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

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12
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4answers
10k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
41k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
27k 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 ...
12
votes
6answers
12k 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
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 ...
12
votes
4answers
18k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
47k views

What's the difference between “cardinal” and “ordinal” as adjectives?

What's the difference between describing a number or place as cardinal versus ordinal? They both seem to have to do with the order of things. For example, when saying "He is the first in his class", ...
12
votes
4answers
32k 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.'
12
votes
6answers
57k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
13k views

“Broadcast” or “broadcasted”

I'm not a native English speaker, so sorry if this is a very basic question. Is broadcast a verb? If it is, what is the simple past and past participle: broadcasted?
12
votes
11answers
30k 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
5answers
70k views

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

Can anyone explain the difference between by contrast and in contrast?
12
votes
4answers
41k views

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

I am interested in the difference between these two seemingly synonymous terms.
12
votes
1answer
3k views

Concatenate vs. Catenate

What is the difference between concatenate and catenate? Are the words interchangeable? concatenate: 1. To connect or link in a series or chain. 2. Computer Science To arrange (strings of ...
12
votes
3answers
6k 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.
12
votes
2answers
210 views

Much and many: the opposite of less - fewer debate?

This morning, I corrected my little son on his use of much. I don't have much Star Wars guys. He seems to use this word quite frequently in place of many, although he doesn't often use many in ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

'Nobody' vs 'No body' [closed]

What is the difference between Nobody and No body? Both have same meaning. Nobody is used as a pronoun. For example, Nobody is going there. Nobody as a noun. For example, He became Nobody ...
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
votes
17answers
51k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
3k 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
votes
6answers
15k views

What is the difference between “citizen” and “denizen”

Citizen: 1. A legally recognized subject ornational of a state or commonwealth, either native or naturalized. 2. An inhabitant of a particular town or city. Denizen: 1. An inhabitant or occupant of a ...
11
votes
3answers
5k 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
3answers
60k 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.
11
votes
3answers
19k 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
25k views

When would you say “woods”, and when would you say “forest”?

Is there any difference here at all?
11
votes
5answers
17k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
44k views

Difference between “I've added” and “I added”

Could anybody describe me difference between I've added and I added?
11
votes
8answers
23k 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?
11
votes
3answers
27k 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
votes
3answers
63k views

“Give up” versus “give in”

Do give up and give in imply different meanings?
11
votes
3answers
8k views

When should I use “corpuses” over “corpora”?

I've come into a situation where I need to use the plural form of corpus, but I'm a bit confused about which plural form to use. Merriam-Webster says the only plural form is corpora, for all senses ...
11
votes
2answers
8k views

Is there any difference between “switch” and “swap”?

Is there any difference between switch and swap?
11
votes
3answers
51k views

What's the difference between “imbalance” and “unbalance”?

Is there a difference in usage between imbalance and unbalance as nouns? Specifically, we are designing a product where we measure three (3) related quantities continuously. These three quantities ...
11
votes
5answers
20k views

Differences between “propensity”, “predilection” and “proclivity”

Propensity, predilection and proclivity all have the meaning of tendency, so what's the difference? Are they interchangeable?
11
votes
2answers
12k views

Difference between “partly” and “partially”

What is the difference between partly and partially? An example of usage for each word would be great.
11
votes
3answers
3k views

“Backward” versus “backwards” — is there any difference?

The dictionaries I've looked in don't distinguish between these two words, backward and backwards (at least when used as adverbs). Is there some real historical, grammatical or regional difference ...
11
votes
4answers
7k 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 ...
11
votes
6answers
22k views

What is the difference between “to oblige” and “to obligate”?

What's the difference between oblige and obligate? Speculating, is the latter an Americanism of the British former? Or is there any distinction about what/who has caused someone to be oblig(at)ed to ...
11
votes
3answers
43k views

Difference between “are you done” and “have you done.”

I was just wondering, how can we differentiate "are you done?" and "have you done?", and what is the appropriate way to use each?
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votes
5answers
10k 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
votes
4answers
741 views

“I park my car in the yard”

What is the origin of the different pronunciation of words like park, yard, cartoon, margarine in American and British English? In other words, why doesn’t British English generally pronounce the r ...
10
votes
10answers
43k 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 ...
10
votes
6answers
11k 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
1k views

Ambiguous connotation of “just” - How do natives interpret these?

First of all, these questions are a bit related but not what I'm actually asking about: Is “I just spent all my money” grammatically incorrect? “I just ate them” and “I've just eaten them” - What's ...
10
votes
5answers
7k views

Difference between “laconic” and “concise”?

Those two words both seem to be about using a few words/a few steps to do something.
10
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5answers
1k views

“Faster, not sooner”

Over the weekend, I watched a talking head on TV saying the following sentence. An economic recovery will come faster, not sooner. I can't make proper sense of this as both are synonymous to me. ...
10
votes
3answers
9k views

What's the difference between “rock” and “stone”?

What's the difference between "rock" and "stone"?
10
votes
3answers
4k views

What is the difference between Backronym and Acronym?

Are Backronym and Acronym same? I don't understand the difference between these two terms.
10
votes
5answers
26k views

Difference in “capable” and “able”

What is the difference in being physically capable and physically able? When would one choose one over the other?