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

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2answers
34 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
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3answers
48 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
145 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
3k 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
2answers
439 views

“Named for” vs. “named after”

As a Brit, I'm used to the phrase named after being used to say how something got its name. For example, in Wikipedia's List of eponymous roads in London, we read that Addison Road is named after the ...
1
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1answer
59 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." ...
6
votes
3answers
2k 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
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1answer
605 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 ...
33
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15answers
7k 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
12k views

What is the difference between “to oblige” and “to obligate”?

What's the difference between oblige and obligate? Speculating, is the latter an Americanism of the British former? Or is there any distinction about what/who has caused someone to be oblig(at)ed to ...
30
votes
6answers
76k 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 ...
25
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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
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1answer
73 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
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3answers
75 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"] ...
2
votes
3answers
880 views

Is “targetted” a standard British English spelling?

Wiktionary says that the difference between "targetting" and "targeting" is that the first one is a British spelling and the second one is American. Meanwhile, Oxford Dictionaries says that ...
10
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4answers
372 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
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3answers
578 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?
14
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4answers
10k views

What's the difference between “rent” and “hire” in British and American English?

The tip I used to teach was the verb, hire, should be used for things which are transportable hence, you hire a car, sports equipment, a boat, a bike etc. Rent, on the other hand, is primarily used ...
0
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2answers
2k views

Negation in English

In English there are at least two ways to express negation, for example: — I don't have money — I have no money or — No objects were found — Objects were not found or — No restrictions are applied — ...
4
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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
181 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
58 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
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2answers
93 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
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1answer
43 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
772 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 ...
13
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5answers
22k 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
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1answer
4k 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 ...
-1
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2answers
87 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 ...
4
votes
3answers
6k views

Difference between “take a taxi” and “get a taxi”

Which of the following is correct? If both are correct, do they have different meanings or usage? Take a taxi/bus/train OR Get a taxi/bus/train
6
votes
5answers
8k 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
273 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 ...
2
votes
5answers
6k views

“Enclosure” vs. “attachment”

If I understand it correctly, one usually uses the term enclosure when referring to extra documents to e.g. a letter. But what if these extra items are not other documents and papers? Say I have ...
7
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4answers
175 views

“Tourists” for visiting sports team

In news about English and "Commonwealth" team sports (e.g., rugby, cricket), I occasionally hear the visiting team being referred to as "tourists" (e.g., "the tourists won the match ..."). This usage ...
1
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1answer
91 views

“Sport” vs “Sports” Origin

I was recently reading this article on the use of "math" vs. "maths" as a collective noun (Americans use the former, Brits the latter). However, the trend seen in "math/maths" is reversed in ...
3
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3answers
1k views

Convolve vs. convolute

I understand that for common usage these words have distinct meanings. However in mathematics there is a process called convolution, and sometimes you hear "you need to convolve X" and sometimes "you ...
0
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2answers
76 views

How do you write the expression of disgust that sounds like “er”?

My daughter said to me this morning (the context is irrelevant): Er, it's all wet! The interjection I have written here as Er was synonymous with Yuck. Its wetness did not cause great happiness. ...
2
votes
3answers
110 views

What word to choose as the opposite of “self-aware”?

What word would describe the quality of not being self-aware? unselfaware unself-aware un-selfaware un-self-aware non-self-aware I am aware that it is allowed to have multiple hyphens in a word. ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

Different Meanings of 'Jumper' (Transatlantic embarassment)

I'm originally from Wales, now living in the USA, and as the cold weather is approaching I'm determined, this year, to start using the word sweater to describe the item of clothing I'm wearing, as ...
0
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1answer
45 views

Does “hosting a dinner” mean it is paid for?

Does "hosting a dinner" (in the UK) mean it is paid for, or just that it is being organised on behalf of the attendees?
15
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2answers
41k views

“Successfull”/“successful” — is this a UK/US difference? [closed]

I would tend to write double-l, but Google gives me more single-l, so I'm guessing it's an Atlantic divide thing. And I guess all the other *full words.
11
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9answers
21k views

“have” vs.“have got” in American and British English

I have looked through several questions and answers on EL&U, and often there is an indication that American English prefers "have" while British English prefers "have got". In addition, there are ...
9
votes
9answers
7k views

Confused by the British having “dinner” in the afternoon” and “tea” in the evening

I’m having problems with meal names in the UK. I’ve just learnt that dinner can refer to the afternoon meal, and that tea can refer to an early evening meal. Is this specific to a certain area in the ...
0
votes
1answer
38 views

Nuances when returning physical mail in the UK [closed]

“Return to sender” carries very little meaning to the sender: Who returned it? The postal service, the intended recipient, or some other person? Why was it returned? Was it considered spam, was the ...
4
votes
3answers
472 views

Roundel vs Roundabout [closed]

What, if any, is the difference between the two? My best guess is that a 'roundel' is the traffic island or structure that you drive around, while the 'roundabout' also includes the road you're ...
4
votes
1answer
57 views

Allophones of /ə/

In (non-rhotic) British English there seem to be two major allophones of the phoneme /ə/. The first which can be heard in potato, career or the weak form of from as an [ə]. However, there's also a ...
33
votes
4answers
5k views

“Maths” for “Mathematics”; where does the S come from?

So in US English we shorten mathematics to math, and in the UK they say maths. Where does the 'S' come from in the UK version? For some reason I had it in my head that this was just because it's ...
4
votes
8answers
945 views

Dinky cars (toy cars)

I came across this term while proofreading an unpublished poem by an Irish poet. The context is not important so I'll just say that it is clear that it means “toy cars”. I Googled the term and see ...
0
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2answers
35 views

A term for Not Applicable in the context of UI/UX [closed]

I want to give an option to a user to check if an option is not applicable for her. However the two words in "Not Applicable" are too huge for my GUI. Suggestions Would be greatly appreciated :)
0
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1answer
63 views

What does plate mean in “we're running you in two plates”?

I find the following line in Tom Stoppard’s play The Invention of Love. Mark Pattison, Rector of Lincoln College, Oxford, is speaking to entering students in the 1860s: . . . if ...
0
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0answers
18 views

rent a car, rent out a car, hire a car [migrated]

English not my native language. I'm trying to understand what would be correct in British English. If I want to use a car for some time. I can say, "I want to rent a car". But from my knowledge there ...