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Thread: Refuse

  1. #1
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    Refuse

    The word "refuse" can be used as a noun and a verb (and an adjective). I guess that's not so strange, but in this case, it has a completely different meaning, but it is spelled the same (although the pronunciation is different).

    I refuse to give in.

    Put your trash in the refuse area.

    When it's discarded, it becomes refuse.


    Are any other English words spelled the same but take different meanings?
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    Antagonyms are an extreme subset of that category of words.

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    Neither list includes duck which I think would be an obvious example or or am I confused?

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    Quote Originally Posted by glappkaeft View Post
    Neither list includes duck which I think would be an obvious example or or am I confused?
    Well, it's not an antagonym, and I don't think the "Insider" list is intended to be exhaustive. But it's certainly an example of what the OP wants.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cougar View Post
    The word "refuse" can be used as a noun and a verb (and an adjective). I guess that's not so strange, but in this case, it has a completely different meaning, but it is spelled the same (although the pronunciation is different).

    I refuse to give in.

    Put your trash in the refuse area.

    When it's discarded, it becomes refuse.


    Are any other English words spelled the same but take different meanings?
    Not quite the same thing, but "read" is pronounced differently as its own past tense.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheManWithNoName View Post
    To expand on one in this list:

    con-SULT (v): to seek advice.

    CON-sult (n): the act of seeking/giving advice, often medical in nature.

    (At least in US English usage, perhaps more common as medical jargon)
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    To expand on one in this list:

    con-SULT (v): to seek advice.

    CON-sult (n): the act of seeking/giving advice, often medical in nature.

    (At least in US English usage, perhaps more common as medical jargon)
    The noun is historical only, in the UK. It's a "consultation" in these parts, and has been for a century or so.

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    Words like "refuse", for which the different uses are essentially the same thing merely shifting between noun mode and verb mode, are so common that a complete list would end up being a significant fraction of a dictionary. It's even more common to have multiple meanings than to have just one, when Latin prefixes like "re" and "con" are involved, to such an extent that you can even spot a general rule about which syllable gets the emphasis in which form.

    What's more unusual are examples that don't appear to have a shared origin or related meanings, as if their sounding & looking the same is just coincidental, such as "fly":
    Verb: travel without being on land or in or on water
    Noun: an insect capable of traveling that way (possibly related?... but then why doesn't it include other flying insects?)
    Noun: the zipper on the front of a pair of pants or shorts
    Noun: a thin light tarp-like cover for keeping rain & dew out of a tent which otherwise has open mesh at the top
    Adjective: stylish (mostly among black Americans, and mostly about 1-3 decades ago)

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Antagonyms are an extreme subset of that category of words.
    Ha! Lots of good ones there! I especially like "dust."
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    Quote Originally Posted by glappkaeft View Post
    Neither list includes duck which I think would be an obvious example or or am I confused?
    No, that's a good one. Left to my own devices, I just could not come up with any. I figured there must be a few, but I'm a bit embarrassed there are so many!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cougar View Post
    Ha! Lots of good ones there! I especially like "dust."
    If anyone remembers Omni magazine (I had a subscription starting at issue 1 and it was great for a while), they used to have various weird contests. There was one that was some sort of word-play contest (like weird definitions of strange phrases) and I distinctly remember definitions for the phrase "penguin dust":
    1) fallout from an exploding penguin
    2) a command given to a penguin servant, like "penguin clean" or "penguin cook dinner"

    For some reason that always amused me.
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    I just saw something that sort of fits into this thread. Someone suggested the term "capitonym" for a pair of words that have different meanings, but differ only in their capitalization. Some examples:

    march/March
    polish/Polish
    august/August
    china/China
    lent/Lent
    hamlet/Hamlet
    fiat/Fiat
    mark/Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swift View Post
    If anyone remembers Omni magazine (I had a subscription starting at issue 1 and it was great for a while) ...
    Likewise. I nostalgically downloaded a number of issues in pdf format when they were available on archive.org. They've now been removed (presumably not as out-of-copyright as the uploaders assumed), but you can now buy individual issues as e-books from Amazon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey View Post
    I just saw something that sort of fits into this thread. Someone suggested the term "capitonym" for a pair of words that have different meanings, but differ only in their capitalization. Some examples:

    march/March
    polish/Polish
    august/August
    china/China
    lent/Lent
    hamlet/Hamlet
    fiat/Fiat
    mark/Mark
    Fiat, the car company is actually an acronym: Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino. So should perhaps be FIAT.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Fiat, the car company is actually an acronym: Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino. So should perhaps be FIAT.
    Likewise for seat/SEAT.
    Then again, no-one seems to capitalize NASA any more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Then again, no-one seems to capitalize NASA any more.
    ...nor LASER.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    ...nor LASER.
    RaDAR, SCUBA, TASER, LOL ...
    There's some sort of process of assimilation that rubs these acronyms smooth, and I have the impression it's happening faster these days.
    (Then again, I have the impression that everything's happening faster these days ...)

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    Went fishing the other day. I should have thought of this one: tackle. BTW, caught the biggest fish I've ever caught, not even close!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Fiat, the car company is actually an acronym: Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino. So should perhaps be FIAT.
    My transmission mechanic brother-in-law insists it stands for “Fix It Again, Tony.”
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    Why do I hear that in my head with a “New Joisey” accent?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Extravoice View Post
    My transmission mechanic brother-in-law insists it stands for “Fix It Again, Tony.”
    And my pickup is a "Found On Road Dead".
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PetersCreek View Post
    Why do I hear that in my head with a “New Joisey” accent?
    Because he’s from NJ
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Likewise for seat/SEAT.
    Then again, no-one seems to capitalize NASA any more.

    Grant Hutchison
    My understanding, and I could be wrong, I’d that in the UK the tendency is to only capitalize the first letter if it is an acronym, while in the US we tend to use capitals in all cases. So we write UNICEF and AIDS for example. And generally speaking, I think that Americans do generally use NASA (I do).


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    I've never seen NASA not-all-capitalized.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    My understanding, and I could be wrong, I’d that in the UK the tendency is to only capitalize the first letter if it is an acronym, while in the US we tend to use capitals in all cases. So we write UNICEF and AIDS for example. And generally speaking, I think that Americans do generally use NASA (I do).
    So do I. But there's an increasing tendency to view that treatment of acronyms as ugly and unnecessary. I'm interested to learn that that isn't happening in the USA--because until a few minutes ago I thought The Elements of Typographic Style was an American book, but I see that Bringhurst is actually Canadian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    So do I. But there's an increasing tendency to view that treatment of acronyms as ugly and unnecessary.
    Going by memory, but I think I read somewhere that the tendency is to use all capitals when an acronym is new, but then just to treat it as a normal word as it becomes well-known and commonly used. For example, laser.

    However, I can think of one that is probably more than two hundred years old, and yet which I have never seen any way except all capitalised.

    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    I'm interested to learn that that isn't happening in the USA
    I have never seen Usa or usa.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheManWithNoName View Post
    Going by memory, but I think I read somewhere that the tendency is to use all capitals when an acronym is new, but then just to treat it as a normal word as it becomes well-known and commonly used. For example, laser.

    However, I can think of one that is probably more than two hundred years old, and yet which I have never seen any way except all capitalised.



    I have never seen Usa or usa.
    About the USA, that’s completely normal, because it’s not an acronym. We pronounce it as U-S-A, not yusa. If it was pronounced yusa the capitalization might change. Same with UK. It doesn’t change to Uk because we don’t pronounce it uck.

    With regards to laser, that’s a good point. We tend to forget that words like laser and radar are acronyms and start treating them simply as words.
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheManWithNoName View Post
    Going by memory, but I think I read somewhere that the tendency is to use all capitals when an acronym is new, but then just to treat it as a normal word as it becomes well-known and commonly used. For example, laser.

    However, I can think of one that is probably more than two hundred years old, and yet which I have never seen any way except all capitalised.



    I have never seen Usa or usa.
    As Jens says, the difference is between an acronym (which we pronounce as a word) and an initialism (which we spell out). Acronyms are free to evolve towards being "just words", with an initial capital for a proper noun ("Nasa") or no capital for a common noun ("laser"). Initialisms are a bit more stuck, with their origin as a group of initial letters immediately evident, and the typography reflects the fact we say the name of each letter.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    With regards to laser, that’s a good point. We tend to forget that words like laser and radar are acronyms and start treating them simply as words.
    The same is true of some proper noun acronyms: FIAT and SEAT are still capitalized by the car manufacturers, dealers and specialist journalists, but have largely worn down to "Fiat" and "Seat" in common usage, with many people unaware that the names actually are acronyms.

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