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

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4
votes
4answers
356 views

What's a nice way to phrase this?

I want to get across the idea that I can't work with this person because I don't agree with the amount of pay he has written in the contract (or just contract terms in general). I just think writing ...
12
votes
4answers
3k views

What does “it takes a tough man to make a tender chicken” mean?

I read it here. The New Jersey guy said that the Unix solution was right because the design philosophy of Unix was simplicity and that the right thing was too complex. Besides, programmers could ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

How to write the date of an event that lasts a few days

What is the correct way to write, in American English, that something will happen over a date range? The event will take place through July 1-10, 2011? The event will take place from July 1 to July ...
0
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it acceptable to use 'z' instead of 's' for plural form? [closed]

I am trying to find an appropriate name for my website but all domains are squattered. So now I think that I can call my site, say, not 'cats.com' by 'catz.com'. Isn't it too informal and 'leet' (or ...
14
votes
3answers
32k views

How do you pronounce “melee”? [closed]

I've heard meelee, meyley (maylay), and mehlay. Is there any "correct" way to pronounce it in the U.S.?
8
votes
2answers
25k views

When someone asks, “How are you?”

When someone asks, "How are you?" are you supposed to answer, "Good," or "Fine," and ask back?
2
votes
1answer
300 views

Is there anything wrong with this sentence? [closed]

I'm focused on the punctuation. If anybody can help point out if there are any errors, I'd appreciate it. The two characters in the band are James (left—who I worked with previously for his ...
9
votes
9answers
3k views

Are there idioms specific to one English dialect?

Let's get into a little conversation about the differences between American English, British English and regional dialects. Some words are specific to certain dialects (lass is Scottish, the lads is ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

English phrases created or popularized through Seinfeld

Seinfeld has been very influential in transforming how Americans (and possibly other English speakers) speak, see: What does "yadda yadda" mean? What sayings or phrases in common parlance ...
4
votes
7answers
4k views

Describing the sound of liquid hitting the floor

I'm searching for a word describing the sound of liquid hitting the floor, nothing like water — more like milkshake/vomit. I know this sounds strange, but I was thinking of plunge. Only to ...
6
votes
5answers
482 views

Does quoting in British or American English depend on the quoted or the audience?

If you are quoting/documenting the conversation between two people — one is British and one American — do you use a consistent approach directed towards your intended audience or switch to ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

Where does “hot damn!” come from?

There is the exclamation "hot damn", which one might use, in certain contexts, similar to " All right!", or "Excellent!" (American English, as far as I know.) Google ngrams says it doesn't see it ...
22
votes
5answers
3k views

Does America have its Versions of U- and Non-U English?

In Britain and most of Europe, some form of U-speak exists: old-money language has certain features that distinguish it from other language. In Dutch, it doesn't really have a name, but it is still ...
1
vote
4answers
292 views

Is “dawdle” a common verb in American English?

Is "dawdle" a common verb in American English? In my limited experience I have never heard Americans use it.
5
votes
3answers
952 views

Why do people so often use “jive” when they actually mean “jibe”?

I often hear people use the word "jive" when I'm pretty sure they mean "jibe." It's a subtle sound difference so it's hard to catch. But why do so many people mix these two up?
8
votes
5answers
3k views

Is there a term for “mains power” in U.S. English?

I'm not sure if this is a case of selective memory, or if it's real. It seems that Americans do not use the term "mains power," which is common in British English. The closest synonym I know is "wall ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Is it spelled “propeling” or “propelling” in American English?

Since travel becomes traveler and traveling in AmE (no double l), I thought that the same rule applied to propel. However, reading and writing propeling feels awkward. (And propeler feels even more ...
17
votes
3answers
17k views

Saying “today morning” to mean “this morning”

As an American, I use the term this morning, but I’ve noticed some Asian Indian coworkers who always say today morning to mean what I mean by this morning. Is this an Indian English “dialectism”? Is ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Garbage/stuff words

I've watched two interviews. One with Grace Park, one with Eliza Dushku. What one can't miss is that Eliza uses an awful lot of garbage words (or how is it called) — um, so, like, you know, ...
1
vote
1answer
6k views

Speaking of insults: “sod off!” meaning and origin

I've thought it had to do with the love that dare not speak its name, to put it ever so coyly, but what does this phrase mean and connote? And what's the approximate American equivalent?
12
votes
6answers
971 views

Will some parents be offended when being asked, “Is it male or female?”

If I ask the parent about a baby's gender, will it be impolite or not appropriate to say, "Is it male or female?" Is there any subtle difference, in terms of politeness, among "Is it a boy or ...
12
votes
5answers
9k views

Difference between “garbage” and “trash”?

What's the difference between garbage and trash? Is the difference significant?
15
votes
6answers
12k views

Why do Americans say “tuna fish”?

I mean, it's not like there is a tuna vegetable or animal that it can be confused with.
9
votes
5answers
34k views

“Last Name” and “surname”

Between last name and surname, which one is British and which one is American? If I talk with somebody from Great Britain, which one is preferable?
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Etymology of reduplicative compound “nitty-gritty”

I've always been curious about that one and I've come across many contending theories for the etymology of nitty-gritty. English is quite fond of these reduplicative compounds. I'd like to know ...
10
votes
5answers
4k views

“I hate when…” vs “I hate it when…”

Growing up in Australia (and with an English mother) we would say "I hate it when " It seems, based on TV and movies, that in the USA it's more common to say "I hate when " The two phrases mean the ...
1
vote
4answers
3k views

Is the phrase “move over” an official English idiom? And if so, is it only in American English?

Is the phrase "move over" an official English idiom known worldwide? I would like to know: Is it an official English idiom (not slang or colloquial)? Is it known outside of the US (e.g. in the UK, ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

What do I call a person who submits content?

There is a section on my site, where users can submit content. I'm not sure how to call it. There are three cases: 1) user can submit own content, so he could be an author 2) user can submit ...
3
votes
6answers
2k views

US usage of 'mad'

When Americans say something like, "Are you mad at me?", is there any difference between that and, "Are you angry at me?" To me, as a Brit, 'mad' means 'insane'. Saying, "Are you mad at me?" should ...
8
votes
4answers
20k views

Which is more correct: “burgled” or “burglarized”?

Which is more correct: We were burgled yesterday. or We were burglarized yesterday. I'm from the U.K. and never use burglarized but my friend from the U.S.A. seems to think it's OK.
8
votes
5answers
13k views

“Badly” versus “poorly”

I was saying to an American friend, "I pronounce still bad," which she said is a mistake, saying it should be poorly. Well, I get that part, but when I asked if I can say badly, she said I ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the difference between American and British pronunciations of “world” and “girl”?

I can definitely hear a distinct difference but I am not sure if it is from the long vowel or from the "r".
7
votes
1answer
1k views

How to correctly write a range of currency

Currency is usually written with the type prefixed, e.g. $52. However, what is the correct way to write a currency range? For example, the inclusive range of 'between 14 and 90 dollars' could be ...
19
votes
4answers
28k views

Why do we call our lovers “baby”?

It is common in American English and culture to refer to one's lover or significant other as "baby" or "babe", for example: Come on baby, light my fire! 1 or I got you, I won't let go. I got ...
20
votes
5answers
203k views

Is there any difference between “offense” and “offence”?

"Offense" vs. "offence", which is more correct? If both are correct, are there any differences in shades of meaning and/or usage?
3
votes
3answers
383 views

Use of 'pagan' in an essay: is it acceptable or not?

I'm writing an essay right now and I'm deliberating whether or not I should use Pagan gods instead of Greek gods (to provide variation in the essay). I've looked up the word pagan in the dictionary ...
7
votes
10answers
7k views

What's the antonym of “fifty-thousand foot view”?

I'm writing about a concept that I would like to explain at three levels: high-level, medium, and very granular. "Fifty-thousand foot view" is a common business idiom to describe the highest, most ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Which word(s) can be used instead of “the first day of the week?”

I have noticed that on Stack Exchange sites, "week reputation" is referring to the reputation gained from Sunday to Saturday (in fact, my today's reputation is different from my week's reputation, and ...
17
votes
5answers
12k views

Using contracted forms (“don't”, “let's”) in a formal text

How compelled should I feel to use non-contracted forms (do not rather than don't and so on) when writing in a rather formal text, say an academic paper? In one case I am afraid to seem too stilted, ...
2
votes
3answers
582 views

What is the meaning of the business jargon “big hitter”?

I want the meaning of the business jargon that says "big hitter".
10
votes
5answers
11k views

“Stick it in the boot.” “Er, don't you mean the trunk?”

Does anyone know the etymological history or the reason behind the different names that British and American speakers use to refer to the automobile's largest storage receptacle, or more plainly, the ...
15
votes
2answers
6k views

“Defense” or “defence”

Is the only difference that in USA they write it with s and in UK they write it with c, or is there anything more?
5
votes
1answer
2k views

American English: which vs that [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When is it appropriate to use 'that' as opposed to 'which'? We've had an American Americanise some phrases for us (with the point of teaching children ...
5
votes
4answers
627 views

US Route 101 — “The 101”

In my part of the world, we refer to highways without any article. So we drive on "Highway 64", or "Interstate 64", or "I-64". But when I go to California, they say "The 101". Is there any explanation ...
3
votes
3answers
344 views

Signs in states which say “Only Trash Litters”

In many states I can see signs posted which state "Only Trash Litters" which I certainly have no problem understanding and which appear to be correct usage to me. "Trash" can be singular or plural so ...
7
votes
3answers
881 views

“Parting shot” origin

Is there a connection betweem "a parting shot at the end of a discussion" and the Parthian horse archer practice of wheeling from the battle line and firing an arrow on the run?
1
vote
2answers
25k views

Complete or Completed [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Should I say “Your order is now complete” or “Your order is now completed”? What is better, "complete" or "completed"? I want to know which ...
1
vote
2answers
783 views

Sentence to Indicate Change (That is not a cliché)

I have a sentence that I need to replace; one that is somewhat cliché. What would be a good sentence (Or perhaps a phrase) that could indicate change in a somewhat stale/monotonous environment? ...
19
votes
3answers
155k views

What does “8/7c” stand for?

I just saw an update on Facebook saying: Watch Russell present LIVE at the 42nd Annual NAACP Image Awards. Tonight at 8/7c on FOX. What does "8/7c" mean?
6
votes
4answers
2k views

Pronunciation of 'cos' (as in the mathematical term)

What is the correct pronunciation for the mathematical abbreviation 'cos' when it is not pronounced in its complete form 'cosine'? I pronounce it as 'k-aw-ss', but a couple of Canadian friends I have ...