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

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27
votes
3answers
114k views

Difference between an acronym and abbreviation?

TLA is an acronym for "Three Letter Acronym". Is it also an abbreviation, since it abbreviates the original phrase?
26
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 ...
26
votes
5answers
28k views

Is there a difference between “treble” and “triple”?

I've been reading The Economist lately and noticed that the magazine uses both trebled and tripled. According to my dictionary, "treble" means "threefold; triple". Is there a subtle difference, not ...
25
votes
6answers
15k 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?
25
votes
6answers
30k views

Difference between “validation” and “verification”

What is the difference between validation and verification? When looking them up on Wiktionary they seem to mean mostly the same thing, but is there a difference? For example, would I be correct in ...
25
votes
5answers
43k views

Difference between “ability” and “capability”

What is the difference in usage between ability and capability?
24
votes
6answers
102k views

What is the difference between “nothing but”, “anything but”, and “everything but”?

What is the difference between these phrases? When is it valid to use which? Should they be avoided as being ambiguous?
24
votes
5answers
3k 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
2answers
71k views

What's the difference between “e.g.” and “ex.”?

I know they both roughly mean "example", but which one should I use, and when?
23
votes
3answers
121k views

“Thru” vs. “through”

Could anyone explain the differences between "thru" and "through"? Is the difference only in spelling? Is "thru" some sort of slang?
23
votes
4answers
59k views

“A bit” vs. “a little bit” vs. “a little”

Is there a difference between a bit, a little bit and a little in the following context? He is a little bit angry. He is a little angry. He is a bit angry. Or do these sentences mean the ...
23
votes
4answers
110k views

Why does “puce” mean two different colors depending on where you live?

I always thought puce was green, then saw on Wikipedia that it is purplish-brown. Further research tells me that it's generally regarded as purplish-brown in the United States, whereas Europeans think ...
23
votes
3answers
9k 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.
22
votes
6answers
5k views

Are “Fish in a barrel” and “Sitting ducks” similar?

Do the phrases "Fish in a barrel" and "Sitting ducks" convey the same thing? In my opinion, they have the same tone and express something to be an easy target. Eg: Out there, they are just fish in ...
22
votes
5answers
17k views

What is the distinction between “among” and “amongst”?

It seems amongst is quite often used as a synonym for among but it is supposed to sound more distinguished. Is there any difference in the meaning?
22
votes
5answers
50k views

What is the difference between “electric” and “electrical” and their usage?

What is the difference between electric and electrical and their usage? For example, what is the difference between "electrical machine" and "electric machine"?
22
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
41k views

“Compared with” vs “Compared to”—which is used when?

Is only one of them correct? Are they used in different situations? Or are they interchangeable?
22
votes
5answers
197k views

What is the difference between “sardonic” and “sarcastic”?

Basically, sardonic and sarcastic both stand for mocking gestures, but what is the difference in their contextual use? Are there any other words that represent a similar gesture?
22
votes
6answers
15k 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
46k views

What's the difference between “informal”, “colloquial”, “slang”, and “vulgar”?

It seems many people get confused about the differences (and similarities) between "colloquial" and "slang", so what exactly does each term apply to? But to be even more thorough it seems to me we ...
21
votes
7answers
3k views

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

What is the difference between “venom” and “poison”? Both in usage and in meaning.
21
votes
5answers
52k views

“Electronic” vs. “electric”

Most people would refer to computers as being electronic, whereas a flashlight would be described as electric. I know the general difference (electronic devices use transistors?), but what is it ...
21
votes
5answers
20k views

Apostrophe-“s” vs “of ”

I gave a quick answer to part of this question which had not been covered by previous answers, trying to clarify the reason you would say time of decoding but not decoding’s time. I said it was ’s ...
21
votes
3answers
80k views

What's the difference between 'resolve' and 'solve'?

What's the difference between 'resolve' and 'solve'?
21
votes
7answers
44k views

What's the difference between “big” and “large”?

What's the proper way to say: a large family or a big family? What's the difference between them?
21
votes
5answers
89k views

“Versus” versus “vs.” in writing

In writing, when should one use the abbreviation vs. as opposed to the full versus? This abbreviation seems to have special status from common usage. What is the origin of that, and in what writing ...
21
votes
4answers
20k 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.
21
votes
5answers
48k views

What is the difference between “gift” and “present”?

What is the difference between gift and present?
20
votes
9answers
41k views

What are the similarities and differences between “irony” and “sarcasm”?

This seems to be one the long-standing arguments between people on the internet. When is something "irony" and when is it "sarcasm"? And can a quip be both at the same time? Dictionary definitions ...
20
votes
4answers
75k views

“How about” vs. “What about”

Is there a difference between starting a question with "How about" and "What about"? Can we use both expressions interchangeably?
20
votes
3answers
30k views

What's the difference between “puberty” and “adolescence”?

The two words puberty and adolescence seem to be referring to one thing; what is the difference between them?
20
votes
4answers
36k views

Difference between “response” and “reply”

As far as I understand, replies are a subset of responses: A reply is a response in words or writing. However, responses can take many different forms, e.g. when a country responds in force to some ...
20
votes
2answers
179k views

'I get it' vs. 'I got it'

When someone tells me something, how should I respond, "I get it" or "I got it"? I have a feeling that "I got it" means "I already knew the thing before you told me," and "I get it" means "Now I know ...
20
votes
2answers
55k views

“X times as many as” or “X times more than”

Suppose John has 5 sweets. Is there any difference between the following two sentences? Jack has 3 times as many sweets as John. Jack has 3 times more sweets than John. I prefer the first ...
20
votes
3answers
32k views

Difference between “scheme” and “schema” [closed]

What is the difference between scheme and schema? Where do you use one and not the other? schema a diagram, plan, or scheme. Synonyms: outline, framework, model. an underlying organizational ...
19
votes
4answers
21k 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? ...
19
votes
4answers
49k views

What are the important differences between Canadian and American (USA) English?

English is not my first language; the little English I know is mostly from the USA. I know some of the differences between British English (or just English?) and American English, and the same with ...
19
votes
5answers
7k views

Usage of “many” vs “many a”?

Can someone please elucidate the difference between "many" and "many a"? In what context of usage should we add an extra "a" beside the word "many"? For example: Many times, I had seen that . ...
19
votes
9answers
70k 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 ...
19
votes
5answers
178k views

“Warranty” vs. “guarantee”

Is there any relation or difference between warranty and guarantee? What do they mean? In what situations do we use them? For example, I suppose we say When we buy something it has a warranty.
19
votes
3answers
6k 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” ...
19
votes
6answers
12k views

Are there any differences between “update” and “upgrade”?

Are there any differences between "update" and "upgrade"?
19
votes
4answers
36k views

What is the difference between “daemon” and “demon” in a religious context?

Is there a difference between demon and daemon in a religious context?
19
votes
3answers
82k views

Difference between “asleep” and “sleeping”

I know asleep and sleeping are interchangeable in many cases. But in these situations, I am not sure. I read stories to my son after he went to bed. After reading the stories, I stayed for some time ...
18
votes
7answers
22k 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? ...
18
votes
8answers
7k views

Ripe with Opportunity? Or Rife?

The Grammarist says I should use rife with rather than ripe with. So far so good and I agree. But is there an exception for ripe with opportunity? Googlefight overwhelmingly prefers ripe, and I like ...
18
votes
6answers
273k views

What's the difference between “I look forward to” and “I'm looking forward to”?

I just don't get the reasoning behind which one is correct in which situation. Typically I use the wrong one, or I use them when I'm not supposed to.
18
votes
5answers
1k views

Two kinds of “borrow”

In Hebrew there is a difference, although often overlooked in spoken Hebrew, between the word "to borrow" for something that is intended to be returned "as is" such as a tool or a vehicle, and the ...
18
votes
5answers
124k views

What's the difference between “on the contrary” and “in contrast”

Is there any difference between these two phrases? Is there any context in which we only can use one rather than the other?