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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2
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2answers
215 views

Is the main meaning of “speak extempore” as “without notes” of “without preparation”?

Some dictionary definitions (https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/extempore) of extempore I found allow only without preparation: Spoken or done without preparation. Some (https://www....
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0answers
1k views

What does “as busy as it gets” mean? [closed]

What does "as busy as it gets mean? For instance, 6 PM: Usually as busy as it gets (about a sinagogue). Or the photo below is called "As busy as it gets"
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1answer
250 views

Unambiguous way to say 'any day within a range of days"? [duplicate]

What is the unambiguous way to say any day within a range of days? I want to say you can choose any day: 1,2,3,4 or 5th of Aug. You can choose any day between Aug 1st and Aug 5th. You can choose any ...
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2answers
52 views

What means that “Nail”? [closed]

What does nail mean in the below sentence? ( Here C# is a programming language) Nail Your C# Developer Interview.
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2answers
99 views

The phrase “Spirits abroad”

In the abroad entry of The Oxford Living Dictionaries, there are a handful of examples containing the word spirit (Examples are rearranged by me): [T]here is a new buccaneering spirit abroad. First, ...
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0answers
1k views

Implications and Possible retorts of “Let's not get ahead of ourselves”

When someone uses the phrase "Let's not get ahead of ourselves", it seems to be patronizing, yet usually, with the correct tone, is designed to be polite. To me, it seems that the implications are as ...
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1answer
83 views

“I met him(,) sitting on the chair(,) and talked to him.” Who was sitting on the chair?

I met him sitting on the chair and talked to him. - (He was sitting on the chair) I met him, sitting on the chair, and talked to him. - (I was sitting on the chair) Is that correct? I feel safer ...
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1answer
353 views

What does “reaching nothing down” and “I was promoted to him” mean?

I am reading "Quality" by John Galsworthy and there are some phrases and lines which I could not grasp. I thought that this site would be the perfect place to ask this question. Below are some lines ...
2
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1answer
519 views

Meaning of these phrases from “Quality”

I am reading "Quality" by John Galsworthy and there are some phrases and lines which I could not grasp. I thought that this site would be the perfect place to ask this question. My Questions: What ...
0
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1answer
66 views

Articles in movie or book titles: noun vs. adjective [closed]

One of the recently released movies is called "Terminal". The title of the movie does not include any article, definite or indefinite. Would it be correct to conclude that in the absence of an article ...
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2answers
1k views

“a different take” (interpretation/viewpoint) versus “a different tack” (approach/alternative/direction)

I found myself writing "a different take" and wondering if I didn't mean "a different tack".  It got me wondering what the difference, if any, is between these two phrases. Initially, my view was ...
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1answer
43 views

Ambiguity in the word order either adjective vs adverb

There's one ambiguous structure I would like to clarify. ...by righteously maintaining his solitude... Must I use righteous instead of righteously or is it the word order that must be changed? ...
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1answer
132 views

What's the meaning of 'learn to forget'

I got confused while translating 'learn to forget' and have ended up with two different meanings. I can't definitely decide whether it is equivalent to: 'learn how to forget' or 'that purpose of ...
3
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2answers
384 views

In “pedophilia,” why philos rather than eros?

Greek carefully distinguishes between philos (non-sexual love) and eros (sexual love). There are 100s of "phile" words (e.g. an audiophile is a person with a non-sexual love of stereo equipment) and ...
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1answer
131 views

How I avoid ambiguity in the use of “and”?

How do I avoid ambiguity in the use of "and"? For example, the phrase: "demonstrative pronoun and adjective" could mean both pronoun and adjective are demonstrative, or it could mean only ...
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1answer
142 views

Is 'otherwise then' a correct construct? [closed]

I was reading a Stack Overflow answer here and argued with the author that his wording is confusing, but now I'm not so sure if I'm right. The phrase in question is: If a type T adopts the ...
2
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1answer
123 views

Is the sentence “horse meat is dog meat” a contradiction?

Other compounds reveal other meaning relations between the parts, which are not entirely consistent because many compounds are idiomatic ... a magnifying glass is a glass that magnifies; ...
11
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3answers
4k views

The ambiguity of: “resent your message” [closed]

I am not a native English speaker. Thus I am not sure about the meaning of an email I received. Since the writer is important to me and I depend on his good will, I am afraid to ask him what he wanted ...
0
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1answer
562 views

What does the phrase “Mind your business” mean or refer to? [closed]

What is the meaning of the phrase "Mind your business", as used on the 'Fugio Cent' copper penny, during the period of the Congress of the Confederation in America?
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2answers
47 views

How do I parse the phrase “it stands to reason”?

In the phrase "it stands to reason that...", is reason a verb or a noun? If it is a verb, it is subordinate to the verb stands, which is being used metaphorically: it is sound/stable for one to ...
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2answers
70 views

Huskies are a compact? [closed]

There is an article about huskies. It says: Siberian huskies are among the most beautiful of dogs. They are a compact but strong-looking dog with a neat coat and a large bushy tail that is usually ...
1
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1answer
69 views

What does the phrase “lowest rated in history” mean? [closed]

Does it mean the RATINGS or QUALITY being the lowest ever? Edit: Some context here - two days after the show aired, Trump tweeted - Lowest rated Oscars in HISTORY. Problem is, we don’t have Stars ...
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1answer
42 views

In front of a line

Say there's a line marked horizontally on the ground, like the ones in the subway. If you were to say, "I'm in front of the line", would you be standing behind it, past it, or on it?
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1answer
1k views

Line of Business grammar

What is the correct way to say "Line of Businesses" or "Line of Business"? if you want to say multi or ten, twenty ie quantity. how do you add line of business? is it "10 line of business", "10 ...
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2answers
193 views

What does “He would miss the paycheck…” mean?

He would miss the paycheck each week, but he wanted to retire. I really don't understand the sentence especially the use of but. Why not thus, therfore or so? And as for the verb "would", does ...
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1answer
82 views

The ambiguity of: see / hear / listen to news

When you google "hear", "listen", "watch", or "see" , many links appear telling the differences between them, but I wanted to see if the same applies to "news" or not. The difference in meaning is ...
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5answers
536 views

Is it a case of a sloppy conditional, a rare past habitual, or…? “Sometimes he would have come back”

I was reading this article in The Guardian, and I came across an odd-sounding sentence: Sometimes Toby would have come back, and there would be loud music in the drawing room; My impression was, ...
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2answers
404 views

Does “express” mean fast or cheap?

I've recently become confused at the use of the word express, specifically in circumstances where companies use the word to describe a slightly different service than their typical service. For ...
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1answer
60 views

What is the meaning of “constructed” in the following text? What is “they” referring to in the following sentence? [closed]

Informational and statistical visualizations engender the rhetoric of clarity, precision, and fact, though "they" are, of course, constructed interpretations.
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2answers
283 views

A question about the word 'spirit' used to mean a phonetic 'breathing'

The English word 'breathing' describes, among other things, the apostrophe used as a phonetic mark in front of Greek vowels. The 'rough' breathing indicates that an H should be considered present as ...
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1answer
40 views

Removing modifier error

The modifier error in the sentence below creates ambiguity regarding who is on the way home - John or the huge man. John saw a huge man on his way home What are the different ways to fix this? ...
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2answers
396 views

American vs American-based [closed]

What is the difference between saying someone is "an American artist" and someone is "an American-based artist"? I think the latter is used when the artist is an American artist but he is currently ...
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3answers
796 views

Does “liege” mean master or servant?

Searching online, I see the two definitions for liege (noun) given by Merriam-Webster a: a vassal bound to feudal service and allegiance b: a loyal subject a feudal superior to whom ...
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1answer
44 views

Should a comma be used whenever it resolves an equivocation?

I think I may nearly have got commas, but am not sure. Should a comma be used whenever it resolves an equivocation? What about the following: She got angry with him, ignoring his stupidity The ...
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4answers
818 views

Are there specific texts, such as French/English poetry, in which the word romance was originally used, and popularized in?

I'm curious about what the meaning of the word was originally and it seems to refer to song. I've found so far that it simply means "fiction", or "novel" (romans in French). I have a keen interest to ...
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3answers
462 views

What is it about this sentence that makes it sound awkward? [closed]

I have a colleague who wrote: We love what this new tool enables us to do that we never could have done before. And I responded to that it sounds a bit awkward. I've since reworked it into: ...
0
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1answer
334 views

Past tense of “make up for” ambiguity

I am in a literary conundrum, I need to use the "make up for" idiom in past tense, however "make" translates to "made", which forms the "made up" idiom, which is fundamentally different from the "make ...
2
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3answers
101 views

Shall I get us a Chinese for dinner tonight? [duplicate]

Is this sentence grammatically correct? Shall I get us a Chinese for dinner tonight? I saw this in a book and it looks a bit strange to me. Should there be an article before the word Chinese? ...
5
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3answers
352 views

What rules determine whether “could” can be ambiguous in some sentences?

I've been trying to explain to a non-native English speaker why "We could lift the rock" allows two interpretations: "We were able to lift the rock" "We might be able to lift the rock [in the future]...
2
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2answers
450 views

What is the term used for a place name that represents something other than the place itself? [duplicate]

There is a special term for when a place name is representative of something other than the actual place itself but I can't remember what it is. For example: 'Brussels' may be used to refer to the ...
2
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1answer
407 views

Which of these two possible meanings of this sentence is correct? [closed]

I have a question regarding this quote from "Ravens" by "Mount Eerie": And in every dream I have at night And in every room I walk into like here Where I sit the next October Still seeing ...
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2answers
385 views

Why does “I never recognize 90% of the people” mean “I never recognize more than 10% of the people”?

Apparently, "I never recognize 90% of the people" means that each time you can only recognize less than 10 percent of the people. (Cf. comments under this video.) My naive syntactic preconceptions ...
0
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1answer
51 views

May I get a simpler-structured sentence than that one?

I totally couldn't understand what is trying to be said because of the complex grammatical structures and ambiguous words. Here is the full sentence: God to him was the incarnation of the pure ...
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3answers
66 views

feminist art historian [closed]

Can "feminist art historian" be read as both "(feminist art) historian" and "feminist (art historian)"? I think both are possible and depend on context but when it is imagined out of context the ...
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1answer
378 views

The difference between the meanings of “assumption” and “hypothesis” in the mentioned context? [closed]

What is the difference between the meanings of "assumption" and "hypothesis" in the following context. Feminist researchers have also developed alternatives to assumptions, research questions, ...
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2answers
406 views

What does it mean to ignore someone?

If Bob Smith says, "Kevin is . . .", and I only hear "Kevin is", did I ignore the ". . ."? According to the dictionary, my not hearing this part is not ignoring it, if a loud noise prevented me from ...
3
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2answers
41 views

What is the best way to express relations between one party on one side, and two on the other

I recently read the following sentence: He helped normalize relations between the US and Vietnam and Laos. Assuming Vietnam and Laos already had normal relations with each other (which they might ...
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0answers
44 views

What is a “sow of solidarity”? [closed]

It cracks me up, but is that a thing, at all? Like a hog that is the living embodiment of camaraderie? Came across it here: Weinstein was expelled late Saturday from the ranks of the Academy of ...
3
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2answers
116 views

Word for people older than the speaker in school?

I'm looking for a word for what you'd in the workplace call 'seniors', i.e. "My seniors told me where the cafeteria was in Building 1." But in college, 'senior' has a different meaning, and "...
1
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0answers
38 views

“You did not lose weight because of this.”, and another similar phrase [duplicate]

I would like to know if the phrase "You did not lose weight because of this." is ambiguous or not. I think it could mean any of the following: "This is the reason you did not lose weight." "This did ...