Questions related to English vocabulary, forms, phrases, and syntax that is now more commonly seen in written literature than in everyday speech.

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4
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3answers
247 views

Collective noun for lightning(s) / thunderbolts

What is the collective noun for lightning(s) / thunderbolts? A ____ of thunderbolts/lightning(s) Can we use the plural form of lightning with a collective noun? Or should it stay in singular ...
5
votes
3answers
250 views

Semantic shift in “around”

I'm interested in the use of "around" as a synomym for "about, concerning, related to", which doesn't seem to be recorded in current dictionaries. I'd call it an academic/pseudo-academic usage and ...
3
votes
1answer
182 views

Meaning of “bile” from Great Expectations

In the book Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the character Joe tells Pip, “Somebody must keep the pot a biling, Pip, or the pot won’t bile, don't you know?” What does the word bile mean in ...
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1answer
46 views

Use of “nay” - still current?

I get the sense that the interjection nay is seen as outdated and used only for humorous effect. Is this assumption true, or is it still acceptable in serious writing?
2
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1answer
234 views

Is “oftener” obsolete?

Does any native speaker of the English Language ever use oftener instead of more often?
4
votes
2answers
122 views

Is the word, “kinda-sorta” accepted as a normal word to be used in writing?

I was drawn to the word, “kinda, sorta” which appeared in the article of Time magazine (April 27) under the headline, “The Clippers Should Have Boycotted Game After Owner’s Racist Remarks”: The ...
0
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2answers
46 views

Can “lackadaisical” be used in literature?

Has lackadaisical ever been used in literary works? My Oxford Dictionary of Quotations has no quotation that includes this word. Who first used lackadaisical in the 1760s as the OED claims?
5
votes
3answers
426 views

Why are foreign words used in modern vernacular?

Why are seemingly foreign words such as hors d’œuvres, maître d’, garçon, and Gesundheit used in American vernacular?
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3answers
163 views

Is there any archaic word for “finally”?

So I was wondering whether there is any archaic word that means "finally" or "at last"?
3
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2answers
91 views

Word that describes a dramatic device that disrupts equilibrium

I am seeking a word, should it indeed exist, that describes a dramatic or literary device found when a new character is introduced into a story which disrupts the natural equilibrium, driving the ...
2
votes
2answers
73 views

Does the phase “what's an honest man to do?” have a specific literary origin, or is it simply a common-usage rhetorical question?

I have seen the phrase used in this form or as a template for other rhetorical questions - e.g., "what's an honest economist to do?"; "what's an honest business owner to do?";"what's an honest ...
5
votes
7answers
450 views

Searching for a rare word for “something taken as truth due to having been repeated so much”

I'm searching for a certain single, rare, literary word meaning "something taken as truth due to having been repeated so much". This "something" could be either true or false. It is not necessarily ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is quixotic pronounced as it is?

Since "quixotic" was coined with Don Quixote as its basis, why is it pronounced "kwicks-OTT-ick" when it should by rights/origin be pronounced "Key-HO-tick"? It even sounds more onomatopoeiatic the ...
2
votes
6answers
5k views

Words that describe food and eating [closed]

I'm writing a piece that relates to food and eating and am looking for adjectives that describe both. I just picked up the word prandial and that piqued my interest. Are there any similar words out ...
4
votes
2answers
671 views

What does “a woman of mean understanding” mean?

In the end of the first chapter of Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice, Mrs. Bennet is described as a "woman of mean understanding". On the Web, I found two meanings: of little knowledge bad temper ...
0
votes
1answer
221 views

Capitalization of certain terms in English Literature

In English literature, improper capitalization of some phrases is common. A friend of mine calls them 'Milnesian Capitals'. These tend to be used in late 19th early 20th century British writings. ...
1
vote
3answers
502 views

How to use “learn you” [closed]

While I was reading "The Adventures of Tom sawyer",I came across this phrase. Huck said ,"I will learn you." Is it right to say like that?Or we should say "I will learn from you"?
1
vote
1answer
569 views

Use of “many good wishes 'to carry with you'”

In "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" there is two times this phrase: "many good wishes to carry with you": And the Winkies gave them three cheers and many good wishes to carry with them. But he at once ...
2
votes
1answer
90 views

Does “the cornet of horse” mean a knight/rider? [closed]

The original sentence: The first that stood up, to open the ball, were a cornet of horse, and that sweetest of olive-beauties, the soft and amorous Louisa. ...
2
votes
3answers
182 views

What word describes the shape of a whirlwind when seen from above?

What word describes the shape of a whirlwind when seen from above? Swirl Whorl Radial The shape they make when seen from above resembles a radial pattern or even a whorl.
0
votes
2answers
178 views

Is the phrase “breed of men” weird or just different?

Forgive me for asking two questions in a single post, but I think it would make more sense to post them together. So please indulge me. Sentence: He is not unique. We should be able to discover such ...
1
vote
2answers
321 views

Usage of 'on the brink of'

(Talking about a chimp): "In human age, he would have been on the brink of puberty." I was told that this sentence is odd because 'be on the brink of' is usually used for something negative: ...