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

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2k views

Origins of the “‑cede/‑seed/‑ceed” suffix

Somewhere in the back of my mind I seem to remember cedere meant “to go or yield” in Latin. Presumably this gives us the words concede and accede. (?) But what about the words supersede and proceed? ...
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3answers
8k 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, ...
6
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3answers
21k 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 ...
6
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2answers
241 views

“Lessen, poisoned gulls, ditcher wander hair annulled furry tell a boarder Slipping Booty?”

This is the prelude to an article published in Sports Illustrated magazine on August 17, 1959: Lessen, poisoned gulls, ditcher wander hair annulled furry tell a boarder Slipping Booty? Hoecake? ...
6
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3answers
1k views

Why do we spell “eureka”, not “heureka”?

Why is the spelling "eureka" by far more preferable to "heureka" in English? Greek vocabularies give "heureka" for the perfect to "heurisko".
6
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2answers
421 views

Why are “indemnify” and “condemn” spelled differently?

Comparing the words indemnify and condemn: Both contain demn as a root Both are transitive verbs Why is one spelled differently from the other – why not indemn, or condemnify?
6
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1answer
1k 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 ...
6
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1answer
1k 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 ...
6
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3answers
2k 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: ...
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2answers
1k views

Problem with -ance/-ence

OK, so I'm ashamed to admit that as a native speaker I think I've missed something somewhere. I was typing up some documentation and spellchecker kept bugging me. So I looked up some words and found ...
6
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2answers
2k views

Why is quixotic pronounced as it is?

Since "quixotic" was coined with Don Quixote as its basis, why is it pronounced "kwicks-OTT-ick" when it should by rights/origin be pronounced "Key-HO-tick"? It even sounds more onomatopoeiatic the ...
6
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2answers
5k views

Is “swop” an acceptable variant of “swap”?

I've always spelt it with an "a". But my friend insists on spelling it with an "o". Is this an acceptable variant?
6
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3answers
17k views

“Dysfunctional” vs. “disfunctional” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Which is the proper spelling: “disfunction” or “dysfunction”? What's the rationale behind dysfunctional being spelled dys- and not dis-?
6
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1answer
159 views

Should a contraction taken from the center of a word have two apostrophes? [closed]

I'm currently reading Entrepreneur Magazine, and there is a story profiling a 13-year-old who created a series of stickers to embellish Lego blocks. The subtitle of the story reads A pint-size ...
6
votes
1answer
337 views

How compound words “eighteen” and “roommate” are built

Why does eighteen not have two tees like roommate has two ems?
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5answers
359 views

Is spelling still drifting?

If you look at texts from a few hundred years ago, they’re almost illegible, what with all the superfluous e’s and y’s running about, the long-S’s (  ſ  ), and so on. Texts from 100 and 120 years ago ...
6
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1answer
8k views
6
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1answer
5k 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 ...
6
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1answer
2k views

Variations in the pronunciation of “ea”

Perhaps this is more of a Linguistics question, so I apologize if this is not posted in the right place. Why is it that these words in English sound so different? earth   = /ɜrθ/     “urth” hearth ...
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4answers
2k views

Why The New York Times no longer capitalizes “E-mail”

Why isn't E-mail capitalized like it used to be in The New York Times?
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2answers
926 views

Why is “hiccup” spelled with two c's?

Is there a historical or grammatical reason for spelling hiccup with two c's?
6
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1answer
209 views

“Dawkins'” or “Dawkins's” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When did it become correct to add an 's' to a singular possessive already ending in 's'? I learned from school to use Dawkins', for example That is ...
6
votes
2answers
312 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 ...
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2answers
2k 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 ...
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4answers
6k views

Which is the proper spelling: “Adapter” or “adaptor”?

In my current project we are writing a program to convert a newer protocol to an older one. These conversion programs are being referred to as adapters, but the team cannot agree which spelling to ...
6
votes
2answers
375 views

What is the difference between `-` and `--` [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When should I use an em-dash, an en-dash, and a hyphen? Is there any difference between: - and -- or in some cases, a long dash I have seen these two used lots of ...
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9answers
1k views

Just how important are grammar and spelling?

A blog post of mine made it on the Hacker News front page. My blog post was mainly intended for a very, very small audience, but ended up getting around 20,000 views in one day. The most talked about ...
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5answers
450 views

Is “denormalized” a word?

I use it all the time since I work with databases, but every time I write it somewhere with spell check I get the squiggly line below it. I've seen other people spell it with an "s" instead of a "z" ...
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4answers
2k views

What is the plural of “BlackBerry” (as in the handheld device)

Is the plural of "BlackBerry", BlackBerries or BlackBerrys? I am asking, because I'm altering the underlying brand name to look more like the food and less like the product, leaving the reader to ...
5
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4answers
628 views

Usage of apostrophe in “baker’s dozen”

In the phrase “baker’s dozen”, why does the apostrophe indicate possession of a (single) baker? Shouldn't it indicate possession of all bakers in general? Shouldn’t it be “bakers’ dozen”?
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6answers
1k views

Words starting with a 'gw' sound

There seems to be only a few words starting with the 'gw' sound, though the only ones I can think of are proper nouns, for example, Gwyneth. Are there any non-name words starting with a 'gw'? Is there ...
5
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1answer
382 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
1answer
11k 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'?
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2answers
1k views

Too, two, and to [closed]

Which to/too/two do you use when you are writing, "there are three ways to spell two/too/to in the English language?" My girlfriend has a BS in English and was unable to answer this so I was wondering ...
5
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1answer
258 views

Why is the noun form of “permit” “permission”?

The noun form of permit is permission instead of permition. Why isn't it permition?
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3answers
14k views

In British English, should it be “licensee” or “licencee”?

We all know that "license" in American English is "licence" in British English. But what about the person to whom the licence is given? Various dictionaries show the 'c' version, e.g.: ...
5
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5answers
725 views

Spelling and plural of abbreviation “hi vis”

We regularly use these "hi visibility jackets/vests": We use them often enough to informally abbreviate it to simply "hi vis". I am struggling as to how to pluralise such a term. In speech it ...
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5answers
3k 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" ...
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5answers
7k views

Is incorrect capitalization considered a spelling error?

Is incorrect capitalization, such as the lowercase "i" in can [this is not the sic you're after] i [this sic] have an if statement within a dialog box code? considered a spelling mistake, or ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the correct way to write 'for ever more'?

I know that 'forever' is a word, and I know that 'evermore' is a word, but what is the correct way to write the phrase 'for ever more'? Is it 'forever more'? 'For evermore'? Or even 'forevermore', as ...
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4answers
2k views

Is there a verb “refactor” meaning “doing refactoring” in English?

Code refactoring consists of changing the structure of the code without changing its functionality. The term refactoring is currently used by software development industry to refer to this process. ...
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4answers
10k views

“An other” vs “another”

I just edited this answer on unix.sx. The original sentence was But it won't transform it to an other format. I changed this to But it won't transform it to another format. The second form ...
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3answers
5k views

“Indispensible”: is it correct?

Today, I saw a news headline on BBC News. It says: Nuclear power is 'indispensible' says safety agency. As far as I know, the correct word should be "indispensable". Is it a typo (an example ...
5
votes
3answers
376 views

Is an ellipsis a distinct punctuation mark?

The ellipsis looks like three consecutive periods, but many type faces have a distinct glyph for an ellipsis. Is this an aesthetic distinction, or is the ellipsis actually a different punctuation ...
5
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2answers
228 views

“We'll do it in a…”

Today in my mathematics class my lecturer used a phrase I am very familiar with, and I suspect many others may be familiar with too. However, when thinking about how one would write a particular word ...
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2answers
2k views

Why are the words “lose” and “choose” written differently and pronounced the same way?

I do know that there isn't only one pronunciation for syllables, and I also know that there isn't only one way to write a phoneme, but this intrigues me a lot. Lose is spelled with only one O, and ...
5
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2answers
1k views

Which is right: “drop-down” or “drop down”?

What is the proper way to write this term when writing product documentation? Hyphenated or not? drop down list or drop-down list?
5
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3answers
298 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 ...
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6answers
7k 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.
5
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1answer
35k views

Difference between “zeros” and “zeroes” [duplicate]

Are there any differences between “zeros” and “zeroes”? Is any of them more correct, more often used, more modern? Are there differences e.g. between British English and American English in the usage ...