Also, dictionaries describe language use. They are also frequently not capturing all different meanings in use. So yeah, if there is a clear example of different usage, like Tom Poore laid out, it is not a point against it if print/web dictionaries are missing it - it is the dictionaries' fault.jscott wrote: ↑Mon Dec 31, 2018 5:32 pmMeaning isn't created by hammering out a series of discrete words with a single sense until you reach a period. That would be impossible anyway because many--most--words have more than one sense and their meaning is determined by the context of the phrase they appear within or even larger units--paragraphs, etc. [...] When it's raining cats and dogs one carries an umbrella, no matter what Merriam Webster says.
You've evolved your understanding from this:
I haven't changed a bit. I meant that when the expression is just "among the only," with no following quantity, it literally means "among the one," which is nonsensical, but when there's an associated quantity, such as "among the only four," it can be collective.guitarrista wrote: ↑Mon Dec 31, 2018 11:36 pmYou've evolved your understanding from this:
" "Only" means alone, by itself, the sole representative of its kind, so "among the only" literally means "among the one.""
Not sure what the point of insisting you have not moved is - you even admitted it in a later post: "I concede that "only" can be used in a collective sense when it is associated with a number or an indication of scarcity". I do agree that the title of your thread did not anticipate that your first example would actually make sense.
Meaning is determined by usage. The meaning of 'only' has perhaps evolved?
You didn't need to underline it quite so heavily - I think you've made your point