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

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17
votes
3answers
14k views

“Maximum” vs. “maximal”

What is the difference in usage between maximum and maximal? When would you use one or the other? Maximum can be a noun or an adjective: This is the maximum it can be set to. This is the ...
17
votes
8answers
4k 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 ...
17
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 ...
17
votes
3answers
11k 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?
17
votes
3answers
11k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
9k 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 ...
16
votes
7answers
7k views

Difference between “condo” and “apartment”

I have never really understood the connotation of someone calling their domicile a condo over the word apartment. I have a vague feeling the former is fancier and more up-scale, but are there any ...
16
votes
4answers
19k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
8k views

“Instable” or “unstable”?

From my experience, it seems that although unstable is more commonly used, instable is often preferred in engineering and scientific contexts, e.g. "aircraft instability", "instable algorithm". Are ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

The use of “hey” in North America

Having had my formative years in New Zealand, I was born in South Africa. I vaguely recall when I was VERY young having someone tell me when I said "hey" that "hay is what horses eat". I got that ...
15
votes
4answers
1k views

Meaning of “My friend, who lives in Paris, is a teacher” with and without commas

Can anyone help me understand the difference in meaning between these two sentences? My friend who lives in Paris is a teacher. My friend, who lives in Paris, is a teacher. To me it ...
15
votes
4answers
3k views

What is the difference between an apocalypse and a cataclysm?

What is the difference between an apocalypse and a cataclysm? I've been told that an apocalypse is an act of God, but we seem to use it as a generic term for any grand disaster. What is the ...
15
votes
4answers
6k 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?
15
votes
7answers
14k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
14k views

Differences between “sledge”, “sleigh” and “sled”

Is there a difference between a sledge, a sleigh and a sled? Dictionary definitions suggest they are synonymous, but it certainly sounds wrong to refer to Santa Claus on a sledge.
15
votes
6answers
9k views

Distinction between “pillage” and “plunder”

Both pillage and plunder refer to the taking of goods by force. What is the distinction in how the two words are used? Specifically, (due to a recent argument) do pirates only plunder, or can they ...
15
votes
1answer
14k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
15k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
10k views

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

What is the difference between gift and present?
14
votes
12answers
10k views

What is the difference between “quicker” and “faster”?

What is the correct word to use here and why: I will get there quicker [than you] vs. I will get there faster [than you] There must be similar adverbs for "slower".
14
votes
4answers
33k views

Difference between “résumé” and “CV”

What's the difference between résumé and CV? When is résumé used? And when is CV used? Are they equivalent?
14
votes
7answers
27k 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?
14
votes
4answers
16k 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 ...
14
votes
6answers
9k views

What is the difference between “Gay” and “Homosexual"? Is it only by gender?

I was interested in the line “...most Americans use the word 'gay' now instead of 'homosexual'” in Maureen Dowd’s article titled “Happily Never After?” in today’s (April 2) New York Times: I’m ...
14
votes
5answers
2k views

The difference between “take” and “last”

We say: "the meeting will last two hours". But we say: "how long does the flight take?" Please let me know the difference between last and take and when we should use each.
14
votes
5answers
8k views

“Eventually” vs. “finally”

What is the difference between finally and eventually? He eventually escaped and made his way back to England. He finally escaped and made his way back to England.
14
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the difference between a “ghetto” and a “slum”?

What is the difference between a ghetto and a slum?
14
votes
8answers
5k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
7k views

“Sick” or “ill”?

If I'm not healthy, am I sick or am I ill? Are these interchangeable, or do they merely overlap?
14
votes
3answers
25k 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?
14
votes
4answers
21k views

What's the difference between “Collaborate” and “Cooperate”?

Both of these words seem to mean much the same thing: working together to achieve some goal. I can instinctively feel a difference between them, but I can't easily put it into words. Can you help me? ...
14
votes
4answers
17k views

What are the differences between “inverse”, “reverse”, and “converse”?

What distinctions can be made among the meanings of the words "inverse", "reverse", "converse", and, for good measure, "transverse" and "obverse"? Is it ever possible to use some of them ...
14
votes
4answers
56k views

Difference between nevertheless and nonetheless

I am never quite sure whether to use nevertheless or nonetheless; they seem almost synonymous to me, but I think I might be missing a subtle distinction. Is there a difference, and if so, how do I ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Does the word, ‘peruse’ have a single meaning of ‘attentive reading,’ or double, contradicting meanings of ‘attentive’ and ‘cursory’ reading?

I’m confused to find opposite definitions in the same word, ‘peruse’ in Readers English Japanese Dictionary published by a leading foreign language dictionary publisher in Japan. It defines ‘peruse’ ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Envision vs Envisage

Is there a context where envision is not a synonym of envisage, or vice versa? Envisage's definition: contemplate or conceive of as a possibility or a desirable future event Envision's ...
13
votes
9answers
11k views

What's the difference between “bucket” and “pail”?

What is the difference between bucket and pail? Is there a distinction between the shape of a bucket and the shape of a pail? Are buckets and pails made of different materials? Is there a difference ...
13
votes
7answers
23k views

What is the difference between “as per” and “according to”?

See the following two sentences. As per my knowledge it is right. According to my knowledge it is right. Are both the sentences right? What is the difference and use of "as per" and ...
13
votes
5answers
2k views

“Writing things down” vs. “writing things up”

Is there any difference in the usage of "writing things down" vs. "writing things up"? Are they both correct?
13
votes
8answers
41k views

What's the difference between a jumper, a pullover, and a sweater?

Following on from a recent question, in Australia we have the word jumper for a knitted long-sleeved garment, typically woollen and long-sleeved. When cosuming foreign media I always assumed the ...
13
votes
5answers
7k 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 ...
13
votes
7answers
6k views

What's the difference between a vicar and a pastor?

What's the difference between a vicar, preferably of the Church of England, and a pastor? I browsed Wikipedia, but most of the gist of the article is that vicar is an ecclesiastical office, and ...
13
votes
6answers
41k views

Difference between “at” and “in” when specifying location

I am used to saying "I am in India.". But somewhere I saw it said "I am at Puri (Oriisa)". I would like to know the differences between "in" and "at" in the above two sentences.
13
votes
3answers
14k 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"?
13
votes
3answers
28k views

“Egoistic” vs. “egotistic” [closed]

Does "egoistic" and "egotistic" mean the same thing?
13
votes
5answers
15k views

Is there a semantic difference between “pedophile” and “pederast”?

If I understand the etymology of pedophile and pederast, both mean child lover. Is there a difference in their connotation? In some recent local news stories that discuss changing sex offender laws, ...
13
votes
2answers
700 views

Is “so” more feminine than “very”?

Many Japanese textbooks of English mention the "feminine 'so'": the use of "so" for "very" is more typical of a feminine speaker. I don't think this is true in the US (I learned English living in ...
12
votes
11answers
1k views

Cases where “mistake” and “error” are not interchangeable

Are there cases where error and mistake are not interchangeable?
12
votes
6answers
1k views

What exactly is the difference between “misinformation” and “disinformation”?

I have checked OALD. I looked up "disinformation" which according to dictionary means "false information that is given deliberately, especially by government organizations" and "Misinform" as a verb ...
12
votes
3answers
6k views

Is there a difference between “leading edge” and “bleeding edge”?

It seems to me that "leading edge" is the more established phrase, while "bleeding edge" is basically the same thing but the user has adapted the phrase for extra (rather meaningless) emphasis. Or is ...