to parse the words

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ekbatana

Senior Member
German Austria
I still don't quite get the meaning of "to parse the words"? Does it mean to make sense of; comprehend or to examine closely or subject to detailed analysis or to interpret something in a favourable light for one's own position?

1. Meanwhile it is amusing to watch the Republicans try to parse the words "deficit reduction" and "fiscal conservatism" to somehow obscure the reality that they are about to choose between their announced principles and voters on the one hand and their biggest campaign donors on the other.

2. Only a single chapter, in fact, brings us face to face with the horrors of the Holocaust as Adler experienced them in real life, and even in English translation, the convoluted syntax of the original German text compels us to parse the words and phrases for sense and meaning.

3. In recent years, academics have struggled to parse the words of the Second Amendment in their quest to discern its meaning. In so doing, academics have divided into two predominant schools of thought:
 
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Literally, to parse means to do a grammatical analysis. Metaphorically, to parse words means to examine someone's words closely, looking for their exact meaning or for the intention behind them. It suggests different things in each of your examples.

    1. The Republicans are trying to explain away what the writer sees as a contradiction, by defining these phrases as meaning something other than what most people would think they mean.

    2. The writing is not clear and readers are forced to read carefully to work out the underlying thoughts.

    3. Scholars are carefully analyzing the wording of the Second Amendment to find out its real meaning.
     

    ekbatana

    Senior Member
    German Austria
    Thanks heaps for enlightening me, Cagey!! I'm glad that I haven't pasted any more references as I'm sure this metaphor would have produced even more differing meanings and left me even more confused.
     
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