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.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
0
votes
3answers
1k views

Valid? “The river is flowing.”

What is the meaning of the "the river is flowing?" Is this valid usage? Websters, #2: River: A large quantity of a flowing substance The river is already a flow by definition. Can the river be "...
0
votes
2answers
69 views

Ambiguous prepositional phrase in a legal document

In common speech or writing, disambiguation of objects of prepositional phrases can be inferred from context. However, there is no room for error in filling out legal documents! I came across this ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

What does “not XXX in the sense of it does not XXX” mean?

This could be a weird example, but consider the following statement: "She is not cute in the sense of being a cat." Which of the following should this sentence be understood as? "...
0
votes
1answer
78 views

Only one vs. One and only one

Suppose that someone proposes "only Jenny can eat this cookie". Is this proposition saying that Jenny can indeed eat this cookie and no one else can? (1) Or is this proposition actually ...
1
vote
0answers
47 views

What does “the folds of every garment would have the inevitability and definitiveness of syllogisms carved in porphyry” mean? [migrated]

This is a paragraph in Huxley's novel Ape and Essence, talking about a painting by Piero Della Francesca: For all their silken softness, the folds of every garment would have the inevitability and ...
5
votes
5answers
452 views

Ambiguity of the word 'any'?

Given the following question, in the context of a poll or vote: Should any employee of Company X be allowed to assume absolute authority in any project with Company X's name associated? Under the ...
0
votes
1answer
41 views

Does “as” in this sentence mean “because”?

Hello I have a question related to the usage of "as" and "since" in the meaning "because". I have such a sentence: While some people sell stories to the tabloid press ...
0
votes
1answer
65 views

Is this sentence construction wrong, where “going home” has other implied meaning, the origin and span of which isn't known? [closed]

I stumbled upon this article about the origins of some unusual idioms and phrases, as I have heard many of them being used popularly. But I was bit shocked and frustrated when I read this sentence ...
0
votes
3answers
73 views

What does “deviously” mean?

Most online dictionaries I've found define "deviously" as in a devious manner, but "devious" seems to have three meanings: indirect departing from the correct or appropriate way ...
-2
votes
1answer
36 views

Adverbs of frequency [closed]

Can ‘lifting up and down twice’ mean: lift up - lift down lift up - lift down - lift up - lift down
-1
votes
0answers
38 views

Ambiguity in “I have not experienced one of the following symptoms – fever, cough, fatigue…”?

These days in order to fly to Cyprus, a passenger is obliged to complete a questionnaire with one question being the following: "[YES/NO] I have not experienced one of the following symptoms – ...
1
vote
1answer
126 views

Difficulty understanding sentence in The Economist

I was reading an article in the latest issue of The Economist and was stumped by the opening of the last paragraph: That leaves two reasons for passports at home. One is to enforce vaccination when ...
0
votes
4answers
200 views

Is “its” ambiguous in “This bucket is produced in a factory overseas. Its capacity is small”?

I would like to show two sentence patterns: A) The purpose of the capacitor is not to provide energy. Its capacitance therefore does not have to be large. B) This bucket is produced in a factory ...
-2
votes
1answer
26 views

What does “shown for scale of purchasing power” mean?

On this page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millionaire In the right part, there is a photo of a luxury house. The text underneath says: A large suburban home valued at roughly $1,000,000 (2006) in ...
0
votes
1answer
56 views

Have we a word for thoughtless ambiguity?

Ministers have decided to “balance the books on the backs of the starving people of Yemen” in an act that will see tens of thousands die and damage the UK’s global influence, the head of the UN’s ...
0
votes
3answers
46 views

Meaning of the word “including” with “and/or” [closed]

Consider these two sentences: This shop sells cars from different brands, including Audi, BMW, and Opel. This shop sells cars from different brands, including Audi, BMW, or Opel. Does sentence 1 ...
0
votes
3answers
58 views

What do adverbs modify and can it be ambiguous?

I have two questions, but first consider the following sentence: Cutlery includes any hand implement used in preparing, serving, and especially eating food in Western culture. Does adverb '...
1
vote
1answer
94 views

What's the default way to interpret the phrase “Don't waste any time (in) getting back here.”?

Is this phrase ambiguous or is there are clearly preferred way of interpretation? The following 2 interpretations seem diametrically opposed: Don't waste any time getting back because you'll be too ...
0
votes
2answers
50 views

Can something be “fully mitigated”? [closed]

In my work I often see the term "fully mitigated". This does not seem correct to me. If mitigate means to reduce or lessen then can anything ever be fully mitigated? Would a more correct ...
0
votes
1answer
66 views

Syntactical ambiguity in introductory phrase reference: reference to main verb vs. object

Motivated by A, we outline our proposal for B. Does "Motivated" refer to outline or proposal? It seems to me that a reader could infer one of two statements: A motivated us to create this outline, ...
0
votes
0answers
38 views

Does the comma in my example sentence add clarity, or should I leave it out?

I quickly realized, homeless people listen to and trust other homeless people. I chose to include the comma to ensure readers understand it was the 'listen to' and 'trust' that I realized and not ...
25
votes
15answers
28k views

Does a “fact” have to be true?

I'm struggling to decide whether to jettison use of the word fact, because the definition appears to be not solid enough to support continued usage. What do I mean by that? Look at one "meaning ...
0
votes
3answers
100 views

What is the meaning of “a cool hand”?

I am quoting from the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, The Reigate Squires by Arthur Conan Doyle: "'There are some very singular points here,'said Holmes, smiling. 'Is it not extraordinary that a ...
0
votes
0answers
27 views

In “Brown Man's Burden” is the antecedent changing?

I was reading the "The Brown Man's Burden" by Henry Labouchère. I was a little confused because the antecedent for "you," seemed to be changing from the White men to the Brown men (...
1
vote
1answer
72 views

until, up to ambiguity — < vs <= [duplicate]

So this is about (preventing) an off-by-one error in the (interpretation of) English language. I have found some similar (not duplicate) questions but I don't feel entirely comfortable yet. For ...
12
votes
5answers
19k views

Why there are two different meanings for “triweekly”?

Context: I am looking for a term to indicate a time period of 3 weeks/21 days For instance, a "fortnightly" event would occur every 2 weeks/14 days. My Usage: The "Read for the Visually ...
0
votes
1answer
58 views

Can a morphologically singular noun sometimes take a plural verb if semantics permits so?

I have had this rather mind-boggling question: Do the following sentences require a singular or plural verb? The blue and the red dice are/is rolled on the floor. Geraldine's and Gerald's car are ...
0
votes
0answers
22 views

What is the difference between these responses? [duplicate]

Suppose I tell you that you can't understand what this means "fdhfshdgfjdsghskdrhgyc". You could reply "Yes, I can" or "No, I can". For the first phrase, it means that ...
1
vote
2answers
66 views

What is the contemporary meaning of “consensual”? [closed]

I wrote in a question on another SE site Before I start to reinvent the wheel: is there a consensual way to insert such data into the DB? To which I got several comments: I also think you mean &...
0
votes
1answer
30 views

A series of 4 elements, which can be considered as 2 series of 2 elements

Below is a sentence from the manual about naming files that I'm working on. Avoid including words that are clear from the parent path (2011), the file type (presentation), are obvious for some other ...
0
votes
1answer
53 views

Use of “of you” vs “for you” [closed]

"It is so kind of you to help me" "It is so kind for you to help me" What's the difference between "of" and "for" there? (I know no one using the second one, ...
0
votes
0answers
35 views

What does “be it” mean in this context? [duplicate]

I googled about this "be it" thing and I found a little sth about it, I learned it's an old subjunctive inversion, but I can’t understand meaning of the sentence below: But such an “...
0
votes
0answers
29 views

Using the oxford comma to separate two entities of which one has an article

Considering that I do not want to switch the positions of the italicized nouns in this sentence: "Taken as examples are the Limboagan effect, and hysteria." Will it be correct to use the ...
0
votes
2answers
116 views

Consider the question, “Aside from his pronunciation, what mistakes did he make?”

Aside from his pronunciation, what mistakes did he make? Doesn't this imply that the person asking also considers the subject's pronunciation as a mistake? How should it be rewritten to clarify that ...
1
vote
2answers
5k views

What does it mean for bones to be bleaching?

What does it exactly mean to say bones are bleaching? Specifically, does it mean their color is getting whiter or they are moldering A context: Since then I have lived to see state after ...
0
votes
2answers
72 views

Please explain the meaning of “appreciation” in the enclosed sentence

Reactions to German Idealism, especially those of the neo-Kantians, logical positivists and Bertrand Russell, were also instrumental in the founding of analytic philosophy, which today reveals and ...
1
vote
5answers
31k views

Word to define person with bad social skills

How would you define a person without (or with very bad) social skills? I don't mean a totally anti-social, but one that struggles to behave in a social context, and feels awkward or out-of-place ...
0
votes
1answer
30 views

Is “A scales with B in the same way as C” ambiguous? [closed]

In the sentence "A scales with B in the same way as C," A, B and C represent some scientific terms. I wrote it with a 'does' at the end to avoid ambiguity: "A scales with B in the same ...
1
vote
3answers
113 views

Difficulty with trying to describe the quantity of something

I am trying to write a word problem, and am having trouble with the wording of one part. Let's say for the sake of example that there are 10 apples and 20 oranges. Call them both items. I am trying to ...
0
votes
3answers
131 views

If you say “winter 1998”, is that too ambiguous?

Ocarina of Time was released in the winter of 1998. (The actual release date was around/just before Christmas time.) However, it's very much cold and "wintery" in January, February and sometimes/...
2
votes
3answers
981 views

Turn “in to” or “into” a lonely lane?

I have a sentence I'm writing where I describe making a turn, as I run, into an empty alleyway. Here is how I would like to say it: I turn into a lonely lane... The problem I find is that it may ...
0
votes
0answers
15 views

Can “edification” mean improvement or growth in a general sense, or does it only specifically refer to acquisition of knowledge or moral improvement?

In a conversation with a friend, I recently mentioned that I thought "one of the purposes of gift-giving is the edification of the giver and receiver" My friend replied that this did not ...
0
votes
1answer
110 views

What does the phrase 'odiously precocious' mean in the following passage?

'He thought of the half-caste children in Apia. They had an unhealthy look, sallow and pale, and they were odiously precocious' In my point of view it simply means that the children have so many ...
0
votes
0answers
28 views

The maximum X and Y length / lengths

One of the sections in the technical manual I am working on describes the maximum length of filenames and paths. According to the document, the maximum length of filenames is 31 character and the ...
0
votes
1answer
64 views

What time period does “1600s” refer to? [duplicate]

I've used the form "XX00s" to mean a century, as in How poverty affected Britain in the late 1800s or In the 1600s the tensions between the crown and parliament came to a head And I use &...
1
vote
1answer
56 views

Preventing pronoun confusion

I have two people. Fred knows something about X. Jim is curious how much Fred knows. Fred has also made some wrong assumptions about X. In describing the scene, I wrote this: Perhaps Fred didn't ...
3
votes
2answers
155 views

What quantity am I saying here?

What quantity am I saying here? "3 million athletes, trainers and businesses use my product..." Am I saying 3 million in total, or am I saying 9 million in total use my product (3M athletics + 3M ...
0
votes
1answer
82 views

What is the difference between “all butter” vs “butter”?

Japan had a lower consumption of butter compared with Russia. Japan had a lower consumption of all butter compared with Russia. Do the two sentences above mean the same? please explain Japan had a ...
0
votes
0answers
30 views

Meaning of “Lift” in “International sanctions lifted” [duplicate]

I want to know is it correct that "Lift" sometimes means to be "stop" as Wendy Sherman claimed in 2016 about the usage of that word in "International sanctions lifted"? ...
7
votes
4answers
87k views

Difference between “take a taxi” and “get a taxi”

What is difference between the following sentences? I take a taxi/bus/train. I get a taxi/bus/train.

1
2 3 4 5
21