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

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-2
votes
2answers
624 views

She kicked me in the “sac” or “sack”? Reference is to the testicles

How do we spell "sac" / "sack" when referring to the testicles? Is it: She kicked me in the "sack" or "sac"?
0
votes
1answer
92 views

What is the proper way to write about a “layoff”? [closed]

When talking about "layoffs", what is the proper way to write it? When referring to it as a noun, is it "lay off", "layoff", or "lay-off"? What about when using it as a verb in both present and past ...
0
votes
1answer
105 views

Hance/Hence connection?

In researching the verb 'hence' I noted the several forms listed in the OED, two of which were: "hennes or henes" from Middle English usage. Similarly with the verb 'hance' I noted that scholars have ...
2
votes
1answer
99 views

Should I use the “correct” form or the form used in the specification

I'm writing about a web framework. Integral part of it is its lifecycle. Apparently (as for example my browser tells me), this is not the correct spelling. I should either use life cycle or ...
2
votes
1answer
388 views

The meaning of the word 'Han'?

In referencing Webster's dictionary of 1828 I came across the entry for the word 'Han'. The definition was stated as: "for have, in the plural." Source: Spenser. What does this mean and how was it ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

How do you write the expression of disgust that sounds like “er”?

My daughter said to me this morning (the context is irrelevant): Er, it's all wet! The interjection I have written here as Er was synonymous with Yuck. Its wetness did not cause great happiness. ...
17
votes
2answers
426 views

Space before apostrophe

In the 1928 Scribner’s (NY) edition of The Plays of J. M. Barrie, I’ve noticed an odd convention: where a contraction happens in middle of a word (e.g., “don’t” for “do n(o)t”), the apostrophe has the ...
10
votes
1answer
804 views

Relic as a verb: why the spelling relicing, reliced?

I just discovered the verb relic, meaning “to make something look worn” and used as far as I can tell only about guitars. (Examples: 1 2 3 …) I was surprised to see that its participles are pretty ...
22
votes
3answers
2k views

Why did the letter “o” disappear in the word “pronunciation”?

The verb pronounce has the letter o in its second syllable, but in the noun pronunciation, that same letter disappears from the corresponding position. Why is that?
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Hyphenation of “left hand side”

I would like to know exactly where (or whether) "the right hand side", "the left hand wall", etc. should be hyphenated.
5
votes
1answer
882 views

What is to be made of “e” ending so many Middle English words?

I was recently reading about the life of Robert I (the Bruce) of Scotland. On his deathbed, since he had been unable to go on crusade to the Holy Land as he had once pledged to do, he directed that ...
2
votes
2answers
505 views

LOL: Spelling double l or single l for 'lolled, lolling' vs 'loled, loling' [closed]

The word 'lol' (lower case) is now sometimes used in the English language. Should we spell its past tense as 'lolled' or 'loled'? And should it be 'lolling' or 'loling'?
5
votes
2answers
2k views

Why “pastime” but not “passtime”?

pastime n. An activity that occupies one's spare time pleasantly: Sailing is her favorite pastime. [TFD] Etymonline says that it is from pass + time: late 15c., passe tyme "recreation, ...
39
votes
2answers
4k views

Where does “ö” fall in alphabetical ordering?

Much to my surprise, I just learned that some English-language documents use the ö character. I need to know, when sorting words in an English-language document, where is ö placed? before A? ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

Why does the word “coffee” have two “e’s”?

We know what coffee is and where the word comes from. Coffee was originally borrowed from: The word "coffee" entered English language in 1582 via Dutch koffie,[4] borrowed from Turkish kahve, in ...
2
votes
3answers
838 views

What does the word 'Joll' mean in 18th century English?

What does joll mean in the following sentence? ... give him the upper or right hand, and walk not just even with him cheek be joll, but a little behind him, yet not so distant as that it shall be ...
2
votes
1answer
346 views

Why do people pronounce “f***ing” like “f***en”? [duplicate]

I'm not a native English speaker so I might not be exactly accurate with this, but whenever people (e.g. in films) say fucking, it sounds something like fucken. There's no "g" at the end and instead ...
0
votes
2answers
249 views

Into vs In to, which do I use in this sentence?

I'm writing an op-ed with this sentence: "It was initially – in my mind – a list of people you could ask about whoever it is you’re looking into." According to my understanding of this link ...
1
vote
4answers
122 views

In the context of a grocery store's signage, which is correct - “Everyday” or “Every Day”?

Here is an illustrated example: A grocer may print information pertaining to a low price deal, on the above pictured sign, and attach it to a shelf for customers to see.
5
votes
4answers
3k views

Silent letters in English [closed]

With the help of dictionaries, I’ve assembled a list of letters that can be silent in English: For most letters, I found more than one example, what are the other examples of a silent z ...
3
votes
1answer
382 views

Why the word “Circle” doesn't start with “s”?

Today my daughter (goes to kindergarten) asked me this question which made me post here? I felt that was a good question. Can anyone help me with an answer?
1
vote
1answer
274 views

“Stockmarkets” vs. “stock markets”

I am having trouble with the difference between stockmarkets and stock markets — or should it be stock-markets? In some articles it is introduced as stockmarkets, but that term is not found in ...
0
votes
4answers
1k views

What non-alphabetic characters are valid in English spelling?

Is ' (the apostrophe) the only character which is not part of the English alphabet that can appear in the correct spelling of an English word?
0
votes
1answer
2k views

how do I write “about four or five hundred US Dollars”

I proofread/edit transcribed witness evidence, and often witnesses will say something like "around four or five thousand dollars". If the evidence is all about figures, I would sometimes write this ...
-2
votes
1answer
72 views

Can a hyphen or dash always mean “to”?

Is it sufficient to say shot-shot where the hyphen would stand for to? Would a dash work, as in London–Brighton? I have a sentence like this: ... is the mean change in the mean energy of the ...
-1
votes
1answer
65 views

Spelling - why not finanse?

If it is license rather than licence, defense rather than defence, offense rather than offence, then why not finanse?
22
votes
1answer
4k views

Why isn't “Enterprise” spelt “Enterprize” in US English? [closed]

I live in Australia, but am expected to use US English in my work. I am therefore used to spelling "-ise" as "-ize". I was a little surprised to find that "enterprise" is almost universally spelt with ...
6
votes
1answer
1k views

Why was Tokyo sometimes called “Tokio”?

The city Tokyo was sometimes called Tokio, as can be seen in ngrams, and as one example, the WWII anti-Japanese movie Tokio Jokio. Why was Tokyo sometimes called "Tokiyo"? The Japanese hiragana for ...
5
votes
3answers
5k views

Do any people distinguish between “analog” and “analogue”?

In my personal usage, the words "analog" and "analogue" are allocated to two different meanings of the word. One refers specifically to non-digital signals, for example: The analog clock reads ...
0
votes
1answer
82 views

Is it improper to use the Right Quote character, if there's no Left Quote character paired with it? [closed]

Laying out a printed catalog (for distribution in the United States), I'm listing the dimensions (using inches) for numerous products. I like Proxima Nova's Right Quote character more than the ...
0
votes
2answers
238 views

Compelled and compeled - American English

As for the British English it's always taught - compel, compelled, compelling Some of the books/dictionaries say that in American English you say compel, compeled, compeling instead, you simply don't ...
0
votes
1answer
275 views

Vocal chords or cords? [closed]

Which one is correct, and don't tell me vocal folds. When you talk about someone singing, are they using their vocal cords or their vocal chords? I found this which thankfully shed some light on the ...
0
votes
2answers
450 views

“Web design” vs. “webdesign”

Suppose I want to use the word in a company's name, for example: ABC Web Design ABC Webdesign Which one is correct? Should it be one word or two?
2
votes
3answers
1k views

How do you spell 'hoo-wee!'

My dad used the expression 'hoo-wee!' a lot when I was a kid. (That is what it sounds like.) For example, if we were using the grill and it flared up he would say "hoo-wee!", and I love saying it but ...
0
votes
0answers
14 views

What is the correct capitalisation of the following [duplicate]

Company name — "Mushroom Joinery" Tag line — "Creation and restoration in wood" Should capitals be used in the tag line? If so, where?
1
vote
1answer
78 views

Proper way to include a single character in a sentence, “V,” 'V,' or italic? [closed]

What is the proper way to include a single character within a sentence, double quotation marks, single quotation marks, or italicize it? For example, should it be: The man's face resembled a "V." ...
6
votes
3answers
36k views

Is it makeup or make-up or make up?

If you take a makeup test, is it correct to call it a makeup, make up, or make-up test? I know that makeup is also what some people put on their faces to look different. I think that make-up is what ...
3
votes
1answer
340 views

Why is the spelling of rhythm so exceptional?

Rhythm has a very unusual spelling, breaking a lot of the common rules of thumb for spelling words. The rh is unusual; the use of y as a vowel in the middle of the word is unusual; and the lack of a ...
23
votes
1answer
2k views

Graphotactics of possessive: the true reason for the apostrophe

I have some hypotheses for English graphotactics: 〈w〉 and 〈y〉 are optional positional variants (i.e. allographs) of 〈u〉 and 〈i〉, respectively, in digraphs that correspond with diphthongs or vowels: ...
1
vote
2answers
125 views

The “preying” mantis female is said to devour its “mail” during copulation. Considering these mistakes unintentional, what would we call them?

Is there such thing as "a written malapropism" or "a slip of the pen"? Or are they just simple spelling mistakes? If they were unintentional, they couldn't be considered puns or a play with words, I ...
1
vote
1answer
393 views

Can the Oxford Comma be used with a list of adjectives of the same type?

I was wondering if a list of classifying adjectives of the same type could use the Oxford Comma. For example: social, political, and economic problems is it a correct expression? I was checking a ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Is IOU an abbreviation, an acronym, or an initialism?

IOU stands for I owe you and we pronounce each letter separately. But how do we classify that construction"? abbreviation: a shortened form of a word or phrase acronym: an abbreviation formed from ...
0
votes
1answer
665 views

Changing tense with brackets: “Bully[ing]” or “Bull[ying]”?

I've noticed that it seems to be common to bracket letters when partially quoting someone in order to make it grammatical. If Bob said "I'll retire when I turn sixty," one might write, "Bob told ...
4
votes
2answers
18k views

“Theater” vs. “Theatre” in American English

Why is it that "theater" and "theatre" do not follow the traditional rules of British and American spelling? British spellings like "metre" and "centre" are consistently switched to "meter" and ...
41
votes
4answers
6k views

Why is ‘i’ in milk pronounced differently from ‘i’ in find?

As far as I know, in words of the structure CVCC, the vowel is usually short. Examples include milk, front, clamp, wasp, sport, etc. However, with some CC types, the vowel seems to always be long ...
1
vote
2answers
544 views

Why does U sound like W in words like “penguin”?

A semivowel is a vowel that acts like a consonant (including only W and Y and yet U sounds like W sound in words such as penguin, sanguine, but not in guide. Can anyone tell me why?
93
votes
3answers
8k views

How did 7 come to be an abbreviation for 'and' in Old English?

According to A History of the English Language: Revised Edition by Elly van Gelderen, p.53, in Old English the numeral 7 was used as an abbreviation for the word and: Abbreviations are frequently ...
0
votes
1answer
172 views

Spelling Errors that Gained Legitimacy [closed]

I am trying to find examples of words that were classified as spelling errors when they first appeared, but over time gained legitimacy and are now accepted as valid words. Is there a name for this ...
0
votes
4answers
6k views

Recordkeeping, record keeping, or record-keeping

In the following sentence, a reviewer claimed that record keeping is a spelling error that should be corrected to recordkeeping. Service providers shall manage information using agreed upon ...
0
votes
1answer
105 views

What is the correct spelling for “These are known as the three “V’s”: veracity, voraciousness and vivacity.”

What is the correct spelling and grammar for the following sentence? These are known as the three "V's": veracity, voraciousness and vivacity. In particular, should the "V" be capitalized, ...