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

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11
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2answers
1k views

Why the letter “g” discrepancy between *giant* and *gigantic*?

A little look through an etymology dictionary shows that the root is Latin gigas with adjective form gigant. So in its derivation to English, why did the second "g" get retained in gigantic but was ...
11
votes
5answers
49k views

Which is the correct spelling: “Granddad” or “Grand-dad” or “Grandad”?

Granddad or Grand-dad or Grandad? Which is the correct spelling?
11
votes
2answers
499 views

“Open source” as a verb

I encountered a problem when I started to write a report including some notes on open source software. The problem I have is if I can use open source as a verb like: We open sourced some ...
11
votes
1answer
924 views

Rules for removing last vowel when adding “-able”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When to drop the 'e' when ending in -able? Both are correct for these words: sizable, sizeable sharable, shareable takable, takeable But these words are ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

Spelling of “high” vs “height”

Out of curiosity, how come height is spelt with an e while one drops it in high or highest? In my opinion, it seems rather weird that it isn't consistent. Is there a logical or historical ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

Why doesn't “ninth” have an “e”, like “ninety”?

Is it just because "ninth" has only one syllable? That wouldn't make sense, though, because saying "NINE-ith" wouldn't be worse than saying "NINE-e-tee". If we were used to "nineth", we would have ...
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Why isn't “muscle” pronounced “muskle”?

It comes from the Latin musculus (meaning mouse) and Latin has only hard c's. The "c" has somehow become soft or silent during evolution. Why did this happen? Also, if muscle is pronounced mussle, ...
10
votes
3answers
8k views

Is the proper spelling “judgment” or “judgement”?

I always thought the proper spelling was  judgment, but I see  judgement all the time, even in articles, news, etc. Merriam-Webster lists  judgement as a variant spelling for judgment. But is the ...
10
votes
5answers
13k views

“Miniscule” vs. “minuscule”

Does the former have a typo or are they synonyms? Do they always have the same meaning? Please enlighten me as I am confused on this matter.
10
votes
4answers
668 views

Why are the words Reich and Kaiser capitalised in English?

It is the same with Diesel, which can be capitalised or not. Do the words Reich and Kaiser have some specific historic value as they are distinguished from non-capitalised words such as halt, ozone, ...
10
votes
2answers
8k views

Why Isn't Citizen 'Citisen' in British English?

In British English vocabulary, most words with 'z's are replaced with 's's. For example, capitalization to capitalisation. Industrialization to industrialisation. But for some words, like citizen, ...
10
votes
4answers
38k views

“Pricey” vs. “Pricy”

I've recently encountered these two variations of the spellings for the informal word for "expensive." My dictionary and the online dictionary seem to indicate that both of these spellings are ...
10
votes
6answers
14k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there a good rule of thumb for plurals from words ending in “o”?

The following words and their plurals seem to be somewhat inconsistent: combo / combos concerto / concertos grotto / grottos / grottoes (?) hero / heros (?) / heroes potato / potatos (?) / potatoes ...
10
votes
1answer
8k views

“Philippines” vs. “Filipino”

Why is Filipino spelled with an F? Philippines is spelled with a Ph. Some have said that it's because in Filipino, Philippines starts with F; but if this is so, why did we only change the beginning of ...
10
votes
2answers
3k views

“Draught” or “draft”

I'm referring to the term used to describe the vertical distance between a ship's keel and the waterline. Which is the correct spelling: draught or draft? If either is correct, under which conditions ...
10
votes
2answers
228 views

Usage of “brook” to mean “burp”?

Has anyone ever come across ?brook (not too sure about spelling) used instead of burp? I brooked/I burped. Was that you brooking/burping? It may be derived from Scottish Gaelic.
10
votes
3answers
633 views

Is 'compatriate' really an English word?

I recently saw the word 'compatriate' used in a newspaper article. Upon looking it up, suspecting a typo (or even an eggcorn: it is easy to see how compatriot would be mixed-up with expatriate etc.), ...
10
votes
2answers
4k views

Adjective form of “collide”—“collideable” or “collidable”?

I need to name an interface in a program I'm writing as being able to collide, but I've seen use of both collideable and collidable in projects with a similar type. Both of them look right in some ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Are there any other English syllables without vowels, besides “thm”?

As far as I knew*, all English syllables have a vowel sound and all of them are spelled accordingly, except for "thm" as in rhythm and algorithm. Are there any others? And are there any etymological ...
10
votes
3answers
20k views

How do you spell wifi / Wi-Fi / WiFi? [closed]

This is probably related to whether one should capitalize Internet or not. I am looking for the correct spelling of wifi when referring to a wireless connection to the Internet. I want to tell the ...
10
votes
1answer
5k views

When should a singular word ending in “y” end in “ies” plurally?

Words like "sky" and "money" have "ies" as a plural suffix (i.e. "skies" and "monies") but other words like "monkey" and "Emmy" do not ("monkeys" and "Emmys"). Is there a rule dictating the use of ...
10
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is “gauge” spelled with a 'u'?

I was rather old before I realized "gauge" is pronounced (and sometimes spelt) "gage". The etymology doesn't reveal too much: mid-15c., from Anglo-Fr. gauge (mid-14c.), from O.N.Fr. gauger, from ...
9
votes
5answers
36k views

Which is correct: “of course” or “ofcourse”?

I have been using the term ofcourse ever since kindergarten. However, I recently stumbled upon a site that claims of course is how the term is correctly used and not ofcourse. I would like to seek ...
9
votes
3answers
211 views

“Nine out of 10”

Most style guides call for spelling out numbers less than 10, and using numerals for those 10 and over. While reading a magazine today, I saw the phrase nine out of 10, and it struck me as wrong even ...
9
votes
3answers
31k views

What is the longest palindrome word in English? [closed]

I want to know what the longest palindrome word is.
9
votes
1answer
343 views

What's the point of omitting the “e”, as in “sceptered” going to “scepter'd”, in English poetry?

These are a few of my favorite lines of Shakespearean poetry: Methinks I am a prophet new inspir’d, And thus expiring do foretell of him: His rash fierce blaze of riot cannot last, For ...
9
votes
3answers
7k views

“grammar nazi” or “grammar Nazi”?

Should Nazi be capitalized in the phrase grammar nazi/Nazi? While I can't think of any other examples right now, I would like to extend the question to ask if the words which are historically nouns ...
9
votes
4answers
16k views

“Real time”, “real-time” or “realtime”

Which of real time, real-time and realtime is correct when you are talking about seeing something as it happens?
9
votes
2answers
34k views

Why is “happyness” spelled with a Y in the movie title “The Pursuit of Happyness”? [closed]

I just noticed that the word in the movie title The Pursuit of Happyness is spelled with a y instead of an i. But my spell checker highlights "happyness" as a mistake. Why is it spelled differently ...
9
votes
5answers
17k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
637 views

Is “civillians” correct?

Wikipedia has a lot of occurrences for the word "civillians", such as: At least 35 civillians were killed at the incident I began fixing them to "civilians", but then had a doubt. Is ...
9
votes
3answers
250 views

“Invoke” and “invocation”

We invoke something using an invocation. Is the use of a k and a c in words of the same root like this unusual? Might I reasonably expect invocation to be spelled invokation?
9
votes
5answers
16k views

What is the possessive of “you guys”?

Most people seem to stumble over this. The problem can arise with any multi-word phrase that needs a possessive but ends in S, and so sounds awkward using the clitic apostrophe-S. I've heard this ...
9
votes
1answer
454 views

When did it become incorrect to use apostrophes with possessive pronouns?

I'm reading Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, and I notice that she invariably uses an apostrophe with possessive pronouns — in a way that would be considered incorrect now. For example: (Elinor is ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Apostrophes in contractions: shan't, sha'n't or sha'nt?

I came across the word sha'n't when reading Winnie the Pooh the other day and it cast me into a Thoughtful Mood concerning the Appropriate Spelling of this word. This word is a contraction of "shall ...
8
votes
4answers
396 views

“Dance macabre” or “macabre dance”

The role is the kind of high-wire dare certain types of actors and directors cannot resist. T. Scott Cunningham, who has created a number of lovable losers onstage in the last decade, lets the ...
8
votes
5answers
10k views

Spelling of “moustache”

This has always confused me. I've always spelled it "moustache", but my browser's spell checker claims the correct spelling is "mustache". From what I've seen around the Internet, people seem to use ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

“Advise” vs. “advice”

In what contexts are those two words used? It's been a while since I've read the grammar books and I don't exactly remember the definitions of a few terms like adjective, so I would really appreciate ...
8
votes
5answers
8k views

Which is correct, “cill” or “sill”?

When I was an architectural technician, I used the spelling cill (e.g. window cill). I knew of one architect who used sill and stated that this was the older and more correct form. My Concise Oxford ...
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?
8
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is “great” pronounced as “grate”, but spelled with “ea”?

Great is one of the few common English words in which "ea" is pronounced /eɪ/ (ay). Why is this pronunciation associated with this spelling? As an aside, I remember from researching for my answer to ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Term for words with identical spelling but different meaning and different pronunciation

What do you call words with identical spelling but different meaning and different pronunciation? A couple examples are bass and resume.
8
votes
3answers
501 views

Different syllabic boundaries in various dictionaries?

Consider, for instance, the word "university": American Heritage: u·ni·ver·si·ty Collins Cobuild: uni|ver|sity Merriam Webster: uni·ver·si·ty As you see, syllabic boundaries differ. I read ...
8
votes
4answers
13k views

Syllable division of VCV pattern in words such as “salad” and “lemon”

In words such as salad /sæləd/, you have a VCV pattern (vowel-consonant-vowel), in which the first vowel is short. The syllable division of such words is generally done after the consonant, i.e, as ...
8
votes
2answers
20k 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], ...
8
votes
1answer
167 views

Why is there an “h” in “pulchritude”?

I'd assumed that pulchritude was derived from Greek, because of the "ch" but it turns out to be from Latin pulcher. I've been taught that "c" always has a hard pronunciation in Latin, so why would ...
8
votes
1answer
28k views

What is the meaning of “atleast” and is it different from “at least”?

I don't think atleast is an actual word, but I've found many instances of its usage. A simple google search for atleast reveal 13,100,000 hits. What is the meaning of atleast and is it different ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

Why is “k” added to “panic” when suffixes added (as in “panicky”)?

When adding any suffix to the word "panic," a "k" is added after the "c". Examples: panicked, panicking, panicky. Why is this the case? Are there any other English words that do the same? I'm also ...
8
votes
2answers
647 views

Pedlar vs. peddler

The etymonline entry for peddler reads: late 14c. (c.1300 as a surname, Will. Le Pedelare), from peoddere, peddere (c.1200, mid-12c. as a surname), of unknown origin. It has the appearance of an ...