This tag is for questions concerning the written representation of the English language, especially spelling and word breaks (including hyphenation).

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7
votes
3answers
34k views

Difference between “publicly” and “publically”

I know publically appears as an incorrect spelling in most dictionaries (in fact as I type this up on my Safari browser it keeps trying to correct the spelling to publicly). However I have seen the ...
2
votes
4answers
9k views

Are there regional distinctions in how hiccup/hiccough is spelled?

So I was a student of English was taught English right on the border between the US and Canada. My husband (who is from the Southwestern states) was reading something I wrote where I used the ...
0
votes
0answers
25 views

English spelling/pronunciation example [migrated]

I think most of us can agree, English pronunciation vs spelling (vs conjugation) is strange: Read (present tense) Read (past tense) Red (color) Reed (plant) contrast with Lead (direct, present ...
5
votes
1answer
217 views

Relaxed Pronunciation

As a court reporter & supervisor for 34 years our rule of thumb in the transcription of evidence, many people relax their pronunciation whilst on the stand, such as "gotta, kinda" but we've always ...
0
votes
1answer
33 views

How would you write B1 in dialogue?

Are there any rules regarding how to write model numbers or serial numbers in dialogue? For example, B1. "B one." "B1." Or "B-one."
7
votes
2answers
612 views

Why does “agree” only have one “g”?

According to Webster, "Agree" comes from Latin's ad + gratus. However there are other words such as "aggregate" and "aggression" that also come from ad + [something], and these words have a double "g" ...
29
votes
8answers
27k views

Plurals of acronyms, letters, numbers — use an apostrophe or not?

When I was in high school back in the 1970s, I was taught that to make a plural of an acronym, a letter, or a number, one should add an apostrophe and "s". Like I would have written this sentence, ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

Why does the letter ‘o’ appear in the word ‘people’?

My two daughters demanded to know this. I speculated that it was artificially inserted, perhaps in the 17th-18th century, perhaps to make the word look more like populus, somewhat similar to the way ...
1
vote
2answers
3k views

Does the word “Vaccum” exist?

If yes, does it have the same meaning of vacuum? Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum http://www.vaccum.org/ Both the sites define the same meaning, but the spelling differs. Some ...
3
votes
2answers
55 views

Why are *accept* and *except* commonly misspelled as each other? Are they homophones?

Why are accept and except commonly confused for each other when writing? This is unlike most cases, where misspellings come from homophones. In my idiolect at least, accept is /ək.'sɛpt/, and except ...
2
votes
1answer
37 views

how should makeup be written?

By "makeup", I mean cosmetics, as in lipstick, foundation, eyeliner, etc. My assumption is that it should be written as "makeup", but others have suggested "make up" or "make-up". In case there are ...
2
votes
1answer
154 views

Is “teen-ager” correct? Still used? Etymology?

I was reading an article in The New York Times published in 1990 and came across the spelling of teenager as 'teen-ager'; is this American spelling? Archaic? The young man, who often said he only ...
2
votes
3answers
443 views

When did “Pensylvania” become “Pennsylvania”?

On the Liberty Bell, it's spelled Pensylvania. Likewise on plenty of maps from the colonial days. When did it become Pennsylvania (with three n's)?
0
votes
1answer
28 views

“high-reliable”, “highly reliable”, or something else?

There was a discussion with my colleagues about a paper that I am currently writing and in which I use phrases like "a high-reliable system architecture". Some of my colleagues hold the view that this ...
0
votes
2answers
8k views

“Wear off” or “ware off”

Iv'e seen both spellings of the phrase. Is one correct and the other incorrect or are they both acceptable? Does one belong to British English?
3
votes
1answer
689 views

How to use hyphens appropriately when listing multiple hyphenated terms?

If multiple hyphenated terms share the same latter half, and I wish to list them without repeating that latter half, how should the hyphens be placed? For example: I will be investigating control ...
8
votes
2answers
3k views

“Sign in”, “signin” or “sign-in”

Which is correct: sign in, signin or sign-in when used as a noun and also as a verb?
1
vote
1answer
80 views

Why is “threshold” pronounced “thresh-hold”?

Why is threshold pronounced "thresh-hold"?
0
votes
4answers
71 views

“woman” or “women” as a stand-in for the adjective “female”? [closed]

As in, Emily Dickinson was a great woman poet or Emily Dickinson was a great women poet in order to mean Emily Dickinson was a great female poet Think I may have seen this adjectival ...
6
votes
4answers
5k views

Why does English spelling use silent letters?

Why have a letter in a word when it’s silent in pronunciation, like the b in debt? Can anyone please clarify my uncertainty here?
8
votes
2answers
16k views

Spelling “Yeah” and “Yea”

When I read the words "yea" or "yeah", each spelling can mean two different things. An exclamation of joy, as in, Yea[h] for ice cream!` Assent, like "yep" or "yes", as in, Yea[h], ...
12
votes
2answers
3k views

“Oestrogen” and “oesophagus” — why are they spelled differently in British English?

Within Biology, there are some biological terms that differ in spelling between the British English and American English dictionaries. For example, oestrogen and oesophagus, as well as the word ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Wer, wie, was, wieso, weshalb, warum, all start with W in German. In English they don't, why?

Wer, wie, was, wieso, weshalb, warum. Wer nicht fragt bleibt dumm. This is the theme song to the German Sesame Street, IIRC It roughly translates to: Who, how, what, why, why ,why. If you ...
5
votes
5answers
3k views

“Bald Faced Lie” vs. “Bold Faced Lie”

Which of these is correct? What is the origin of this expression? I've searched here on the exchange and haven't found an answer.
3
votes
4answers
5k views

Is it “dent” or “dint”?

It seems both dent and dint can mean an impression or hollow in a surface. Is there a reason for the two spellings? Do they have different connotations?
8
votes
6answers
10k views

What's the difference between “adviser” and “advisor” — are both interchangeable?

I work for a financial services provider and we deal with "Financial Advisors" all the time. Increasingly, I'm seeing people send emails and so forth with the term "Financial Adviser" and the terms ...
1
vote
1answer
35 views

siphon vs. syphon - any reason to prefer one over the other?

I've come across two spellings for this word. Siphon and syphon are apparently both correct. English is not my first language and this word is not used often in practice, especially in written form. I ...
20
votes
11answers
21k views

“Synced” or “synched”

Which is correct: synced or synched? Is one of these American and the other British spelling or are they interchangeable? I have only ever seen sync used in the computing industry.
2
votes
1answer
39 views

In a combination of two vowels (such as “ae”), what rule determines if the first (“a”) or second (“e”) is silent?

In a combination of two vowels (such as "ae"), what English rule determines if the first ("a") or second ("e") is silent? For example, in the word "praetor", the vowel "a" is silent but in the word ...
0
votes
1answer
83 views

Is this a portmanteau, contraction, or perhaps both?

I have chosen to edit this post because it apparently has offended some of the more sensitive among us. While, personally, I feel this should prompt discourse rather than down votes, I do not wish to ...
2
votes
2answers
63 views

When, and why, did breaks become brakes?

Reading an account of the Round Oak Train Crash, I came across this passage:- A good deal of suspicion, to say the least of it, must fall upon the hind guard, Frederick Cook, as to the mode in ...
-1
votes
0answers
68 views

Is it “board game”, “boardgame” or “board-game”

Which of the following words is correct?: Board game Boardgame Board-game
9
votes
5answers
13k views

“Smooths” versus “Smoothes”

I am interested in the rapid rise (since about 1993) in frequency of the spelling smoothes as against smooths. An Ngram Viewer graph tracking the frequency of usage of the two words from 1800 to ...
3
votes
5answers
39k views

How do we differentiate long vowels from short vowels in English

I was finding a school for my toddler. I saw this new theory called long vowels and short vowels The teacher talk about apple, which she read something like "eiple" and the hat, which she claims use ...
6
votes
1answer
376 views

Processor vs Processer

Is there any difference between "processor" and "processer"? Some spelling dictionaries only have the -or form, and some have both. Is it a US vs UK English thing? Or something else? More ...
-1
votes
1answer
810 views

“Bazaar” vs. “bazar”

Which of bazaar or bazar is better to use for the domain name of specialised marketplace? Both are available according to the dictionaries. Any advice which of these two is better to use in the URL? ...
12
votes
4answers
396 views

When quoting speakers of another English dialect than your own, should you spell things their way?

I realize (or realise?) I may be splitting hairs here, but I find this question interesting, and I’ve never heard or seen it discussed before. I was about to post a quote from Rich Hickey outside my ...
1
vote
0answers
41 views

Should I preserve spelling when quoting American English in a British English text, or vice versa? [duplicate]

Suppose I am writing an (academic) text in British English, but have to quote a text from an author who writes in American English. Should I preserve the author's original spelling, or convert it to ...
2
votes
3answers
5k views

Fermentor vs Fermenter

I am curious to know the correct usage of these words as it seems to be misused often. See http://meta.homebrew.stackexchange.com/q/202/59 for a related question.
2
votes
2answers
817 views

“Healthcare” or “Health care”?

Healthcare or Health care ? Which one is correct?
2
votes
2answers
13k views

What is “Oki-doki” or “Oki-dokie” or “Okay-dokay”

Okay, since now we know what is the origin of OK (I like the Oll Korrect version), I have another question about it's relative: What is an "Oki-doki" or "Oki-dokie" or "Okay-dokay"? What is the ...
0
votes
1answer
40 views

Best ways to write thoughts in narrative

I would normally put a thought in a narrative in quotation marks, but it becomes boring and stilted to continually write, thought Mary, or thought John. A thought normally would have a different ...
1
vote
2answers
46 views

Why are there two different ways to spell “expediter”?

There seems to be two different ways to spell "expediter": expediter expeditor A quick Google search reveals a nearly equal split between the two spellings. Are the two spellings specific to a ...
0
votes
3answers
72 views

Do you hand something over or off?

I am looking for the correct American English expression and spelling. My particular context is that I am responsible for something precious, which I give to somebody else, who is then responsible ...
13
votes
4answers
912 views

Why is “wavelength” one word when “wave height” isn't?

Why is “wavelength” one word when “wave height” isn't? As another example, wave speed is two words. But wavelength is only one word. What is the reason for this? In Swedish and other contructs, ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

“Parametrise” or “parameterise” a curve?

In British English, which one is correct? Does one parameterise a curve or parametrise it?
0
votes
0answers
12 views

Is it possible to use a hyphen in a listing (in a sentence) for abbreviation, even if the compound word consists of two separate words [duplicate]

I'm currently asking myself if it is possible to use "-" for abbreviation in a listing in a sentence to emphasize the togetherness of the previous words and the word in the end, even if they are two ...
5
votes
1answer
4k views

“Exercise” but not “exercize”

Many words are spelled with -ise in British English and -ize in American English: realise/realize sanitise/sanitize scrutinise/scrutinize But exercise can only be spelled with -ise, never with ...
0
votes
0answers
31 views

“e” before “i” in the word “weird” [duplicate]

In elementary school, I was taught the rhyme: "i" before "e" except after "c", and in words like "neighbor" and "weigh" Obviously this means that "ei" is used in "deceive" (it comes after "c") ...
0
votes
4answers
145 views

“Linder” or “linnder” for lunch/dinner

We have plans for a late lunch / early dinner planned for 4:00 pm in mid December. I would like to indicate that it's more than lunch and less than dinner. I have heard it called linder or ...