first live processing date is December 29, 2014 for the pay period of December 22, 2014 to December 28, 2014 [duplicate]

The question I have is the use of the word "to" in the phrase "to December 28". Does the "to" definitely include December 28th, or is it (as I think it is) ambiguous? The way it reads, I feel it is ...
1
vote
1answer
93 views

“Elves and Men, the Firstborn and the Followers”

This is a quote from Silmarillion, but I really do not know if there are two meanings or one. Because on my language this "Followers" can means that come after the Firstborn or those who likes ...
1
vote
3answers
153 views

More confusion with relative pronoun ambiguity

What does the relative pronoun refer to in this sentence? It was probably on the darker/smoother side of things, compared to, say, the Sony ZX-1, which I prefer. To me, his preference isn’t ...
0
votes
2answers
44 views

How to best correct ambiguity of “in the room next to me”?

A common construction in English is: There is a person in the room next to me. However, this is ambiguous because it’s unclear whether the person is in a separate room that happens to be ...
2
votes
2answers
68 views

Differentiating homographs [closed]

A homograph (from the Greek: ὁμός, homós, "same" and γράφω, gráphō, "write") is a word that shares the same written form as another word but has a different meaning. When spoken, the meanings may ...
1
vote
2answers
88 views

Turn “in to” or “into” a lonely lane?

I have a sentence I'm writing where I describe making a turn, as I run, into an empty alleyway. Here is how I would like to say it: I turn into a lonely lane... The problem I find is that it ...
0
votes
1answer
105 views

Is “Sad sometimes what happens when kids stop being kids and grow up to become the kind of adults we simply detest” ambiguous?

In the Collins Dictionary entry for the verb detest, the following citation taken from a 2003 Ottawa Sun article is given to demonstrate that verb: Sad sometimes what happens when kids stop being ...
15
votes
2answers
17k views

“X times as many as” or “X times more than”

Suppose John has 5 sweets. Is there any difference between the following two sentences? Jack has 3 times as many sweets as John. Jack has 3 times more sweets than John. I prefer the first ...
2
votes
1answer
53 views

What is the meaning of “cooling relations”?

Sometimes relations between nations can be considered to be "cooling"? What does this mean? I can't tell if it means: The relationship is getting better because it's "cooling-off" from "hot" ...
0
votes
2answers
70 views

Question about “put not your”

An exercise asked me to rearrange the sentence "Put your money not in trust" such that there is no ambiguity to its meaning. At first glance I thought that "Put not your trust in money" sounded right, ...
1
vote
2answers
57 views

Stay/keep abreast of

Somewhere in my essay it goes as follows: There is a shared assumption that English is estranging people from their own language, inclining them to subordinate it to English. Even so commonly ...
1
vote
2answers
80 views

Ambiguity in Negation: “John did not come because of the rain”

John did not come because of the rain. This sentence seems to allow the following two completely different interpretations. John did not come. And the reason was the rain. John came. But the ...
4
votes
6answers
2k 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 ...
-2
votes
1answer
41 views

Which word fits better in a cause and effect sentence? [closed]

If there is a sentence- English is not too difficult to master, ____ it gets easier and easier with practice which of these words would be the best fit for the blank and why? So When As ...
-2
votes
1answer
56 views

Grenade or Granade [closed]

There are a lot of words that have slightly different spelling, but same semantic and sound, such as gray or grey, color or colour. There is also the case of dialog vs. dialogue (*see stackexchange ...
2
votes
1answer
50 views

What does 'disk box' mean here?

The expression is mentioned under the number 1 of the list at the bottom of the picture. The search over the internet hasn't given me a more or less clear idea of what it could be for it to match ...
-1
votes
2answers
96 views

What does the term 'spoon' refer to? [closed]

Note: This question is not about the assertion from the Matrix that There is no spoon. There are tablespoons and teaspoons which are two different things. However is there a plain spoon or does this ...
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 ...
5
votes
1answer
58 views

Can you distinguish the permission to do something from the license, an official document?

According to the dictionary, licence/license refers to an official document which proves you are permitted to do something. What, then, is the word for the permission itself? I'm from Korea, and in ...
1
vote
1answer
54 views

Using the pronoun 'one' twice in a sentence for the same person

I often read sentences that use the pronoun 'one' twice to refer to the same hypothetical person, but I've always felt reluctant in using it myself. Here's an example: One's experiences shape ...
0
votes
4answers
1k views

“All X are not made equal” - ambiguous meaning?

A phrase commonly heard in English (at least informal English) is something like the following: Well, this car is good, but all cars are not made equal! This would be commonly understood by most ...
0
votes
1answer
42 views

“no longer…when…”--ambiguity?

I was reading this sentence and thought it ambiguous: The trees must have grown since he died because they were no longer young when I first saw them. This could mean: 1) The trees were already old ...
0
votes
2answers
156 views

“one of a kind” idiom

This is an official practice question for the SAT Reasoning Test: Along the curve of islands known as the Florida Keys lies a reef of living coral, the only one of a kind in the continental United ...
1
vote
0answers
47 views

Can “yell 'word' for passcode” be considered a wordplay? [closed]

Consider the following sentence: Yell "word" for passcode. Obviously it instructs one to yell "word" in order to get a passcode. To me it looks like the sentence could be read as a wordplay ...
1
vote
3answers
81 views

Ambiguous pronouns

I have a statement like The performance of the proposed scheme, and its dependence on … Here, ‘it’ can refer to either the performance of the scheme, or the scheme itself. I changed the ...
8
votes
1answer
391 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
76 views

Is there a term for an acronym “parody” / “backformation” / “re-purposing”?

I've engaged the task of trying to legitimize the presence of a listing of DRM standing for "Digital Restrictions Management" on Wikipedia's disambiguation page for the acronym DRM. (This is a case ...
1
vote
1answer
67 views

What exactly does “bear witness” mean? [closed]

The Oxford English Dictionary defines "bear witness" as 1- Testify to. 2- State or show one’s belief in. Are both these definitions correct? I mean for instance, you don't bear witness or become a ...
3
votes
3answers
609 views

Difference between “ad hoc” and “impromptu” [closed]

Is there any difference between "ad hoc" and "impromptu"? Can you find sentences where only one of the words is acceptable and the other is not? And where they are interchangeable? What about the ...
1
vote
4answers
131 views

What is the meaning of “poetry” ? And how far it is different from “Poem”? [closed]

In a concert I heard saying Poetry is : "words carrying the meaning little concealed and little exposed." It may sound convincing but thats not word to word meaning neither complete. It is just a ...
0
votes
2answers
160 views

I promise not to do it, I swear not to do it. Is there a double meaning here?

"I promise [pause] not to do it" seems to me equivalent to "I promise I won't do it". However, "I promise not [pause] to do it" seems to me equivalent to "I do not promise I will ...
-1
votes
1answer
65 views

Megalomania vs narcissism? [closed]

They look very similar. It's hard for me to discern the difference. Is there any difference between the two?
-2
votes
1answer
46 views

What to use : “that” or “who”? [duplicate]

Consider this sentence : "I was going down the hill and on my step down I saw a guy who appeared to be disguised". "I was going down the hill and on my step down I saw a guy that appeared to be ...
3
votes
2answers
97 views

<Grammar/Style> Ambiguous “it”

I recently stumbled upon this joke employing some grammar: Q: How can you drop an egg on a concrete floor without cracking it? A: Any way you want, concrete floors are very hard to crack. ...
0
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3answers
36 views

Does this sentence make any sense to you?

"Never play the podcast from anywhere but the start" What does this sentence mean to you? By podcast I mean a house music episode that is one hour long.
5
votes
9answers
3k views

Usage of “East Indian” to distinguish from “Native American”

I know someone who uses the term "East Indian" to refer to people from India, or whose ancestors are from India, lest they be misunderstood to mean Native American. This struck me as unusual and ...