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

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0answers
11 views

“I want all your presence” a valid sentence? [on hold]

This can be read ambiguously as I want all, your presence implying that your presence is a pronoun, although it isn't capitalized or I want all [of] your presence.
2
votes
4answers
73 views

Is there a name for this: an idiom that ambiguously refers to itself?

Two examples I can think of: The athlete's Achilles heel was her Achilles heel. The chef's bread and butter is his bread and butter. In both cases, the order of the idiom and the thing it ...
0
votes
1answer
16 views

Differences between expressions including [not/no + more/less + than~]

I have read an article on English expressions of comparison on a website in Japanese, however I am still unsure about the content and would like to check if it is correct. It gives 4 examples as ...
0
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2answers
48 views

Does “unexpectedly” apply to one or both following verb phrases?

We're having a discussion in a forum on rulings in duplicate bridge. In duplicate bridge, each partnership has their own set of bidding system agreements, and there are regulations that specify that ...
0
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2answers
109 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 ...
-1
votes
2answers
333 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?
1
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2answers
134 views

Antecedent 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 ...
-6
votes
1answer
192 views

Antecedent of “naked” in “I would like to paint a picture of you naked”

You’re such a pretty person, I would like to paint a picture of you naked. Does this mean "you’ll undress while I get my brushes", or does it mean "strike a pose while I take my clothes off"?
2
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2answers
78 views

Antecedent 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. ...
-3
votes
1answer
37 views

Writing a sentence being less ambiguous [closed]

I have following paragraph with two corrections. A- In the 1980s the largest single provider of day care for children was the federal government, which offered B- The federal government was the ...
-1
votes
2answers
49 views

Etymology: 'pray in aid'

I wish to delve into the definition, which I already understand and so ask NOT about. I already tried the OED; it doesn't explain 'between the lines'. (See 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary ...
1
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2answers
173 views

The meaning of ETA - to origin or to destination?

I'm writing an application with the embedded Uber taxi app functionality. In short, when the user points to a point near his or her location in our app, a Uber button appears, with the following text: ...
-2
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0answers
53 views

Urgent explanation needed!

I am translating an article in my native language from English, that has to do with anti-system parties, but I am having some difficulties with some pharses, I cannot translate them in the right way, ...
2
votes
1answer
33 views

“Do not rely” on something, does rely focus on never using “something”?

So, I was talking with a friend of mine a little while back about what "relying" on something means. His take was that to "rely" on something was to completely depend on the "something", as in only ...
14
votes
6answers
50k views

How should “midnight on…” be interpreted?

From what I understand, the word "midnight" is usually interpreted incorrectly. Midnight is written as "12am" which would imply that it's in the morning. Therefore, it should be at the start of the ...
2
votes
1answer
42 views

Should “unmeasurable” be used to describe missing data due to obstacles in obtaining measurements?

I am seeing the term "unmeasurable" used occasionally to describe measurements that could not be taken due to unusual circumstances. For example, audio qualities might not be measurable if there is a ...
1
vote
2answers
88 views

Why are ambiguous phrases like “ain't no something” still used? [duplicate]

There are some phrases in English that lead to nothing but unnecessary confusion and frustration, especially for non-native speakers. For instance, I've seen the phrase ain't no something being used ...
0
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2answers
31 views

Does vacillation imply intention or a mind? Can non-intelligent things vacillate?

A friend and I are arguing about this. Does vacillation imply a mind? Can a non-intelligent thing vacillate? In the context of video games my friend mentioned that his ping was vacillating. I argued ...
4
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2answers
57 views

Never perhaps did any man suffer death with more justice, or deserve it less

Source: From Alexander Hamilton to Lieutenant Colonel John Laurens, 1780 October 11 ... [Major John André] he ought to be considered as a spy and according to the laws and usages of nations to ...
2
votes
1answer
180 views

Charles Bukowski's “best dick” [closed]

I am reading Charles Bukowski's Pulp and as non-native English speaker I am finding decoding certain expressions challenging. For example the main character, Nicky Belane, often refers to himself ...
6
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3answers
1k 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
92 views

Does 'extraordinary', 'exceptional', 'outstanding' always carry positive connotations nowadays?

When I take the word 'extraordinary', 'exceptional' and 'outstanding' literally, it simply means something 'out of the ordinary', 'rare and/or unusual', or something which 'stands out from the rest', ...
0
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3answers
44 views

How to determine the right meaning of 'no not I' ? (1762, UK)

Source: The original Miller of Dee from Bickerstaffe's "Love in a village" (1762) There dwelt a miller, hale and bold, beside the river Dee; He danced and sang from morn till night, no lark so ...
10
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3answers
8k views

Use of “Or”, inclusive or exclusive?

My wife and I are playing a game where you roll dice and move so many spaces in a grid "vertically or horizontally". In the use of English it is very common to say, this or the other when it comes ...
0
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2answers
57 views

Using “Oldtimer” for items?

Can I use oldtimer for a place or an item that people get used to using during certain times? For example: That photo booth has become an oldtimer for the fair goers.
-1
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1answer
66 views

Words to use instead of 'because' because 'because' is inherently ambiguous

What alternatives do we have other than 'because'? 'Because' guarantees you will be partially understood at best because unmodified uses of the word 'because' could mean 'solely because' or 'partly ...
1
vote
3answers
153 views

Is the sentence given below an example of syntactic ambiguity?

The shelf can support a heavier load compared to the others. Would this sentence be considered ambiguous? To me, the pronoun others could refer to either other shelves or other loads, but I wanted to ...
2
votes
1answer
48 views

Memorable or Recall or what

I used in a sentence: your most memorable dream. I meant it as the dream I thought of first. It was interpreted as the dream which is remembered with the most detail. Memorable means, "worth ...
3
votes
2answers
305 views

One sentence with two meanings! “The door was locked”

I'm learning English. I think the sentence "The door was locked" has two meanings!. I'm very confused. First of all, let's look at this example: I broke the glass (Active) The glass was broken ...
1
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4answers
333 views

Does 'affect' imply negative effect?

when I say A affects B, does it imply that A has a negative effect on B?
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votes
2answers
58 views

a word that is commonly used as either an adjective or a noun [closed]

I'm trying to come up with some sort of play on word, but for that I need a common word that can be used as either a noun or an adjective. here is what I am trying to write: you are a little [word] ...
0
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2answers
58 views
2
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3answers
137 views

What is the difference between “illness” and “disease”?

Are there any differences when those words are used? By whom they are used? Google n-gram All English English fiction: I would guess that "illness" is rather a term which is used in spoken ...
12
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9answers
1k views

Safer alternative to “opaque”?

As a child I was taught that opaque means doesn't let any light through at all, as opposed to translucent (lets some light through, but diffused/frosted) or transparent (completely clear, lets you see ...
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2answers
71 views

Idiom or phrase meaning

I can not find the meaning of this phrase: perished of fits. What does it mean? It is an idiom? Thanks for help and understanding.
0
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0answers
27 views

“Sales” ambiguity

I'm a software developer and for a store system I need to have two tabs in a menu. One tab for listing all the "sales" (a list of every time some items have been sold) and another tab for listing ...
1
vote
2answers
84 views

because I am funny, not good-looking [duplicate]

a. He likes me because I am funny, not good-looking. b. He likes me because I am funny, not because I am good-looking. In which case am I good-looking? In which case is it possible that I am ...
2
votes
3answers
76 views

I can make it, I will leave. What's the precedence and ambiguity?

Here's a scenario. I am confounded when after a discussion with a friend, they arrive at my place on Saturday, here's the transcript. her: I can make it on Saturday. me: Ok, see you then anytime! ...
1
vote
2answers
59 views

Is saying “back to back” an AmE or BrE usage [duplicate]

I have been often intrigued by the phrase "back-to-back". Referring to "back" is reminiscent of the rear of the human body. I usually hear- back-to-back meetings
4
votes
3answers
131 views

How to use the phrase “come doing” properly?

How do you use the phrase 'come doing' properly? On the one hand, 'come doing' means that someone comes for doing something. For example, "Why not come dancing tonight?". This sentence never means ...
-3
votes
3answers
70 views

“Their ”Is being used in the below sentence for whom? Please reply fast [closed]

Mental-health practitioners whose clients kill themselves can face stigma from "their colleagues".Whose Colleagues ,their own or the client?
9
votes
7answers
31k views

What is the meaning of the expression “We can table this”?

This came up in an email discussion - we are arguing about the merits and demerits of a certain approach, and I mentioned what I thought was a drawback to a scheme. To that, my colleague replied : ...
1
vote
3answers
63 views

2 nights per week per month [closed]

When I asked a rehearsal studio how much time I would be allowed to use their studio if I payed the monthly fee, the reply I got was "2 nights per week per month". When I asked for clarification I ...
1
vote
5answers
70 views

Ambiguity with adverbs when using the word “or”

If you take the sentence "Bob will run or walk fast." how is the ambiguity resolved between the following two meanings? Bob will either run fast or he will walk fast. Bob will either ...
1
vote
1answer
34 views

What does “what has changed with” means here?

What has changed with this tragedy is people’s willingness to recognize that religion really does make people do terrible things. This is from the latest New Republic, the author means that as ...
0
votes
1answer
83 views

Calculus vs calculation

It is becoming more popular on American talk shows to say "calculus" instead of "calculation." To my mind, calculus is either a branch of Mathematics or a stone like in the gall bladder. Any comments? ...
0
votes
2answers
85 views

Comma required to avoid syntactical (but not semantic) ambiguity?

Consider this sentence: You may worry about the Fed raising interest rates, or a market meltdown, but these risks should not change your investment plans. Could the comma before "or" be omitted? ...
4
votes
3answers
8k views

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

Which of the following is correct? If both are correct, do they have different meanings or usage? Take a taxi/bus/train OR Get a taxi/bus/train
0
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2answers
59 views

Is “sub-project” more like “support project” or “child project”? [closed]

I have a controversy of my project's leader about the meaning of "sub-project". When we need to translate sub-project from English to our native language (Vietnamese), I think that we should ...
2
votes
1answer
113 views

why say “take” when we really mean “leave” (a piss, etc.)

The use of "take" in colloquial expressions of urination and defecation continues to both confound and amuse even the youngest of language enthusiasts. Just ask my son, who will insist with a smile ...