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

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3answers
27k views

What is the difference between metonymy and synecdoche?

What is the difference between metonymy and synecdoche?
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6answers
6k 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 ...
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5answers
2k 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
votes
4answers
19k 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
25k views

“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
2answers
33k 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?
12
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3answers
44k views

“Egoistic” vs. “egotistic” [closed]

Does "egoistic" and "egotistic" mean the same thing?
12
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4answers
5k 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.
12
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4answers
19k views

What is the difference between “clothes” and “clothing”?

Do some google I find that clothes work like objects like: You should pack your clothes. → Yes You should pack your clothing. → No Can you tell me the main difference between clothing ...
12
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4answers
8k views

What is the distinction between “role” and “rôle” [with a circumflex]?

One of our users, Stan Rogers, mentioned there was such a distinction, I think, when he answered a question and talked about how the orthography of foreign loan-words typically changes to conform with ...
11
votes
3answers
1k 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? My question comes from Kipling’s poem The Spirit of England; if you'll notice, each couplet, plain and hill, ...
11
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3answers
10k views

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

What is the difference between color and colour?
11
votes
4answers
44k 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
3answers
12k 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
6answers
2k views

Can “crepuscular” and/or “twilight” apply to morning half-light as well as in the evening

I know that's "sorta" two questions in one, but I'm stuck in an argument with a guy who says both words can apply to morning half-light. I disagree and think both only apply in the evening. I think ...
11
votes
6answers
140k 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.
11
votes
3answers
3k views

Is there a difference between “eatable” and “edible”?

I thought only edible was correct, even Google suggested edible when I did a search to see which one was more popular on the internet: Edible: 17.2 million Eatable: 2.2 million The first results ...
11
votes
4answers
947 views

Are “smell like” and “smell of” the same?

Is there any difference between smell like and smell of? I came across this sentence in the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary: My hands smell like (US) / of (UK) onion. But I'm not really ...
11
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4answers
19k 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?
11
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4answers
5k views

Difference between “due to” and “thanks to”

When should "due to" be preferred over "thanks to", and vice versa? When can they be used interchangeably?
11
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3answers
4k views

What's the difference between a murder and an assassination? [closed]

I am unsure what the technical difference is between a murder and an assassination. Instinctively I feel it's to do with the victim - perhaps their fame? Royalty? What is the distinction between the ...
11
votes
5answers
49k views

What is the difference between 'can', 'could', 'may' and 'might'?

I'm a native English speaker and I've been doing some research into English grammar for a programme I'm working on. However, on looking into modal verbs, I've only just come to appreciate how subtle ...
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4answers
8k 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?
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3answers
3k views

Why is “a couple of <things>” often shortened to “a couple <things>”?

I would write a couple of . I often read/hear a couple . I assumed this was an American English thing (I'm British), and just a convenient shortening of the phrase for speaking. It's easier to say a ...
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3answers
9k 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.
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4answers
66k 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 ...
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5answers
13k views

What's the difference between “these” and “those”?

First of all, I'm not a native English speaker, but in school I learned that these is used if referring to something near, and those is used when referring to something far away (temporally or ...
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4answers
27k views

“I like to do (be) something” vs “I like doing (being) something”

This is what I read in an answer to a previous question: Verbs Followed by Either Gerund or Infinitive Sometimes the meaning changes according to the verb used. <…> (dis)like ...
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5answers
52k 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?
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9answers
22k 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 ...
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4answers
9k views

“Postpone”, “delay” and “defer”

I'm Russian and in the Russian language we use one word if we want to say that something will happen later than it has been planned. So usually I have difficulty in choosing a proper word among ...
11
votes
1answer
2k 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
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3answers
17k views

Difference between “classical” and “classic”

What's the difference between classical and classic? Should we say classic content in textbooks or classical content in textbooks?
11
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4answers
49k views

Semantic difference between “engine” and “motor” [closed]

Is there a semantic difference between engine and motor? In some cases, would the use of one or the other word be technically incorrect?
11
votes
5answers
46k views

What is the difference between “speaking” and “talking”?

It seems more politically correct to say that someone is speaking rather than talking. What is the definitive difference between these terms?
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3answers
27k views

Difference between phrase, idiom and expression [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the difference between an expression and a phrase? Difference between “phrase” and “idiom” What is the difference between a phrase, an ...
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3answers
16k views

Difference between “choose” and “select”

These two words are often used interchangeably and the greatest difference I can find between the two is "choose" for choosing multiple items from a set, and "select" for selecting a single item from ...
11
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4answers
9k views

“Use” vs. “usage”

When should one use usage instead of use? Examples?
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3answers
15k views

Difference between “packet”, “parcel” and “package”

The definition on OALD is identical for parcel and packet. parcel (especially British English) (North American English usually package) something that is wrapped in paper or put into a thick ...
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4answers
57k 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 ...
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2answers
10k 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?
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3answers
3k views

Difference between 'later' and 'later on'

Is there any difference between the usage of 'later' and 'later on'? I'll see you later. I'll finish it later on.
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3answers
6k 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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4answers
4k views

“Paradise” vs. “heaven”

What is the difference in use between "paradise" and "heaven"? I feel that heaven is more spiritual, something that probably couldn't even be imagined. When you say paradise, you can denote something ...
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votes
5answers
6k 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 ...
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17answers
23k views

Difference between “game” and “sport”

Can any one tell me for meaning about the difference between game and sport in the broadest context possible? I mean, Magic: The Gathering tournament play is still a game, while hunting is ...
10
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4answers
28k views

What's the difference between “yet another” and “another”?

What's the difference between yet another and another?
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10answers
28k views

“Integrity” vs. “honesty”—what's the difference?

In what situations would you say that someone "has integrity" as opposed to "behaves with honesty"? For instance, if an employee is meticulous about reporting his hours, does he have integrity or is ...
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6answers
7k 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
votes
4answers
5k views

Difference between “garbage” and “trash”?

What's the difference between garbage and trash? Is the difference significant?