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

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16
votes
5answers
36k 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"?
16
votes
10answers
110k views

Difference between “OK” and “okay”

While typing a post on SO, I noticed that the word "ok" (when used in the sentence "I'm still learning so it is ok") was marked as misspelled (got to love spellcheck!) The first suggestion, however, ...
15
votes
6answers
4k 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
13k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
5k 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
5answers
3k 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.
15
votes
5answers
38k views

Difference between “theorem” and “theory”

What is the difference between a theorem and a theory? The two words seem to be used to describe very similar things, but yet do not seem to be interchangeable. For example, we have Pythagoras' ...
15
votes
5answers
21k 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.
15
votes
2answers
26k views

Differences between e.g., viz. and i.e.

What are the differences between viz. and eg. and in which situations each is used? Please also compare the usage with i.e. if appropriate. Edit: In response to a comment below: I'm asking this as I ...
15
votes
5answers
88k views

What are “coherence” and “cohesion” in text linguistics?

I am still learning English. My English language professor has given me an assignment on coherence and cohesion. But it seems difficult to me. I've consulted my friend and he told me: Cohesion and ...
15
votes
5answers
33k views

Difference between “pain” and “ache”

What's the difference between pain and ache? I often see the two words used (almost) interchangeably. At the same time the phrase "aches and pains" is pretty common, and seems to suggest that the two ...
15
votes
8answers
88k 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 ...
15
votes
6answers
6k views

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

Are there any differences between "update" and "upgrade"?
15
votes
5answers
28k 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
295k views

Difference between “Warm regards” and “Best regards”

Is there any difference between Warm regards and Best regards?
15
votes
3answers
57k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
7k views

Are “nil” and “null” interchangeable?

Are nil and null interchangeable? For example, My bank a/c has a nil balance. My bank a/c has a null balance.
15
votes
4answers
69k views

Bachelor thesis or Bachelor's thesis

During my final year at university, I wrote what I thought was a "bachelor thesis". Right before printing it I stumbled upon several documents stating the name "bachelor's thesis". (Here we do not ...
14
votes
5answers
62k views

“To be subject to” vs. “to be subjected to”

I read an article from Toronto Star today which stated: TTC workers are subject to alcohol and drug testing. A later paragraph of the same article repeated it, except it used subjected to ...
14
votes
6answers
46k 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
4k 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?
14
votes
12answers
101k views

What's the difference between pronunciation and enunciation?

What's the difference between pronunciation and enunciation? I learned this a long time ago in English class but forgot what it was. Clarification For example, Wikipedia says: Good enunciation ...
14
votes
5answers
17k 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
71k views

What is the difference between “accumulative” and “cumulative”?

I'm having a hard time understanding the real distinction between accumulative and cumulative. accumulative adjective tending to accumulate or arising from accumulation; cumulative. ...
14
votes
4answers
7k views

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

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

Past tense of wake: is there a difference between “waked”, and “woke”?

I just stumbled over the verb "to wake", which according to various sources has two valid forms for the past tense: "woke" and "waked". Some further research stated, that there seem to be two (Old / ...
14
votes
4answers
123k 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.
14
votes
2answers
47k views

“Covered with” vs. “covered in” vs. “covered by”

I want to find out the differences in meaning among covered by, covered in, and covered with. For example, what is the difference between: covered with blood covered in blood or the ...
14
votes
7answers
18k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
56k views

What are the distinctions between “authoritarian”, “totalitarian”, and “dictatorial”?

I'm giving a talk about technology (specifically the Internet) in various governments where freedoms are strongly constrained. I'm a technologist, and I have little experience with words used to ...
14
votes
6answers
31k views

Difference between “movie”, “film” and “motion picture”

What is the difference between movie, film and motion picture? In school I learned that a movie is played in a cinema, but film is also used to describe this.
14
votes
2answers
20k views

“Stack” vs. “pile” vs. “heap” of paper

What is the difference between stack, pile or heap of something, let it be for example paper? CS+IT people might tend to use the word heap, because there is a widely known datastructure by that name. ...
14
votes
6answers
213k views

Difference between “supposedly” and “supposably”

What is the difference between supposedly and supposably? Both are real words but seem to have confusingly similar definitions. Supposably: Capable of being supposed : conceivable ...
14
votes
2answers
19k views

What is the difference between born and borne?

What is the difference between born and borne. Can anyone cite any solid examples?
14
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
83k views

Get hold of, get ahold of, get a hold of

Under what circumstances would you prefer one of the following over the other two? Get hold of Get ahold of Get a hold of
13
votes
6answers
10k 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 ...
13
votes
9answers
25k 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
12answers
100k views

Difference between “slacks”, “pants”, and “trousers”?

I wonder what differences are between usage of slacks, pants, and trousers? Their meanings seem the same by looking up Google’s Internet dictionary and Wikipedia.
13
votes
7answers
15k views

What's the difference between 'just' and 'fair'?

What's the difference between 'just' and 'fair'? OED gives slightly different definitions, but they are not distinct enough as to be clear (to me). Is the difference simply idiomatic, or is there a ...
13
votes
4answers
12k views

“Baggage” versus “luggage”

I have the feeling that luggage is more closely associated with vacation travel, whereas baggage is for general transportation. Or... are they just exact synonyms?
13
votes
5answers
57k views

Is there a difference between “holiday” and “vacation”?

What is the difference, if any, between these two words?
13
votes
3answers
5k 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 . ...
13
votes
10answers
17k views

Difference between “question” and “query”

What is the difference between a question and a query? It seems that in certain circumstances, the words are interchangeable: I have one further question. I have one further query. But, ...
13
votes
3answers
19k views

Difference between “sorcerer” and “wizard”

What is the difference between sorcerer and wizard? I know that the nomenclature is unclear. However, the common usage seems to indicate: a wizard is born an ordinary mortal, learns magic and ...
13
votes
4answers
15k views

Readable vs legible

Could you explain what is a difference between readable vs legible? Which should I use when I want to say "This diagram is easily readable/legible" while meaning - "It is very easy to read and ...
13
votes
9answers
38k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
39k views

What is the difference between “metaphorical”, “allegorical”, and “figurative”?

What is the difference between metaphorical, allegorical, and figurative?
13
votes
2answers
35k views

What is the difference between metonymy and synecdoche?

What is the difference between metonymy and synecdoche?
13
votes
5answers
11k views

“Use” vs. “usage”

When should one use usage instead of use? Examples?