lindsey: Dispite the title of the article, Dijkstra isn't arguing against using identifiers that have meaning for the reader e.g. his negative example "disposable." In the very same article he co-opts the term "plural" to mean integer greater than or equal to 2, because of its analagous common meaning. The difference between the two examples, Dijkstra states, is that the first term is used without giving it a precise definition, relying on the reader to make assumptions about what it means. While the latter term is precisely defined when it is used.
Similar things should look different
On the topic of chosing names for api functions that do almost the same thing as each other, the rule of thumb on this is the more similar two things are then the more different their names should be. This is counter-intuitive. Shouldn't the similarity of the names reflect the similarity of their meanings? The answer is no. If both the names are similar and the meanings are similar it is very hard to remember which name goes with which meaning. I learned this from Larry Wall, and I assume he learned it through the hard experience of mistakes in perl's past (chomp, chop).
Similar things should look the same
Sigh. Life is never simple.