How and why certain words are used in varying ways within various contexts.

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11
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1answer
686 views

What does “Empedocles’ sandal” mean in terms of English usage?

I first heard the expression “Empedocles’ sandal” a long time ago without knowing what it referred to. It seems to derive from the legend of the ancient Greek philosopher Empedocles (who was ...
13
votes
6answers
2k views

History and usage of “dooryard”

I have been interested in the expression "dooryard stop" recently. This is an expression that is used to describe a short visit in someone's dooryard (driveway) that often means not staying long ...
2
votes
2answers
63 views

How does a “research scientist” differ from a “scientist”?

I have seen the term research scientist in several job descriptions. Does the qualifier research distinguish a special kind of scientific role, or is this actually a redundant phrase? How can you work ...
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2answers
155 views

Use of 'Could' in the Past Tense

What are the possible meanings and implications of the following sentences: He could come yesterday. He could not come yesterday. He could have come yesterday. He could not have come yesterday.
3
votes
4answers
234 views

Why is it always women and not men in: “Soccer mom,” “Tiger mom,” “Helicopter mom,” “Wal-Mart mom,” and “Security mom”?

In connection with my question about the meaning and currency of “Security mom,” I was drawn to the fact that all the following labels; “Soccer mom,” “Wal-Mart mom,” “Security mom” are combined with ...
-2
votes
1answer
137 views

Is it correct/idiomatic to say “got informed there?”

I thought the phrase was common/idiomatic. So I was surprised when I got 0 results on Google Books. The school was filled with gossip. So Anna probably got informed there (about someone's ...
0
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0answers
399 views

Spelling alphabet: Should I spell out each letter in my name using the spelling alphabet, or only the confusing letters?

I have a long name and spelling out every letter as "a as in alpha, b as in bravo" would take a very long time. I've heard people using only the expansion for confusing letters like M, N, etc. and ...
7
votes
2answers
573 views

Does one “take” a photocopy or “make” a photocopy? [closed]

If the verb for "photograph" is take, I presume that the verb for a "photographic copy" should also be take. The word photocopy is often abbreviated to copy. I have noticed the verb make is used for ...
1
vote
2answers
225 views

What does “for our sins” mean in this sentence?

I am struggling to get my head around the following: Hi Andrew, For all our articles we use information from national news organisations (for our sins). Have a look here at the Guardian ...
-2
votes
1answer
23 views

Ever responsive to [closed]

I came across this sentence: "Ever responsive to the hobbyist market, Texas Instruments is releasing a [product name and description]" Is the first part of the sentence implying that the company ...
1
vote
0answers
18 views

About 'is' and 'are' using numbers [duplicate]

What is the correct English; "one and one is two" or "one and one are two"? Likewise for "two and three is five" or "two and three are five"?
-1
votes
1answer
76 views

What does “ in the event, doomed” mean in this sentence? [closed]

I am struggling to get my head around the following: This is probably the best and certainly the most extraordinary graphic novel I have ever come across. Its subject matter, believe it or not, ...
2
votes
1answer
389 views

Trans Fat is italicized

Why is trans fat always italicized on food labels, so that it says trans fat? Is it just due to convention, or is there an actual reason (like for emphasis)?
10
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3answers
62k views

“The other way around” or “the other way round”

I see both phrases the other way around and the other way round very often. Which is correct? Please provide usage examples.
5
votes
3answers
129 views

Does “caffeinated” make any sense?

A while back, when we learnt how to remove the caffeine from coffee beans, we coined the word decaffeinated to denote coffee that's had the caffeine taken out. I've noticed more and more recently, as ...
0
votes
3answers
347 views

Origin of “Innocent” to mean “Sexually Inexperienced”

I was thinking about the way "innocent" is often used (in both casual and moderately formal contexts) to mean "sexually inexperienced/oblivious", and came to the conclusion that using the phrase in ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

Kids addressing older people

I'm translating a text I wrote in Portuguese (I'm Brazilian) and I'd like some help. In my story, a boy around 13 years old is at the school and encounters a janitress, a woman in her late forties. ...
0
votes
2answers
212 views

“Mobile” vs. “cellphone” in AE

I already heard Americans use the term "mobile" for "cellphone" -- which I thought was chiefly BE -- and so I wish you could tell if such usage of "mobile" has any currency in GAE? Unless it might be ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Is the phrase “I feel you” too colloquial?

Does the phrase "I feel you" sound too slangy and somewhat horrible to a British person? Is it ok to use it as a synonym of "I understand what you feel/say" in an informal, casual conversation?
0
votes
1answer
208 views

'See' and 'Hear' in the progressive?

I'd like you to go into details about the difference between 'see', 'hear' and 'seeing', 'hearing'. I'm not a native speaker, so it's a bit hard to understand this explanation that 'see' and 'hear' ...
0
votes
1answer
865 views

Explaining the comparative form of “numb” [closed]

The most common definition I have of numb is: "Deprived of the power of sensation." "Deprived of feeling or responsiveness." These definitions show up in nearly the same form in multiple ...
3
votes
1answer
116 views

Titus Andronicus: “-She is delivered, lords, she is delivered. -To whom?”

This is about trying to understand the etymology, meaning and current usage(if any) of a specific form for the word deliver. Is deli'ver, to deliver, delivered There was an old form1 which was ...
0
votes
2answers
65 views

“Mr. John s/o Mr. Wagner” vs “Mr. John s/o Mr. & Mrs. Wagner”

Which one below is correct? Mr. John s/o Mr. Wagner OR Mr. John s/o Mr. & Mrs. Wagner Is it necessary to affix Mr. & Mrs. in this case? It seems superfluous to add Mrs. because a ...
0
votes
5answers
158 views

Why does 'up' have a positive connotation and 'down' have a negative connotation?

The word up usually has a positive connotation - thumbs up, look up, go up in life - whereas down usually has a negative connotation - look down, go down etc. Why is this so and when did such an ...
2
votes
3answers
177 views

Is “Click bait” an Internet buzzword? How can I rephrase it?

I found a video showing a fireman who rescued a suffocating kitten from a fire smoke and resuscitated her by oxygen inhalation introduced in the article titled “Why that video went viral” in New York ...
0
votes
2answers
97 views

In At vs In From vs Into

For a user interface project, my group is trying to determine the correct phrasing for when an account is being used at multiple computers. There were a few different options being given, but which ...
4
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3answers
1k views

Sentences start with Of

What is the meaning of of when it starts a sentence? For example, and what is the grammatically correct way to write a sentence starting with of?
2
votes
1answer
1k views

“In the immortal words of…”

In standard usage of the phrase "in the immortal words of...", are there any restrictions on the mortality of the speaker? I typically only hear it used for deceased speakers who once walked the ...
1
vote
1answer
1k views

Where and how do I use the word “apparently”?

Does this word "apparently" mean that something is obvious or does it refer to something that seems true but actually isn't. Apparent means illusion, right? People use this word quite often and I ...
1
vote
1answer
93 views

Usage of the word “Doggedly”

At the end of chapter 16 of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the author states: After that day, a day rarely passed without her drawing the hammer on her slate, and without Orlick's ...
0
votes
1answer
287 views

What's the correct usage of the word “Opinion”?

I have been posting on a forum recently, and every time I express my opinion, someone says I'm using the word incorrectly, and I want to confirm this. I said something along the lines of: "In my ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

When is it appropriate to use “scare quotes”?

For example, is putting scare quotes around "scare quotes" appropriate? Wikipedia says the term means usage of quote marks "to indicate that [a word or phrase] does not signify its literal or ...
0
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0answers
12 views

The etymology of do/does for questions [duplicate]

What is the etymology of the use of do/ does/ did for questions forms as opposed to inverting the subject and verb?
0
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2answers
54 views

Is this proper usage of the world 'proverbial'

"Daniel spots the contradiction almost immediately, recalling the moment when Sam had befriended Bobby with his story of the proverbial girlfriend he once called Janice—not Maggie." I'm almost ...
3
votes
3answers
293 views

Can One Jump To Good Conclusions?

Jump To Conclusions is noted in the free dictionary's entry for jump a few different ways: To form an opinion or judgment hastily: jump to conclusions. to proceed abruptly, ...
2
votes
1answer
75 views

Origin of the disapproval associated with “derivative” used as an adjective?

This is the first meaning of the word derivative used as an adjective(Oxford): 1 (Typically of an artist or work of art) imitative of the work of another person, and usually disapproved of for ...
1
vote
3answers
184 views

past perfect tense and comma usage in Churchill's book

I'm reading a book called "My early life" by Winston Churchill. "I was working in the saloon of the Indiaman, and had reached an exciting point in my story." 1) why did he put comma before "and had ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

What does “stuff one's nose into another's orifices” mean?

According to Maureen Dowd's article in New York Times (May 20) under the headline, “Remember to forget,” the European Court of Justice ruled last week that Google and other search engines can be ...
2
votes
2answers
5k views

What does “Seeing right through them” exactly mean?

I was drawn to the phrase, “Seeing right through them“appearing in the New York Times (October 5) article written by Daniel Goleman under the title, “Rich people just care less.” It begins with the ...
-1
votes
1answer
157 views

Use of “although” without a contrasting statement [closed]

In IAS 37 Clause 37 states: Although a constructive obligation is not created solely by a management decision, an obligation may result from other earlier events together with such a decision. ...
5
votes
3answers
637 views

How to appropriately use the word “baby” as in the pattern “ ____ baby ___”; for example, “run baby run”?

As a non-native English speaker, I am not sure what is the meaning of this pattern "_ baby _" as in "run baby run"? Another example: "USA continues to "drill baby drill" (referring to oil). What other ...
2
votes
2answers
107 views

Inherency as used in policy debate

Policy debate uses the word "inherency" in an unusual way. One side in the debate proposes a plan and part of what they are obliged to show is that the plan will not happen in the status quo. This is ...
1
vote
2answers
127 views

“He didn't dare [verb]” vs. “He didn't dare *to* [verb]” [closed]

Which one is correct? If both are correct, is there any difference in the meaning? He didn't dare to contradict his parents. He didn't dare contradict his parents.
0
votes
3answers
166 views

Is the usage 'literally nuts' correct? [closed]

1) Suppose there is a very stupid person. Is it correct to tell that he/she is 'literally nuts'? 2) What about using it if the person is mentally ill? This came up in an informal talk with my ...
5
votes
2answers
383 views

Why does “a bigger number of” seem wrong?

I noticed when answering this related question that I would never say a bigger number of. I have no issues with 5 is a bigger number than 3 (though I would probably say a larger or greater number ...
2
votes
3answers
514 views

Can the word “proxy” be used as a preposition?

At the end of a sentence, I want to insert the following (parentheses included): (proxy my parents, of course). E.g., I sent my brother to his room (proxy my parents, of course). But this ...
1
vote
1answer
157 views

Semi-colon or colon?

I'm writing a descriptive piece, and can't figure out whether this is grammatically correct, or whether I ought to place a semi-colon between "entry" and "crooked": "As I walked in using the cobbled ...
-1
votes
1answer
729 views

Is it right say Invest on? [closed]

Is it correct idiomatically to say "invest on?" For example, "Invest on Peter " [a person].
1
vote
1answer
62 views

(Name of) and (Best Practice Typography for) Unusual Self-Referential Double Usage

One pattern I find interesting is using a word in an explicit double sense, leading to a self-reference kind of pun. For example: As is the case with such things, however, military intelligence ...
2
votes
3answers
4k views

Is there any difference between “word-for-word translation” and “word-by-word translation” and is the latter actually valid?

First off, some data: According to COCA word-for-word has 60 usages, 3 of them are "word-for-word translation". Word-by-word has 26 usages, none of them are "word-by-word translation" (but some with ...