This tag is for questions about the differences in the meaning of two words.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

93
votes
10answers
14k views

Differences between slang words for breasts

What is the difference between “tits” and “boobs”? P.S. I'm not sure if this question is appropriate but as English is not my native language I really would love to know the difference.
55
votes
8answers
9k views

What's the difference between “null” and “void” in legal language?

In the legal term "null and void," what is the difference between null and void? Why not just use one of the two terms? And can either term be used without the other?
55
votes
11answers
17k views

What is the difference between an Emperor and a King?

I was at a loss when I was asked recently by my grand-daughter who is a school girl about the difference between Emperor and King. She asked me why Great Britain has King and Queen, while Germany and ...
53
votes
10answers
4k views

What's the difference between the adjectives “strategic” and “tactical”?

I recently read this sentence: It was a strategic move rather than a tactical one. I have trouble interpreting it. Can someone help?
53
votes
6answers
2k views

How small does a land-mass have to be before you live “on” it, rather than “in” it?

I'm sure virtually everyone agrees that people live on the Isle of Wight, but in Ireland. Apparently the usage depends somewhat on physical size, but that can't be the whole story. How exactly do we ...
51
votes
11answers
11k views

What is the difference between “it's up to you” and “it's down to you”?

I see both "It's up to you" and "It's down to you" in conversations. So what's the difference?
46
votes
11answers
6k views

What is the difference between “gender” and “sex”?

What is the difference between gender and sex? Wiktionary says that gender is The mental analog of sex but that's too high English for me. Basically, I'm developing a web-application that stores ...
45
votes
10answers
37k views

“Unregister” vs “Deregister”

The concept of "undoing a registration" is widely used in my line of work. While most dictionaries define unregister as the proper verb for it, several widely used and highly considered sources also ...
44
votes
13answers
8k views

When to use “nude” and when “naked”

The question is quite clear. Is there any difference (semantically or connotationally, if that's a word) between nude and naked? Nude seems more formal to me, but I'm not quite sure. Interesting: ...
44
votes
6answers
14k views

Which is the correct spelling: “grey” or “gray”?

What is the difference? Or is there any? Which would be more British English?
44
votes
1answer
123k 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 ...
42
votes
4answers
40k views

'Made of' vs. 'Made from'

What is the basic difference between "made of" and "made from." Both expressions are used in English. For instance, "This chair is made of wood," and "Cream is made from milk." Though the question is ...
42
votes
3answers
2k views

“Toward” or “towards”?

Which one should should I use? For some reason I have always used "towards", but I see some people saying "toward", like here: A great deal of his work in economic theory has been directed ...
37
votes
8answers
9k views

Is it “alright” or “allright”?

In practice I find both spellings being used. From a logical point of view, "allright" (as in: "all's right — everything is fine") seems correct. However, I recall hearing that "alright" is the ...
36
votes
4answers
11k views

What is the difference between “illicit” and “illegal”?

What is the difference between "illicit" and "illegal"? Are they just synonymous? Used in different contexts?
35
votes
9answers
27k views

What is the difference between “complicated” and “complex”?

I can't understand: what's the difference between complicated and complex? They seem to be used interchangeably. Are they actually different at all?
30
votes
2answers
1k views

Why are clothes “hung” but men “hanged”?

It is said that clothes can be hung but men are hanged. Is this correct, and if so, why?
29
votes
2answers
84k views

“Which” vs. “what” — what's the difference and when should you use one or the other?

Most of the time one or the other feels better, but every so often, "which" vs. "what" trips me up. So, what's the exact difference and when should you use one or the other?
28
votes
2answers
7k views

What is the difference between “maybe” and “may be”?

What is the difference in meaning and usage between maybe and may be? Are they synonymous?
28
votes
6answers
37k views

“Oriented” vs. “orientated”

What are the origins of the word orientated? As far as I know, the correct spelling is oriented and orientated is not an alternative spelling but an error that is in common use. Is it for example ...
28
votes
3answers
77k views

What's the difference between “eldest” and “oldest”?

When should I use "eldest" and when should I use "oldest"? Are the differences semantic or regional? (Or both?) (What got me wondering is the removeEldestEntry() method in Java's LinkedHashMap ...
27
votes
12answers
5k views

“Nothing to tell” versus “nothing to say”

There's nothing to tell. There's nothing to say. Can anyone explain the difference between those two statements and give some examples on how they should be used? I think I do have a basic ...
27
votes
2answers
12k views

When I should use “assure” vs. “ensure” vs. “insure”?

When is it appropriate to use assure vs. ensure vs. insure?
27
votes
4answers
1k views

When should “farther” and “further” be used?

I know I learned the difference between the usage of farther and further in school, but I can never remember where each one should be used. Can someone help me out here?
26
votes
3answers
20k views

Is it “despite” or “despite of”?

Should I always use 'despite' instead of 'despite of'?
26
votes
8answers
35k views

Distinction: “What can I do you for?” vs. “What can I do for you?”

Usually, when being served the phrase "What can I do for you?" is used but sometimes I also hear "What can I do you for?" in quite the same context. So is there a difference or is it just a slip of ...
26
votes
6answers
7k views

Difference between “artifact” and “artefact”

Is there any usage preference between artifact and artefact? My understanding was that an artifact was properly applied to physical, historical objects, while an artefact was more correct for more ...
25
votes
5answers
2k views

Are 'accuracy' and 'precision' interchangeable nouns?

The dictionary for accuracy says: The quality or state of being correct or precise. The ability to perform a task with precision. And for precision: The quality, condition, or ...
25
votes
5answers
16k views

Is there a difference between “arse” and “ass”?

From a comment here, in frequent usage, arse and ass are often interchangeable when used to refer to buttocks or to a person of dubious charms. However, although “to arse about” has a vague connection ...
23
votes
6answers
7k views

What is the difference between “archetype” and “prototype”?

I'm very confused by the difference between "archetype" and "prototype", and even more baffled when to use which. Can someone clarify?
23
votes
5answers
2k views

Which definition of “atheism” is the proper usage?

This seems to be a creeping problem in that two competing definitions are being used for the term "atheism" that aren't necessarily compatible with one another. One the one hand we have what appears ...
23
votes
7answers
5k views

Using “utilize” instead of “use”?

My friend has been raising a ruckus about the abuse of the word "utilize" in place of the word "use." He complains that it just makes your sentences sound pretentious. u·ti·lize [yoot-l-ahyz] verb ...
23
votes
3answers
21k views

What's the difference between a gerund and a participle?

What is the difference between a gerund and a participle?
23
votes
3answers
41k views

What's the difference between using single and double quotation marks/inverted commas?

I'm quite unsure regarding the usage of single quotation marks (') and double quotation marks (") in English. I had thought that double quotation marks were usually used to quote sentences from ...
22
votes
9answers
4k views

Do the words “jail” and “prison” refer to different things?

In everyday speech, the terms jail and prison are used interchangeably in many situations. However, my understanding is that, at least in the US, they actually refer to slightly different things. For ...
22
votes
4answers
28k views

“Unselect” or “Deselect”?

If I want the user to revert their operation of selecting an item, should I say: "Unselect the option" or "Deselect the option"?
21
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the difference between “lay” and “lie”?

How do I know when to use lay and when to use lie, and what are the different forms of each verb? I'm always getting them confused.
21
votes
3answers
3k views

When should you write “answer” versus “response”?

In context, when would it be appropriate to use "answer" or "response"? I always tend to use "answer" personally, but I have always this nagging feeling I could be wrong.
20
votes
3answers
7k views

Difference between “delete” and “remove” [closed]

I am writing a mobile application that will, as a part of its functionality, display a list of recorded thoughts. Now I am deciding the textual content of the menus and that left me thinking whether ...
20
votes
6answers
26k views

What is the difference between 'make decision' and 'take decision'?

What is the difference between make decision and take decision? When to use the one and when the other?
20
votes
4answers
2k views

Transform or transformation?

Is there a difference between the words transform (noun) and transformation? Let me describe my problem. I have a mathematical model which I can transform into a better model with help of a data ...
18
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the difference between “venom” and “poison”?

What is the difference between “venom” and “poison”? Both in usage and in meaning.
18
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there a general rule for the prefixation of “un-” and “de-” to words?

Given the different questions we have seen about the prefixes "de-" and "un-", I have grown curious if there is a overarching rule for terms that need undoing. “Unselect” or “Deselect”? “Unregister” ...
18
votes
5answers
1k views

“Infer” vs. “imply” — can “infer” imply “imply”?

Okay that's a crazy title, but bear with me. Got into a good natured discussion with someone on another stack exchange site, and I was "correcting" him on the use of infer vs. imply. (The ...
18
votes
6answers
12k views

Difference between “invoice” and “bill”?

I am talking about something you should pay. "Invoice" here doesn't mean the proof of payment. Sometimes I am told to pay my "bill", and sometimes they may refer to the similar paper (physical or ...
18
votes
4answers
12k views

Difference between “ability” and “capability”

What is the difference in usage between ability and capability?
18
votes
3answers
5k views

What's the difference between “mistrust” and “distrust”?

Are mistrust and distrust synonyms? And if so, how have two such similar words coexist for so long? Google N-grams suggests the two words have coexisted since the 1700's.
18
votes
3answers
3k views

What exactly are the differences between “diligent”, “assiduous” and “sedulous”?

From OALD: sedulous (formal) showing great care and effort in your work synonym: diligent assiduous (formal) working very hard and taking great care that everything is done as well as it ...
17
votes
4answers
9k views

“Don't I know you” vs. “do I know you”

My question is about similar (for me) question forms "don't I know you" and "do I know you". Is there any difference between them or can they both be used in the same context without any exceptions? ...
17
votes
7answers
10k views

Is there a difference between “innocent” and “not guilty”?

I have always thought the antonym of "guilty" is "innocent", but apparently it's just "not guilty". Even juries seem to agree. But why? Aren't they antonyms? Or is there a subtlety I'm missing here? ...