The paper deals with the semantics of the word only. Though inspired by Lepore’s analysis, it offers a different explication of the existential import of concatenations only + singular expression. It is assumed that the meaning of only in the kinds of collocations under scrutiny (i.e., when preceding a singular expression, a general name, a verb or the connective …if…) is context independent in that it can be explicated by a single scheme No other than ξs are ψs. The scheme varies with the variable type to which only is applied purely as a certain kind of operator. The explication of the role of only, when prefixing …if…, offers a new modality based explanation without invoking the notions of sufficient and necessary condition. The concatenations only + expression are, typically, equivalent to more prolix only-free collocations; thus, only is a suit able device for text compression.
if only, meaning, modality, only, only if, operator, variable