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

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23
votes
9answers
9k 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
4answers
53k views

“Sit in a chair” vs. “sit on a chair”

What is the correct usage? I know you sit 'on' a sofa/couch. What about chair?
23
votes
10answers
5k 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 ...
23
votes
5answers
7k 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?
23
votes
10answers
2k 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
21k 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
34k views

Is it 'what it looks like' or 'how it looks like'?

I live in a country where English is not the native language. Oftentimes I hear my coworkers say they want to know or determine "how it looks like". This is grammatically closer to our native ...
23
votes
5answers
9k 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
3answers
4k 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.
23
votes
7answers
82k views

“Insecure” or “unsecure” when dealing with security?

Which is the appropriate word to be used in the sentence: The system we were testing was determined to be insecure/unsecure. The usage is in the context of security, specifically a lack ...
23
votes
5answers
19k 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
5answers
54k views

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

When should I use "in the Internet" and when "on the Internet"?
23
votes
3answers
8k 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
2answers
33k views

When to use override and overwrite

My intention is to use on the following sentence: The administrator has the right to ____ the user time slot for the venue A inside the online system. So, which word would be suitable: override or ...
23
votes
3answers
70k views

“Each other” vs. “one another”

When should I use each other and when should I use one another?
23
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 ...
22
votes
14answers
9k 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
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
3k 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
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
6answers
8k 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 ...
22
votes
10answers
19k 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 ...
22
votes
5answers
20k 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
2answers
26k 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?
22
votes
4answers
51k 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 ...
22
votes
3answers
73k 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?
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 ...
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
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.
21
votes
14answers
26k 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 ...
21
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 ...
21
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 ...
21
votes
7answers
22k 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.
21
votes
5answers
3k 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 ...
21
votes
8answers
5k views

What's it called when you unfairly wrong someone just because you don't like them?

For example: if a teacher marks a students work down just because they don't like the student. Or if a McDonald's worker only fills your coffee cup half way because they remember the last time when ...
21
votes
6answers
54k views

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

"Hooker", "whore", and "prostitute" all mean whore; what are the differences between them?
21
votes
7answers
3k views

Is “penultimate” commonly used? [closed]

Is penultimate commonly used in English, or are its variations (such as second to last) more common? I need to use it in conjunction with the expressions First Payment Date and Last Payment Date to ...
21
votes
7answers
3k views

What is the difference between “venom” and “poison”?

What is the difference between “venom” and “poison”? Both in usage and in meaning.
21
votes
5answers
10k views

Is “what on earth” still commonly used in real life? Is there any alternative that is not cursing or obscene?

I'm a non-native speaker. When I was at school, we were taught that "on earth" is used for emphasis in questions such as: What on earth are you talking about? However, from my experience ...
21
votes
6answers
91k 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?
21
votes
3answers
33k views

“Amount” vs. “number” vs. “quantity”

For what values of x does one write the number of x, the amount of x, or the quantity of x?
21
votes
1answer
2k views

“The ticket is printing” vs “…is being printed”

You're standing in front of a ticket vending machine and it says "The ticket is printing". Is that correct or should it be "The ticket is being printed"? EDIT: If both are correct, which one should ...
21
votes
1answer
12k 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?) ...
21
votes
2answers
7k views

Weekly, Daily, Hourly — Minutely…?

What is the correct word for "happening every minute"? How do you pronounce it?
21
votes
2answers
202k views

“Have a look” vs. “Take a look”

What is the difference between Have a look and Take a look (meaning/connotations)? For example: Have a look at the question. Take a look at the question. For some reason I only found first ...
21
votes
4answers
15k 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 ...
21
votes
7answers
35k views

What is the difference between illegal and unlawful?

I often hear an unlawful act, so what is an illegal act?
21
votes
12answers
7k 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
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.
20
votes
15answers
12k 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?