This tag is for questions about choosing the best word FROM A GIVEN SELECTION for a particular context or meaning.

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39
votes
9answers
77k views

What is the correct usage of “myriad”?

The vast majority of the time when I see the word "myriad" it is in a sentence like "He had a myriad of things." However I don't like the extraneous words so I normally use it like "He had myriad ...
38
votes
6answers
72k views

When do I use “can” or “could”?

When should I use can? When should I use could? What is right under what context?
38
votes
4answers
16k views

When are “because”, “since”,“for” and “as” interchangeable?

I am not a native speaker. On a previous question of mine, I thanked for an answer by saying: So the phrase is not an idiom, since it is applied in its literal sense. I consciously chose since ...
37
votes
2answers
498k views

“Dear Sir or Madam” versus “To whom it may concern”

When is it appropriate to use the terms Dear Sir or Madam and To whom it may concern? The rules I was taught state that Dear Sir or Madam should be used when you're writing a letter to a person about ...
36
votes
5answers
4k views

Is “the girls are want to gossip” correct?

Is this the correct use and placement of want? The girls in the office are want to gossip. Does anyone have a reference citing this use?
35
votes
14answers
6k views

Feminism being referred to as equality for all, as opposed to equality for women [closed]

In a recent debate with a colleague, a self-proclaimed feminist, she described feminists as seeking equality for all, and not simply just women. I thought that this was inherently wrong considering ...
35
votes
4answers
4k views

Term for something that is supposed to increase safety, but really just increases fear?

Some examples: A news station giving daily "terrorist reports". It doesn't actually say how to protect yourself, just gives information on how horrible they are & why you should be afraid. A ...
35
votes
3answers
10k views

Alternatives to “and/or”?

As a programmer, I have no problem with seeing or using "and/or" in technical documentation. For example, I can upvote an answer that satisfies me and/or mark it as accepted. That's perfectly ...
34
votes
14answers
7k views

Appropriate word for internet name of a person

What is the appropriate word or phrase which means the internet name of a person. I mean the nickname that a person uses in almost all places on the internet like blog, IRC, forums, mailing lists etc. ...
34
votes
19answers
5k views

What do you call a response which does not address the question?

When some one is asked a question, sometimes if they are trying to avoid answering the question, they respond with something unrelated. What is the word for that response? Eg. A: Why were you late? ...
34
votes
13answers
6k views

Is there a word or an idiom for people who only spend their families' money and fool around?

Is there a word or an idiom for rich people who spend only their families' money and do not bother to work, just fool around?
34
votes
19answers
6k views

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 ...
34
votes
12answers
7k views

Other word for an empty promise (that is likely not to be held)

I'm not exactly sure how to word my questions properly, but here it is: Say I receive a reply from customer support such as: "We will take your concern very seriously" But I get the feeling that this ...
34
votes
4answers
88k views

Which is correct, “buck naked” or “butt naked”?

"Butt naked" or "buck naked" both refer to completely naked, or do they? Where the phrase comes from I have no idea but that would be of interest. This is a phrase I am too afraid to google and ...
33
votes
15answers
13k views

Is there a word which means whatever you want it to mean? Or has no meaning?

I'm looking for a word which can be used in any situation to describe something in whatever way you want, i.e it's not a word and just fits in to places..., but is there an actual word which does ...
33
votes
9answers
4k views

Word for metallic “dust”?

What’s the English word for the metallic “dust”, or more precisely the tiny remains (waste) of drilling, welding, cutting through metal, and similar metal processing?
33
votes
3answers
17k views

Difference between “delete” and “remove” [closed]

I am writing a mobile application that will, as a part of its functionality, display a list of recorded thoughts. Now I am deciding the textual content of the menus and that left me thinking whether ...
33
votes
14answers
13k views

Friendly way of saying “I love you”

In Spanish, Te amo (I love you) has more romantic feeling than saying Te quiero. The last one is used as a friendly way of saying I love you, but without romantic purposes. However, if translated to ...
33
votes
8answers
19k views

Is there a subtle difference between “somebody” and “someone”, “anybody” and “anyone”?

Are there any subtle differences between "somebody" and "someone", or can they be used completely interchangeably? Similarly, can you imagine a situation in which you would prefer "anybody" to ...
32
votes
6answers
11k views

“between” vs. “among”

Today I was cut off in the middle of the following sentence: Between Cook, Strauss, and Pietersen— My friend said I was wrong. He said that for more than two entities, among/amongst are used, ...
32
votes
9answers
61k views

“A few” vs. “few”

I have few friends. I have a few friends. I thought "few" means just one, two or even none. "A few" typically means more than two. However it seems to me some people say "few" when they ...
32
votes
13answers
6k views

Difference between “try to do” and “try and do”

What is the difference between try to do and try and do? To me (non-native speaker), asking someone try and do this seems a bit rude. It's like saying you can try all you want but this must be done: ...
32
votes
5answers
16k views

What are the differences between “assume”, “presume” and “suppose”

I believe that "assume", "presume", "suppose" are similar in meaning of to take some facts as a truth without proof. But it seems to me that "presume" is more formal, "assume" is less formal and ...
32
votes
4answers
48k views

When to use & instead of “and”

Are there rules of usage when using the ampersand "&" instead of "and"? Are they completely interchangeable? The ampersand seems more casual, but I'm not sure.
31
votes
15answers
37k views

Collective word for food and drink

Is there a word that best describes food and drink taken at the same time? I've thought of refreshments and consumables but neither seem right to me.
31
votes
9answers
27k views

“Trainer” is to “trainee” as “mentor” is to what?

What do you call someone who is being mentored? Is it mentoree or mentee? Does the term student or pupil imply a context outside the business environment?
31
votes
11answers
32k views

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 ...
31
votes
6answers
100k views

What is the correct way to use “neither” and “nor” in a sentence together?

Given these facts: The tool cannot be found in the kitchen. The tool cannot be found in the bathroom. Which is the correct sentence to represent the situation above? I can find the tool ...
31
votes
9answers
3k views

“Too much pills and liquor” or “Too many pills and liquor”?

When you mix a mass noun with a plural, do you use "much" or "many"? My apologies if the answer to this is readily available, I haven't been able to find anything
30
votes
12answers
8k views

What's a negative word for “subtle”?

I'm trying to describe software bugs that are hard to track down due to the mistake (introduced by the developer) being a very subtle one. "when these errors manifest they do so in a ...
30
votes
6answers
5k views

Word for a software bug that occurs again after having fixed it?

What's the word for a software bug that reoccurs after being fixed? I'm embarking on some test-driven development (TDD) for a project, and I want to use the right term but have forgotten the word. ...
30
votes
8answers
9k views

What is wrong in “Please don't pluck the flowers” and other phrases used in the Indian subcontinent?

In the Indian subcontinent, especially India, there are many English words or phrases which are not a part of dictionary or not used in other parts of the world. The first one is "Please don't pluck ...
30
votes
6answers
2k views

Is there a word for two persons dodging each other on the street?

While walking on a path, sometimes two person try to dodge each other. Like one guy steps left, and at the same time, other guy steps left and then switches direction and so does the other guy. Is ...
30
votes
6answers
505k views

“Paid” vs “payed”

I think I have always used these two words interchangeably without noticing until my professor was saying how some students misspelled the word and he was amazed. Can someone tell me when I should ...
30
votes
7answers
9k views

Using “utilize” instead of “use”?

My friend has been raising a ruckus about the abuse of the word "utilize" in place of the word "use." He complains that it just makes your sentences sound pretentious. u·ti·lize [yoot-l-ahyz] verb ...
30
votes
11answers
58k views

“Based on” instead of “based off of”

I sometimes see cases where off is followed by of, and it sounds awkward to me. For example, I would prefer This story is based on a true story. to This story is based off of a true story. ...
29
votes
10answers
7k views

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 ...
29
votes
26answers
8k views

A non-offensive term to call a lunatic?

How can a mad scientist's friend address him? For example, when engaged in a conversation with other people (who don't know the scientist), he mentions having such a friend? I suppose a loony sounds ...
29
votes
12answers
4k views

Is there a word that describes a statement whose negative is senseless or would otherwise never be used?

Consider the statement "I like to have fun" or "I like to spend time with my friends". These border on tautologies though I don't think they would be considered as such by most. Although these ...
29
votes
13answers
6k views

What is a verb for “illusion”?

What is a verb for illusion? I want to use it in a sentence like the following: The optical effect [illudes] my perception of its real shape. But illude does not exist. But I cannot find illude ...
29
votes
6answers
4k views

A word that says a person is both female and your friend

It's often confusing for me to talk about my friends, especially my female friends. This is because in Dutch there are words for both male ("vriend") and female ("vriendin") friends. In English ...
29
votes
12answers
8k views

Do the words “jail” and “prison” refer to different things?

In everyday speech, the terms jail and prison are used interchangeably in many situations. However, my understanding is that, at least in the US, they actually refer to slightly different things. For ...
29
votes
8answers
34k views

“Toilet”, “lavatory” or “loo” for polite society

My friend is trying so hard to fit into polite society, and is raising her child to say loo rather than toilet. I know it should be lavatory (and I would not say lav) but we are in the 21st century ...
29
votes
7answers
7k views

Word a male can use to refer to a female that is not old or young (girl/lady/woman)

I'm a married male in my mid-thirties and meet a woman of a similar age and talk about business. I want to refer to this meeting later, and it feels weird to say "I met a girl today...," (feels like ...
29
votes
11answers
2k views

What word defines a category suited for both header and footer?

So there I was, trying to ask a question (now on SO) on Webmaster.SE partly involving a 'header' and a 'footer'. One part of my code defines shared aspects of both the header and the footer. Anyway ...
29
votes
3answers
29k views

“Maximum” vs. “maximal”

What is the difference in usage between maximum and maximal? When would you use one or the other? Maximum can be a noun or an adjective: This is the maximum it can be set to. This is the ...
29
votes
6answers
51k views

Which is correct: “prefer X to Y” or “prefer X over Y”?

Many say that "prefer X to Y" has a more formal ring to it than "prefer X over Y". Are there any dialects where you wouldn't use "prefer X to Y" in colloquial speech at all? Conversely, are there any ...
29
votes
7answers
77k views

What is the difference between 'make decision' and 'take decision'?

What is the difference between make decision and take decision? When to use the one and when the other?
28
votes
15answers
6k views

A word for a “non-logged in” user

On my website, I allow the user to create a document - but if they aren't logged in, then the document will not have an owner and therefore be editable by anyone. I want to display a warning for any ...
28
votes
12answers
6k views

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, ...