Questions relating to semantics, the study of meaning.

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4
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3answers
6k 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
639 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
83 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
252 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)
1
vote
1answer
109 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
156 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 ...
4
votes
7answers
895 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
426 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
650 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
57 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
530 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
115 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
votes
2answers
1k 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
votes
3answers
111 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
210 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
vote
1answer
128 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
452 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 ...
4
votes
2answers
724 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
votes
4answers
182 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
154 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
195 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
8answers
1k 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
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1answer
1k 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
334 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
39 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?
4
votes
6answers
350 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
286 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
121 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
641 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
vote
0answers
30 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 ...
9
votes
5answers
1k 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
votes
0answers
25 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
votes
1answer
227 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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3answers
405 views
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7answers
2k 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
votes
2answers
198 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
votes
6answers
11k 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 ...
17
votes
11answers
9k 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. I once tried to find out how a word that referred to a part of the body could later develop into ...
0
votes
1answer
271 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
vote
1answer
222 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
votes
3answers
585 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
3k 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
7k 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?
0
votes
2answers
302 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
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
361 views

Lexicology, Semasiology

Is metonymy considered to be linguistic or extralinguistic factor of semantic change? For example crown for a monarchy
4
votes
4answers
554 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
vote
1answer
782 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
6k 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
votes
1answer
256 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 ...