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

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

14
votes
8answers
4k views

Is there any subtle difference between “to study” and “to learn”?

I don't know how to phrase my question better, but I just want to know if there will be any little difference if I directly replace one with the other.
14
votes
12answers
11k views

What is the difference between “quicker” and “faster”?

What is the correct word to use here and why: I will get there quicker [than you] vs. I will get there faster [than you] There must be similar adverbs for "slower".
14
votes
4answers
3k views

When describing a person without siblings, should I say “the -” or “an only child”?

I understand the phrase "only child" means the only person born from or adopted by a set of parents in a family, or a person with no siblings. I often hear the term used as "an only child," which ...
14
votes
12answers
1k views

Is there a word for the 'pitter patter' of speech?

Consider how you can hear the announcer of a sporting event in several languages, even those you do not know. Or even when it is turned down too low to understand in your own language. You still ...
14
votes
6answers
2k views

What is implied in calling someone “Citizen”?

In many dystopian stories, people call each other citizen. In other contexts too, I'm thinking Citizen Kane for example. Why? What is implied here?
14
votes
7answers
2k views

Is there a word that describes when two or more people have different understandings of the same word?

I'm asking this out of personal curiosity, it's not required for a document or anything. My friends and I often have interesting conversations or debates, and often times we get stuck on an issue ...
14
votes
9answers
4k views

Antonym of 'stigma'

I am looking for a word that has the opposite, positive connotation from 'stigma': For example, There is a stigma of laziness associated with poor people. What would be the replacement for ...
14
votes
14answers
3k views

Too serious to take seriously

This is a concept I often find myself trying to articulate in political discussions. You have a situation that everyone openly acknowledges, but it is so entrenched that people may paradoxically ...
14
votes
8answers
3k views

Best word for “Dr. Einstein, <blank> of the theory of Special Relativity.”

What is the best word to describe the creator of a scientific theory? As in: Einstein was the _____ of the theory of Special Relativity. Creator, author, originator, and inventor are ...
14
votes
3answers
16k 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 ...
14
votes
5answers
776 views

What Is the Real Name of the #?

I used to say "sharp sign" to refer to the # sign. Today a friend told me that the correct term is number sign or hash sign or even just hash. What is the difference between these options and ...
14
votes
6answers
5k views

What is the correct form of address for a police officer?

How should one address a police officer in English speaking countries? More specifically, in a non-emergency situation—asking directions for example—what is the expected form of address used to call a ...
14
votes
10answers
16k views

Is it offensive to call a redhead a “ginger”?

So I just re-watched this great comedy by Tim Minchin, and here are the questions: How bad/offensive is the g-word really (other than being an anagram of the n-word)? What are alternatives? Is ...
14
votes
6answers
13k views

“Like something more” or “like something better”

When people like something more than something else, it's common for me to hear them say they like it better than something else. Is this proper English? I've always thought the word more fits better, ...
14
votes
3answers
4k views

“open mike” vs. “open mic”

I run comedy shows, and at these comedy shows there is always an "open mike" section. Frequently I get people saying to me, shouldn't it be "open mic", because "mic" should be the shortened version ...
14
votes
5answers
815 views

Are there English equivalents to Japanese word, ‘有名税-Tax on the famous’?

When you are famous, you are always the target of gossip, curiosity, and ridicule. We call that “yu-umei-zei - 有名税” in Japanese, for which the literal translation is “tax (imposed) on being famous.” ...
14
votes
2answers
4k views

How popular is ‘Contrafibularities’ as a day-to-day English word?

I found the phrase “My sincerest contrafibularities, Tim” given to one of the comments to my question about the word, 'Cromulent' in EL&U site. As I was totally unfamiliar with the word, ...
14
votes
3answers
38k views

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

Which preposition is correct in the phrase "proficient in/at/with English"?
14
votes
10answers
21k views

Difference between “I'm fine” and “I'm good”

When my coworker in the US asks me "How are you?" I usually answer "I'm fine", but the last time I told him "I'm good" and he replied "I'm glad to hear that". It looks like "I'm fine" means "I'm OK" ...
14
votes
3answers
9k views

“Sick” or “ill”?

If I'm not healthy, am I sick or am I ill? Are these interchangeable, or do they merely overlap?
14
votes
3answers
631 views

What are wrong with this phrase?

Is the phrase what are wrong with XY and ZZ correct English? I stumbled upon it in a question on movies.SE: What are wrong with the bleach and the fish in the Machinist?, and instantly thought ...
14
votes
4answers
5k views

Are “so” and “so that” interchangeable?

A book suggests that we should not interchange "so" and "so that". "So" means "therefore", and "so that" means "in order that". However, it seems to me that in many cases they don't actually have a ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Is “eachother” correct?

I recently saw someone intentionally use "eachother" instead of "each other". In what circumstances would this be correct?
14
votes
11answers
38k views

“The point is moot”

I was recently called out for using the phrase "the point is moot" incorrectly. My intent was to indicate that I felt that the point wasn't really worth debating or discussing. I was then shown that ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

“User accounts” or “users account”

Is it correct to say user accounts or users account when referring to the accounts any user has on a site like this one? In general, in the case of a noun that is used as adjective for the noun that ...
14
votes
4answers
479 views

Name of the trade(s) that are involved in making animal-drawn carriages

What are the terms for tradesmen involved in making carriages? One specific vocation comes to mind: wheelwright or, simply, wheeler. But, obviously, that name implies narrow focus of the profession. ...
14
votes
2answers
14k 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?
14
votes
3answers
89k 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 ...
14
votes
4answers
10k views

“Relation” versus “relationship”

What is the difference between relation and relationship? Some say that relationship often refers to social connections. For instance, She has a close relationship with her daughter. How ...
14
votes
3answers
4k views

Is it incorrect to use “hard” when I mean “difficult”?

My late grandfather had several word-choice peeves for which he would gently interrupt a speaker, especially a grandchild, in order to correct. The one I remember most was his dislike for the use of ...
14
votes
2answers
15k views

Why is “guinea pig” used as the colloquial term for test subjects?

Why do we refer to people as guinea pigs when discussing the subjects of an informal experiment? Surely mice, rabbits and rats are much more common experimental subjects. Indeed, it's rare that you'll ...
14
votes
3answers
961 views

Is there a word to describe one who brags by complaining?

Is there a word to describe someone who uses complaints to indirectly brag about themselves? An example would be "I hate going to concerts because people start singing and because I have perfect ...
13
votes
12answers
2k views

What word or phrase means “a loss of what was on your mind”?

Sometimes, in the middle of a conversation, a "loss of mind" can affect the speaker. What is the word for that situation and that person ? Are there more specific terms or phrases than: the loss ...
13
votes
13answers
2k views
+300

What do you call someone who can't keep secrets?

Some one who is not good at keeping secrets. In my native language it is called "chugalkhor" but it's a slang. So I can't translate it. What do you call such a person who can't keep secrets because ...
13
votes
7answers
2k views

What do you call an indoor water tap?

I always thought water sources were called taps in kitchens, bathrooms etc, but a Google search only returned outdoor taps. So my question is, what are indoor taps really called? Like this one: ...
13
votes
11answers
16k views

What would you call a person from India?

My guess would be Indian, but that sounds like a guy with a feather on his head who hunts buffalo. Is there a better name?
13
votes
9answers
3k views

What is a word for somebody who lies to themselves

I feel like the fact that people lie to themselves about things can tell you a lot about that person but I just can't put my finger on a single word that I'd use to describe them. In fact, not just ...
13
votes
9answers
541 views

A non-straight route

In informal speech, how would you describe a bus that travels from point A to point B by passing through every part of the city instead of using the straight way? When you give someone an advice which ...
13
votes
5answers
942 views

What does a door do on its hinge?

In general sense of the language we would say that a door "opens" or "closes". But I am looking for a one-word answer(preferably) that would indicate its motion around the hinge. Does it swivel, ...
13
votes
4answers
806 views

Two children from/with/by my ex-husband

Are all of the following sentences OK? I have two children with my ex-husband. I have two children from my ex-husband. I have two children by my ex-husband. Do they mean the same ...
13
votes
7answers
1k views

Are there commonly used words to denote different gradations of friendship in English?

In English there is only one word for grade of friendship: friends. All of you agree that friends are different: with some of them you just drank beer few times, other you know for many years and you ...
13
votes
7answers
4k views

What would you call a former criminal who has been released from prison?

What do you call a former criminal who has served their sentence and been released from prison? I thought of “convicted criminal”, but that might imply the person is still a criminal and/or serving a ...
13
votes
9answers
13k views

What's the difference between “bucket” and “pail”?

What is the difference between bucket and pail? Is there a distinction between the shape of a bucket and the shape of a pail? Are buckets and pails made of different materials? Is there a difference ...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

The place where the railroad crosses the road

What do you call those places where a railroad crosses an automobile road?: Of course, I've heard what they are called in English, but I suspect that they are referred to differently depending on ...
13
votes
5answers
729 views

How to refer to sexuality in a fictional universe of one sex?

Notch, the creator of the game Minecraft, has said in a blog post that there is only one sex in the game, and any animal can breed with any other animal of the same species. He uses the word ...
13
votes
6answers
56k views

Has “segway” become an acceptable substitute for “segue”?

For a long time, I used the word segway in relative contentment, as a useful word to mean "to transition to." As in: We're getting off-topic. Let's segway to the next discussion point, shall we? ...
13
votes
6answers
24k views

What does “going forward” mean?

In more and more podcasts and presentations I hear sentences such as this one: That is our strategy going forward. What meaning does going forward add to the sentence? That is, how is it ...
13
votes
7answers
521 views

What is the appropriate word for “following trail” or similar in English?

In this scenario, suppose someone gives me a down vote, for whatever reason. After that someone else comes and sees the down vote and thinks this should be down voted. Another down vote. Another ...
13
votes
10answers
3k views

Word for someone who is extremely up-to-date with the latest facts (news or research)

I seek a word for one who is up-to-date, enlightened, and extremely well informed about the latest developments or research in a particular field. An example is a person who complains about a recent ...
13
votes
6answers
5k views

“peak” vs “summit”

According to the dictionary: peak — the pointed top of a mountain; a mountain with a pointed top summit — the highest point of something, especially the top of a mountain In the picture of the ...