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I found a question in a textbook:

"All the employees at SEI Corporation are invited to the meeting _____ the new internal communications system that the company is about to bring in."

A: at
B: with
C: over
D: on

The answer from book is "on".

However, when I check Oxford: http://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/over_2

At the meaning no. 12, it says that "over" can also mean "about something". So I wonder if we can use "over" in this sentence. Is there any difference between "on" and "over" in this case?

Thanks all.

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You may find this chart interesting. And if we look closer, most of those "meeting over"'s are things like meeting over the Internet, meeting over coffee, (make) the meeting over Drayton Manor, (turned) the meeting over to Mr. Miller, and so on. – Damkerng T. Jan 31 at 18:24
2  
To be honest, the most appropriate answer is "E: about". – David Richerby Jan 31 at 22:49

Yes, there is a difference. One usually doesn't have a meeting "over" something, without using more words. For instance,

"All the employees at SEI Corporation are invited to the meeting where we will go over the new internal communications system that the company is about to bring in."

You are correct, however, that "over" can also mean "about something," as in this example:

We argued over who would do the dishes.

So why wouldn't we say, "We had a meeting over who would do the dishes"? It is largely idiomatic, but to a native English speaker it would sound odd.

A better choice than either "on" or "over" in the original example would be "about," except that it is used later in the same sentence. The sentence could be rephrased to use "about" like this (changing the second instance to "going"):

"All the employees at SEI Corporation are invited to the meeting about the new internal communications system that the company is going to bring in."

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In dictionaries, the more common usages are listed first. If you were to use 'over' in this context, most English speakers would think you meant the more common definition in that Oxford dictionary page, definition #3, "from one side of something to the other; across something". It would sound like you are saying people were talking from one side of the new internal communications system to the other side as part of their meeting. This would be strange because the company is "about to bring in" the system, so it doesn't exist yet.

"On" in this case makes it sound like the communications system is the topic of the meeting. "Over" implies that is something used for the meeting but not the topic. As another example, it is common in English to say "We will have a meeting over lunch." In that sentence, lunch is not the topic of the meeting, but it means that people will be around a meal while they are having the meeting.

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I'm afraid that the relevant information from (some) dictionaries here is not the meaning of "on" or "over", but the (arbitrary) fact that "meeting" takes "about" or "on" for its argument. In fact the same is true for "lecture", "discussion", "thesis", and other words.

The definition 12 of "over" that the OLD gives, in fact, applies only to words like "argument" and "disagreement", where the meaning is subtly different from the argument of "meeting" etc.

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