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)

9
votes
3answers
32k views

Which is the proper spelling: “disfunction” or “dysfunction”?

Is this word spelt dysfunction or disfunction? Are there any correct spellings at all for this word? The reason I asked is because I've always learned to spell it as "disfunction" until recently, ...
9
votes
1answer
18k views

“Inner” but not “outter”?

in -> inner out -> outer / (outter?) What is the history or set of rules behind why 'inner' doubles the 'n' but 'outer' doesn't double the 't'?
9
votes
1answer
45k 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], ...
9
votes
4answers
26k 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 VC-...
9
votes
1answer
454 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
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 ...
9
votes
3answers
15k 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
1answer
385 views

What are the correct spelling and regional distribution of “X, schmX” to indicate dismissiveness (e.g., “evidence, schmevidence”)?

There is a curious construct in American English in which a word is stated and then repeated with the prefix "schm-" or "shm-" in order to indicate the speaker's dismissive attitude toward a concern ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Why Abraham and not Avraham?

In the Hebrew scriptures Abraham's name is Avraham and not Abraham (אַבְרָהָם). Is has a v and not a b. The same goes for Rebecca, who is called Rivka in Hebrew. Both v and b sounds are represented by ...
9
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is “transferred” written with two R's?

Why is transferred written with two R's? I am a native speaker of Dutch, and in my point of view this isn't logical; there are other words like coloured and endeavoured that only have -ed added after ...
9
votes
3answers
7k views

How was 'Sundae' derived from 'Sunday'?

On Sunday, April 3,2011, Google displayed a commemorative graphic for the 119th anniversary of the first documented case of the Ice Cream Sunday. (Image comes from: http://www.google.com/logos/2011/...
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Inquiry vs. enquiry

I received an email today with "a simple inquiry." I responded that her "enquiry" was quite reasonable before I realized that we were spelling the word differently. Dictionary.com has enquiry as an ...
9
votes
2answers
5k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
16k 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
9
votes
1answer
1k 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 question. Is "...
9
votes
1answer
745 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
64k views

Onward vs Onwards [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Toward” or “towards”? Which is the correct usage? "Onwards" or "Onward" ? For example: I would be free any time Tuesday onward. vs I ...
8
votes
4answers
438 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
15k 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
2k 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
6answers
9k views

“Runtime”, “run time”, and “run-time”

The CLR under .NET is referred to as the "Common Language Runtime." It seems that the convention is "runtime" for a noun and "run-time" for the adjective. Is this correct or should it be "runtime" ...
8
votes
5answers
77k 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
1answer
13k views

Hwat, hwere, and hwy?

In which English accents do they put an h before every word that starts with wh? Example from Youtube. Notice his pronunciation of whisky.
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Why is “eye” pronounced so strangely?

This is either a spelling or a pronunciation anomaly; I'm not sure which. Why is "eye" pronounced as the letter "I"?
8
votes
3answers
21k views

“Home page” or “homepage”? [closed]

Is there a convention for the spelling of the name of the main page of a website? Should it be home page, with a space between the two words; or homepage, all one word?
8
votes
2answers
95k views

How do you spell “Aye Yai Yai”

The phrase that's spoken when someone is hand-wringing about a thorny problem. Speaker One: Uh-oh -- we have to reformat ALL THE DOCUMENTS! Speaker Two: Aye Yai Yai, that's a lot of work! "Aye ...
8
votes
3answers
4k 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
36k views

Is it “flotation” or “floatation”?

Is the difference between flotation and floatation a US/UK difference or something else? I think I did see floatation in some physics book.
8
votes
5answers
15k views

Is the word “representativity” possible?

I found natural to use the word "representativity" (with regard to a sample population of a survey), but my dictionary does not agree with me. Is "representativity" a valid construction?
8
votes
3answers
884 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
3answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
2answers
722 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" ...
8
votes
4answers
8k views

Pluralization of names

If I were to use the sentence "There are lots of John Smiths" in the world, would that be the correct use for saying that there are a lot of people named John Smith in the world? I don't think there ...
8
votes
1answer
41k 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
3answers
22k views

What English word has the most consecutive consonants?

I was driving past the village of Hampsthwaite the other day, and happened to spot the six consecutive consonants in the middle. It set me wondering whether this was the most possible, and if not, ...
8
votes
1answer
269 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
2answers
767 views

What is the origin of the different pronunciations of C and G before different vowels?

In English the letters C and G usually have different pronunciation before a/o/u and before e/i. The same is true for Romance languages - French, Spanish, Catalan, Italian etc. What is the origin of ...
8
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
812 views

Do any words have three or more correct spellings? [closed]

I can call to mind several words with another correct spelling (colour, analogue, disc, barbeque) but I can't think of any with multiple correct spellings, i.e. three or more equally acceptable, ...
8
votes
3answers
13k views

“Aeroplane” or “Airplane” - Which are people more familiar with? [closed]

I'm considering creating an application which has the word "Aeroplane" in the title. However, I have noticed in Google the following trend: Aeroplane: 16,700,000 results Airplane: 119,000,000 ...
8
votes
1answer
14k 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 -...
8
votes
3answers
342 views

Are vowel ligatures common in any disciplines these days?

Are there any areas of writing, literature or science where æ or œ are still used? Are there contexts where they are still considered mandatory?
8
votes
2answers
258 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/...
8
votes
2answers
4k views

“Lambast” or “lambaste”

I looked up both lambast and lambaste in several dictionaries, but came up with no conclusions about which one is AE and which BE (if this distinction can ever be made). Moreover, the different ...
8
votes
1answer
209 views

'-ible' suffix vs. '-able' suffix

This question comes about because I usually always spell the word incorrectly and the spell checker underlines in red the word: compatible. In my head, I always want to spell it compatable, and my ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Deleter or deletor? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What's the rule for adding -er vs. -or when nouning a verb? Assuming it would even be a word, how would I describe someone or something that "deletes": deleter or ...
7
votes
3answers
77k views

31th or 31st is correct? [closed]

I just realized that I’ve never needed to use 31th or 31st in my four years English study. So which one is correct, and what about other alternatives? 31th or 31st 101th or 101st 1001th or ...
7
votes
6answers
656 views

Ways to Memorize “Discreet” and “Discrete” [closed]

I have a question about discreet and discrete. People tend to get these two words mixed up, and I would like to help them memorize these two words. Discrete: unconnected; separate Discreet: ...
7
votes
6answers
15k views

Should “glamourous” be considered incorrect?

The Wiktionary entry for glamourous, for what it's worth, claims that it is "a common British spelling", but many native English speakers dismiss it as incorrect. Some, though, draw a distinction ...
7
votes
6answers
1k views

Is there a term for negligent spelling of words such as 'you' as 'u'?

The age of texting and instant messaging as we all know has created a phenomenon of using shorter versions of words to save on keystrokes. On tiny keypads or phone buttons this obviously can be a time ...