Questions relating to semantics, the study of meaning.

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3
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1answer
52 views

What is an “aglet-baby” exactly?

This is a line from the Taming of the Shrew by Shakespeare Grumio [to Hortensio]: Marry him to a puppet or an aglet-baby . . . Although 'aglet' is an extremely uncommon word, its meaning can ...
0
votes
1answer
31 views

semantic difference for the forms: “x of y” vs. “x of the y” vs. “y x”

As a non-native speaker, I have a problem understanding the difference in meaning of the following forms: "… of …" "… of the …" "… …" To be more specific, let me give some instances: "theory of ...
0
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2answers
37 views

“I'm curious as to how to…” [closed]

Is that worded properly? I'm not sure if it's off. Thank you for any help you give.
0
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0answers
33 views

The difference between the thinks [closed]

This is something that I think (ha) about quite often. I would like someone to help me understand the difference between "I think of this often" vs "I think that is a bad idea" vs "I'm not sure...I ...
2
votes
1answer
41 views

Is this sentence constructed correctly? Also, would anyone be willing to read over a short essay? [closed]

A lack of capital and experience had always kept me from pursuing this dream, but no longer could I wait. I'm unsure whether or not the no longer could I wait fragment is correct. I have just ...
0
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2answers
66 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? ...
1
vote
2answers
67 views

Does 'lending' an object require its relocation?

I was recently in an argument with a friend who - equipped with an apparent understanding of the etymology of the words lend and borrow - insisted that to lend an object required not just the ...
3
votes
3answers
225 views

Semantic role of “the coat” in “the coat lay on the bed”?

What is a semantic role of "the coat" in the sentence "the coat lay on the bed"?
0
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1answer
50 views

What is the semantical difference between reliable and trustworthy?

When one literally translates the Dutch word betrouw-baar (dash added) one gets trust-worthy (dash added). But when one uses Google translate, it generates reliable. Based on my experience with ...
1
vote
1answer
59 views

Semantics and malapropism

When correcting somebody on the application of a word, could it be said that you are being critical of their use of semantics? For example, calling the tool used to pick a lock a "tension wrench" is ...
2
votes
1answer
22 views

What is the difference between in receipt, on receipt and upon receipt?

I got the following message from a book store: I am extremely sorry for this lapse as I hurriedly sent you the book to reach you on time when I received the book from the Publisher. I will ...
2
votes
4answers
84 views

few followed by fewer issue?

"In X, few had been to town Y. Even fewer aspired to go to town Z." Are these two sentences together correct? Few technically means a small number that could be as low as zero. Based on that, does ...
0
votes
2answers
67 views

Is “a major overhaul” pleonasm?

Is it correct to say "a major overhaul", or the meaning of "major" is actually included in the meaning of "overhaul", thus a combination of these two words is a pleonasm?
2
votes
1answer
80 views

Origin of Spread Oneself Too Thin

Three questions: What is the origin of the English idiom, "spread oneself too thin?" Is this used as frequently in the U.K. as it is in the U.S.? What about Australia and New Zealand: Is it as ...
0
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2answers
88 views

How far (technically) is a “stone's throw?”

A "stone's throw" means a short distance. Questions: (1) How far--technically-- is a stone's throw in terms of its usage? (i.e., Can you use it for a few feet as well as a mile away?) (2) Is it ...
4
votes
2answers
345 views

Is it correct to use “or” in place of “and/or”?

Consider the following sentence: A project is a large and/or complex undertaking. To me, the expression “and/or” seems redundant since in formal logic “or” implies ...
2
votes
2answers
57 views

hierarchical representations of verb meanings

Nouns can quite easily be represented in semantic hierarchies... ...with "hyponyms" serving as specific instances of "hypernyms." Q: Does anyone know of similar representations of verbs? Some ...
2
votes
3answers
61 views

Is it wrong to use 'not" in sentences that have an “all…not” form

All of the women in the district did not vote for the lone female candidate. What, if any, is the semantic problem in the above sentence. I was suggested the below sentence by my senior peers. ...
0
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2answers
53 views

Genre restrictions [closed]

How to say correctly: 'law of the genre', 'rules of the genre' or 'genre principles'? For example: — In your fashion magazine no suffering at all. There are no hungry children, old age people... ...
0
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1answer
42 views

What exactly is a “principle of action” or a “principle of conduct”?

Initial Context I was reading one of John Henry Newman's (Cardinal Newman for the non-Anglicans) sermons, specifically "Religious Faith Rational" from Parochial and Plain Sermons... Near the ...
1
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2answers
294 views

Is there a semantic difference between “manipulable” and “manipulatable”?

In all the sources I can find, the terms "manipulable" and "manipulatable" are both defined as some form of "able to be manipulated". But depending on the source, one word seems to be related to ...
3
votes
2answers
63 views

What is the semantical meaning of “To tell you the truth”

In many English literature the phrase-part "to tell you the truth" shows up. But in contrast to the literal meaning, this doesn't mean the characters were first lying about this. In Dutch these are ...
3
votes
2answers
56 views

What is the keyword used to designate a semantic field specific to a certain period of time?

When the words 'bowler hat, shilling, bobby...' appear in a text, they tend to show that it is from a certain time period. What's the word used to describe this sort of giveaway? It's kind of ...
0
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1answer
69 views

“in these cases use is the best guide”

Please, explain the meaning of the phrase "in these cases use is the best guide". I can't find it in a dictionary. No context. thanks in advance)
0
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1answer
48 views

Op-Ed or Editorial?

I have a piece that is an opinion written by a columnist. If I only had the designation of an op-ed or of an editorial. What word better describes the piece? An editorial is supposed to be written by ...
-1
votes
1answer
42 views

“Watch out for exciting ways…” - is that correct? [closed]

So, I'm not a native English speaker and the company I work for received some copy for a website. One sentence states: "Watch out for exciting ways to..." etc. Is that correct? Doesn't watch out imply ...
3
votes
7answers
223 views

“I'm dry” meaning “Would you buy me a drink?” What semantic or rhetorical term describes such usage?

Instead of saying "Could I have some water, please?" a visitor says "I am thirsty". The host understands it perfectly and says "Let me get you something to drink. What would you like?" or at a ...
1
vote
1answer
122 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
131 views

What is the grammatical construction in “Be but sworn”?

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 ...
0
votes
1answer
39 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
160 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
66 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
353 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 ...
0
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3answers
70 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; ...
1
vote
2answers
166 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: ...
1
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1answer
64 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
151 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
217 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 ...
0
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4answers
91 views

“Less” and “fewer” in English [duplicate]

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 ...
4
votes
2answers
112 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)
-2
votes
1answer
90 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 ...
0
votes
3answers
214 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
321 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
votes
3answers
301 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
vote
1answer
30 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?
3
votes
6answers
222 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
votes
1answer
275 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. ...
1
vote
1answer
78 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
212 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?
1
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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 ...