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

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6answers
5k 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
18k 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' ...
12
votes
5answers
14k 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 ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

Difference between “commit suicide” and “suicide”

One of the examples in my English composition book (for learning to write my language's sentences in English) was "Why he committed suicide under such a good circumstance is an unsolved question.", ...
12
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3answers
2k views

How can I distinguish “can” & “can't” from pronunciation?

It's very difficult for me to separate them. I was just listening to some video and it said "Fat cells can’t reproduce themselves." What I thought I've heard is "... CAN reproduce ..." Frankly, ...
12
votes
3answers
5k views

“Between A and B” or “from A to B”

Suppose we are talking about the numbers 1, 2, ... , 10. When we use the phrase between 1 and 10, do we include the end-points 1 and 10? Is there any difference if we say from 1 to 10 instead?
12
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3answers
4k views

What is the difference between “none of …” and “neither of”?

What's the difference between the following examples: Neither of my teachers are mathematicians. None of my teachers are mathematicians.
12
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4answers
516 views

In the context of cooking, what is the difference between “flipper” and “spatula”?

I'm genuinely confused about this because at first I thought a spatula was a cooking tool resembling a flat pallet attached at an angle to the handle that could be used for activities such as flipping ...
12
votes
3answers
9k 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 ...
12
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4answers
6k 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?
12
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3answers
36k 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?
12
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6answers
3k views

Difference between “run into”, “come upon” and “come across”

These phrasal verbs have a similar meaning (please correct me if not): run into come across come upon Are there any nuances to choose between them? For example, I might be wrong but I mostly see ...
12
votes
5answers
1k views

“Play it as it lays” or “play it as it lies”

The title of Joan Didion's book Play It as It Lays has thrown me off since I first heard it. Shouldn't it be Play It as It Lies? I have read through a related post on the subject of lay vs. lie and ...
12
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6answers
2k views

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

Are there any differences between "update" and "upgrade"?
12
votes
3answers
1k views

“whether” vs. “if ” [duplicate]

How can I know when should I use whether or if in a sentence? I can not see any difference between whether and if. When should I use each? For me, they are the same and I am not sure if there is a ...
12
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the difference in usage between “lethal” and “fatal”?

This cropped up when I was in a conversation with a friend. I guess fatal must talk of something which has necessarily resulted in death, while lethality is more about potential to cause death. Yet I ...
12
votes
3answers
19k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
11k views

“Arab” or “Arabic” or “Arabian”?

Are these adjectives interchangeable? I always hear: 'An Arab man.' but never 'An Arabic man.' and I always hear 'Arabic coffee' but never hear 'Arab coffee.'
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11answers
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“Environmentally-friendly” vs. “Environment-friendly”

"Environmentally-friendly" sounds completely normal to me. So does "Environment-friendly". But I'm pretty sure I favour the former (despite the fact that I normally prefer the shorter of any two ...
12
votes
3answers
4k views

Parentheses vs. double commas vs. dashes to provide additional detail

When do you use commas and when do you use parentheses to provide more detail about something? For example: The suspect, Tom Wilson, is now being charged with murder. The suspect (Tom Wilson) is ...
12
votes
2answers
11k 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. ...
12
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1answer
1k views

“Defense” or “defence”

Is the only difference that in USA they write it with s and in UK they write it with c, or is there anything more?
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votes
5answers
23k 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 ...
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3answers
907 views

What's the difference between a “fen” and a “dale”?

What's the difference between a fen and a dale? Are these words used precisely at all? EDIT: My question comes from this Kipling poem, The Spirit of England; if you'll notice, each couplet, plain ...
11
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3answers
6k views

Is there any difference between “color” and “colour”?

What is the difference between color and colour?
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votes
12answers
29k 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.
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votes
4answers
25k views

Difference between “smart” and “clever”

What is the difference between smart and clever? As far as I understand the latter is offensive. But the Cambrige Dictionary gives similar definitions of smart and clever.
11
votes
4answers
14k views

“Plausible” vs. “possible”

I am looking to find the difference between possible and plausible. Here is what Apple's dictionary gives for each word: Possible: Able to be done; within the power or capacity of someone or ...
11
votes
3answers
8k views

“I am on it” vs. “I am at it”

What are the differences between I am on it and I am at it? What does the latter mean? I found the definition of the former on Urban Dictionary and understand that it means I'm going to solve it ...
11
votes
10answers
37k 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 ...
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votes
9answers
5k 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, ...
11
votes
3answers
11k 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
24k 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 ...
11
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2answers
3k views

Difference between “each” and “every”

What is the difference between the following two sentences? Each apple is red. Every apple is red.
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6answers
9k 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.
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4answers
42k 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.
11
votes
1answer
798 views

Logging in or on?

There are a plethora of words for user accounts, like logon, login, signon, and also the action of logging in (or logging on) or signing in. Are there any usage guidelines here?
11
votes
2answers
7k views

What is the difference between born and borne?

What is the difference between born and borne. Can anyone cite any solid examples?
11
votes
3answers
18k views

Surname, family name and last name

What is the difference between the three terms: surname, family name and last name? Do they mean the same? Or are there any particular contexts wherein one is more appropriate than the other?
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4answers
77k 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?
11
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4answers
4k views

What determines whether a sporting event is a game, match, contest, or something else?

There are many sports and other events that are contested, but why are some contests called matches, like tennis match, golf match, and soccer match, and some contests called a game, like baseball ...
11
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5answers
89k 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 ...
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7answers
7k views

Difference between “canteen” and “cafeteria”

Are there any differences between canteen and cafeteria? In India, usually an eating place attached to an office, factory or school is called a canteen. Of course, in some new offices it is called ...
11
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3answers
4k views

Difference in usage of “regular”, “usual”, “ordinary”, “normal”, “common”

Sometimes it is obvious which of the following words to use, sometimes not: regular usual ordinary normal common For example: "regular coffee" (not usual, normal or ordinary) , "ordinary people" ...
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5answers
4k views

“Known unknown” vs. “unknown known”

I was recently reading a review of Donald Rumsfeld's autobiography. The reviewer cited one of his famous phrases; he quoted it as "unknown known." Now my memory was that the phrase Rumsfeld used was ...
10
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4answers
12k views

What's the difference between the words “plate” and “dish”?

I'm confused about the words dish and plate. Could someone please explain the difference?
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2answers
3k views

What is the difference between “proven” and “proved”?

My question concerns when to use what of the above.
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2answers
7k 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 ...
10
votes
6answers
5k views

Difference between 'decline' and 'decrease'

I have an advanced English student who is stuck on the word 'decline'. I told him 'decline' and 'decrease' are very similar, but are not always interchangeable. It is a business English course and we ...
10
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6answers
7k views

What's the difference between “cup” and “glass”?

Are "cup" and "glass" the same in English? Can I call a "glass" a cup made of plastic?