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)

6
votes
3answers
970 views

Is 'ditzel' a real word?

When I was a Cardiology fellow at UMass Medical Center, there was a technician who would use a certain word to mean "a little". It sounded like /a ditzle/. I never asked her how it was spelled and ...
0
votes
3answers
48 views

easy-going vs easy going

Which one is correct: Clive never worries. He's really easy-going. OR Clive never worries. He's really easy going. As per my understanding, hyphen comes between compound adjectives if ...
2
votes
4answers
53 views
20
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 ...
4
votes
2answers
532 views

Gray or Grey, Which one should I use? [duplicate]

I have seen people using both Gray and Grey but I wonder which one is correct and when to use one?
14
votes
3answers
1k views

What was going on with “quha”, “quhat” and the like in Scots and English?

From the Dictionar o the Scots Leid: Quha, Quhay, interrog. and rel. pron. Also: qwha, qha, qua, qwa, wha, vha, hua; qhaa; quhaw; quhai qwhay, whay, quay; quhae, whae; quhe, quhey, qwhey. ...
9
votes
2answers
6k 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?
0
votes
0answers
28 views

Where to put the hypen (if any) in “status quo oriented”?

Writing the following sentence, During the negotiation of both regulations, bargaining power was distributed in favour of the status quo oriented states. I wonder where to put a hyphen, if ...
0
votes
2answers
580 views

Reform of English writing? [closed]

As is commonly known, English is quite notorious for having a writing system that is far removed from the actual way it is most commonly pronounced. I understand that there are important historical ...
3
votes
1answer
157 views

A single vs a double consonant issue.

According to The Grammarist: till, until and 'til: Till, as a variant of until, is a preposition meaning up to the time of. Till—not ‘til, an unnecessary abbreviation—has been in the language ...
1
vote
1answer
89 views

“long” <i> - inconsistencies in the relationship between orthography and pronunciation

I'm wondering about the dual pronunciations of the letter /i/ in open syllables. Usually it has the realization [a͡ɪ], representing the regular outcome of long i after the great vowel shift, but ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

Why is it spelled “maintenance” and not “maintainance?”

Why is the task of maintaining spelled "maintenance" and not "maintainance?" Other words related to maintaining include: maintain, maintained, maintainer, maintainability, and maintainable. Each of ...
1
vote
2answers
53 views

Is there a name for the Mc or O' when used at the beginning of a surname?

My daughters asked me what the Mc, Mac, and O' beginnings of names are called. Is there a specific name for that specific part of a surname?
2
votes
1answer
42 views

“Ninehammer” as variant spelling of “ninnyhammer”

I'm reading Neal Stephenson's historical novel Quicksilver, published in 1998 and set around 1700. There are several passages where the characters use the word ninehammer, as in the following: ...
3
votes
1answer
63 views

Thrown by 'a broncho.' Or is it a 'bronco'? Or a 'bronc'?

Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, first edition (1908) has this entry for broncho: Broncho (brŏn´kō), n. {Sp. bronco rough, wild.} A native or a Mexican horse of small size. {Western U.S.} Four ...
20
votes
3answers
5k views

When to drop the 'e' when ending in -able?

I've seen a thread that generally asks about Creating words with “-able” suffix But I don't think it answers my point, though they are admittedly dangerously close topics. When do you drop the 'e' ...
1
vote
1answer
43 views

Propagatable vs propagable?

propagatable vs propagable Which one is correct? I've seen both in usage.
1
vote
1answer
63 views

Can I use two ampersands in my logo?

I am thinking of updating my logo. Would it be wrong to write John Smith Advocate & Notary & Mediator ?
4
votes
3answers
87 views

etymology of “ie” versus “ei” words

I have noticed that certain, seemingly random, words tend to sometimes have "ie" or "ei" in them. For example, the word "Foreign" has an "e", followed by an "i", but the word "friend", has an "i", ...
-1
votes
4answers
7k views

Which is correct: “expose” or “exposé”?

What is the preferred way to write words such as exposé in English? My Firefox spellchecker even tells me that exposé is incorrect and suggests expose. If exposé is correct, then how does this sit ...
5
votes
1answer
352 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
9k views

Which is correct, “on-line” or “online”?

I am still seeing uses of on-line, though I think it is incorrect. For example: A web browser enables a user to go on-line/online. Can you tell me which is the more appropriate to use, on-line ...
0
votes
0answers
6 views

Early Modern English Dictionary API [migrated]

I am building a web application that allows users to transcribe, word by word, Early Modern English manuscripts. I want to tell users when a word they transcribed may be a new spelling variant of ...
17
votes
2answers
2k views

How was the letter -u- written in Old English?

I was reading the etymology for 'come (v.)' when I encountered: [...] The substitution of Middle English -o- for Old English -u- before -m-, -n-, or -r- was a scribal habit before minims to avoid ...
1
vote
1answer
72 views

Has “Extraordinary” Ever Been Spelled with an A-O Ligature?

For example, instead of spelling it as extraordinary, you would write it as extrꜵrdinary. This also applies to its derivations, such as instead of extraordinaire, you would write extrꜵrdinaire. I'm ...
1
vote
1answer
30 views

Is it acceptable to break a line without creating a new paragraph?

Let's say I've got two sentences that are sufficiently related that a new paragraph isn't warranted, but disconnected enough that I start considering putting the last one on a new paragraph. Is it OK ...
11
votes
3answers
4k views

Does the abbreviation for Saint in a church name require a period?

In referring to a local church, does the name "St Giles" require a period after the "St"? I was told that to add a period confuses it with the abbreviation for street.
-4
votes
1answer
53 views

Can anyone believe “Dord” was in the dictionary for 13 years?! Also, it's a mistake [closed]

I once found out that "Dord" was added to the dictionary for 13 years when it was actually meant to be "D or d," which is the abbreviation for density. Did this happen because the dictionary didn't ...
18
votes
6answers
64k views

“Spelt” vs. “spelled”

In the following sentence, should I say spelled or spelt: You spelt/spelled "Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" wrong.
2
votes
1answer
47 views

Thesis: spell out numbers or not?

I'm unsure if I should spell out numbers or not, in this specific case of the thesis: This is the area I'm concerned with and I tried both approaches: Setup 1 is a static setup with seven nodes in ...
7
votes
2answers
7k 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?
4
votes
3answers
12k views

Skyping or Skypeing

How do you spell the word for phoning by Skype? I would like to use the word in a semi-formal way, in a work related email conversation, where I start emails with "Hi". Skyping or Skypeing
19
votes
2answers
2k views

Was the “Ye Olde Shoppe” ever used or is it just an ancient-looking construct of modern times?

Surely, if I were the owner of a shop selling archery goods and wanted to portray my shop as some kind of old-fashioned, high-quality traditional outlet, I might be tempted to call it “Ye Olde Archery ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Is the lowercase pronoun “i” a feature of Indian English?

The Rule The personal pronoun “I” is always capitalized in English, regardless of its position in a sentence. This is an orthographic convention that every native speaker should know. Whenever I ...
0
votes
2answers
183 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
743 views

Why does attach have two Ts and detach have only one?

The title says it all. We have two words: Attach Detach Shouldn't they be...? Attach Dettach Or? Atach Detach
1
vote
0answers
57 views

Spelling etymology of “-il[l]” words

I've noticed that modern English seems to have a very strong bias to spell verbs which end with "-(consonant)-il" with double "l", i.e. "-ill". The overwhelming majority of such verbs (like to will, ...
1
vote
3answers
641 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. ...
19
votes
4answers
10k views

“Todo list” or “to-do list”

I always thought it was a todo list, and quite a few places online refer to it as todo, but various spell checkers are telling me it should be to-do. The only meaning I could find was ...
0
votes
1answer
59 views

Words containing 2 overlapping standalone words [closed]

I'm looking for words that contain at least two other overlapping words. Word category or origin do not matter (in particular, constituent and containing terms may differ in these regards). Of course, ...
12
votes
5answers
6k views

Is “criterions” a valid plural for “criterion”?

Is criterions a valid plural for criterion? Dictionary.com says it is, but Oxford does not confirm or reject it.
-2
votes
1answer
82 views

The same pronunciation but spelled differently [duplicate]

What do we call words that sound (pronunciation) similar but have different spellings? Just for example : come - kom you - u I've already seen this post but that does not comply with the ...
0
votes
1answer
67 views

Is 'facit' an English word, or spelled much differently than it sounds?

So I know that this is the worst kind of question to ask in text on the internet, but this is driving me crazy. I've used this word for years never knowing that I guess it isn't a word? I will try to ...
23
votes
4answers
2k views

Words with a leading silent w

My eldest is a beginning reader. Yesterday we read one of my favorite books, The Wreck of the Zephyr. He pointed at wreck and asked me why that one looked like it said "wuh-reck." I explained that ...
1
vote
0answers
50 views

Exaggerating the pronunciation of a vowel or consonant

Is there a word for exaggerating the pronunciation of a vowel or consonant by holding it longer than normal? When conveying this in writing, does it fall in the same category as an accent or dialect ...
3
votes
1answer
79 views

Mnemonic for remembering how to spell “Guarantee” [closed]

It seems that I've been trying to remember how to spell guarantee for years, and I still find myself doing the right-click-fix, every. single. time. Are there any tricks / mnemonics for this word?
0
votes
1answer
45 views

Any rules for “-ich” and “-itch” word endings?

Sometimes people are confused between -ich and -itch. For example, I saw someone make a mistake by using swich instead of switch. I wonder, are there any rules for which words have -ich ending and ...
-1
votes
1answer
146 views

Lowercase “moon”, “sun” and “solar system”? [closed]

From a grade school textbook: Good morning, children. I'm an astronomer. I study the stars and the planets. They're amazing! We live on the Earth. The Earth is a planet. It rotates all ...
1
vote
2answers
115 views

Why do 'organization' and 'organisation' both seem to be commonly accepted spellings, and when is one used over the other?

Looking at several online dictionary resources, it seems that the accepted spelling of "organization" is with a 'z', however, even on this site, "organisation" is frequently used as the spelling. Why ...
5
votes
2answers
234 views

“strain gauge” or “gage”?

When referring to a device that measures tensile or compressive force, is the correct spelling strain gauge or strain gage? I realize that in general gage is an archaic spelling of the word gauge, ...