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The textbook gives me a following sentence. Although, I could understand probably, since the appearance of the word was so sudden, that I get confused a bit

(The textbook is mainly talking about chemical solution/solvent aka chemical change issues as a whole.)

Solution is the mixture of a solute in a solvent. The dissolved substance is the solute, and the substance that brings about the dissolving action is the solvent. When a lump of sugar is placed in water, tiny particles of sugar break off an mix with the water until the lump finally disappears. The sugar dissolves in the water and formed a sugar solution.

Solutions are so common that we may overlook their importance. Plants that furnish our food get their nourishment from minerals dissolved in the soil, and our digestive juices must dissolve our foods before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Spots and strains are removed from clothing by applying the proper solvent.

There are 2 prerequisites and 2 questions

Prerequisites

  1. The first raised part of "solvent" fits with the definition 1 in an image below in my opinion.

  2. The last raised part of "solvent" would be perhaps categorized in definition 2.

Questions

  1. Would my understanding in prerequisite 2 correct?

  2. If 1 were correct, in a context as a whole, would it be a good idea for the writer to use the same "solvent"? (To me it sounds a bit abrupt.)

enter image description here

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  • 3
    Both occurrences of 'solvent' that you show in bold are meaning (1). Why do you think it would be 'abrupt' to use it twice? Jul 22, 2018 at 14:16
  • 3
    #2 and #3 are basically figurative meanings derived from #1. I have never encountered #2. and would consider it a bad attempt to be clever. Moreover, how is #3 any different from #2, apart from the nature of the problem? Jul 22, 2018 at 16:20
  • 4
    My advice: stop getting bogged down by definitions found in a single dictionary; they are not the words of the gods. Jul 22, 2018 at 16:25
  • 2
    I am a native speaker of US English with significant exposure to UK, India, and Australian English and I have never heard of definition 2 before. In addition, this dictionary leaves out the common definition involving financial stability. What dictionary did the cited piece come from? I would not rely on it as a learning aid for a US-based literacy test.
    – arp
    Jul 22, 2018 at 17:35
  • 1
    I have heard meaning #3 in several contexts, including alcohol as a solvent of social inhibitions and education as a solvent for racism.
    – arp
    Jul 22, 2018 at 17:39

1 Answer 1

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Both times, "solvent" refers to definition 1. This can be justified by reading the second definition again:

something that provides a solution (as for a problem)

This clearly means an abstract problem, not a tangible one, like the one in your second extract:

Solutions are so common that we may overlook their importance. Plants that furnish our food get their nourishment from minerals dissolved in the soil, and our digestive juices must dissolve our foods before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. Spots and strains are removed from clothing by applying the proper solvent.

The author is clearly hinting at the material of the cloth being cleaned by a solvent, which removes the spots and stains on it.

As you asked:

If 1 were correct, in a context as a whole, would it be a good idea for the writer to use the same "solvent"? (To me it sounds a bit abrupt.)

It isn't really "abrupt" in this context, as the use of the word solvent shows that he wants to remove a stain by dissolving it, just as it was mentioned in the first definition:

a substance capable of or used in dissolving or dispersing one or more other substances ...

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  • If you can support me furthermore, how can spots and strains can be "removed" by the solvent defined in 1? Easy imagination can not come with me sorry. Should I picture such as chemicals applied onto the oils ( on your cloth after eating )?
    – user17814
    Jul 22, 2018 at 14:24
  • 4
    Yes, you should picture exactly that. Solvents like gasoline, turpentine and tetrachloroethylene can effectively dissolve many oil-based stains. Jul 22, 2018 at 14:49

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