This tag is for questions related to the English language as used in the United States of America.

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5
votes
2answers
245 views

“Jolly good” meaning “extremely good” in British English

Like the intensifier bloody, I assumed that jolly as an adverb and intensifier is not broadly used in the U.S. meaning very or extremely. According to Oxford Online Dictionary, jolly as an adverb ...
3
votes
1answer
13k views

Battery is flat

I was born and raised in some anglophone Asian country where people use the word "flat" to describe a battery when no electrical current can be generated by it. Some would even use the word "flat" to ...
1
vote
2answers
66 views

How can I describe three items in sentence?

I have three methods such as Method A, method B, and proposed method They have similar properties, and thus they show a same drawback. I would like to write the sentence to express that issue. ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

“On Tap” in the Sense of “Coming Up”

Starting with the Fifth Edition (1936), seven generations of the Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary have included (under the entry for tap) three definitions of "on tap," currently worded as ...
7
votes
3answers
347 views

Authors who “fracture” the language

What's this reportedly AmEng usage of fracture to mean go beyond the limits of (as rules); violate (M-W), as in "This writer fractured the English language with malaprops"? How does this word differ ...
2
votes
3answers
164 views

Pronunciation of: I want a refund

I noticed in a TV show that the phrase "I want a refund" is pronounced like [I wanna refund]. I think the /t/ is dropped and /n/ is blended into the vowel. But how do Americans differentiate between ...
1
vote
1answer
42 views

What's the difference between “dawn” and “dawning”?

I googled and I found nothing useful. I know what dawn means but I can't figure out if dawning is the same thing or has a different meaning.
5
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the proper usage of “Y'all” in southern American dialects

The construction of the word to me implies that "you" is singular, whereas "y'all" is plural. To a football team: "Y'all are going to play a great game." To a tennis player: "You are going to play a ...
5
votes
2answers
94 views

Pronunciation of -ar in Madagascar

In the movie by the same name, the characters pronounce Madagascar, /mædəɡæskɑɹ/. However, dictionaries only list the pronunciation /mædəɡæskəɹ/. Just as peculiarly, many pronounce templar as ...
11
votes
4answers
5k views

Quotation ascribed to Benjamin Franklin, “We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid.”

There is a cottage industry in the United States of manufacturing quotations and ascribing them to the American Founding Fathers. A recent one, "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to ...
7
votes
5answers
278 views

The rain is “lifting”

How can the rain "lift"? I mean, I can pretty well figure out that the fog or mist or smog, etc. "lifts", i.e. disappears or disperses by or as if by rising, but "the rain lifting" sounds like it's ...
16
votes
2answers
3k views

Preventative vs. preventive

In this answer about the non-word disabilitated, the word preventative is compared (unfavourably, if my reading of the implication is correct) to preventive. However, I have always used preventative, ...
3
votes
2answers
17k views

“Theater” vs. “Theatre” in American English

Why is it that "theater" and "theatre" do not follow the traditional rules of British and American spelling? British spellings like "metre" and "centre" are consistently switched to "meter" and ...
4
votes
2answers
145 views

Disambiguation of “fluff” vs. chiefly AmEng “lint” vs. chiefly BrEng “bobbles” vs. “pills” for French “peluches”

Robert & Collins French and English Dictionary, Ed. 1985 gives: lint: (US: fluff) peluches nfpl peluche (=bouloche): bit of fluff; fluff Collins French-English Dictionary Now, these are ...
2
votes
4answers
834 views

Problem listening to foreign accents

From the beginning I had some problems listening to foreign accents. Like when someone from my native country (India) speaks English I understand it at once, but if someone from a foreign country ...
-4
votes
1answer
37 views

One translating Problem? [closed]

What Does the following sentence mean? the BIU Fetches a new instruction whenever the queue has room for 2 bytes in the 6-byte 8086 queue, and for 1 byte in 4-byte 8088 queue I thinks it means ...
3
votes
4answers
17k views

“And to you” or “you too”?

I really like to chat with English folks, so I have wished them Merry Christmas. To my surprise I have noticed the following pattern — the British answered "and to you", but Americans "you too". The ...
5
votes
3answers
392 views

'Sag' and 'slant': Is the vowel /æ/ the same in both words?

/sæg/ /slænt/ Transcriptions from Cambridge American English Dictionary Both the words' IPA transcriptions have an /æ/ symbol. Do those two /æ/s sound the same? Are they both short or ...
3
votes
2answers
76 views

How to rephrase this sentence in order to be more American style?

I want to rephrase this sentence: A challenge that it needs to address is how to best perform feature selection. If the sentence looks like this, how to rephrase it: A challenge that ...
83
votes
1answer
316k views

What's the difference between “requester” and “requestor”?

Both are in dictionaries. I've heard people insist "requester" is correct for a person who requests something, and that "requestor" is wrong there, leaving me to wonder how it is used. Requestor ...
3
votes
2answers
154 views

Specific terms for the tray and the bus-like cart used by vendors in theaters, stadiums, trains, etc

Is there a specific word in English for the bus-like (sense 2; sense 3 on AHD) cart and the tray used by vendors to carry their products through the aisles of trains, theaters, stadiums, etc.?
3
votes
2answers
38 views

how to interpret this “that” question?

I can obtain knowledge by studying physics, which is nice. In the above sentence, does nice refer to knowledge or to physics? How can I make refer it to specifically to "knowledge"? Thanks
5
votes
2answers
758 views

How do Americans pronounce the 't' in “romantic”, “countable”, etc?

As for a 't' trapped between /n/ and a vowel, I've heard it pronounced in three different ways: Maybe the formal, standard way is to fully pronounce the /t/ sound: romantic: /roʊˈmæntɪk/ ...
4
votes
3answers
101 views

Difference between “devotement” and “devotion”

I had never seen or heard of the word "devotement" until reading it in my Chinese girlfriend's brother's college application essay. To me, it's always been "devotion." However, I noticed that Google ...
25
votes
5answers
10k views

Where do “shenanigans” come from?

Shenanigans, or shenanigan, also with several variant spellings, can be dated to 1855 USA in both the OED and Etymonline, but the OED simply says "Origin obscure" and Etymonline throws a few guesses ...
-1
votes
1answer
66 views

American money specifics in writing a check

why can you write a check for twenty-nine hundred or thirty-one hundred but not one for thirty hundred? it seems strange that the numbers before and after are accepted but not thirty hundred must be ...
1
vote
2answers
110 views

A word for the condition of being blasé

Is there a word in English that encapsulates the condition of being blasé, sort of in the same vein as "weariness" encapsulates the condition of being weary? blasé: having or showing a lack of ...
0
votes
2answers
121 views

How may I write good English? [closed]

I am a senior professional from India. I studied most of my educational career in English medium. For professional reasons and personal fervor I want to write good English. I am looking for expert ...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

How widely-accepted is “What do you got?” to Americans?

Watching A Stranger Among Us, I noticed that Melanie Griffith twice asked "What do you got?" I recognise this as an American construction which sounds strange to me — Brits invariably say either ...
12
votes
5answers
22k views

Why does 'coed' only mean female coeducational students?

As an adjective, the word coed, short for coeducational, indicates an institution that teaches both males and females. However, as a noun, it can only mean "a young woman who attends college". Why is ...
21
votes
6answers
6k views

Etymology of “cut someone some slack”

Teenagers. All the literature tells you one thing and one thing only – that whatever they are doing, give them a break, cut them some slack, it's normal. From the novel, Apple Tree Yard I'm ...
2
votes
2answers
63 views

“Took off” or “taken off”? [closed]

My boss was talking to me. How could I have just taken off? My boss was talking to me. How could I have just took off?" Which one is correct. (or are they both wrong?)
3
votes
2answers
55 views

Etymology of the phrase “goof off”

It seems clear to be an American idiom with the approximate meaning, "to waste time or procrastinate." My curiosity is about its possible relation to the Goofy, the Disney cartoon character.
12
votes
5answers
9k views

Difference between “garbage” and “trash”?

What's the difference between garbage and trash? Is the difference significant?
1
vote
2answers
34 views

Why are both blazing or blazingly appropriate?

This SE QA explains that both blazing and blazingly are valid English words (despite what my spell-checker claims). Can anyone explain why they are both valid, and the difference between the words. ...
1
vote
1answer
57 views

Is “hats-led society” grammatically correct and does it convey the right message?

It's a strange phrase indeed. It's from a foreign phrase. There's a period where a slogan "hats lead the society to become a superpower" was in effect. *Edit I think I should have given historical ...
2
votes
0answers
10 views

Special cases for adding an (s) in parenthesis to show one or more of something [duplicate]

Often times "(s)" is added to the end of a word to represent one or more of something: "He saved the file(s)." What do you do when the plural of the word is not created by simply adding an "s?" ...
8
votes
4answers
948 views

What does the slang word “can” mean?

What does the slang word can mean in the following sentences: Hey guys, do you know where the can is around here? I can't make make it to the phone; tell them I am in the can. Finally, our planning ...
-1
votes
3answers
60 views

What, exactly are “is”, “has”, “was”,etc [closed]

He is here. She was absent. He has returned. Apparently, these are tense-base verbs, but there's surely a more academic term for them. I am not a grammar, so I seek the aid of StackExchange.
9
votes
5answers
1k views

What does the phrase “What's your bag?” mean?

What does the phrase "What's your bag?" mean in the following 2 sentences: I tweeted to the Yahoo help center, and they replied: - Hey man, what's your bag? At a party, someone asked me: ...
6
votes
2answers
825 views

Where does “noogie” come from?

The OED says noogie means a "hard poke or grind with the knuckles, esp. on a person's head" with a first quotation from 1968. They say it was popularised by Saturday Night Live in the late 1970s but ...
0
votes
1answer
2k views

Examples for intelligent, brillant, smart, talented, wisdom and genius?

Out of the terms intelligent, brilliant, smart, talented, wisdom, genius Which are the ones that are natural (by genetics) and which are the ones that are developed by practice? Also, which are the ...
4
votes
3answers
191 views

Must “Eldest” Always Apply To People?

If you have a collection of things that are related to one another, can you use "eldest" to denote the oldest, or should that term only be used with respect to people? Another question on this site: ...
0
votes
3answers
353 views

Associates vs employees

I've noted that some US companies call people working for them "associates," rather than "employees." (I've seen that term in less-than-stellar retail and fast-food chains) What would be the ...
3
votes
1answer
241 views

Meaning of the slang Boo

The following paragraph is from the story of Billy, Sally, and Joe: Billy and Sally were inside a dark room. - Billy yelled "Boo" and scared Sally. Then, Joe came in. - Hey, boo, come over ...
-7
votes
1answer
733 views

What does “can you not do it?” mean?

This sounds like "you cannot do it" to me, but according to the context, I was wondering if this means "cannot you do it?". Which understanding is correct?
0
votes
2answers
69 views

Is “Apprentice” mainly a European term?

Apprentices, sorta like trainees who are skilled but need a bit of training and experience before making the commitment to employ them. When I did a bit of research, I observe that "apprentices" were ...
0
votes
0answers
38 views

Technique of pronouncing the rhotic “r”

I, as a German native speaker, have two "techniques" of pronouncing the rhotic "r." I describe them as follows: I move my tongue upward, so it touches the upper row of my teeth and then just make a ...
2
votes
5answers
949 views

What's it called when someone is trying to end a conversation?

Everyone does the thing where while speaking to someone you'll start inching away in order to end the conversation. Or you'll say something thats a conversation ender like "time to get back to work" ...
-1
votes
2answers
58 views

How can I say a job which completes 70-80%? [closed]

In English, if a job completed 100%, then I will say it is Completely done If it is done about 50 %, we will say partially complete How about case if it done about 60% to 70% or 70 to ...