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

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4
votes
3answers
525 views

What do you call words that are typed the same way on a phone keypad?

Words that are pronounced the same are homophones. Words that are spelled the same are homonyms. What do you call words that are typed the same way on a telephone keypad? (you have to watch out for ...
11
votes
6answers
19k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
410 views

How to hyphenate a negated compound noun?

We have a term for a process, "defect source assessment". We want to describe a set of processes that are not related to that process. Which of the following (if any) would be correct? non ...
5
votes
6answers
8k 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.
2
votes
4answers
712 views

Capitalization of words derived from proper nouns

Should words derived from proper nouns be capitalized or not? e.g. "Romanize/romanize", "Boolean/boolean" (I have seen both forms in the corpora and dictionaries). Personally I think the derived ...
21
votes
2answers
2k views

Why does the 'i' in 'explain' disappear when written as 'explanation'?

The word 'explain' has an 'i'. Why does that 'i' disappear when we write it as 'explanation'.
7
votes
2answers
663 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" ...
1
vote
0answers
92 views

Name of the archaic “F” character used for an “S” [duplicate]

Into the 19th century, accepted orthography often used a letter character that resembles an F (but is not in fact identical to an F) when today we would invariably use an S. What is this character ...
1
vote
1answer
13k views

“'n'” as an abbreviation for “and” as in “rock 'n' roll”

I wonder if there are other cases where and is abbreviated in writing as in rock 'n' roll.
2
votes
2answers
88 views

What is the origin of the word “What”?

Where does the word what come from? Why do we say wot when it's spelt the way it is?
10
votes
5answers
14k 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.
5
votes
3answers
430 views

Why is “poignant” pronounced /ˈpɔɪɲənt/?

I felt a little bit strange when I heard poignant pronounced as /ˈpɔɪɲənt/. It is also pronounced as /ˈpɔɪgnənt/, but the former seems to be more popular. A word stagnant has similar spelling, but ...
1
vote
1answer
42 views

Two step method or two steps method [duplicate]

It seems like a particular dance is called "Two-step". It gave me some doubts about how to spell step in the description of a method I use. If my method has two steps, should it be called a two step ...
10
votes
4answers
62k 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 ...
3
votes
4answers
18k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
309 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
69 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."
39
votes
8answers
43k 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
4k 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
81 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
255 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
543 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
168 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
13k 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?
4
votes
1answer
2k 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
4k 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
454 views

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

Why is threshold pronounced "thresh-hold"?
0
votes
4answers
129 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
23k 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
2k 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 ...
1
vote
1answer
1k 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 ...
21
votes
11answers
28k 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
177 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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
139 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
118 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 ...
3
votes
5answers
56k 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
2k 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 ...
12
votes
4answers
570 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
44 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
2answers
831 views

“Healthcare” or “Health care”?

Healthcare or Health care ? Which one is correct?
0
votes
1answer
108 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
595 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
377 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
976 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, ...
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 ...
6
votes
1answer
6k 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
33 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") ...
-1
votes
4answers
164 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 ...