Questions relating to semantics, the study of meaning.

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0answers
60 views

Do people understand what it means to play with semantics? [on hold]

I get confused when people dumb me down saying I shouldn't play with semantics. I don't like it. Why do they do it? What can I say to them to help me out in these situations? Thank you in advance
0
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1answer
55 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 ...
15
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10answers
3k 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 ...
2
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1answer
17 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
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3answers
102 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 ...
2
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1answer
136 views

“Feeling well” adverb ambiguity

Am I just crazy, or is there some ambiguity in the phrase "feeling well"? Example: Billy has a genetic defect that causes him to lose sensation in his fingertips every few days, or so. "How are you ...
0
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2answers
57 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
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4answers
82 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 ...
1
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2answers
273 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 ...
0
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4answers
80 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 ...
2
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1answer
70 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
65 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
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2answers
330 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
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7answers
5k views

I'll take you home / I'll bring you home

Being both non-natives, I had some discussion today about the following situation: suppose you're at a party and you want to take/bring your drunk buddy home. I believe that: "I'll take you home" ...
3
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2answers
3k 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 ...
2
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2answers
50 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
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3answers
55 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
50 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
37 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 ...
3
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3answers
3k views

How to Identify a Rhetorical Question?

I am familiar with the idea of a rhetorical question, but are there any criteria to mark or identify one? Can a rhetorical question be recognized alone or does it need surrounding context? It ...
1
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2answers
107 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
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7answers
176 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 ...
3
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2answers
40 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
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2answers
46 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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0answers
39 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)
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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0answers
36 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 ...
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1answer
35 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 ...
1
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1answer
93 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 ...
0
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1answer
36 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
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1answer
134 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
253 views

Lexicology, Semasiology

Is metonymy considered to be linguistic or extralinguistic factor of semantic change? For example crown for a monarchy
2
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2answers
292 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
65 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; ...
12
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7answers
25k views

Is the phrase “it's just a matter of semantics” meaningless?

I hear this phrase from time to time, and I really don't know what it means. Two people are debating, and one says "the difference between your position and mine is just a matter of semantics." ...
34
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7answers
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 ...
1
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2answers
161 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: ...
3
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5answers
5k views

Difference between “fluency” and “fluidity”

Fluent seems to most commonly refer to language mastery, but in that context isn't it just saying that its delivery is fluid? If so, am I communicating something different when using one over another ...
1
vote
1answer
55 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
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1answer
122 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
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2answers
195 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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3answers
172 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 ...
5
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3answers
296 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 ...
4
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2answers
104 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
81 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
30k views

What is the difference between syntax and semantics? [closed]

As a computer scientist and a writing hobbyist, I really ought to know these terms' meanings for memory. Can anyone clarify the difference between syntax and semantics, and provide some examples? For ...
0
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1answer
282 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 ...
11
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4answers
42k 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 ...
8
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1answer
451 views

Why and how did “a sensible boy” become “intelligent and prudent”?

Italians often get confused by sensible and sensitive. If I tell them He's a sensible boy; he studies hard, saves his money, and plans ahead. They are quite bewildered. To them, sensible is ...
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?