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

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24
votes
5answers
3k views

Words with a leading silent w

My eldest is a beginning reader. Yesterday we read one of my favorite books, The Wreck of the Zephyr. He pointed at wreck and asked me why that one looked like it said "wuh-reck." I explained that ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

What does “steenking” mean?

I read some source code and came across this sentence: Hopefully it works, and we don't need no steenking BIOS anyway [...] You see the word "steenking" in there. I traced its origin down to the ...
15
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
4k views

Why does a silent “-e” at the end of a word lengthen vowels?

There's a common pattern in English spelling where "short" vowels are pronounced as "long" vowels with the addition of a silent "e" at the end of the word. E.g. bit → bite mat → mate pet → pete ...
4
votes
2answers
132 views

Why is “batting” spelled with two t's, but “combating” spelled with one?

The "bating" in "combating" is pronounced the exact same way as "batting". It doesn't make sense to me.
2
votes
0answers
78 views

Usage of Robo vs Robot [closed]

In my job I'm researching about finance management and advisors. There is a class of software called "Robo Advisors". They are not Robot Advisors, but Robo. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/r/...
0
votes
1answer
86 views

Difference between “birth weight” and “birthweight”

Is there any US/UK English difference in the spellings "birth weight" and "birthweight"? In scientific journals, I have found usage of both spellings. E.g., Overall birth weight is not different for ...
0
votes
2answers
6k views

Is grownup, grown up, or grown-up the correct usage (as a noun)? [closed]

When used as a noun (meaning an adult), is "grownup", "grown up", or "grown-up" more appropriate?
6
votes
2answers
4k views

Is there an online dictionary listing words spelled in reverse?

A final "s" in a word is usually pronounced \z\, so it is an interesting that the final "z" in "quartz" is pronounced \s\. (I mention interesting quirks like this to my ESL students.) I was wondering ...
1
vote
0answers
41 views

When did summer lose its capital? [duplicate]

In modern English the seasons spring, summer, autumn and winter, don't start with capital letters. However, it hasn't always been thus. For example, 1667 Milton Paradise Lost iii. 43 The.....
7
votes
3answers
299 views

Spelling etymology of “-il[l]” words

I've noticed that modern English seems to have a very strong bias at the end of verbs towards the spelling "-ill" (i.e. with a double "l") instead of "-(consonant)-il". The overwhelming majority of ...
0
votes
0answers
16 views

Separate or join words [duplicate]

I've read some answers abour when to join two words and when to write them separate, and when to write them with a hyphen. "Username", "user name" or "user-name" Which ...
0
votes
2answers
81 views

Should I use negotiate or negociate? [closed]

There are some word references and debates for "negociate". Anyone knows if both are correct ? Where does the spelling "negociate" comes from ?
0
votes
1answer
90 views

Capitalisation of “Nature”

Why is "Nature" usually spelt with a capital letter at the beginning in scientific journals? I am mainly referring to life science here, in case this matters. I am not talking about the obvious cases,...
-1
votes
1answer
56 views

What would be “inquetht”? [closed]

"I thay, misther," expostulat the Hebrew, "shut that bocth. Thmellth like a blooming inquetht." From "Percival Bland's Proxy" by R. Austin Freeman. I can decipher it as "I say, Mister," ...
5
votes
3answers
207 views

Evaluable vs. Evaluatable

How do we describe "something that can be evaluated"? My first thought was "evaluatable", since we have inflate -> inflatable debate -> debatable equate -> equatable However, "...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

What are words similar in spelling but differing in meaning called?

I frequently encounter "vs" words like: prodigal vs prodigious ingenuous vs ingenious affluent vs effluent These words are very similar but not identical in spelling, and have different meanings. (...
2
votes
1answer
71 views

Is it formal or informal to use y/o as an abbreviation of “years old”? [closed]

This is my first question on this site. I am not a native speaker. My question is, is it formal or informal to use y/o as an abbreviation of "years old" in British English?
35
votes
6answers
28k views

Difference between “artifact” and “artefact”

Is there any usage preference between artifact and artefact? My understanding was that an artifact was properly applied to physical, historical objects, while an artefact was more correct for more ...
2
votes
6answers
4k views

Similar words that change from “-ter” to “tre”

I just found out that luster in British English was actually lustre. This was something that I did not know before. Are there any other words that behave like this? Why? (According to what?)
3
votes
2answers
54 views

'De-exoticize' or 'deexoticize' [duplicate]

As an antonym for exoticize, would you favor de-exoticize or deexoticize? Google currently finds ~2970 results for the hyphenated version and ~440 results for the unhyphenated, but both of those ...
1
vote
2answers
55 views

English words with underlining like Uluṟu

Apart from words derived from Australian Aboriginal languages, are there any words in English that are written at least some of the time with individual letters being underlined for pronunciation ...
0
votes
3answers
60 views

to be spelled as or to be spelled by?

What is the correct preposition to use with the verb "to spell"? I'm trying to write a sentence "this sound is usually spelled by the letter "e". I'm not sure if I should say "by the letter "e" or "as ...
0
votes
3answers
83 views

Should “japanese” be capitalised when used as an adjective

Which one of these is the correct usage: 1) Your favourite Japanese restaurant 2) Your favourite japanese restaurant (being an adjective in this case, it should be in lower case)
0
votes
1answer
82 views

What's the meaning of “finniky”?

There is this sentence in a letter of Bertrand Russell: Even the absurdities - the thunder and lightning - are big and invigorating after the stifling finniky appropriateness of everything French. ...
1
vote
1answer
100 views

How did the spelling of 'mien' evolve?

I ask only about mien's definition of 'A person’s look or manner', and not the Yao people. OED: Etymology: Probably a merging of two words of distinct origins: (i) shortened < demean n.; (...
2
votes
2answers
97 views

Why did -ful prevail instead of -full for adjectives?

A lot of adjectives in English are based on a noun + the ending -ful. The opposite adjective is usually constructed with the ending -less According to Wiktionary, both endings -ful and -full existed ...
2
votes
1answer
82 views

“taxwise,” “tax wise,” or “tax-wise”

What should be the correct spelling for "-wise" combinations in adverbial coinages like "sportswise," "weatherwise," "businesswise, "saleswise," "taxwise," etc.? Should it be "NOUN wise," "NOUN-wise,"...
9
votes
2answers
315 views

Why “paediatrics” but “pedagogue” in British English?

There's an account of the British ae/oe and American "e" spellings (as in diarrh(o)ea, f(a)eces, and other fun words) on wikipedia. What I'm wondering is why, even in British English, pedagogue/...
7
votes
2answers
905 views

Is there any rule for pronouncing words beginning with “re-”?

It’s hard for me to guess how to pronounce words beginning with re- correctly. Sometimes it is /rɛ/ as in reference, but sometimes it is /ri/ as in report. Is there any rule about this?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

Retriable or retryable? [closed]

As in "it is possible to try it again". Tryable seems to be the one mostly used online, if you type it in Google. Which spelling is the correct one?
0
votes
1answer
55 views

To address denominations of cash [duplicate]

"Please bring lots of $1.00s and $5.00s" or "Please bring lots of $1.00's and 5.00's"?
5
votes
2answers
115 views

Why did final -ie become so popular during early Modern English?

A hallmark of Early Modern English is that it exhibits a lot of variance between the use of final -y and -ie. In the 16th century -ie is even found in Old English words, eg stonie. And Mulcaster in ...
9
votes
1answer
5k views

Origins of the “‑cede/‑sede/‑ceed” suffix

Somewhere in the back of my mind I seem to remember that cedere meant “to go or yield” in Latin. Presumably this gives us the words concede and accede. (?) But what about the words supersede and ...
0
votes
2answers
123 views

Supercede or Supersede?

I work with thousands of part numbers. Some of the referenced items are now unavailable, and a replacement has been found. In communicating to my users, do I say "x supercedes to y" or "x ...
13
votes
2answers
2k views

Is “chaperon” versus “chaperone” a US versus British English thing?

I've noticed that "chaperone" can also be spelt "chaperon", without the "e" at the end. Is this a case of American English simplifying a British English word, or something else? The original French ...
3
votes
1answer
102 views

What's the longest word that has survived from Old English?

I recently saw this question Did the "We shall fight on the beaches" speech mainly use words from Old English? If so, why? about Winston Churchill's famous "Fight them on the beaches" speech ...
4
votes
4answers
5k views

All up in my grill?

Is the phrase [all] up in $POSSESSIVE_PRONOUN grill which is synonymous with the figure of speech in one's face an automotive metaphor? If so, would it be more correct to spell the last ...
1
vote
1answer
271 views

Blogpost vs. blog post [duplicate]

Have I written a blogpost or a blog post? I've seen both forms used but am not sure which is the "correct" one, if there's any.
7
votes
3answers
59k views

Does one capitalize “communism” and “communist”?

Suppose I have the following sentence: I lived in a communist country during the fall of communism in 1989. Should "communist" and "communism" be capitalized?
2
votes
1answer
2k views

Spelling of Auntie vs Aunty?

I have always spelled the word with which I address sisters of my parents as Auntie. Of late I have noticed that just about everybody else around me seems to spell it as Aunty. My ancestry is ...
0
votes
2answers
75 views

Why is “romaji” so frequently spelt as “romanji”?

Why is the word "romaji" so frequently (mis-)spelt by a fairly large number of people (including past-self) as "romanji"? I tried searching for "misspelt "romanji"", but mainly got hits about things ...
5
votes
4answers
538 views

‘pescatarian’: synonyms & etymology

Even if most Americans would take ‘pescatarian’ to be some odd Calvinist sect, according to Merriam-Webster it is a noun which means “one whose diet includes fish but no other meat” and its derivation ...
0
votes
2answers
64 views

Color vs Colour: which spelling should you use? [duplicate]

When considering Color vs Colour. I'm just wondering when you should use which spelling and why there are these two spellings for the same word?
1
vote
1answer
310 views

Why “ConvertIBLE” and not “ConvertABLE” [duplicate]

Why do almost all words that are "able" written like: Comparable Disposable Doable Writable Except for the word "Convertible"? Can someone explain this to me or are there no rules tied to this? (...
11
votes
2answers
10k 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?
-2
votes
3answers
299 views

use of contractions (and some homophones)

Is it true that the current usage and spelling of words like we're/were, there/they're/their, your/you're, etc. is shifting? I heard that in the next generation the apostrophe may be disappearing in ...
0
votes
1answer
70 views

Is there a name for the irregular spelling difference between some nouns and verbs?

Most words that have a noun-form and a verb-form (noun/verb pairs) have identical spelling, e.g. a jump (n.), to jump (v.). However, some words have different spelling: advice (n.), advise (v.) ...
1
vote
5answers
423 views

Nonstop, non-stop, or non stop? [closed]

Which is the proper spelling of "nonstop?" nonstop or non stop or non-stop
1
vote
2answers
525 views

Rules for spelling double consonants in roots of words

I would like to understand by what rules I should know when the consonant in the root of a word should be doubled and when it should not. I understand doubling rules resulting from adding suffixes ...