Questions relating to semantics, the study of meaning.

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0answers
24 views

Can a sentence be both a tautology and an oxymoron?

Sometimes I encounter sentences that are very difficult to unpack into coherent thought. Sentences with tautological double or triple negatives; and sentences where one part contradicts another in ...
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1answer
20 views

Be but sworn - grammar

I have found several questions asking for the meaning, but the thing that troubles me here is the grammar actually and i haven't found anything on that. In Shakespeare's sentence "Deny thy father ...
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0answers
21 views

Do you know a term for words having facially opposite meanings that can also be synonyms?

Three types (or more) exist: (a) idiomatic, "I'm up for a movie" vs. "I'm down for lunch"; (b) commercial: "Tall" coffee being the smallest on the menu, "Select" airline seats being the worst; or (c) ...
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0answers
16 views

Incident report [on hold]

Is it improper/bad practice to write incident reports in a form format. If so, is there any reason as to why employers hand out incident report forms rather than getting employees to write "proper" ...
0
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1answer
25 views

Is there a difference amongst hypercorrection, overregularization, and/or overcompensation? If so, how?

I've heard of the term "hypercorrection", but then I came across "overregularize" in a psychology textbook. I wondered how it differed from hypercorrect and tried to research it. In doing so, I came ...
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0answers
34 views

Does a sentence containing “but” cause an anomaly? [closed]

I am learning English semantics. I am a little confused on an anomaly. For example: He killed the tiger, but didn't succeed. He killed the tiger but it was still alive. He killed the ...
2
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1answer
92 views

Beyond help or beyond helpless?

Beyond help is an expression meaning "beyond the help of anything" or "not able to be fixed". However, I have also seen the expression beyond helpless being used, for example, here and here. My ...
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1answer
42 views

A “list of Things I've done” including passives? How to explain how this is wrong?

Proofreading a website, it had a "List of Things I've Done" that went something like this: Danced in the moonlight Had a gun pointed at me Ate Lutefisk ...etc. The one that bothered me was the ...
2
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2answers
144 views

How to parse “once upon a time”?

Native speaker, but I got to wondering what the grammar and semantics of this old phrase are. What would be a direct translation to modern English? I'm not looking for a loose translation; everyone ...
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3answers
60 views

Is “willfully disingenuous” a tautologism?

It seems to me that definitions of disingenuous such as the following might imply willfulness: adjective lacking in frankness, candour, or sincerity; falsely or hypocritically ingenuous; ...
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2answers
155 views

“Thirty times weaker”: Using a multiplier to describe the lack of something [duplicate]

I was watching CNN's coverage of the earthquake that struck northern California this morning, and I heard the following exchange between the CNN anchor and a seismologist, Walter Hays: ANCHOR: ...
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1answer
43 views

Meaning of “to be Accounts Receivable for someone”

I understand what accounts receivable are, and I understand what factoring is. But I don't understand what the phrase "to be accounts receivable for someone" means, e.g. "I'm accounts receivable for ...
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1answer
88 views

Is there any difference in meaning between “apt to” and “likely to”?

Just as there is a difference in meaning between "likely" and "liable" in terms of a desirable or undesirable outcome, is there any subtle diference between "apt" and "likely" ? Does the use of ...
2
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2answers
156 views

What is a thorpe?

# is an octothorpe * is a hexathorpe + a quadrathorpe - a duothorpe but What is a thorpe??? This question came from an argument in comments on stackoverflow that started over an American calling ...
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3answers
49 views

“Less” and “fewer” in English

English uses two lexemes to denote that something is smaller in number or size/amount: "Less" and "fewer". "Less" is used for uncountable nouns ("I needed less time to mow the lawn today"), while ...
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2answers
94 views

What is the name for a question which is answered implicitly by any given response?

e.g. Are you awake? (to somebody who appears to be asleep, but for which any given reply will confirm wakefulness)
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1answer
66 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 ...
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3answers
123 views

Commutative, or “semantically palindromic” sentences

Being a mathematician with mathematician friends, my friends and I occasionally like to joke about the peculiarities of the English language. This one came up recently: Obviously, most English ...
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1answer
161 views

Does the phrase 'Harsh, but fair' actually make sense? [closed]

Very often I hear the phrase 'harsh but fair' used to describe something that is unduly severe, but ultimately just. I don't think that it even makes sense, though - and although I've tried to discuss ...
5
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3answers
260 views

Semantic shift in “around”

I'm interested in the use of "around" as a synomym for "about, concerning, related to", which doesn't seem to be recorded in current dictionaries. I'd call it an academic/pseudo-academic usage and ...
1
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1answer
27 views

Does the negative enhance the sentence?

When saying, for example, "Isn't that your mother?" versus "Is that your mother?" Is the former sentence more effective because of the negative?
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0answers
26 views

How about my new epigram? [closed]

I'm a Transylvanian epigramist, I'm not so fluent in English, though I wrote several epigrams in this language. Here's one tooth them: The theory of harmless excess *When you are squiffy as a ...
3
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6answers
156 views

Is there a functional difference between “not believing” and “believing not”?

If you tell your friend some incredible story and they say, "I don't believe you!" It seems like they are pretty obviously trying to say that they believe that your story isn't true. I have someone ...
6
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1answer
271 views

Dress up like a tailback

This comes from The Newsroom S01E06, about 51:48. Will comments on a large black bodyguard's advancements on McKenzie: Will: Dress up like a tailback and he won't be able to lay a hand on you. ...
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1answer
67 views

What is the equivalent of “susceptibility” in medical literature, but to a healthy condition?

In medical literature the word susceptibility collocates with negative adjectives or nouns -- negative prosody. Likewise, the word predisposing factors or state is mostly associated with negative ...
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1answer
86 views

Can you have more than one 'best' of something?

For example, can you say 'I have more than one best friend' and is that grammatically correct given that these friends are equally good?
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0answers
28 views

Uses of “Cyclic” vs. “Cyclical”? [duplicate]

As an engineering undergrad, I refer to "cyclic motion". My friend, an arts student, uses the term "cyclical unemployment" (whatever that means) instead. The only article I can find on the web about ...
7
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3answers
432 views

Better than the next?

I've heard people using this idiom, such as "each day is better than the next", or "you hope that each experience you have is better than the next" (heard this one on a TV show not long ago), ...
0
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0answers
24 views

about the word data [duplicate]

I though it was British vs. American but watching Star Trek I've noticed the same character using two different pronunciations. Then I noticed other characters doing the same. Is there any rule for ...
4
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1answer
125 views

What lexical relationship lies between the days of the week?

I'm confused, What is the lexical relationship between "Monday" and "Tuesday"? I mean is the relationship hyponymy, prototypes, polysemy, homophones, metonymy etc?
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2answers
139 views
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7answers
841 views

When you say a man is a coward, does it imply femininity by default? Is ''girlish coward'' a common expression?

I was wondering about this and would appreciate your take on the question.
2
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2answers
141 views

Job interview question [closed]

I'm a French man in my late 20s and I'm applying for a job for a prestigious American company. I've had a job interview with an American woman and she told me all was well but I'd have to be molded to ...
3
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1answer
2k views

What does “what for” mean and where did it come from?"

There is a fight scene in one of my favorite movies in which the main character says "Give them what for!" I've hear this term many times before (usually from old south-eastern Americans,) but no ...
5
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4answers
1k views

Idiom: in my neck of the woods, AmE

Idiom: in my neck of the woods, AmE The meaning of this expression is: in the region where I live. Once I tried to find out how a word meaning a part of the body can develop an expression where it ...
0
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1answer
79 views

“Even though” contradiction

Clause Run! This single-word command is also a clause, even though it does seem to have a subject. With a direct command, it is not necessary to include the subject, since it is obviously the ...
1
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1answer
110 views

Where using “title” instead of “name” is justified?

Merriam-Webster and many other dictionaries defines Title as something that can be used instead of the Name of that thing. For example, based on what I understood, it seems logical to use these ...
3
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3answers
297 views

Can you be sent on a quest or does it then become a mission?

A discussion on the Arqade sister site brought up an interesting question that I thought I'd share here. What is the difference between a quest and a mission? Given the roots of the words, quest ...
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6answers
1k views

“Semantic”s relation to “Pedantic” [closed]

When pointing out to my friends one day that I should have used a different word in a previous conversation, I mentioned that I was being pedantic. They, ironically, corrected me saying I was being ...
2
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2answers
1k views

“A and B both are” vs. “A and B are both” vs. “Both A and B are” vs. “Both of A and B are”?

A and B both are very good; A and B are both very good. Both A and B are very good. Both of A and B are very good. Are there subtle differences between the four sentences above?
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2answers
210 views

When the waitress at a diner calls her male customer a ''good girl'' after getting tipped, is it meant to be offensive?

My friend got called that and since neither of us are American, it just sounded offensive to us.
5
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5answers
2k views

What word describes text having a different meaning backwards and forwards?

Jonathan Reed's poem 'Lost Generation' is a pessimistic view of the future if read forwards. However, if you read it backwards linewise (not wordwise), it is still semantically meaningful, but the ...
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1answer
211 views

Lexicology, Semasiology

Is metonymy considered to be linguistic or extralinguistic factor of semantic change? For example crown for a monarchy
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2answers
226 views

Negative versions of extreme adjectives

If something positive is "too much", it becomes negative. For example, too much security could be perceived as being trapped. Is there a term for this relation? In other words, if a word with a ...
1
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1answer
379 views

'in appreciation' vs. 'appreciatively' [closed]

Is using the adverbial prepositional phrase in appreciation in place of the adverb appreciatively convey exactly the same meaning? I'm attempting to avoid the use of the adverb "appreciatively" in ...
3
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1answer
2k views

Difference between the terms 'famous' & 'infamous'; 'valuable' & 'invaluable'

Question in Short: Why is it that the terms valuable and invaluable mean almost the same thing while the terms famous and infamous are almost semantically opposite in meaning? That is, one is used to ...
0
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1answer
120 views

Whatever happened to thou and thee? Thy words have become more dreary [closed]

Why did thee, thou and thy come to disappear from English? I am looking for solid explanations, rather than observations that these are still used in dialects in the north. Please explain cause for ...
0
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2answers
62 views

Be proud of vs Take credit for

Does I'm proud of something imply I'm taking credit for something? I just observed that the former phrase only works with my own accomplishments or with related people, but not with unrelated ...
1
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4answers
123 views

Is there an antonym for the word dislocation?

For my PhD research I am writing about the metaphorical displacement of people (as in "they drove me out of their group", "he was snatched away before his time"). Essentially there are a variety of ...
3
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2answers
839 views

English Syntax Rules Based on Word Choice

I was reading the Wikipedia article on Animacy and came across something I found to be very interesting: The higher animacy a referent has, the less preferable it is to use the preposition of for ...