Its not uncommon that you walk on the street you see there are big malls hanging big billboard containing only "Sale". Sometimes, Summer Sale, Winter Sale. In every case you get XX% price off there.

Sale Billboard

If I ask you Hey, is there any sale running on Nike? what do you think?

  1. I asked you if Nike is currently selling products. -- well they always sell. So whats the point of this question then?
  2. I asked you if Nike is currently selling products with discount. -- this might be a meaning.

I am not asking you to provide the meaning from dictionary. I know that. I just want to know the interpretation of that question to most people. In fact the practical meaning of Sale.

  • 4
    Words have multiple meanings, sometimes which overlap, and context makes it clear what meaning is meant. If someone asks you a question, and you can immediately think of two ways to interpret that question, but one way makes no sense, why not discard that interpretation and go with the one that does make sense? Jan 14, 2013 at 14:45
  • You can easily find out the meaning of a word to most people by consulting a dictionary. Dictionaries do not dictate what is correct; they document what people actually say. If you have already looked at current dictionaries, then you already know the common meanings, what you call the practical meaning.
    – MetaEd
    Jan 14, 2013 at 15:16

1 Answer 1


"We have Niké shoes on sale" can mean both the former and the latter.

"We have a sale on Niké shoes" can mean only the latter.

In any case where the sale is emphasised, as in the image above, you can safely assume it means the latter - there is a discount. (About the only exception I can think of is lending libraries, video hire shops, etc. as they don't normally sell their stock at all, though when they do they tend to overlap anyway as the prices tend to be lower than you would spend elsewhere).

"A sale" can also refer to the event of items being offered at a discount.

Likewise "sale price" can be just the price at which something is sold, or the discounted price, depending on context.

In some jurisdictions there are legal requirements as to what can be described as a sale in the second sense, with the shop having to have had the same items available at a higher price for a certain minimum amount of time, before being able to claim they are now discounting it.

  • Who acutes Niké?
    – tchrist
    Jan 14, 2013 at 15:27
  • 1
    @tchrist (1) some (but not all) who are more familiar with Greek mythology than sportswear (2) some who tend to be old-fashioned in their orthography. I would be in the overlap of those two groups.
    – Jon Hanna
    Jan 14, 2013 at 15:43
  • Ah, I see. Makes me wonder how you feel about nemetic. :)
    – tchrist
    Jan 14, 2013 at 15:45
  • @tchrist perfectly cromulent ;)
    – Jon Hanna
    Jan 14, 2013 at 15:47

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.