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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

15
votes
5answers
45k 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
3answers
10k 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 / ...
15
votes
7answers
120k views

Difference between “full professional proficiency” and “native or bilingual proficiency”

When I logged on to LinkedIn the other day, I was prompted to add information about which language I speak and at which level. I consider myself to be pretty fluent both in written and spoken English, ...
15
votes
3answers
77k views

What is the difference between optimal and optimum? [closed]

My question is exactly as the title says. Someone used "optimum" in an email to me and in my response I used "optimal," so I began wondering what the difference between them is.
15
votes
8answers
125k 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
4answers
27k views

What is the difference between “special” and “especial”?

I can decide accurately which to use in a given context, but I can't make out the actual difference in definition between "special" and "especial". I have searched two authoritative dictionaries to no ...
15
votes
6answers
17k views

“Use” vs. “usage”

When should one use usage instead of use? Examples?
15
votes
5answers
26k views

“Postfix” or “suffix”?

Wikipedia and The Free Dictionary were not much help — is there a practical difference in the semantics of suffix and postfix, except that the latter is more rare? File name extensions are well ...
15
votes
3answers
34k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
12k views

What are: province, territory, protectorate, state…?

Often a country will have regions called "provinces" or "states". Other times they are called "territories" and "protectorates". Is there a generic term for these words? Is there a full list of ...
15
votes
2answers
69k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
44k views

“Whole” vs. “entire”

I wonder if there is a difference between the words "whole" and "entire". For example, the following sentences: I spent my whole life waiting for you. I spent my entire life waiting for you.
15
votes
5answers
40k 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
7answers
25k 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 oft-...
15
votes
1answer
9k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
75k views

“Egoistic” vs. “egotistic” [closed]

Does "egoistic" and "egotistic" mean the same thing?
15
votes
6answers
252k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
34k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
55k views

What's the difference between a picture and an image?

What's the difference between a picture and an image? I think this is the missing question as these have already been asked: Picture/Photo Image/Glyph Photo/Image
15
votes
2answers
4k 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
9answers
37k 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 ...
14
votes
6answers
20k 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?
14
votes
4answers
57k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
27k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
54k views

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

What's the difference between yet another and another?
14
votes
6answers
79k 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
30k 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
5answers
6k 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
10answers
31k 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, ...
14
votes
3answers
27k views

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

What's the difference between the following examples: Neither of my teachers are mathematicians. None of my teachers are mathematicians.
14
votes
5answers
9k views

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

What is the difference between a ghetto and a slum?
14
votes
4answers
24k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
22k views

Which is correct: “home in” or “hone in”?

I've heard people say "Home in on something", but I've also heard others say "Hone in on something". Which is the correct expression, and what is the etymology of these?
14
votes
6answers
4k 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
94k views

When to use “cannot” versus “can't”?

When is it best to write "can't" versus writing "cannot"? Are they interchangeable in every situation?
14
votes
4answers
20k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
38k 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.'
14
votes
3answers
43k 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
4k 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 ...
14
votes
6answers
64k views

What's the difference between “client” and “customer”?

I already asked a similar question (customer vs. client vs. user vs. consumer of on-line service) but, I believe, there may be some differences between technical and legal jargon and general usage of ...
14
votes
5answers
85k 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?
14
votes
3answers
69k views

“Give up” versus “give in”

Do give up and give in imply different meanings?
14
votes
4answers
49k views

What's the difference between “egotism” and “egoism”?

I am interested in the difference between these two seemingly synonymous terms.
14
votes
2answers
28k views

What is the difference between born and borne?

What is the difference between born and borne. Can anyone cite any solid examples?
13
votes
11answers
2k views

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

Are there cases where error and mistake are not interchangeable?
13
votes
4answers
83k 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.
13
votes
7answers
24k 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
5answers
17k views

'Clean' vs 'Clear'

What is their difference? Please provide an example (or two if the use as verb or adjective differentiates their meanings).
13
votes
4answers
36k 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?
13
votes
6answers
6k 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 ...