This tag is for questions about choosing the best word FROM A GIVEN SELECTION for a particular context or meaning. The selection to choose from will appear in the question.

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25
votes
6answers
108k views

How should I ask for a bill in a restaurant politely?

I used to say check please, but my English teacher said that it's wrong, and the proper way is to say something like bill please. What's the truth?
25
votes
5answers
9k 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?
25
votes
3answers
5k views

“This question has been asked at Stack Overflow” vs. “on Stack Overflow”

How should I phrase it: This question has been asked at Stack Overflow. Or, This question has been asked on Stack Overflow.
25
votes
4answers
7k views

“Bad with something” or “bad at something”?

In a question on Spanish.StackExchange, a question came up about expressing that you are bad at remembering or doing something. Is one "bad at something" or "bad with something" (nouns)? What about "...
25
votes
8answers
19k views

Is it correct to say “on accident” instead of “by accident”?

There is a great chasm on these phrases in the US. The great divide seems to be currently centered at the age of 40. The younger generation has began shifting to "on accident" for unknown reasons. ...
25
votes
2answers
8k views

Weekly, Daily, Hourly — Minutely…?

What is the correct word for "happening every minute"? How do you pronounce it?
25
votes
5answers
82k views

“In the Internet” vs. “on the Internet”

When should I use "in the Internet" and when "on the Internet"?
25
votes
3answers
79k views

Which is correct: coming down the “pike” or “pipe”?

Is the expression "coming down the pike" or "coming down the pipe"? I've always used pike, but I've heard a few people use pipe recently. I can see how both could make sense, but which is correct?
24
votes
5answers
4k views

If city life is urban, what do you call living in a forest?

I know that rural relates to living in the countryside, and urban and suburban refer to living in cities, towns or residential areas. But some places, like in upstate New York, have dense trees and ...
24
votes
17answers
7k views

Is there a word for someone who is very friendly but only on a very shallow level?

It's not being a sycophant, because he doesn't want any favors from you. It's just all small talk. I would like to know the best word to describe this behavior or this person?
24
votes
10answers
6k views

What is it called when something you previously took to be a mistake turned out to be the correct decision?

Sometimes your “mistake” results in a big success, or you find out that it actually was the correct way of doing it. I sarcastically call this a “correct mistake”. What do you call it? I don’t know if ...
24
votes
6answers
15k views

What is the name of the symbols “<” and “>”?

I know that ^ is called a caret, but this doesn't seem to apply to the similarly shaped but nonetheless different < and > symbols. The only names I've heard them called is the less-than sign and ...
24
votes
6answers
109k views

What is the difference between “nothing but”, “anything but”, and “everything but”?

What is the difference between these phrases? When is it valid to use which? Should they be avoided as being ambiguous?
24
votes
3answers
99k views

“proficient <in/at/with>” What is the correct usage?

Which preposition is correct in the phrase "proficient in/at/with English"?
24
votes
2answers
31k views

Is “authentification” a real word?

My professor used the word authentification in a lecture. I have always used authentication. Is it a real word or is authentication the correct term?
24
votes
2answers
2k views

Why “Jesu” rather than “Jesus” in this carol?

Why does this bit of O Come, All Ye Faithful use Jesu rather than Jesus? Yea, Lord, we greet thee Born this happy morning Jesu, to thee be glory given Am I right in my thinking that Jesus is ...
24
votes
4answers
64k views

“A bit” vs. “a little bit” vs. “a little”

Is there a difference between a bit, a little bit and a little in the following context? He is a little bit angry. He is a little angry. He is a bit angry. Or do these sentences mean the ...
24
votes
2answers
37k views

Which is correct, “dataset” or “data set”?

I keep writing dataset. Is that correct, or should I write data set?
24
votes
7answers
3k views

When did “while” and “whilst” become interchangeable?

I think most folk happily use either "while" or "whilst". I've a vague recollection that at one time "while" indicated the passing of time and "whilst" was essentially the same as "whereas" or "...
24
votes
3answers
76k views

“Each other” vs. “one another”

When should I use each other and when should I use one another?
23
votes
9answers
10k views

How do you politely ask for someone's gender? [closed]

If you, for example, have to add a person to an application whilst that person is on the phone, how do you politely ask for that person's gender if the voice and/or name has not proven decisive? To ...
23
votes
10answers
3k views

Has “aught” survived in common usage?

In a movie that I watched recently, I heard- for aught I know, for aught I care. I work with a lot of native speakers, and they all told me it's not in formal or informal usage anymore. ...
23
votes
13answers
26k views

What is a word for a person who throws a “fake smile”?

Most people, especially receptionists and air hostesses have the ability to smile in a fake way. Being professional, their smile isn't real. Inside they cry and die a thousand dead of tensions but ...
23
votes
3answers
106k views

“Solution for” or “solution to” a problem?

I need to find a solution to/for this problem. Can to and for be used interchangeably here? Is one of them just plain wrong?
23
votes
5answers
10k views

Why should I use “ought to”?

Is "ought to" still used in modern English? If yes, in what contexts is it used, and is it used more in formal or informal cases?
23
votes
5answers
23k views

Difference between “computation” and “calculation”

If the words computation and calculation are not perfect synonyms what is the difference between them? Which one describes more accurately what is done by a person computing or calculating something ...
23
votes
3answers
10k views

When should you write “answer” versus “response”?

In context, when would it be appropriate to use "answer" or "response"? I always tend to use "answer" personally, but I have always this nagging feeling I could be wrong.
23
votes
4answers
19k 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 http://...
22
votes
14answers
11k views

Gigolo is to man as what is to woman?

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language (Fourth Edition) reads: gigolo, n. A man who has a continuing sexual relationship with and receives financial support from a woman. Is ...
22
votes
14answers
33k 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 ...
22
votes
7answers
3k 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 ...
22
votes
11answers
4k views

Way to describe entering old password out of habit?

Recently I changed my password on my computer but for the past few days I keep entering the old one when trying to log in or unlock it. Is there a word or phrase in to describe this? Another example ...
22
votes
12answers
7k views

What is the word for a sentence that initially sounds profound or deep, that is, in fact, meaningless or empty?

I'm sure I saw, recently, a word for this, but I can no longer remember, or find, it.
22
votes
7answers
2k views

Why “Greater Toronto” rather than “Great Toronto”

Many big cities have their names preceded by Greater. Why not just Great? Does Greater indicate that the city is ambitious to expand itself? Why is Greater not used for country names such as Great ...
22
votes
16answers
4k views

Alternative to “daydream” without the pleasant connotation

I am looking for a word that means something like "daydream" or "fantasy", but without the connotation that I actually want this "imagining" to come true. For example, something that would fit the ...
22
votes
16answers
4k views

Is there a word for this clever piece of marketing?

I was shopping the other day when I decided to buy some Cranberry juice - you know, juice from cranberries - so I picked up what I thought was exactly that. It was only when I got home that I realised ...
22
votes
7answers
27k views

Difference between “the very first” and “first”

I have the sentence: Who wrote the very first dictionary ever? Is it any different from Who wrote the first dictionary ever? I don't get how something could be more first.
22
votes
6answers
63k views

“Hooker”, “whore”, “prostitute”, when to use which?

"Hooker", "whore", and "prostitute" all mean whore; what are the differences between them?
22
votes
5answers
28k 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 ...
22
votes
7answers
115k views

“In time” versus “on time”

Which one is correct: Submit your work in time. Submit your work on time.
22
votes
4answers
82k views

“How about” vs. “What about”

Is there a difference between starting a question with "How about" and "What about"? Can we use both expressions interchangeably?
22
votes
4answers
178k views

“At” or “in” the office?

When do you use at the office? And when do you use in the office? What's the difference between the phrases?
22
votes
1answer
13k views

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?) ...
22
votes
3answers
180k views

Co-Founder, Co-founder, or cofounder?

I've seen all three used and there doesn't seem to be a definitive one that I can find. I'm hedging towards Co-Founder as it's a title, but any clarity would be appreciated. Edit If it makes it any ...
22
votes
4answers
3k views

Transform or transformation?

Is there a difference between the words transform (noun) and transformation? Let me describe my problem. I have a mathematical model which I can transform into a better model with help of a data ...
22
votes
8answers
316k views

Which is correct: “with regards to,” “in regards with,” “regarding”?

I have been using the following phrases but I am still not confident that they are grammatically correct and sound right: "in regards with something" "with regards to something" "regarding something"...
22
votes
1answer
4k views

What is the difference in usage between “for instance” and “for example”?

What is the difference in usage between for instance and for example? Are they just interchangeable? I suspect they are not strictly but cannot seem to find an authoritative explanation.
22
votes
13answers
9k views

What is the name of the first decade in a century?

80s the "Eighties" 90s the "Nineties" 00s the ??? For that matter, what is the second decade called? The "tens" just doesn't sound right.
21
votes
13answers
4k views

Word to describe a computer system that is more error accepting?

I am looking for a word to describe a computer system or program or software that allows more erroneous inputs while still running fine instead of hanging easily. I was thinking of "forgiving" but ...
21
votes
13answers
4k views

Word for a body of water that is sufficiently populated with fish and worthy of fishing in

My game is exploration-and-interaction base. Now that the player has struggled and found a fishing rod, I would like my character to convey the message that "this pond appears to be sufficiently ...