A vocabulary is the body of words used in a particular language.

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Did English ever have a formal version of “you”?

From the top of my head, Danish "De" (practically never used), German "Sie", Chinese "您", French "vous", Spanish "usted" are a formal way of addressing someone, especially if one isn't familiar with ...
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13answers
11k views

Is there a polite alternative to “No thanks, I'm full”?

English is not my native language, but when I was studying in the US, I was always trying to find an alternative to I'm full! I felt that it was a very improper way to express that I have eaten ...
34
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15answers
8k views

Words with opposite meanings in different regions

I can't recall it, but there is a word in American English which now means the opposite of itself in British English. What words are there that have opposite (not just different) meanings in different ...
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19answers
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Completing something just to finish it despite lack of interest - is called …?

Recently I started reading a novel that I was excited to read. After getting approximately 45% into it, I lost the pace. It started becoming slow and lousy. I thought to leave it unfinished but it ...
33
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9answers
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Person who pretends to not understand unless one speaks in exactly the words they expect [duplicate]

I just realized there are some people around my workplace who always try to correct me when using a certain word, saying that that's not how I should speak, and I should use other words (the ones ...
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5answers
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Winter — wintry; summer — summery; spring — ?; autumn — ?

wintry: characteristic of winter, esp. in feeling or looking very cold and bleak: "a wintry landscape". summery: belonging to or characteristic of or occurring in summer; "summery weather"; ...
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5answers
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Terms for collections of animals

As I watched the murder of crows sitting on the line above my house this evening, I got wondering where all of the collective nouns for animals (pod of whales, gaggle of geese, pride of lions) came ...
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11answers
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What does “a couple” mean to you, and what does “a few” mean to you?

What does “a couple” mean to you, and what does “a few” mean to you? Is there a proper way to use it? It was striking to hear that “a couple” meant two (2) to someone. My reaction was, “how/why do ...
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6answers
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A word for saying things indirectly because you do not know the correct word

Is there a word that describes the act, common of language learners, of using a cumbersome way to say something because they do not know a concise word (almost like I am doing here...). For example: ...
28
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10answers
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What do you call money earned through unethical sources?

Money/Assets/Property that is earned through unethical sources is called ? Money that is earned through bad sources like corrupted politics, corrupted business, ransom money, stolen or theft ...
28
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12answers
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What's the word for paper “decaying”?

Imagine an old map, a map with a path to a treasure, like the ones you remember from cartoons. The map's partially destroyed, because it's so old, and it has been exposed to air, and heat, and water, ...
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12answers
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What do you call a disgusting mixture you don't want to drink?

What do you call a drink (usually an alcoholic one, say a long drink or a cocktail) that you don't want to have, because you consider it a low quality, disgusting mixture, maybe even of suspicious, ...
26
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7answers
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Do you say 'white blackboard'?

English is not my first language, so I'm not sure what you commonly call one of these: I'm trying to choose between blackboard, white blackboard, or maybe just 'slate'.
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21answers
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What is the word for the emotion I feel when I see someone being humiliated?

When I see someone else being embarrassed / humiliated, for example a singer forgetting their words in a concert, I would say something like "I feel embarrassed for them". But is there a better word ...
26
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5answers
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Apart from place names, are there any Native American words used in English?

Apart from place names, are there any Native American words used in English?
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15answers
3k views

What do you call an event that happens without a cause?

I used to think those are random events but someone over at physics.stackexchange.com insists that randomness means something else so I am at a loss here. Can someone help me out? What do you call an ...
23
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5answers
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Is there a word that means “multiply by ten”?

I'm wondering if there is a word that means to 'multiply by ten'. I'm curious based on my interest in the word decimate, which used to mean to remove a tenth of something.
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3answers
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Is there any noun in English which changes the first letter in the plural?

Plenty of nouns change the second letter to become plural (man->men, goose->geese) but does anything change its first letter. I've hunted high and low over the internet, and spent ages browsing the ...
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5answers
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Attorney at law, is there any other kind?

I have wondered from time to time about the phrase "attorney at law." Are there other kinds of attorneys? Attorneys at arms? If not, why do we specify?
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5answers
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Does America have its Versions of U- and Non-U English?

In Britain and most of Europe, some form of U-speak exists: old-money language has certain features that distinguish it from other language. In Dutch, it doesn't really have a name, but it is still ...
21
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22answers
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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
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11answers
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Equivalent of “Excuse me” for “you're not in my way”? Pedestrian bump avoidance

Is there a quick phrase, like "excuse me", that means "You're not in my way; please don't change this fact"? I mean in the context of e.g. passing someone who's on the grass between the sidewalk and ...
21
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4answers
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Is “prepone” being used outside India?

Prepone is a great word - it's the opposite of postpone. When you prepone a meeting, you change its scheduled time so that it occurs sooner than originally planned. Has his usage spread beyond India? ...
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5answers
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Term for catchy tune that stays in your head

Is there a term for a catchy tune that stays in your head after you hear it? The Germans call it an earworm.
20
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1answer
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Words pertaining to the senses and the corresponding disabilities

I need help on finding words relating to the senses/perception. I mean this in a neuronic/biological or philosophy-of-mind kind of way. A word for... pertaining to the senses (Is it sensory?) ...
20
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5answers
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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 ...
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10answers
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Derogatory term for electronic device

In German, the term "Kiste", literally meaning "box", is often used as a colloquial derogatory term for electronic and mechanical devices. It is comparable to "jalopy", which, however, seems to be ...
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23answers
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A stronger word than “snob”

I recently stayed at a charming boarding house and had the pleasure of meeting one of the most curious people I have ever come across in my life. He was polite, and yet standoffish. He reminded me of ...
19
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7answers
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Word to describe “everyday things”

Is there any one word which can describe everyday things? By this, I mean things we commonly regard as things most people do every day, like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, ...
19
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1answer
408 views

Is there a name for starting a chapter with a quote?

I am writing an article for school, and am trying to find the term used to describe a chapter which starts with a quote; my supervisor has said that there is a term for it, but he cannot remember what ...
18
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5answers
4k views

Is there a word for a professional who has a beautiful and neat handwriting and whose work consists of using that attribute?

These days, when we use the computer for everything, it may be very difficult to find professionals who have beautiful and neat handwriting and whose work consists of using that skill. A century ago, ...
18
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11answers
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What do you call a group of people that move a lot?

I can't think of the word to describe it. Something similar to "wanderer" or "roamer". It's often used to describe people that don't stay in one place... not "migratory"...
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25answers
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A critical situation in which no trick works?

How could one describe a situation in which no trick, no approach, no magic, nothing at all works to change the outcome? One where you have no choice but to accept things as they are. For example, I ...
18
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6answers
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When should I use archaic and obsolete words?

I'm learning the English language, and while reading Merriam-Webster I often see common words with additional "obsolete" and "archaic" descriptions added to their definitions. When should I use ...
17
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13answers
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What metaphor or phrase can describe an object that is aesthetically pleasing yet totally useless?

Is there a conventional metaphor or phrase that just hits this meaning:good-looking yet useless?
17
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11answers
4k views

Adjective used to mean “smellable”

An object that can be seen is visible. Something that can be heard is audible. What's a similar word to indicate that something is smellable?
17
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5answers
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Tom, Jake and Jenny aren't looking forward to Thanksgiving. Why?

And "Hen" (their mother) isn't much looking forward to it either. Why? I can answer that question myself, it's because they're all turkeys. Tom is an adult male turkey (also often referred to as a ...
16
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16answers
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A word that means 'most important'?

I tried to find a single word that means "most important", but I couldn't. I want it to be able to express what's missing below: If you get hurt, the _ thing to do is to stay calm. It would ...
16
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20answers
7k views

Single word for “going along with the crowd”

What is a word to describe the behaviour where you do something because everyone is also doing this, to the point where you do it without any clear reason.
16
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11answers
743 views

Calque pairs like 'praeternatural/metaphysical'

There are words (not paired normally) which are, say, close relatives with (sometimes) totally different lives. For example, praeternatural = (Lat. praeter [beyond] + natura [nature]) and metaphysical ...
16
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6answers
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Cell phone? Cell? Mobile phone? What's the “correct” term?

What's that type of phone called that you don't need a cable for and you can use everywhere in the world (provided there's coverage ;-))? And what differences are there between the regions? ...
16
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2answers
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What is a female ass called?

I know a male ass is a jackass, but what is a female ass called? Perusal of the internet suggests jillass or janeass, but I haven't found what might be called an authoritative source.
16
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3answers
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“Consist in” vs. “consist of”

I would like to have this clear once and for all: What is the correct use of consist in / consist of? "Meditation consists in/of attentive watchfulness." "The body consists in/of cells." ...
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15answers
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Is there a single word for “money-mindedness”?

I'm looking for a single word for describing a person "whose motive is dictated by money"...I seem to recall there was an elegant word for this, but I can't remember it now...can someone help?
15
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3answers
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Name of castle part

What do you call these? Please provide a reliable source with your answer.
15
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4answers
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The word for a man who hunts a dangerous mountain cat without prophylactic? [closed]

Hello once again special team stack exchange and a usage. I search many hours dictionary for a man goes into woods for hunt dangerous mountain cat or similar enemy despite no protection or ...
15
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9answers
5k views

Is there a term for simultaneous snow and rain?

I'm from Australia where we don't have so many kinds of precipitation. I'm familiar with these: rain hail snow sleet As I understand it, sleet refers to frozen rain but I'm not totally familiar ...
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13answers
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Should I use 10 cent words or $2 words?

In school, I learned to use 10 cent words, so instead of saying: (updated: from a paper that says a scientist doing experiment with fish would make it complicated to say:) All biota exhibited 100% ...
14
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7answers
3k views

Is there a word to name being unable to think of “proper terminology” for something?

In regards to only being able to say something like "hand ankle" when meaning "wrist", but the person is absolutely unable to remember the word "wrist". (Or "unsweet doughnut", when someone can't ...
14
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6answers
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How do you form the 'north' and 'south' versions of 'occident' and 'orient'?

How does one correctly form the "north" and "south" forms for which occident and orient are "west" and "east"? I found boreal and austral, but those look like adjectives and I'm after the nouns. ...