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I have a question about the meaning of "under" here:

It remains an open question whether flags such as this one, which contains corporate logos in place of the fifty stars, would fall under the amendment.

Definition 6 of this dictionary for "under" reads:

Def 6: according to a particular agreement, law etc

If I substitute this definition back in the original example, the sentence would read:

It remains an open question whether flags such as this one, which contains corporate logos in place of the fifty stars, would fall according to the amendment.

Am I wrong?

Would this rewrite:

It remains an open question whether flags such as this one, which contains corporate logos in place of the fifty stars, would fall under the type of desecration covered by the amendment.

be better?

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    Although the meaning ends up being almost the same as the definition you found for "under" you actually are dealing with a 2-word idiom "fall under." See def. two here: collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/american/fall-under Your understanding of the entire phrase is basically correct, though we would not say "...fall according to the amendment" unless the amendment requires the flag be taken down. I would rewrite more like: It remains an open question whether flags such as this one, which contains corporate logos in place of the fifty stars, would be covered by the amendment.
    – Adam
    Jan 29, 2015 at 22:06
  • @Adam So, the original is poorly written?
    – meatie
    Jan 30, 2015 at 4:39
  • meatie What in these answers makes you think we would think the original is poorly written? TrevorClarke, Adam Haun and I supplied you with our best guesses at which definitions apply.
    – Adam
    Jan 30, 2015 at 5:14
  • @Adam I added a possible rewrite for the example sentence.
    – meatie
    Jan 30, 2015 at 10:13
  • @Adam Would this rewrite: "It remains an open question whether flags such as this one, which contains corporate logos in place of the fifty stars, would fall under the type of desecration covered by the amendment" be better?
    – meatie
    Jan 31, 2015 at 18:19

3 Answers 3

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Here, under is part of the verb phrase fall under. It makes more sense to look at both words together, as in this definition:

  1. fall under,

    a. to be the concern or responsibility of.

    b. to be classified as; be included within:

Fall has a lot of meanings. In Longman's dictionary, look at definition 5 (belong to a group). In Dictionary.com, look at definition 19 (to have its proper place).

Here's a simpler version of your sentence:

Nobody knows whether the amendment would apply to flags such as this one, which has corporate logos in place of the fifty stars.

Update: Your rewrite doesn't work. You can't say "flags such as this one... would fall under the type of desecration..." because a flag isn't a type of desecration. If you change it to "burning flags such as this one", then it works:

It remains an open question whether burning flags such as this one, which contains corporate logos in place of the fifty stars, would fall under the type of desecration covered by the amendment.

Although in that case you might as well say "would be the type of desecration". You could also say:

It remains an open question whether flags such as this one, which contains corporate logos in place of the fifty stars, would fall under the scope of the amendment.

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    A cool phrase to use here: "under the auspices of" or even more esoterically "under the aegis of" Jan 29, 2015 at 22:48
  • So, the original is poorly written?
    – meatie
    Jan 30, 2015 at 4:38
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    No, it's not poorly written. It's just a bit complicated. This is a common use of "fall under".
    – Adam Haun
    Jan 30, 2015 at 5:23
  • I added a possible rewrite for the example sentence.
    – meatie
    Jan 30, 2015 at 10:14
  • Would this rewrite: "It remains an open question whether flags such as this one, which contains corporate logos in place of the fifty stars, would fall under the type of desecration covered by the amendment" be better?
    – meatie
    Jan 30, 2015 at 18:42
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In this case the "under" means part of.

controlled, managed, or governed by.
"the country is now under martial law"

Is one of the definitions when you search it on google.

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  • So, the original is poorly written?
    – meatie
    Jan 30, 2015 at 4:39
  • Would this rewrite: "It remains an open question whether flags such as this one, which contains corporate logos in place of the fifty stars, would fall under the type of desecration covered by the amendment" be better?
    – meatie
    Jan 31, 2015 at 18:18
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To "fall under" something is to be included within some category, group, rule, or definition. The idea is that if you were making a list of, say, things you have done for entertainment, you might say, "#1, movies", and then UNDER that heading list the movies you've watched; then write, "#2, ball games", and UNDER that list the ball games you've played, etc. So if someone said, "Where would you put hockey?", you might say, "Well, it doesn't really use a ball, but I still put it under ball games." That is, this is the heading that it came under when you were making your list.

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  • Would this rewrite: "It remains an open question whether flags such as this one, which contains corporate logos in place of the fifty stars, would fall under the type of desecration covered by the amendment" be better?
    – meatie
    Jan 31, 2015 at 18:19
  • I don't know if it would be "better". If the amendment specifically talks about "desecration", it would be valid and accurate. I suppose it would be better in the sense that it would be more specific. If the amendment uses different words, it would depend whether "desecration" is a fair description of those words.
    – Jay
    Feb 2, 2015 at 6:39

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