One is enough

>>I don't know what's the proper name for this category of words. The cases when one word from a phrase is taken out to mean the whole phrase, despite it having several uses outside of the phrase.

last refreshed 10/03/2017 07:14:06 PM

(enough of this, get me back)

word is taken to actually mean why is this wrong
bus bus Whoever invented this kind of vehicle, thought it was a good idea to advertise it as "for everybody" and took the latin "omnes" (all, everybody) but in dative case, "omnibus" (to everybody). Then everybody started pronouncing it abbreviated.
calculus infinitesimal calculus there are at least several other kinds of calculus - vector, numeric, celestial, difference and plain old calculus (aka arithmetics)
classified secret, for authorized personnel only to classify means to split into classes, to assign each peace into a class; this was initially "classified as secret/confidential/sensitive" but was later abbreviated out of context.
commercial advertisement nobody even remembers what it was that was commercial
device anything that is plugged into a computer - disks, printers, floppies. Made unforgettable by all those "device not ready" messages. The listener has to divine that it doesn't cover any devices not related to the computer (i.e. kitchen utensils, workshop tools etc).
device (2) portable device This is newer - it's another computer which is not plugged into the computer on which it's mentioned, but connects to it wirelessly and can be used separately or in connection.
flood lights shining at wide angle, opposite of spotlight flood is lots of water, "floodlight" is a somewhat poetic description
formula mother's milk replacement Formula is a shorthand written expression in maths, physics chemistry. Usually describes a law of nature or a recipe for cooking up a compound.

"Baby formula", however, is not a recipe for "how to make a baby".
glass beaker, tumbler or any other similar vessel Even when it's not made of glass - it could be plastic.
glasses spectacles it's not a plural of glass (as a vessel or as a type of material)
hemi truck with a hemi (2) this is a bit recursive...
hemi (2) engine with a hemi (3) recursive, I said
hemi (3) hemispheric combustion chamber Now roll it back
iron hot iron Because the language never bothered to invent a word for this utensil, so it kept the name of the element for it. And it is mostly not made of iron nowadays. Interestingly, many other languages have the word.
logout url post-logout url i.e. the url to which to go AFTER logout, not the url to go to log out (which usually doesn't really exist, or if it does, doesn't show itself but redirects elsewhere).
military army There are thousands of things which are military by nature or origin or by design, but when this adjective is used as a noun (and not as "the military one" like most such adjectives become nouns), then it actually means the army.
musical musical comedy Fancy name for an operetta, which probably sounded too posh and foreign for the audience, so it was named "musical comedy", and nowadays after decades of development in its own direction, it's yet another contextless adjective-cum-noun.
oil the crude mineral oil because they were too lazy to import some word for it (and it exists in other languages)
oil (2) painting done with oil colors mentioning the canvas is optional
promotion sales promotion there's also a promotion in any hierarchy, promotion in chess, or simply the act of awarding the title to a graduate
rifle rifled gun So the whole gun is called after the helicoidal groove in the bore. Rifle is a gun with rifled bore.
safety safety lock on a weapon safety has a dozen other meanings
semi a truck designed to pull a half-trailer ...Which is not really a half of anything, just doesn't have a front axle. "Semi" is actually a prefix meaning "half".
shock shock absorber because the word amortiser never made it in english
static static electricity discharge noise; also any noise disturbing communications static is anything that isn't moving; this noise only originates in the statically charged things but it is motion by itself.
stereo stereo sound system They usually mean the home or car sound system, but there are so many other things which are stereo(-phonic or -scopic), like all 3d movie and/or video systems, binoculars, printed stereographic images... all of them stereo.
sub submarine sandwich This is not any kind of sandwich that was invented on, or served on, submarines. The bun resembles a submarine by shape, just as much as it resembles a cucumber or a cigar or a blimp.
tarmac landing strip for flying vehicles It used to mean "tar and macadam", the latter being the gravel laid by MacAdam's recipe. It's a precursor to asphalt. The runways are mostly just concrete, so even the mention of tar is misplaced.

This is even funnier when SF writers mention tarmac on other planets.
thumb thumbnail sized image Thumb is still the part of your hand with which you press the spacebar, not a silly image file.
tissue tissue paper now try to wipe your hands with some muscle tissue... or neural
vacuum vacuum cleaner; clean using vacuum cleaner Vacuum is utter void, no air, no pressure. Saying "vacuum" to denote some sub-pressure is like calling any fraction a zero.
Besides, vacuum is not dirty at all, it needs no cleaning.
vinyl phonograph record because it is made of vinyl plastic; to differ from all other items made from same plastic, and from all other types of records made on other media