English's most complex word

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English's most complex word

Postby Steve James on Thu Apr 20, 2017 5:38 am

Think about it: When you run a fever, for example, those three letters have a very different meaning than when you run a bath to treat it, or when your bathwater subsequently runs over and drenches your cotton bath runner, forcing you to run out to the store and buy a new one. There, you run up a bill of $85 because besides a rug and some cold medicine, you also need some thread to fix the run in your stockings and some tissue for your runny nose and a carton of milk because you’ve run through your supply at home, and all this makes dread run through your soul because your value-club membership runs out at the end of the month and you’ve already run over your budget on last week’s grocery run when you ran over a nail in the parking lot and now your car won’t even run properly because whatever idiot runs that Walmart apparently lets his custodial staff run amok and you know you’re letting your inner monologue run on and on but, God—you’d do things differently if you ran the world. Maybe you should run for office.


What's the most complicated word in your language? Is there one that can be used more than run?
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Re: English's most complex word

Postby Mr_Wood on Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:29 am

"Set" has 464 definitions in the Oxford English Dictionary. "Run" runs a distant second, with 396. Rounding out the top ten are "go" with 368, "take" with 343, "stand" with 334, "get" with 289, "turn" with 288, "put" with 268, "fall" with 264, and "strike" with 250.
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Re: English's most complex word

Postby Steve James on Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:53 am

You might think it’s absurd (and maybe it is), but Oxford English Dictionary editors recently revealed that 'run' has indeed become the single word with the most potential meanings in all of English, boasting no fewer than 645 different usage cases for the verb form alone. The copious definitions of 'run' featured in the OED’s upcoming third edition begin with the obvious, 'to go with quick steps on alternate feet,' then proceed to run on for 75 columns of type. This entry, in all its girth, took one professional lexicographer nine months of research to complete. How could three little letters be responsible for so much meaning?
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Re: English's most complex word

Postby everything on Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:28 pm

I want to run some more examples by you, but I've gotta run.
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Re: English's most complex word

Postby Mr_Wood on Fri Apr 21, 2017 5:17 pm

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