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I have this question about the meaning of "on" here:

Fox posted a surprise increase in quarterly revenue on strength in film and cable.

Does the "on" in the example have the same meaning as the "on" in:

He became silent on hearing the news.

?

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  • Yes, the two "ons" have the same meaning. Either could be replaced with "because of" with little or no change in meaning. Nov 6, 2014 at 2:20
  • They seem rather different to me. I've upvoted Jason S's answer below.
    – user230
    Nov 6, 2014 at 6:07
  • Your second example seems wrong to me. I'm not sure if "on" can technically be used in that fashion, but the common turn of phrase is "He became silent upon hearing the news." It could just be an idiomatic error.
    – Crazy Eyes
    Nov 6, 2014 at 22:23
  • @CrazyEyes I cannot find a dictionary definition fitting the usage in the first example. Could the usage (because of) be regional/technical?
    – meatie
    Nov 6, 2014 at 22:43
  • @meatie Hmm. I misread the first usage at first. I thought it was being used for the word "about," as in, "He wrote a research paper on the American Civil War." That's quite a common usage. I'm actually not very familiar with your first sentence's usage either.
    – Crazy Eyes
    Nov 7, 2014 at 14:57

1 Answer 1

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It sounds very similar but not quite.

In the "Fox..." sentence the word "on" means "because of", "on account of", or "due to": Fox posted a surprise increase in revenue because of its strength in its film and cable divisions. This is an example of causality.

In your other example, the word "on" also indicates causality, but also includes close proximity in time: you could say He became silent immediately after hearing the news.

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  • I cannot find a dictionary definition fitting the usage in the first example. Could the usage (because of) be regional/technical?
    – meatie
    Nov 6, 2014 at 22:43
  • regional: no, technical/jargon: well, in this particular instance, just abbreviated English in the finance industry. But you could use "on" in the same sense but in another context, e.g. "He was hired on his experience in Java and C++." (it is a little awkward though; I'd probably use "for" or "because of" rather than "on")
    – Jason S
    Nov 6, 2014 at 22:49
  • see sense #7 M-W online: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/on
    – Jason S
    Nov 6, 2014 at 22:50
  • Does that mean I could write "they were weak on hunger" to mean "they were weak from hunger"?
    – meatie
    Nov 16, 2014 at 0:49
  • Not really. I mean, you could, and it would be understandable, just not idiomatic. Often there is a particular preposition that is the best choice, and it's awkward to use any other. (The "Fox..." sentence is a little awkward as well.) So in the case you just mentioned, use "from".
    – Jason S
    Nov 16, 2014 at 1:41

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