Questions tagged [ambiguity]

This tag is for questions about words or phrases that have multiple meanings and can thus be understood in different ways. If your question is about different words that can be easily mixed up or confused use the tag CONFUSABLES instead.

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Long answers with present perfect [closed]

1-A) I haven't eaten yet, because I was doing my homework, but I've just finished. 1-B) I haven't eaten yet, because I have been doing my homework, but I've just finished. 2-A) I haven't played yet, ...
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2 answers
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"Didn't any" and "didn't either" [closed]

A discount will be given to teams that did not participate in either of the last two EBL Team Championships held in Budapest 2016 and Ostend 2018. Who qualifies for a discount? Teams that didn't ...
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What's the Meaning of Opposing?

What's the meaning of 'opposing' in the following sentence: "We have long been accustomed to opposing x to y." Edit: I deliberately eschewed the context and original reference, because its ...
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The ambiguity "weird to NP" and "weird of NP"

I was reading in a paper recently that some predicates like odd/weird alternate between psychological and nonpsychological interpretations: (1a) is about experiencing a weird feeling, whilst (1b) is ...
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Possible ambiguity involving 'should'

In the following dialogue: Q: How much of a problem is A when using method B? A: For method B, A should be taken care of. Is the answer ambiguous? Are these interpretations both valid? Interpretation ...
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The word "new" may be an Adverb or an Adjective

I am trying to understand this sentence where the word 'new' can both be an adverb and also an adjective. Can someone please help me explain the ambiguous structure and the meaning conveyed in the ...
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What is the meaning of "encourages it for… on" in this context?

Agriculture expands yield production to meet demand to limit overlapping, and the government encourages it for crop yield forecast on TamilNadu dataset imports." What does "encourages it ...
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4 votes
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Is there more to “A hell of a …” than mere interjection or expletive?

Previous examination of “A hell of a …” on this site focussed on emphasis, interjection or expletive usage. As examples we have: (What is the meaning of "a hell of a lot"?) a great deal or ...
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Is using "abysmal" and "lack" in this sentence ambiguous?

I had recently come across a sentence that said, The lack of representation for LGBTQ people and women of color is abysmal. Page 241 of Broken Horses, by Brandi Carlile. Considering that the rest of ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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Meaning of "the thin man’s convention" [closed]

The standard residential elevator is designed to accommodate 12 passengers, all of whom we assume to be of average weight and form. This is the Occupant’s Fallacy. The number 12 does not consider the ...
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7 answers
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Meaning of "or we have headphones or we don't, so..."

I've run into this sentence and don't understand the meaning of "or we have headphones or we don't, so...". It's like some logical issue here that I cannot comprehend The web is a very ...
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What is the meaning of "We should complete it by this weekend"? [duplicate]

We assume that Saturday and Sunday are the weekend, so I am confused about the meaning of "by this weekend". If for example in a sentence: "We should still complete the paper by this ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Is the sentence below ambiguous? [duplicate]

The sentence is: “X is not legal in all contexts.” Couldn’t the logical negation be interpreted as applied to either “legal” or “legal in all contexts”, the former would result in “X is illegal in all ...
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Am I understanding this passage correctly?

... accordingly we find Newton assigning to God two very important and specific duties in the daily cosmic economy. For one thing, he actively prevents the fixed stars from collapsing together in the ...
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2 answers
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Customer can win only one quarterly Prize per year provided he has not won 3 monthly prizes

What does this sentence mean? I am confused. Customer can win only one Quarterly Prize per year provided he has not won 3 monthly prizes. Does it mean that: Customer can only win 1 quarterly prize ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Is the following statement with 'which is what they now call' ambiguous?

Consider the sentence' "We arrived at Lok Kalyan Marg, which is what they now call Race Course Road." And the two meanings Lok Kalyan Marg was the erstwhile name and Race Course Road is the ...
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Bachelor vs Engineer degree and thesis [closed]

So when it comes to my education I have earned an Engineer's degree at some European university, and my final thesis was some thing that I definitely would like to boast about before my future, ...
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When to use singular versus plural noun following “respective”

I am having an interesting grammar debate with a colleague. Leading sentence as given: “Mary and Elizabeth are each married to their present husband.” My desire: To remain friends with only the ...
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1 answer
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What is the precise meaning of the word ‘beget’ in this text [closed]

I know the meaning of the verb ‘beget’: reproduce, cause, bring about,father, give rise to, … It is just that in this context I cannot get what is meant by it. Does it mean giving rise to ‘...
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2 votes
1 answer
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Is "I'm glad you were able to make it" often used sarcastically? Ambiguous? Help understanding something that happened to me [closed]

I've lived in the US for 17 years and I thought I had a good grip on the English language, but something interesting happened to me and it has bothered me for a while. I am hoping someone with deeper ...
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2 answers
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What's the difference between "itself", "his notion of its self" and "that self" in the sentence below? [closed]

It came to him that he had turned away from the buffalo not because of a womanish nausea at blood and stench and spilling gut; it came to him that he had sickened and turned away because of his shock ...
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2 answers
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Is there a variant of "suspicious" that unambiguously indicates the subject as the actor?

Mirriam-Webster defines suspicious as: tending to arouse suspicion expressing or indicative of suspicion These two definitions differ significantly in their meaning. (1) implies the subject is the ...
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Could " we'd better .." be replaced with " we will .." in the sentence below?

" I reckon we'd better hit some water tomorrow" Or " I reckon we will hit some water tomorrow" I have two more questions . Is the word " better " adverb here and if the ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Precise meaning of ‘adopted to general enthusiasm’ in this context?

I am confused by that ‘to’ after ‘adopted’. I know the meaning of adopted: embrace, take on, accept, choose, select, … But adopted is often used with ‘by’ or ‘as’ or used by itself alone. Examples: ...
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1 answer
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What does "sidespin" mean as a verb?

"What do you think is the best way to get back on track for those that have found themselves side spun?" It's a question about game strategies. I guess the user seems to mean 'get bogged ...
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3 answers
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"Given a man walking a dog and a cat,..." [duplicate]

I want to write a sentence that starts similar to Given a man walking a dog and a cat, ... This could be interpreted as "given a man that is walking both a dog and a cat". "given (a ...
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-2 votes
4 answers
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How to differentiate a computer science graph from other uses of the graph word? [closed]

A graph is a well defined data type used in computer science to represent a lot of concepts, like the cities on the Travelling salesman problem or nodes in a network. It is something like this: In ...
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2 answers
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Does the phrase "uphold the law" imply "obeying the law"? [closed]

The different dictionaries I looked at define "uphold" as meaning to "support or defend or maintain" something. When I think about that word I think about it being used in the ...
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1 answer
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4 dictionaries give "at face value" a slightly different meaning, what should I do? [duplicate]

I notice someone had asked What does "to take someone at face value" mean? before. But my question is a bit different. https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/at-face-value ...
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0 votes
2 answers
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The Preposition "Between" in a long sentence

I got faced with a paragraph - while translating a book - that I don't understand much. The paragraph says: Furthermore, chains of command between the federal, state and local agencies involved in ...
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1 answer
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'A pair of shoes is/are odd.' Is there a name for this double meaning regarding singularity/plurality?

If I say : I have a pair of shoes that is odd, the meaning would be that there was something odd about the pair. Perhaps the shoes are bright green with pink spots. But if I say : I have a pair of ...
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3 votes
1 answer
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Ad hominem for non persons

An ad hominem argument is typically, according to Wikipedia, "a rhetorical strategy where the speaker attacks the character, motive, or some other attribute of the person making an argument ...
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-2 votes
1 answer
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Conjunctions and ambiguity [closed]

Water froze but didn’t melt. It can mean: Water froze but the water (liquid) didn’t melt. (Water doesn’t melt because it’s already liquid) Water froze but the frozen water (ice) didn’t melt. (Maybe ...
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1 vote
1 answer
63 views

"All green apples but 1" or "All but 1 green apples"

I would like to use phrase "all but one" in the sentence like "Except for the one green apple, all the other green apples are bad." Which expression is not ambiguous? "All but ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Synonym to Confirmation that is like a statement and not a request

While working with user interfaces, I find myself dealing with two usual interfaces: one that asks the user to confirm that they are aware of the action that's going to be performed, and the second ...
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1 answer
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a more common occurrence than any one would think who only knew me through your memoirs [duplicate]

Quote: “Because I made a blunder, my dear Watson—which is, I am afraid, a more common occurrence than any one would think who only knew me through your memoirs. The fact is that I could not believe it ...
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1 answer
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What does "until next week" means? [duplicate]

What does "until next week" means? Today is Tuesday of Week 1. My boss said she will be on leave today until next week. (1) She will be on leave from Tuesday to Sunday of Week 1 and back ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Help me understand a stag joke in a movie [closed]

In the movie "Bachelor Mother" (1939), the hero, a wealthy socialite and the son of a big store owner, invites the heroine, a poor girl working at that store, to a New Year's party because ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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What does " Any award recognition is just gravy " mean? [closed]

The interviewer asked the actor "What would an Oscar nomination mean for you?", and he answered, "Any award recognition is just gravy". Can anybody please clarify the actor's ...
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What is the meaning of "be places"?

Recently I saw the sentence "Sometimes I just am places". What does it mean? Actually, it was used when one of the characters in the movie asked his friend "why are you here?", and ...
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The meaning of "whereunto"?

What is the meaning of "whereunto" here? Dionysius the elder, after having, by a tedious siege and elty of Dionysius through exceeding great difficulties, taken the city of Reggio, the ...
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0 votes
0 answers
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Meaning of 'Nothing herein shall require the Owner to disclose any of its information' in an agreement document?

What is the meaning of the sentence from an agreement document? Nothing herein shall require the Owner to disclose any of its information. The sentence previous to this sentence has some types of ...
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7 votes
1 answer
1k views

Can the word "rook" be used as a verb in chess?

According to Merriam-Webster, the word queen can be used as a verb with the meaning "to become a queen in chess". I am wondering if the work rook can be used in the same way: Is it ...
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1 vote
3 answers
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Potentially ambiguous sentence/understanding

I was reading the Monty Hall problem to discuss it with a friend. The problem is defined as: Suppose you're on a game show, and you're given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is a car; ...
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3 votes
2 answers
105 views

"Unlike" after negatives

Fowler (1926) criticized the position of unlike in: M. Berger, however, does not appear to have— unlike his Russian masters— the gift of presenting female characters. As with many negatives, the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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Does "vomit" refer to a single heave or an entire episode of vomiting?

For example, if somebody says "I vomitted four times yesterday" should I assume that they gave four heaves of vomit total, possibly only during a single trip to the bathroom, or should I ...
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-3 votes
1 answer
126 views

How long does "half an hour" mean? [closed]

Consider the declaration A: I'll be gone for thirty minutes. as compared to I'll be gone for half an hour. Similarly, consider declaration B: I'll be back within 30 minutes. versus I'll be back ...
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5 votes
2 answers
379 views

Get married: act vs ceremony

You can use marriage to refer to the act of getting married, Her family did not approve of her marriage to David. You don't usually use marriage to refer to the ceremony in which two people get ...
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0 votes
0 answers
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Correct convention to write temperatures with tolerances

When you are writing a temperature range using tolerances that are different for negative values, what is the correct format? See examples. For negative temperature values: -67°F +0/-10°F or -67°F -...
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0 votes
1 answer
47 views

Does, "... gas, electricity, and any other costs associated with the internet," mistakenly imply gas and electricity as a cost for internet?

In the utilities section of a rental agreement, a paragraph ends with the sentence, "Tenants shall be responsible for gas, electricity, and any other costs associated with the internet." In ...
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