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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

1
vote
3answers
64 views

What term captures “just the thing” or “exactly what is needed”?

Example usage: If Plato and Aristotle wish to maintain the status quo, then such a system is just the thing that is needed. "Sufficient" doesn't carry it. "Ideal" gets closer. What word captures ...
21
votes
5answers
8k views

Why does “corn” mean “maize” in American English?

I keep hearing "corn" as a synonym of "maize". This is widely popularized worldwide by popcorn. However, this is American English! In British English, "corn" can mean any type of "grain", especially ...
-2
votes
2answers
79 views

Why do some words get a red wavy underline? [closed]

I have often experienced the red underline while typing indicating there's an error there may be grammatical or the word doesn't exist in the dictionary. When I type the name of popular universities ...
1
vote
3answers
133 views

Most appropiate word for someone addicted to Internet [duplicate]

Apart from computer savvy or geeks,I am looking for the most appropriate English word for someone who is addicted to Internet?
5
votes
1answer
149 views

When did it become common to 'double the conditional'? [duplicate]

Twins is a 1988 comedy featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito as genetically engineered twins. The fact that they’re genetically engineered is used to explain the differences between ...
3
votes
1answer
50 views

What's the meaning of “vertical” in a software project description?

I'm a programmer from Brazil and have here a software project to estimate. In the description I found these sentences: ...to provide the use cases for the vertical they might be interested. ...
-1
votes
1answer
729 views

(UK-US English) If “mom = mother” then why “mum” isn't “muther”? [closed]

So, I've noticed something weird. People who speak US English say Mom. Mom represents the word "mother". People who speak UK English say Mum. Mum also represents the word "mother". Why isn't it ...
4
votes
4answers
24k views

“Elder brother” or “older brother”?

I've read both forms in newspapers and online news: elder brother and older brother. What's the difference between them? When should I use which?
7
votes
5answers
1k views

“Muppet” in American English

I see an event is being organised in Washington, DC, called the Million Muppet March. In British English, at least, muppet has no very positive connotations:- muppet (ˈmʌpɪt) — n slang a ...
1
vote
1answer
76 views

What do the expressions “offshore”, “blind filing” and “operating at a total loss” mean?

In the 2014 film The Other Woman, there is an exchange between several characters: Carmela - Yay.- Mark's not just a cheating scumbag, he's also a thief. Look what I found. This is a list of all ...
4
votes
3answers
3k views

When did “y'all” become improper?

It is my understanding that the contraction y'all was considered correct American English in times past. At what point was this word removed from valid American English?
0
votes
4answers
138 views

Did I show you my graduation photo or have I shown you my graduation photo?

So I was on my way home from school, and I overheard two people talking about something. The one asked the other: ''Did I show you my graduation photo?'', I asked my self whether it shouldn't be ...
9
votes
9answers
2k 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
8k views

Why “ladybird”?

In case you don't know, in British English, the little red-with-black-spots insect is not called a "ladybug", as in North America, but a "ladybird". This seems rather a poor act of classification, ...
15
votes
8answers
14k views

Is it proper to omit periods after honorifics (Mr, Mrs, Dr)?

I've been reading the Economist lately and they apparently don't punctuate honorifics like "Mr.", "Mrs.", e.g. The popular rejection of Mr Mubarak offers the Middle East’s best chance for reform ...
0
votes
2answers
37 views

request/requested/requesting date

I am developing a website, in which a user can send a request to another user. What's the correct way to describe the date that the request was made on, in the format of [request/requested/requesting] ...
6
votes
5answers
15k views

Where does the term Cracker come from, and how disparaging is it?

My grandmother from Georgia openly refers to herself and other white southerners as "Crackers", and sometimes adds a state as in "Georgia Cracker" or "Florida Cracker". She says it means simple folks ...
3
votes
4answers
3k views

To give someone the 411

"To give someone the 411" is short for information but is this phrase common in the US and/or in Britain and is it still up to date or outdated?
0
votes
1answer
22k views

What does “though” mean in these sentences?

I knew these are American English sentences, and they are informal. However, I would like to know what exactly it means, or it simply means nothing, and people merely want to add something unnecessary ...
3
votes
3answers
131 views

Where and when did the phrase “turkey of the year” originate? [closed]

Was it meant to be an objurgation, an insult, a jocose remark, or something else? And does it have the same meaning today as it had then?" Definitions of “turkey” (when used to refer to a person) ...
4
votes
1answer
51 views

Why do we qualify “dish washer” or “car wash” but not “clothes washer”?

In theory, any mechanical device that is used to wash another object could be called a "washing machine". However, the term (at least in the US) is almost exclusively used for machines that wash ...
0
votes
2answers
268 views

Is “Drop the big hammer” American slang?

In a trailer for the movie "Black Hat", one person says "The guy we're working with will drop the big hammer and not think twice about it" Is this some sort of American slang, possibly for a ...
3
votes
4answers
336 views

Does the letter i serve as a consonant in words like “onion” and “view”?

Some more words: union, behavior, Daniel. And the second i in opinion, familiar, brilliant, California. I am especially concerned with American English.
13
votes
6answers
2k views

When and how did “momentarily” come to mean “in a moment”, rather than “for a moment”?

"Momentarily" used to mean "for a moment" only, and not "in a moment". Thus, newscasters could be divided into two clear groups: those who would say "we'll be back momentarily," and those who would ...
5
votes
4answers
1k views

Opposite of writer's block

I recently experienced a patch where in I just had an urge to write and write. And when I sat down on my laptop, indeed I went on and on writing things I always wanted to. I felt like I experienced ...
0
votes
3answers
28 views

Example of using Anxious or nervous [duplicate]

Anxious means 'very eager' or feeling nervous . Can you please explain the difference via an example. I'm interested to hear other people's opinions on this.
0
votes
2answers
93 views

What is the term to describe the use of “City Hall” in “you can't fight City Hall”?

I know there's a word to describe the use of the words "City Hall" in the common phrase "you can't fight City Hall", where "City Hall" = "the office of the mayor of the city", but I can't remember ...
0
votes
3answers
922 views

Why Is “You did well.” Even Grammatically Correct (American English)?

One of the classic battles prescriptive grammarians fight is that "You did good." is grammatically wrong, while "You did well." is correct. The justification for this is that "well" is a legitimate ...
7
votes
1answer
78 views

When do you use middle and when center?

The other day I was talking to a friend about when to use "middle" or "center". I was using it in the context of top, middle, bottom, as a listing, and he suggested it should be top, center, bottom. ...
15
votes
2answers
1k views

When did people start “boinking”?

Is "boinking" an onomatopoeic and/or a blend word? I would have said so, I believe the word boink refers to the sound of the mattress springs squeaking under the weight of a couple making love. A ...
0
votes
0answers
28 views

Referral Campaigns or Your Referral Schemes

I have a referral program which comprises of 50% UK users and 50% US users. Taking into account location, what would be the most appropriate title to use... Your Referral Campaigns Or Your ...
0
votes
0answers
35 views

Apple's advertising slogan [duplicate]

Apple has an amazing marketing/advertisement team. Their ads and presentations are always amazing. In 1997, they had an iconic "Think Different" campaign for their new slogan. Within commercials they ...
7
votes
6answers
23k views

'Expired' or 'Passed away'?

When someone dies, do we say they expired or passed away? Does the word expired give any more respect when used? Or less respect than passed away?
-1
votes
1answer
65 views

American English: collective noun + verb when collective noun is plural? [duplicate]

I'm struggling with grammar and the name of a group of clinics; let's say that there are five dental clinics colocated in the same building, and the name of that group is Foo Dental Clinics. There's a ...
5
votes
1answer
237 views

Why are only some “u” words pronounced with a glide in American English?

In most words with a long U that doesn't start a syllable, it is pronounced /uː/. Examples: student, reduce, introduce. However, in some words (such as music, mule, human) it is pronounced /juː/. I've ...
3
votes
3answers
19k views

“I second that motion” or “I second that notion”

Context: We are purchasing a monitor and in an email someone wrote, "Bob, let's get two of these" and posted a URL. If I were to followup, which would be more appropriate and why? "I second that ...
70
votes
28answers
9k views

Is there an American English equivalent of the British idiom “carrying coals to Newcastle”?

I'm an American living in the Netherlands who is learning Dutch. There's an idiom in Dutch that describes performing a needless/futile activity, "water naar de zee dragen," which literally translates ...
1
vote
2answers
411 views

What did Kate mean when she said: “(…)? Or did Big Pussy and Meadow miss you too much?”

In the 2014 film “The Other Woman”, there is an exchange between several characters Phil: Who's this? Carmela: I'm Carmela, Kate's decorator. Phil: Oh. Really? When did you fire ...
11
votes
6answers
1k views

Why is the English devil “old”?

Looking up the etymology of the Devil's nickname, Old Nick, I came across this article in OUPblog written by Anatoly Liberman For some reason, devils, at least in English, are often called old: ...
6
votes
5answers
6k views

What is the origin of the colloquial term “bum” meaning a homeless person?

Just out of curiosity, I was wondering about the history of the term "bum" meaning a homeless person, not the UK version referring to someone's posterior. Bonus: If you know the background on "Hobo" ...
5
votes
3answers
2k views

“Ma'am” or “Miss” in American English?

Is it common to address a female sales clerk as Miss in the US? What about ma'am? If neither is proper, what would you suggest?
1
vote
1answer
66 views

What word describes a person that demonstrates “poor priorities?” [closed]

What is a word that means "poor priorities?" (Typically would be used to describe a person.)
5
votes
2answers
4k views

Meaning of “boroughs of New York City”

What does borough mean? Does the word have a different meaning when used in the five boroughs of New York City?
6
votes
8answers
2k views

What's the informal word for a small challenge?

Example: I challenge you to get her number. If you get it, you earn a beer. It's sort of a friendly bet. It's a short 3-5 letter word. I've heard it but can't recall it. Please help. Something ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

Why do Americans call hair that turns white “gray hair” not “white hair?” [closed]

I searched on YouTube for the reason why hair turns white then I found that Americans called it gray hair not white hair. In my opinion, its color is white so I don't understand why they call it gray ...
0
votes
1answer
27 views

Usage in defining an action because of someone else

I was at the bar and got a beer because my buddy typically drank them. I stated "I ordered this beer in his image". But I feel there is an expression to say "I performed this action because it's ...
5
votes
3answers
127 views

Question on lack of comma usage

My English teacher took some points off on a recent paper of mine based on improper comma usage, so I'm coming here for clarification. Here are the examples. The [x]'s indicate where the commas were ...
10
votes
7answers
15k views

Is there a different understanding of “rubber” in British and American English?

I was well aware of the different meanings of rubber, not least because there are the same definitions in my mother-tongue. However, while reading a text about differences between British and American ...
1
vote
2answers
353 views

What is the most appropriate opposite of “Select All”?

Is it more appropriate to use "Deselect All" or "Select None" or some other phrase to indicate the opposite of "Select All"? Context: A toggle button in a piece of software that will select all items ...
-1
votes
1answer
421 views

What does “ambush Prince Charming's wife” mean?

In the 2014 film “The Other Woman”, there is an exchange between several characters King Kate: So what do I do now? So I'm, now I'm Barb Melman? Barb Melman got divorced and now she has cheek ...