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

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-2
votes
1answer
46 views

Grenade or Granade [on hold]

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
43 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 ...
10
votes
7answers
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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
84 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
38 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 ...
1
vote
5answers
402 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
53 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
38 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
970 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
38 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
69 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
43 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
76 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
56 views

Is “nerd” really an abusive or hurting word? [closed]

Calling someone a nerd turns them off, although they are geeky sticking to computers and books all the time. Is it right to call someone a nerd or should we just go with diligent/studious (the very ...
1
vote
1answer
96 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 ...
1
vote
3answers
71 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
376 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
73 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
64 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
554 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 ...
7
votes
3answers
740 views

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

Does the low in "speak in a low voice" or "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 that ...
1
vote
4answers
106 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
110 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
50 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
45 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
80 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
31 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
115 views

Are “was/were able to” and “could” interchangeable?

In a grammar book, the claim was made that in the following sentences one cannot substitute "was/were able to" with "could." The fire spread through the building very quickly, but everyone was ...
15
votes
7answers
34k views

What is the difference between “nothing but”, “anything but”, and “everything but”?

What is the difference between these phrases? When is it valid to use which? Should they be avoided as being ambiguous?
1
vote
2answers
39 views

Formatting two adjacent footnote indicators in the body of the footnoted text

I've run into an issue using Microsoft Word 2013. In the following example, there is no way to know whether or not there exists one reference to footnote 12, or two references to footnotes 1 and 2: ...
3
votes
4answers
79 views

Regions and reasons for the usage of “sleep” as “go to sleep”

This question is very closely linked to this english.SE question, which discusses the usage of "sleep" as a verb meaning "go to sleep" and inspired by this ell.SE question, in which the accepted ...
0
votes
4answers
95 views

What's the difference between “title” and “name”?

I'm not sure when it's appropriate to use word "name", and when to use word "title". For example, "file name" feels right, "file title" doesn't; "document name" and "document title" seem ...
2
votes
3answers
164 views

Does “native Japanese” indicate Japanese people or indigenous people in Japan?

I want to simply indicate that I was born and raised in Japan. I think I can say "I am a native Japanese", but when I google the expression, the results include information about indigenous people in ...
2
votes
2answers
102 views

What is opposite of “Love”? [closed]

In a argument with my friend who lost her love, I came across her experience of life and what she said is : Opposite of love is NOT Hate. why, Because in love people have feeling and think about ...
1
vote
4answers
68 views

How do I pluralize the coffee drink “shot in the dark”?

For those that do not know, there is a coffee drink that it sometimes called a shot in the dark. It consists of an espresso shot poured in a regular cup of Joe. Suppose that I would like to order two ...
2
votes
8answers
9k views

Does “until [date]” mean “before that date”?

What does until mean in the following? You need to deliver this product within 2 days (until August 18, 2011) to meet your deadline and get paid. Does this mean that I have to deliver the ...
6
votes
1answer
120 views

Shakespeare's “slow as the elephant”

I am reading Shakespeare's Troilus and Cressida, in Act 1 Scene 2 Alexander gives the following portrait of Ajax: "[...] he is as valiant as the lion, churlish as the bear, slow as the elephant; ...
5
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 ...
2
votes
3answers
101 views

Is “out” a preposition or an adverb in these sentences?

Is out a preposition or an adverb in these sentences? "We need to get the hell out of this place." "We need to get out and leave this place."
6
votes
8answers
498 views

How to rephrase “Deliberate failure”?

I have a document that I'm drafting that, at the moment, has a sentence that reads something like: Remove X from all company computers. Deliberate failure to do so constitutes grounds for ...
4
votes
5answers
375 views

3 meter square area vs 3 square meter area

A. 3 meter square area B. 3 square meter area I’m wondering what the easiest way is to clearly express the difference between A and B above. In A, one side is 3 (meters). In B, one side is ...
1
vote
2answers
82 views

Is “Can you carry this book?” acceptable? [closed]

Is it grammatically correct to say: Can you carry this book? I said this to a friend and this person commented that I need to learn grammar. To me the statement seems grammatically correct and ...
32
votes
4answers
6k 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? ...
-1
votes
1answer
88 views

Is the glass half filled with water or half empty? [closed]

If someone asks me this, is there some proper answer according to English grammar? If there is, what is it? If not, shouldn't there be one? And which one? P.S. I am not asking this for fun. This ...
2
votes
0answers
174 views

Is language inherently circular? [closed]

I looked up "Hallelujah" in etymonline.com today, and the result, as often happens with etymological research, ended in following a rabbit warren of possibilities. Take the word "Hallelujah" for ...
1
vote
3answers
94 views

When an author lets you decide what happened?

Is there a word to describe when an Author doesn't fully explain a particular scenario, and leaves it rather ambiguous, so that the reader may decide what happened? SPOILERS for Mockingjay and Life ...
1
vote
1answer
38 views

Ambiguity in the statement of an Indian politician.

Derek O' Brien is celebrity turned politician in India. Recently in a TV debate on a National TV channel he was recorded saying that he was a Christian first, before that an Indian. (Watch the video ...
3
votes
5answers
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 ...
3
votes
7answers
433 views

A person who goes to gymnastics school — a 'student' or a 'pupil?'

I am trying to find an exact answer of this question: Is a person who goes to gymnastics school a 'student' or a 'pupil?'