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

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31
votes
4answers
39k views

“Unselect” or “Deselect”?

If I want the user to revert their operation of selecting an item, should I say: "Unselect the option" or "Deselect the option"?
14
votes
6answers
145k 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 ...
38
votes
6answers
4k views

“For all it's worth” or “for all its worth”?

Should I put an apostrophe in "for all its worth"? The meaning comes to about the same thing either way, as far as I can make out, and it seems like "it's" is more popular. But is there an accepted ...
28
votes
3answers
122k views

What's the difference between “eldest” and “oldest”?

When should I use "eldest" and when should I use "oldest"? Are the differences semantic or regional? (Or both?) (What got me wondering is the removeEldestEntry() method in Java's LinkedHashMap ...
19
votes
5answers
24k 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
10k views

“Extensible” vs. “extendible”

Where does the adjective form extensible come from and does it connote anything different than extendible? What's the difference, if any, between the two?
14
votes
6answers
4k views

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

Are there any differences between "update" and "upgrade"?
13
votes
2answers
15k 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. ...
11
votes
3answers
8k 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
3answers
16k 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?
9
votes
3answers
28k views

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

What is the difference between metaphorical, allegorical, and figurative?
9
votes
3answers
18k views

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

I am interested in the difference between these two seemingly synonymous terms.
8
votes
4answers
529 views

Is lolspeak bad English, or just a different English?

Is lolspeak / internet speak (such as "plz send teh codez") bad English, or a different English? I can't really describe what'd be "bad", but a lack of consistency would be an indicator it's bad.
5
votes
2answers
5k views

Why do we say “right-hand side”?

This question is in reference to the use of the word "hand" in "right-hand side" (and applies equally to the left). My question is what does "right-hand side" say/imply that "right side" doesn't?
5
votes
7answers
13k views

What is the difference between “probably” and “possibly”? [closed]

Recently I saw the movie "Pursuit of Happyness", which is actually quite good, and I noticed the actor (Will Smith) asking the difference between probably and possibly to his son. So I would like to ...
5
votes
1answer
971 views

Is there a real difference between wait and await?

In the context of the discussion in this blog post and comments on using await as a keyword for a potentially asynchronous operation in C#5, I wondered if there is any real difference between await ...
25
votes
6answers
9k views

What is the difference between “archetype” and “prototype”?

I'm very confused by the difference between "archetype" and "prototype", and even more baffled when to use which. Can someone clarify?
14
votes
7answers
37k 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
1answer
3k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
15k 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 ...
13
votes
4answers
75k 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.
12
votes
9answers
10k 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
14k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
11k views

“Dependence” vs. “dependency”

These are two words that have baffled me for long. Dependency is given as 'excessive dependence' in Chambers, but I would love to know how the spoken usage is. My guess is dependency has a political ...
9
votes
5answers
4k views

Difference between “laconic” and “concise”?

Those two words both seem to be about using a few words/a few steps to do something.
8
votes
3answers
13k views

What's the difference between “day” and “date”?

Day may refer to: the day of the week (e.g., Monday, Tuesday); the day of the month (e.g, 2nd day of February); a unit of time (e.g., this task would take 2 days to complete). A date on the other ...
8
votes
5answers
39k views

What is the difference between “by contrast” and “in contrast?”

Can anyone explain the difference between by contrast and in contrast?
7
votes
5answers
24k views

Difference between “accountability” and “responsibility”

I've looked them up in many dictionaries, it seems the two words have the same meaning, right? I don't know when we use each of them properly.
7
votes
2answers
8k views

Difference between “partly” and “partially”

What is the difference between partly and partially? An example of usage for each word would be great.
6
votes
3answers
2k views

Froth, foam, lather or suds?

I know this topic is unlikely to pique any native speaker's curiosity, but bear with me, I am trying to learn the difference between froth, foam, lather and suds. I feel these terms are not always ...
6
votes
6answers
4k views

“Solution to” vs. “solution of ”

What is the difference between saying solution to the problem and saying solution of the problem? Are they both equivalent, or is there some difference?
4
votes
1answer
2k views

Difference between 'decided on' and 'decided to'?

Examples: I have decided on a blue carpet for the bedroom. I have decided to emigrate to Australia. What exactly is the difference between "decided on" and "decided to"? Is the usage simply based on ...
3
votes
2answers
8k views

Difference between 'just' and 'only'

'Just' and 'only' carry a similar meaning, and while my feel for language usually helps me decide which one to use, there are times when I'm at a loss. From my understanding, 'just' is used as a ...
3
votes
4answers
615 views

Past conditional statements

What is the difference between the following two statements? If I went home for dinner, I took a glass of soft drink. If I went home for dinner, I would take a glass of soft drink. Are both ...
2
votes
3answers
4k views

can't have been vs. couldn't have been

I don't understand when and why to use can't have been. It seems so strange to me.
2
votes
5answers
1k views

How does “among” vs “between” affect the meaning of this sentence from the Times?

I realize that this has been discussed elsewhere on the site, but I was interested in the use of the preposition "among" in a sentence from a story in yesterday's New York Times: Research done by ...
27
votes
8answers
45k views

Distinction: “What can I do you for?” vs. “What can I do for you?”

Usually, when being served the phrase "What can I do for you?" is used but sometimes I also hear "What can I do you for?" in quite the same context. So is there a difference or is it just a slip of ...
18
votes
5answers
2k views

“Infer” vs. “imply” — can “infer” imply “imply”?

Okay that's a crazy title, but bear with me. Got into a good natured discussion with someone on another stack exchange site, and I was "correcting" him on the use of infer vs. imply. (The ...
15
votes
3answers
9k 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 ...
14
votes
6answers
18k 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.
12
votes
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 ...
11
votes
4answers
17k 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?
10
votes
17answers
19k 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
votes
3answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
4answers
2k views

“Just” versus “simply”

To which extent is just interchangeable with simply, as in the example? It's becoming more than just annoying. It's becoming more than simply annoying. Is just synonym of simply in just any ...
7
votes
5answers
41k views

“For the time being” vs. “for now”

Consider the following passages: A litter made of two rifles and two field jackets would suffice for now. That was good news; another bit was that the EPW was a lieutenant, a regimental REMF ...
7
votes
3answers
2k views

Differences between “tutorial”, “guide” and “how-to”

The categorization on Android Wiki looks pretty arbitrary and redundant to me contemplating the single articles in the categories. In every one you find a tutorial, guide and how-to on for example How ...
7
votes
7answers
29k views

Difference between “little” and “small”

Is there a difference between them? If so, how and when are they used? For example: I fixed a little/small typo.
6
votes
3answers
9k views

“Homeland” vs. “motherland” vs. “fatherland”

What is the distinction between homeland, motherland and fatherland? Is there any difference in meaning of such terms? When it comes to connotations are there any differences, except for the ...