This tag is for questions related to English as spoken in Great Britain, and sometimes Ireland.

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12
votes
3answers
572 views

How did Persian words arrive in English?

Some Indian words which have entered modern English, such as 'bazaar' and 'cummerbund', are of Persian origin. So it seems they have completed a journey from Persia to Western India to present-day ...
0
votes
1answer
53 views

Is “would you be keen to consider___?” too cheesy to use?

On a formal / professional email, is the following question acceptable, or is it too much politeness it looks unprofessional? The intention is to ask someone, who is not a subordinate, to do ...
14
votes
2answers
985 views

What do “orange” and “spindle-shanked beaux” mean in this quote?

While looking up the word "bye" I found this 18th century quotation. Our present race of spindle-shanked beaux had rather close with an orange wench at the playhouse, than engage in a bye battle ...
19
votes
9answers
1k views

A modern equivalent for “at the coalface”

I let you believe that I am one of the nation's top geneticists, when actually I am a moderately successful scientist who is now coasting on past research, doing the odd bit of examining or ...
-1
votes
2answers
127 views

I want to learn English for 3 months [closed]

I'm Egyptian and I want to learn English for 3 months. What advice do you have for me? I'm free for 3 months. What is the solution? Thank you.
10
votes
4answers
4k views

What does “on a hiding to nothing” mean?

I watched a movie with English actors just the other day and came across this phrase in the dialogue. What does it mean, and who would typically use it? EDIT: What is the sense of the hide in ...
2
votes
1answer
86 views

Diminished “R” Phoneme in NE AmE & BrE

Q: New Englanders habitually mute or diminish the R phoneme (?) in many words, (park, car, Harvard, etc.). What is the name of this characteristic of their speech? So many of the patterns of New ...
0
votes
2answers
182 views

What is meant by “we got a live one” in following context?

Here is the clip from "Finding Nemo" where "live one" was used. http://youtu.be/zycSnw5PP0g?t=2m19s
-4
votes
1answer
49 views
0
votes
1answer
111 views

Should British r be spoken out in liaison?

For example, the r in "better" is not pronounced in British English. How about the "r" in "a better idea"?
0
votes
2answers
72 views

“Reduce to” or “reduce by”?

Can I use the verb reduce in the following way? Also can anyone help me verify the whole sentence? The transmission overhead is reduced to more than 95%.
-1
votes
1answer
42 views

Does “provides the pinnacle of education” make sense?

The phrase seems hardly used so I'm not sure if I can use the "pinnacle" like that. I can't seem to find another way to say what I want. Any clarification is appreciated! :)
2
votes
1answer
70 views

Is there an AmE/BrE difference whether “by date X” means by the beginning or ending of this date?

A job application in England wants applications to arrive by the 30th. I understand this to mean by the end of the 30th (in London time). The accepted answer to this question appears to indicate the ...
0
votes
2answers
81 views

Which words can properly follow “including”?

"He sang everywhere, including in the bath". "He behaved badly in many ways, including cheating in his exams." These don't sound quite right to me. Are they wrong? And, if so, on the basis of what ...
-3
votes
5answers
485 views

What is the Single Word for Burning Alive?

Is there any single word substitute for 'Burning Alive'? We've Behead for 'Cut off the head'. Similar way, What is the Single word equivalent for 'Burning Alive' If any?
1
vote
1answer
38 views

“Prune from” or “prune of”?

I need to say (in passive voice) that a certain set of objects was cleaned from (pruned of/pruned from?) certain subsets of undesirable objects. I know that prune away [undesired objects] is one of ...
7
votes
5answers
9k 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 ...
6
votes
1answer
211 views

How and when did “bash” and “do” come to mean party?

I am on my way to a faculty party at the university. The Head of Sciences is retiring and is throwing a huge bash, all his staff, selected external examiners like me and various scientists from ...
22
votes
6answers
14k views

Reason for different pronunciations of “lieutenant”

While Americans (and possibly others) pronounce this as "loo-tenant", folks from the UK pronounce it as "lef-tenant". Why?
12
votes
2answers
2k 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
0answers
184 views

Distinguishing Australian, English, South African accents [closed]

I have attended courses in English over many years, and as most of my English teachers have an Algerian accent, I have always wondered about the question of accents. I can distinguish an American ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What are all the ways the British use the word “lovely”? Especially towards pretty girls?

From watching many period dramas and plays set in England, as I like to do, I've become more acutely aware of the British overloading of the word lovely. In particular, I have two questions: What ...
7
votes
3answers
3k views

“Kebabs, fruit machines, and brasses” — what do these slang words mean?

More from the British movie The Football Factory. In the following dialogue, the main character, a Cockney English speaker played by actor Danny Dyer, waxes philosophical about why he enjoys being a ...
1
vote
2answers
584 views

Talkies, Motion Pictures, Movies, Films and 3D

The term talkies, i.e. talking pictures, I was surprised to learn was not coined in 1927 after the release of The Jazz Singer, but in 1913. The term is now obsolete whereas motion picture, meaning ...
11
votes
6answers
3k views

Is a schwa ever stressed?

Is there a word in RP (Received Pronunciation) where the stressed vowel sound is a schwa?
1
vote
2answers
64 views

Why is the British tv show “the Undatables” not called “the Undatable” without 's'?

There is a tv series on Channel 4 called "The Undatables" which I have just started watching. The title keeps me wondering why it's not just called "the undatable" like the poor or the rich? Last ...
1
vote
3answers
127 views

Idiom for: managing to solve a big problem only to be frustrated by a smaller problem

What would be an idiom for solving a massive problem and then only getting hindered by a small problem? So after solving a hard problem, getting stopped by the easy problem. It would not be: out of ...
5
votes
4answers
262 views

Is it acceptable to use a single hyphen as a dash (as the BBC does)?

Is it acceptable to use a single hyphen as a dash (as the BBC does)? Example from BBC News: Venezuela - a major oil producer - has been heavily affected by the fall in oil prices on ...
2
votes
1answer
5k views

Is the idiom 'keeping well' recognized only in British English?

I've seen the idiom 'keeping well' being used to mean 'in good health' in some contexts where British English is expected. But Americans seem surprised by it. Is that idiom uncommon in American ...
1
vote
1answer
144 views

What is the meaning of “He's got his quiver full”?

It was part of a dialogue I read some time ago: A. "His wife is pregnant again." B. "Really? He's got his quiver full, hasn't he?" A. "He has, and I tell you, he should know better." ...
7
votes
3answers
5k views

“shyer” or “shier”

My Longman dictionary states that the comparative of 'shy' is 'shyer'. However, at least two online dictionaries also give the form 'shier' as being acceptable: The Free Dictionary and ...
10
votes
1answer
650 views

Is “defensible driving” defensible?

This stems from an answer on the Bicycles StackExchange site: http://bicycles.stackexchange.com/a/28633/1464 I think many people have heard of driving (or riding) "defensively." I understand this to ...
34
votes
15answers
8k views

Words with opposite meanings in different regions

I can't recall it, but there is a word in American English which now means the opposite of itself in British English. What words are there that have opposite (not just different) meanings in different ...
31
votes
6answers
88k views

What is the difference between dialogue and dialog?

I am American, and I always thought the difference between dialogue and dialog was one of meaning, the way Merriam-Webster has them listed: 2 entries found: dialogue (noun) dialog box ...
26
votes
2answers
5k views

How and when did American spelling supersede British spelling in the US?

Considering that Webster published his first dictionary in 1806, is there a recognised tipping point (year, decade, etc.) that marked the move from traditional British spelling to Webster's American? ...
1
vote
1answer
83 views

Question about prepositions/conjunctions (from, to…)

Can you please tell which (if any) of the following is correct? Where are you coming from?/From where are you coming? Who will you give it to?/To whom will you give it? What for?/For ...
1
vote
3answers
118 views

Is there a word meaning “pertaining to diary writing”?

Is there a word meaning "pertaining to diary writing"? For example something like diaretical (obviously not a real word) or similar? Example usage: The text was written in a ["diaretical"] ...
10
votes
4answers
870 views

Do brides in church weddings go up the aisle toward the altar or down the aisle toward the altar?

Nigel Rees, The Cassell Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins (1987) has this entry regarding the question "WHY DO WE SAY ... BRIDES GO UP THE AISLE?" Sir Thomas Bazley fired off a letter to The ...
1
vote
3answers
676 views

Is “my place” correct and common in British English?

I was recently told that "my place", such as in "let's go to my place" is not commonly used in British English? Is that the case and what would you say instead?
4
votes
6answers
3k views

What connotation exactly does the word “noddy” have in British English?

I watched a BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens' The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby the other day, and came across a bit of dialogue I couldn't quite decipher: A character named Squeers: ...
2
votes
4answers
237 views

A single word meaning 'easy yet powerful'?

I'm looking for a single adjective to describe a piece of software which is very easy to use, but has powerful features for users who have access and knowledge. It's for a succinct marketing ...
0
votes
1answer
107 views

How to pronounce Alois in A Dog of Flanders? [closed]

The e-book I have downloaded from Amazon has Alois, but Wikipedia seems to have Aloise. I do not know which one is correct in the first place. I shall assume Alois is the correct one. A Dog of ...
0
votes
2answers
282 views

what does the sentence “You wouldn't know a hospital corner if it bit you on the arse” mean?

The conversation goes something like this: Woman: I'll change the bed sheets. Man: No, I'll do it! Woman: I can make a bed! Man : You wouldn't know a hospital corner if it bit you ...
0
votes
1answer
77 views

Another way of saying “accompanied by family members”?

I'm writing a sign-up form for an event. The form has a checkbox, where people can indicate if they are bringing family members. Currently I have the field labeled: Accompanied by family members ...
4
votes
3answers
842 views

What's a “right old roarer” in British English?

I was reading an Amazon review just now, and came across someone (Tchaikovsky) being described as a right old roarer. I'm guessing this is familiar slang to Brits, but I'm not getting good search ...
14
votes
5answers
27k views

“Have not” versus “do not have”

As a non-native English speaker, I have a little doubt about using, or not, the auxiliary verb "to do" with the verb "to have". Are there differences in meaning between "I have not" and "I do not ...
2
votes
1answer
5k views

How to write out numbers in compliance with British usage?

This question regards the numbers from 1 to 999. We can ignore commas, hyphens, and spaces. What I'm interested in is when and where to use the word "and". There are a few interesting cases: 1) 20 ...
-2
votes
2answers
172 views

“Bnag” pun, anagram or play on words?

There is a one-liner by Tim Vine, a British stand-up comedian, that sees him pull out a card with the word... BNAG and exclaim: That's bang out of order! The joke is derived from the idiom ...
6
votes
5answers
9k views

“Be mother” - Etymology and usage

I recently came across the idiom "Be mother" in a crossword. It is supposed to mean 'to pour tea'. I was surprised by the meaning, and want to ask if there is any etymology or history behind this ...
3
votes
4answers
428 views

Word to describe the completion of a planned rail journey

I am a native English speaker with, what I consider to be, an excellent vocabulary but I recently ran into a problem whilst compiling my list of New Year's Resolutions. One item on the list is to ...