Questions relating to semantics, the study of meaning.

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19
votes
4answers
24k views

“Liberty” versus “freedom”

What is the difference, if any, between liberty and freedom? Does it convey the same meaning if "Status of liberty" is replaced with "status of freedom" ? or every occurrence of "liberty" in ...
3
votes
3answers
129 views

“Mysterious” vs. “Perplexing”

Is there a difference between 'mysterious' and 'perplexing' when used with regard to some unexplained phenomena?
3
votes
5answers
496 views

What can't you describe without a picture?

What do you call objects, or kinds of objects, that cannot be described without visual aids?
10
votes
5answers
8k views

“Satire” versus “sarcasm”

I looked up the two words on wikitionary & got this: satire: A literary technique of writing or art which principally ridicules its subject often as an intended means of provoking or ...
2
votes
2answers
5k views

“Quote” vs “estimate” (business context)

I'm interested in the semantic implications of using the words quote and estimate in a business scenario. Here's the situation: When someone wants to purchase a service that I provide, they can fill ...
3
votes
5answers
327 views

Is it safe to equate 'less evil' to 'more good'?

We had a bit of a debate with this one. He, a native speaker (unlike me) went for: "less evil" implies that you are comparing evil people and "more good" implies that you are comparing good people ...
31
votes
6answers
2k views

Does apologizing entail recognizing being at fault?

Consider this example: I'm sorry if you got the impression that I meant to insult you. That was not my intention. Would it be correct to say that the above person apologized? All the ...
13
votes
5answers
633 views

Can one “marry one's wife”?

I was vacantly reading the paper the other day when I came across a strange formation in the obituary: "he married his wife in 19XX". I was rather taken aback by this; surely he can't marry his own ...
9
votes
4answers
31k views

Is a thumb also a finger?

The thumb has a different name compared to the other fingers (index, middle, ring, little) and it does not end with "finger". Also, when referring to the hand, I have seen literature where it is ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

How are pronouns resolved?

Are pronouns in English resolved syntactically or semantically? Do they always refer to the closest matching noun? A wikipedia article has these examples: We gave the bananas to the monkeys ...
7
votes
5answers
30k views

Is “including but not limited to” a redundant phrase?

Doesn't "including" imply the "not limited to"?
7
votes
5answers
1k views

What is the semantic difference between “encipher” and “encrypt”?

What is the semantic difference between encipher and encrypt?