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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15 views

“Do you think it will take?” - how come it means to *succeed*?

I'm watching Upload in prime-video. An Actress was doing something (putting someone depressed to bed in VR, hoping that it will make him wake up happy again; but it really doesn't matter), and another ...
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14 views

management practices AND their survival OR their associated survival

Could you please help me to choose, which of the following sentences is more correct. Nonoperative management practices have no survival, patients have. Thus, is the first sentence uncorrect or the ...
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1answer
43 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 ...
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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 ...
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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
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 – ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
77 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? "...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
51 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 ...
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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 ...
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3answers
102 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 ...
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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 (...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 &...
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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 ...
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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, ...
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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 “...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
65 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 &...
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31 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"? ...
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1answer
216 views

Meaning of the sentence “the body was found murdered by John”

Which of the two versions Mr.S. was found murdered, by John Mr.S. was found, murdered by John means that John found the body and which one means that John was the murderer?
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1answer
43 views

How to remove attachment ambiguity?

I have the following sentence in my technical manual about naming files: Punctuation marks other than hyphens, spaces around punctuation marks that are replaced by underscores, and spaces between ...
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2answers
57 views

Name of this lyrical device comparing oneself to something that's described by the same word, but in another sense of the word?

Warning: The examples contain some offensive words, but I believe that is not against the rules here? Lately I've been listening a lot to a certain hip-hop album, in which almost every track uses a ...
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2answers
76 views

Usage of “Do not mistake this for that” [closed]

Take the sentence Do not mistake genius for passion. In this case, what has the person being spoken to mistaken: genius or passion?
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1answer
26 views

Ambiguous ownership when discussing multiple character body parts

Up front apologies for the vague title, happy for editing suggestions on that as I'm not sure how else to describe it. Apologies again. I have come across a few situations where in a simple sentence I'...
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3answers
112 views

If I say that someone was mean to me, does that imply that they were conscious of it?

The dictionary doesn't help me with an answer. It gives me other words which may or may not require intent. mean (adjective) unkind, spiteful, or unfair. To be spiteful requires intent, to be unfair ...
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15 views

Term for words meaning both a concept or its best form. Ex: “principles” means “virtue” or “any morals” (good or bad) [duplicate]

These might also be examples: "logic/reason" as in "valid logic" or "any logic".
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1answer
46 views

Understanding Epictetus' burning down of the Capitol

Excerpt from Epictetus' Discourses, Book I, Chapter 8 (emphasis mine): You know, I once said the same thing to Musonius when he reproached me for not discovering the omission in a certain syllogism. ...
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5answers
299 views

Difference between “lift” and “lift off” in Feynman Lectures

Here's Figure 4.1: And an excerpt from the Feynman Lectures on Physics Chapter 4.2: A very simple weight-lifting is shown in Fig. 4-1. This machine lifts three units "strong". We place ...
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1answer
23 views

Meaning of some words

The closing decades of an artist’s life do not generally make the biographer’s heart beat faster, but Claude Monet is one of a handful of painters who bucks the pattern of an irrelevant old age. While ...
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1answer
45 views

Two consecutive sentences starting with the same word. The words have different meaning. How to make an emphasis on the correct meaning?

I work on a technical manual where each separate rule is followed by an example. (Actually, each rule is followed by two examples, a correct one and a wrong one. The wrong ones are skipped for brevity....
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1answer
37 views

Disambiguation of a sentence

I am working on a math problem where I need some help with the English to finish my solution. I have an ambiguous sentence: At least one student attended every lecture. My attempt to disambiguate ...
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17 views

Is there ambiguity in “by each” in this context?

The sentence: "Find all malls that have been visited by each student attending Wolf Secondary School" I've recently encountered a question like this on a Computer Science test and ...
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55 views

Ambiguous question

I came across a whatsapp message a few years ago about a question framed in a manner that no matter what the person answers they will be considered that thing they want to deny being. Unfortunately, I ...
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1answer
36 views

What does “controversial” mean here? [closed]

i.e., "The new agricultural reforms gave way to controversy." Does it mean that the public unanimously disagree with the reforms, or they disagree within themselves as to the subject matter?
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3answers
69 views

What would you understand if someone told you “you don't pay your tailor enough”? [closed]

It seems that it can be interpreted in a positive or negative way. Positive in the sense that your dress looks great and you should pay the tailor even more. Negative in the sense that the dress looks ...
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2k views

Does calling something a 'Novelty Act' bring down its image? [closed]

I'm really confused with this one, if one calls some performance a 'Novelty Act' does it imply they're trying lower its image or is it just neutral? Well, I looked it up on the internet and it says ...
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1answer
44 views

“In cases where” vs. “If”

Garner's Modern English Usage (2016), p. 147: H.W. Fowler wrote of case: "There is perhaps no single word so freely resorted to as a trouble-saver, and consequently responsible for so much ...
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11 views

Want- desire vs lack

When do you use want as "desire" and as "lack?" It appears quite often in texts, and I have a hard time differentiating the two. For example: The want of Miss Taylor would be felt ...
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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 '...

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