I need to say that there are hypothesis/assumptions about a certain word (Foobar) - that it means something. But I can't seem to form this sentence properly.

Here is what I got so far:

One can encounter assumptions that "Foobar" is "good-for-nothing", "lazy" person. But
that cannot be true ...

The construct "one can encounter assumptions" seems wrong to me - both because of the encounter word and the assumptions word.

I tried one can meet, one can find - for the first part, and suppositions, propositions for the second - but none of them seem to make any sense.

I hope this is confusing enough :-)


2 Answers 2


I find nothing wrong with the usage as originally written. Certainly there's a bit of anthropomorphizing going on, or perhaps the reverse whose name I can't think of at the moment (replacing a person with a thing that they represent), but the basic idea is certainly sound: while explaining something about Foobar, you ran into a situation where the person you were explaining to held an assumption that you needed to overcome. Expressing this as "encountering an assumption" seems perfectly legitimate to me; as the assumption is the object of your enmity, to so speak, using it directly as the object of your sentence is both natural and much more succinct than injecting the person who holds the assumption as the object.

If you insist on rewording something that is already short and understandable, you could try something like "One may run up against an assumption that X is Y" or "One may be faced with a situation where X has been assumed to be Y".

  • the term you're thinking of is metonymy/synecdoche? Apr 20, 2011 at 2:29

How about flipping it around to an active voice rather than passive:

The word "foobar" sometimes implies "good-for-nothing" or "lazy person"....

The words "imply", "connotation", and "impression" (as in "gives the impression" of X) might be helpful here.

As far as "encounter"/"meet"/"find"/"run across" goes, they all imply a sense of motion/searching, e.g. Inspector Clouseau traveling around the Paris streets encountering suspicious characters. If you want to make that kind of image, they all seem OK, although encounter seems like it should be used more with tangible things ("the orcs encountered a band of dwarves") rather than encountering ideas.

edit: How about "runs across stereotypes" or "insinuations"?

  • Thanks, but I really need to indicate that those meanings are provided by someone else out there. That is, someone else proposed such meanings. Apr 20, 2011 at 2:06
  • ah, ok. I'll give it another shot. Apr 20, 2011 at 2:10
  • "It was a dark and stormy night, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for the people of Starkfield, Massachusetts, who were whispering to each other that 'Foobar' implies a good-for-nothing busybody, much like themselves...." ;-) Apr 20, 2011 at 2:28

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