Does the addition of an adjective/attributive in front of a noun change its meaning? In what case? [closed]

In 2006, Pluto was reclassified from a planet to a dwarf planet.

I’m sorry to ask, if this is a very basic question. Very confusing for my mind. Maybe I am dumb.

For instance, isn’t a big ball still a ball? A long story is still a story. You can have a voracious cat—that’s fine, it still remains a cat. It does not become a dog or a hamster etc.

So, if we consider the Pluto’s status change, does the addition of an adjective or an attributive change the meaning of the respective noun? In which cases?


In general, adding an adjective means that the thing is now some special case or sub-type of the general word. Like yes, a “big ball” is a kind of “ball”. It’s still a ball.

But something the combination adjective-noun means something different from the simple noun. To take an obvious example, if I say that something is “counterfeit money”, it’s not really “money” any more, it’s something that someone is pretending is money. Or if I say someone is a “former girlfriend”, she’s not my girlfriend any more. This is especially true with names for things. A “Tasmanian tiger” is not a sub-type of “tiger”, it’s a different creature that happens to resemble a tiger. A “flying boat” is not a kind of boat, its a type of aircraft that is compared to a boat in some ways. Etc.

I don’t think there’s any general rule about this. You just have to know what the particular words and phrases mean.

Source : Link , Question Author : Alexander , Answer Author : Jay

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