This tag is for questions seeking a single word that fits a meaning. See the "phrase requests" tag instead (or as well) if you seek a phrase that fits the meaning. To ensure your question is not closed as off-topic, please be specific about the intended use of the word.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (3)

23
votes
21answers
12k views

Word meaning “the act of intending to do nothing”

As I am a person who frequently intends to do nothing (or at any rate as little as possible), I wondered if there was a word meaning "the act of intending to do nothing". I had the impression that ...
23
votes
32answers
8k views

Alternative ways to say “I cannot answer that question”? [closed]

I'm getting bored of repeating the same "I can't answer that" phrase over and over. I'm trying other phrases, like "I'll leave that to your imagination," but that one sounds too weird. Specifically, ...
23
votes
12answers
6k views

What do you call a person who is regionally biased?

What do you call a person who is regionally biased and has an unreasonable hatred/dislike for people from other regions of the country/world? Something like a racist, but the point of discrimination ...
23
votes
17answers
6k views

Is there a single word that means “hitting the target but missing the point”?

For example the waiting time target in a hospital can be met if enough patients are killed off quickly so freeing up beds. However hitting the waiting time target in that way is rather missing the ...
23
votes
15answers
42k views

What would you call a person who doesn't want to learn anything new?

What would you call a person who doesn't want to learn new things and even maybe thinks that this is unnecessary since he knows enough already? An ignorant person?
23
votes
11answers
13k views

Is there a term that defines nostalgia for something you've never experienced?

Often I find I have a sense of nostalgia for things I've never actually experienced, in a way that rivals the same sort of feelings I have for things I have experienced. For example when listening ...
23
votes
3answers
826 views

Is there a word for refusing to call things by their name out of fear?

Some examples: "He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named" or "You-Know-Who" for Voldemort of Harry Potter fame Him in the Powerpuff Girls Any of the various monikers for Yahweh possibly "She Who Must Be Obeyed" for ...
22
votes
27answers
14k views

What is a word that could define someone who likes to cause conflict?

What would you call someone who does things knowing specifically that his/her actions will cause pain and/or conflict or completes an action just to get someone in trouble or hurt them? For example, ...
22
votes
12answers
2k views

One word for “stealing something on its way to the recipient”

I am looking for a word which means stealing something on its way to the recipient. For example, suppose you sent a gift to your friend. And suppose someone steals it before it reaches your friend. ...
22
votes
17answers
4k views

Noun for “person with intermediate skill”

I'm looking for the noun form of "person with intermediate skill". For example, in the context of a particular activity, "person with no skill" might be designated a novice, and "person with much ...
22
votes
8answers
3k views

Opposite of Nightmare?

First off the word dream in most contexts does have positive connotations. When talking about dreams that people experience during sleep though the meaning becomes fairly neutral, at least as far as ...
22
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the “‑cide” word for killing one’s husband?

We have uxoricide for killing one’s wife, but what is the equivalent term for killing one’s husband? Similarly, what is the husband-specific equivalent for the adjective uxorial?
22
votes
5answers
2k views

Is there a name for synonyms that appear to have opposite meanings?

The words flammable and inflammable mean the same thing, but (to someone unfamiliar with their meaning) appear to be opposites (because of the "in" prefix). Is there a name for such word pairs that ...
22
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the “ponytail” in a knight's helmet called?

Does the ponytail thing in a knight's helmet have its own name? Or are they just called ponytails?
21
votes
22answers
10k views

Is there a single word for “one who speaks/boasts a lot about everything”?

I'm looking for a single word to most aptly describe a person possessing the following "qualities": Appears to be superior in every technology/skill under the sun, which he deems worthy of knowing ...
21
votes
19answers
5k views

What is a word for annoying behavior which decreases enjoyment for the other players in a game?

I'm looking for a word which describes an annoying behavior that decreases the overall quality of a game or match, specifically in online gaming (Halo, Call of Duty, etc.) The behavior, while not ...
21
votes
13answers
2k views

What is the Tacoma Narrows bridge doing in this picture?

When the plate of the bridge assumes the unnatural shape showed in the below picture, what is this phenomenon called? Contortion (example: the bridge was contorting ...). I'm not so sure, as I think ...
21
votes
9answers
2k views

What word means centered about death?

I'm writing an essay about Don DiLillo's novel White Noise, and would like to explore Murray Jay Siskand's fascination with death. The particular word I'm looking for means "death-centric", to fit in ...
21
votes
16answers
4k views

A positive way to describe a know it all

What is a good word to describe someone who is confident, will correct you if you are mistaken about something and they are correct. They display a degree of self-assurance that could be construed as ...
21
votes
5answers
28k views

Word meaning “to make more efficient”?

I think this question came up in a conversation with a friend...we were discussing how serving lunch could be made more efficient. They could _____ the lunch line by doing this or that. The only ...
21
votes
15answers
4k views

What do you call someone who exploits people and their confidence using ‘clever speech’? [closed]

I am referring to someone who makes people ‘buy’ what he says and gets things done by them through nothing but clever speech – something one can describe as crafty or beguiling, but not fraudulent. I ...
21
votes
25answers
6k views

Is there a word for a person who doesn't think the rules apply to him?

I'm trying to write a letter to the editor of my local paper about their report of a man who doesn't think the rules apply to him. Is there a word for this? He's a bit of an egoist, demanding to ...
21
votes
5answers
4k views

Are there any words I can use to disambiguate “biweekly”?

We have two words for events occurring in periods of years - biannual meaning twice a year, and biennial meaning once every two years. However, my colleagues talk about having meetings biweekly. This ...
21
votes
15answers
6k views

What is a term for someone who doesn't know what they haven't experienced?

I'm struggling to find a word or short term for a person or group of people who do not experience jealousy/remorse/etc. due to a lack of something. For example, people from the middle ages could not ...
21
votes
10answers
4k views

Antonym for lying?

Is there an antonym for lying? The lyric "You keep lying, when you oughta be truthin'" in "These boots are made for walkin'" made me wonder: does a single word exist which means to speak the truth?
21
votes
8answers
1k views

What do you call a computer window when it is not maximized or minimized?

What do you call a computer window when it is not maximized or minimized? I have been using unmaximized, but I feel there is a more precise way.
21
votes
7answers
125k views

Is “actioned” a valid word?

I've just, without much fore thought, used the word "actioned" in the following (example) context, and am now wondering if it's valid (upon a re-read I've decided I don't like the way it sounds, hence ...
20
votes
10answers
2k views

Is there a term for when a politician sends an anonymous idea to see whether the public is receptive?

In any democratic country, I guess, sometimes politicians want to see whether an idea is acceptable in the prevailing public opinion, but at the same time they don't want to reveal their position on ...
20
votes
15answers
6k views

What is the word for an adult who is not mature?

What term can be used for an adult, especially a man, who is in his forties and still behaves like a teenager, shunning responsibilities typical of mature people, preferring to enjoy himself?
20
votes
14answers
6k views

What do you call someone who is always asking for favours?

What can I call someone (a friend) who is always asking for favours such as: if you are going downtown, can you buy this for me please or, can you lend me your car for an hour or, if you have some ...
20
votes
18answers
10k views

An inoffensive word for “stupid”?

In my native language, there is a word that has a meaning similar to stupid, but it is friendly and usually used for a close friend or loved one. It even helps the target people to feel happy in some ...
20
votes
8answers
1k views

Word that means “outdated name”

Is there a word that means "outdated name"? For example: Record, although very little music is on vinyl Film, although most movies are digital Horsepower, although no one uses horses as a metric ...
20
votes
10answers
7k views

A word for the heart-wrenching pain of wanting someone you can't have

There is a phrase in French that exactly means this: "la douleur exquise" It literally means "the exquisite pain" and expresses the pain of wanting the affection of someone unattainable. I think it ...
20
votes
10answers
5k views

Word for someone who is ignorant and proud?

Many a times, we tend to meet someone who is ignorant yet arrogant; to the extent that they can go a long way blabbing about something they don't really know with so much vigour. What can you refer to ...
20
votes
7answers
2k views

What is the word for unconsciously blocking out background noises?

What is the word for the phenomenon where your brain blocks out background sounds, because they are constant? For example when you don't hear the air conditioning whirring away until it stops.
20
votes
6answers
4k views

Is there a term for words that have a single meaning or are only used in a single context?

Certain words you hear in English are only ever heard in a single context. For example, skirl is used to describe the sound a bagpipe makes. Etymonline generously says the word is "rarely" heard ...
20
votes
15answers
12k views

Is there a word to describe a person who likes chaos?

I am wondering if there is a word to describe a person who likes chaos. By this I mean a few specific things: The person is pleased to hear when chaos is created, or confusion emerges The person ...
20
votes
2answers
649 views

Is there a name for this method of writing that includes pictograms?

I've seen people write (usually in a humorous way) a 'code-like' message where parts of words are replaced with a pictogram that sounds like that word-part. E.G.: (eyeball) (tin can)(rope knot) ...
20
votes
9answers
2k views

What is a good term to describe the last of a dying breed?

Is there a word or short phrase that describes a person or animal that is the last survivor of a dying tribe/species? I'm trying to use the word facetiously to describe something technical and dry. ...
20
votes
1answer
858 views

What's the word for someone who pretends to buy something from a street-seller, in order to draw other people?

So there's a guy on Oxford Street in London who's always shouting through a PA system from his shop that they're "closing down tomorrow" and all their crappy perfume is on sale. I walk past this place ...
20
votes
7answers
2k views

Is there a word for accidentally stealing something?

Is there a single English word to describe when someone has appropriated property that doesn't belong to them unintentionally? For example, say I borrow a pen from someone and absentmindedly put it ...
20
votes
3answers
751 views

A name for hat collectors?

The Stack Exchange Winter Bash 2013 has me thinking about hats, as my collection is growing. I know that the terms for people who collect specific things are generally obscure, but they do exist. ...
20
votes
3answers
466 views

What are the names of the pieces of a question mark?

A question mark ? seems to be composed of two distinct pieces, top and bottom. Do these pieces have their own names, and if so, what are they?
20
votes
5answers
1k views

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon: Is there a name for this kind of punny transference?

First came John Guare's play Six Degrees of Separation, which was later turned into a film. It was about the web of interconnections that binds all of humanity together. Later came the well known ...
19
votes
11answers
2k views

A short term for something like “satisfaction + frustration”

Imagine that you are waiting for something you really want to happen, like maybe buying a new gadget. Since you really want it, when you finally happen to get it you feel satisfied and happy. However, ...
19
votes
10answers
2k views

What is the opposite of “abstain”?

We were thinking originally in terms of voting, but of course "abstain" has a more general meaning, of which the antonym is probably "indulge". But is there an opposite that would be more appropriate ...
19
votes
19answers
4k views

What would you call someone who makes no lasting impression?

What word would describe someone who doesn't generally leave much of an impression on people?
19
votes
15answers
3k views

“Canary in coal mine” in a word

Is there a single word to describe the canary in the phrase "Canary in a coalmine"? The best I can come up with is sentinel, but I'm nearly positive there's a more precise option. Edit: To clarify ...
19
votes
15answers
4k views

What is the word for a path that is made naturally by the action of people walking?

I remember one day, when I was supposed to be at school, hanging out at a friends house and watching an episode of Call My Bluff and there was a word that meant something like: A path that is made ...
19
votes
12answers
949 views

What is the correct term for a story that sits alongside another one in time and place?

What is the correct term for a book that sits alongside another book in time and universe, sharing some characters and events? Not after (a sequel) or before (a prequel), but parallel. Example: I've ...