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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

2
votes
2answers
77 views

Is there any reason so many people abbreviate “etcetera” as “ect.”? [closed]

People do many strange things, such as spell "loose" (the opposite of tight) as "lose" (the opposite of win) - and even vice versa sometimes. Another oddity is when they say "literally" when that is ...
12
votes
4answers
72k views
3
votes
3answers
29k 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 ...
48
votes
7answers
17k views
5
votes
4answers
222 views

“Spelling checker” or “spell checker”?

I've always thought a spelling checker is a tool that checks spelling. I know a growing number of people say spell checker, but I've always considered that slang. Recently I did a search for the ...
-1
votes
1answer
61 views

How to correctly write: “In Spite” [closed]

What is the correct way to write: "in spite" ? Some references are now saying "in-spite" is permissible? We do not trust that!
3
votes
4answers
19k views

Why is “hyperbole” pronounced so differently from its spelling?

I've often heard people say "hyperbole" exactly as it is written, "hi-per-bole", instead of how it is actually pronounced: "hi-pear-bow-lee". How did it get such an unusually different pronunciation ...
2
votes
4answers
200 views

Elven or Elfin? [duplicate]

I am writing a fantasy book and am having trouble with when and how to use words such as "Elfin", "Elven", "Elfish", and "Elvish". I don't understand the difference between using a V or an F. Help?
3
votes
1answer
110 views

Non-preemptive? Non-pre-emptive? Emptive?

We can describe something as pre-emptive, no issue there. If something isn't such, how can we write that? Word gives me red squiggles on 'Non-preemptive', but this looks silly with a double ...
0
votes
4answers
101 views

Topup vs top-up

Which noun is correct? a topup a top-up Which verb is correct? to topup to top-up
3
votes
4answers
7k 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.
3
votes
1answer
109 views

Why do many names use “y” in place of expected “i”?

I would expect names like Taylor, Poynting have "i" in place of actual "y", because they sound very similar to words "tailor" and "pointing". There's also Feynman, which some (not really credible ...
3
votes
1answer
147 views

“Cancellation”, “Canceled”, “Canceling” — US usage

I'm trying to figure out if there is a specific rule behind the word "cancel" that would cause "cancellation" to have two L's, but "canceled" and "canceling" to have only one (in the US). I ...
8
votes
3answers
24k views

Is 'useable' preferred in certain regions, or just an alternate spelling of 'usable'?

I rarely use spell checkers, but today when I did use one, it suggested changing the word 'useable' to 'usable' (i.e. to drop the first 'e'). This seemed immediately intuitive and I thought I'd just ...
91
votes
4answers
8k views

Why is “cannot” spelled as one word?

Why is “cannot” spelled as one word whereas other similar constructions such as “do not,” “will not,” “shall not,” “may not” and “must not” are spelled as two words (unless they are contracted as ...
0
votes
2answers
87 views

Space before computer storage abbreviations [closed]

Forgive me if this has already been asked, I could not find it via search. My question is this: what is the proper way to append computer storage abbreviations to a number? For example, a 500 ...
4
votes
2answers
613 views

Where do the idiosyncrasies in the spellings of English words come from and why do they survive?

For example: GH in enough is pronounced "F" O in women is pronounced short "I" TI in nation is pronounced "SH" Why aren't the words spelled enouf, wimen, nashon, or why not spell fish "ghoti"? It ...
6
votes
3answers
546 views

Connotations of Letter 'X'

In the English language, the letter X has a connotation of mystery, intrigue, or excitement. Examples: Planet X: A theoretical planet of mysterious origin, or an unknown planet. [Edit: Bad example, ...
17
votes
4answers
8k views

“Focussed” or “focused”? The double consonant

Initially, my question was: is "focussed" or "focused" the correct past tense of "focus", but since this applies to a lot of words, I would like to generalize and ask: is there supposed to be a rule ...
18
votes
2answers
4k views

Why does the 'b' in absorb change to a 'p' in absorption?

The question pretty much says it all. Why is "absorbtion" an incorrect spelling?
3
votes
1answer
1k views

Correct spelling and/or hyphenation for electronic commerce

What is the correct spelling and/or hyphenation for the abbreviation of electronic commerce? I have seen the following variations. eCommerce E-Commerce ECommerce E-commerce
0
votes
1answer
83 views

Translating from American to Canadian, when these are used as verbs, is it “log in” and “log out” or “login” and “logout”?

This is not a duplicate of questions such as“Login” or “log in”? or “log in to” or “log into” or “login to”. The reason is that this question deals specifically with converting from American English ...
2
votes
1answer
122 views

Do Americans also typically use the word “aesthetic” spelled that way?

As far as I know, the word "aesthetic" can be considered the "British" or "European" way of spelling the word, like "caesium" or "haemophilia". The spelling "esthetic" (which replaces the ae with e as ...
4
votes
2answers
190 views

“Champing on the bit”

I read recently that was describing a cavalry, full of "horses champing on their bits, eager to rush forwards into the fray." I have always known it as "chomping". Is "champing" a typo? Is "chomping" ...
4
votes
2answers
171 views

New Yorker Dieresis Rule; prosaic, unionized?

There are lots of informal references to the traditional / "New Yorker" style of using diereses to disambiguate runs of vowels, however I have yet to find a definitive guide. See, for example: ...
2
votes
0answers
45 views

What is the correct way to indicate a singular/plural that ends in (ies) [duplicate]

I would like to know what the correct way to indicate a singular/plural pair is when the singular ends in -y and the plural in -ies. With book you can use book(s) to indicate in writing how to form ...
7
votes
4answers
117k views
4
votes
3answers
3k views

Can there be a hyphen in “nonlinear”?

As the title says, I'm wondering if "non-linear" is an acceptable spelling of the word "nonlinear." A bit of research on this site turns up Is the use of a hyphen between "non" and an ...
-1
votes
1answer
60 views

Acing or A'cing, and why? [closed]

I see people using the term 'acing' when earning a perfect score on a test. For example: "I aced my math test." or "I'm so acing this test." Are the ways expressed above proper? If so, ...
3
votes
9answers
71k views

“Mold” vs. “Mould”

While writing about a factory that produces pipes, I needed to refer to how the metal was melted and put into molds/moulds. Which one is it, and is there a correct spelling or are both acceptable?
1
vote
2answers
597 views

Geometric or Geometrical?

I have read the excellent answers to Why is it "geometric" but "theoretical" - my question is specifically about usage. Is there a best practice for deciding between the variants "geometric" and ...
1
vote
1answer
38 views

Capitalisation of seasons

I'm not sure how many people share this experience, but I've personally grown up being taught to spell the seasons with a capital heading. ex. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter. Yet, when I type the ...
0
votes
1answer
37 views

Is to use hyperbole to be hyperbolic? [closed]

eg. 'You've lost us millions of dollars!' Dave screamed. His statement was hyperbolic, the losses were really only $32,954.
6
votes
2answers
201k views

“Dammit” vs. “damnit” [closed]

What is the correct spelling, dammit or damnit? And what is the difference? Just writing this question brings up a red squiggly underneath damnit and the suggestions include dammit and damn it.
9
votes
3answers
8k views

“Practise” vs. “practice”

As an Australian, I like to follow British forms of words such as license/licence and practise/practice. I have no problem with licence the noun and license the verb, but I find it hard to keep ...
1
vote
0answers
24 views

“Traveller” vs. “traveler” [duplicate]

There was a time when traveller's cheques were emitted and sold by the banks in England and by Thomas Cook. However the cheques emitted by American banks/American Express were named traveler's cheque, ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Is “pidgeon” a correct alternate spelling of “pigeon”? [closed]

Is "pidgeon" a correct spelling for the grayish fowl scientifically known as Columba livia domestica? Pigeon appears to be the more common spelling, but it looks strange to me. For comparison, words ...
2
votes
1answer
410 views

Accent Marks in English

Why doesn't the English language have accent marks? I have been trying to understand the critical differences that are present between the English and Spanish language, however I just can not wrap my ...
1
vote
1answer
88 views

How should “makeup” be written in BrEng?

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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
7k views

Apostrophes and s’s [duplicate]

I always forget the rule about if something is possessive put 's at the end, for example "the sailor's hat". I know some people say to remember because it has a different meaning if it's plural (e.g. ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

“shyer” or “shier”

My Longman dictionary states that the comparative of 'shy' is 'shyer'. However, at least two online dictionaries also give the form 'shier' as being acceptable: The Free Dictionary and ...
8
votes
5answers
19k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
10k 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 ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Can “nighttime” be used instead of “night-time”?

I forgot where but I saw the word "night-time" written like "nighttime". Now is that correct or accepted? Can it be written as a single word? I am specifically concerned about British usage. I did ...
1
vote
1answer
72 views

Why do some words become amalgamated?

Why do some words in English become joined together and what is the criteria that prevents common phrases of doing the same? For example: None the less > Nonetheless Never the less > ...
4
votes
3answers
542 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 ...
13
votes
6answers
22k 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
428 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
9k 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
763 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 ...