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

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18
votes
4answers
3k views

When are “if” and “whether” equivalent?

Are if and whether equivalent in sentences like the ones below? How to determine if my saddle is too high? How to determine whether my saddle is too high? We should check if everything ...
18
votes
4answers
936 views

“Upvote” vs. “up vote” vs. “up-vote”

Should I use "upvote", "up vote", or "up-vote" on SE sites? What about "downvote"? They're not words in the sense that they're in the dictionary, but they are commonly used in this community. Also, ...
18
votes
4answers
14k 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 ...
18
votes
7answers
23k views

What is the difference between illegal and unlawful?

I often hear an unlawful act, so what is an illegal act?
17
votes
17answers
6k views

Appropriate word for a young person who behaves like a cynical old person?

What is an appropriate term for a young person (child, or teenager) whose words and actions mimic that of a much older person from a previous generation? Such a youngster would demonstrate strong ...
17
votes
7answers
5k views

What is someone called who makes and sells sandwiches?

I am translating a text from Persian to English. I need to use an equivalent for "ساندویچی" (pronounced 'Sandwichi')(In Persian, a person who makes and sells sandwiches. It also applies to the place, ...
17
votes
10answers
2k views

What is an appropriate word for a “rerise”?

I'm wondering if there is a more appropriate term in English that describes a rise of something (like a nation) that has already achieved that status before, like a second rise or re-rise.
17
votes
9answers
4k views

Is there a good word for a square-rectangle relationship?

Any given square is always a rectangle, but a rectangle isn't necessarily a square, so squares and rectangles have a _ relationship. I've been noticing this sort of thing everywhere ever since I ...
17
votes
12answers
2k views

An Exocentric compound for Children

I have written a story for children in Persian. Somewhere in the story, I have mentioned "pear". "Pear" In Farsi is gool-abbi, which translates literally as "blue flower". I have mentioned that as ...
17
votes
6answers
58k 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?
17
votes
2answers
865 views

How to rephrase “cream flavoured cream”?

I saw this on my wafers the other day: "Wafers with cream flavoured cream". This sounds horribly recursive to my ear. How can you rephrase it or use a synonym without losing the original meaning?
17
votes
3answers
7k views

“Make something out of” or “Make something with”?

So there was a fill in quiz I had to do, and there was a question it says: Bill can make a doghouse _ paper. That's cool. I filled in 'out of'. Bill can make a doghouse out of paper. And ...
17
votes
4answers
6k views

Is it awkward to use the word “aubergine” instead of “eggplant”?

According to Google Ngrams eggplant is far more common (although in British English aubergine seems to have a small advantage over eggplant). So, not being a native speaker of English I wonder ...
17
votes
10answers
2k views

Alternative to “typo”

I often write and see written something like "Fix typo" in commit messages, when the fix was not in fact for a "typographical error". It might have been a duplicate word, a small grammatical problem ...
17
votes
3answers
9k views

Is “since” a synonym of “because”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When are “because”, “since”,“for” and “as” interchangeable? A few years ago, I was told that "since" should only be used ...
17
votes
9answers
19k views

Do native English speakers use the word “touristic”?

A word usage that always annoys me and feels like Euroenglish to me is "touristic". I don't believe I've ever seen it printed or heard it used by a native English speaker and I've travelled in most ...
17
votes
4answers
6k views

'less' is to 'fewer' as 'more' is to what?

This question is related to the previous one on less-vs-fewer. I prefer using fewer instead of less when referring to discrete items. Something sounds off about less than ten people, in my opinion. ...
17
votes
11answers
74k 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 ...
17
votes
5answers
13k 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 ...
17
votes
2answers
19k 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?
17
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there anything wrong with the word “denigrate”?

A few years ago there was a controversy over the word niggardly — a perfectly innocent word that unfortunately sounds like a racial slur. Given that controversy, is it safe to use denigrate, which ...
17
votes
3answers
31k views

Which is correct: “This is her” or “This is she”?

Upon answering the telephone, the person calling asks if Joan is available. If Joan is the person who answered the phone, should she say "This is her" or "This is she"?
17
votes
9answers
1k views

What is a good way to refer to stories that are meant for adults?

There are stories for children and for adults. But when I say "adult stories" people tend to think they are erotica/porn stories. What is a good way to refer to adult stories? Example of adult ...
17
votes
2answers
21k 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 ...
17
votes
3answers
9k 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 ...
17
votes
4answers
11k views

Difference between “spicy” and “hot”

I make a distinction between "hot" and "spicy" food ("hot" not referring to temperature). I consider "hot" food the kind that "burns" and "spicy" food that has lots of flavor, but that may or may not ...
16
votes
16answers
13k views

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
votes
17answers
4k views

Is there a word for a comment which makes no sense or adds nothing to the current discussion?

Consider this conversation: John: I am giving free chess lessons. Mary: Nice! You’re a true teacher. John: How so? Mary: A true teacher imparts knowledge without a price tag. John: But ...
16
votes
9answers
2k views

Word for a police man getting money from someone forcefully

My wife bought a puppet from a roadside salesman. She noticed a policeman taking away the money from the salesman forcefully. Is there an appropriate word for the policeman's behaviour? Bribe is not ...
16
votes
13answers
24k views

Is there a male equivalent of 'bitch'?

While I know you can attribute 'bitch' to a male, I feel there is a sense of femininity. I was wondering if there is a colloquial equivalent that describes someone with the qualities of a 'bitch' ...
16
votes
6answers
3k views

What do you call those man-made “wooden paths” that are usually found in mountains?

This what I'm referring to: I guess the starting section can be called wooden steps, but as it goes further, it's no longer a step but a "path." What do you call the whole structure? (I'm looking ...
16
votes
6answers
2k views

Antonym for “discombobulate”

I'm looking for a good antonym to discombobulate. I'm aware that the word is made-up American slang and as such there is no such thing as to be combobulated. If a person is anything but ...
16
votes
6answers
4k views

Friendlier way to express you paid for a person's drink/dinner and expect it to be paid back

In Dutch we have the word voorschieten. In English it translates — according to Google Translate — to "advance, lend, disburse". The Dutch word voorschieten is used in an informal setting between ...
16
votes
14answers
6k views

What is a phrase or a word for someone who says “I knew that would happen” after the fact?

Is there a word or phrase that describes someone who claims to have known something all along, but only proclaim this after the incident has occurred?
16
votes
6answers
37k views

“Is there something wrong?” or “Is there anything wrong?”

Is there any difference between "Is there something wrong?" and "Is there anything wrong?"? Also, you would say "He would like something to drink" but "Would you like anything to drink?", right? I'd ...
16
votes
7answers
2k views

Phenomenon of overused and popular words [closed]

Certain words or phrases become really popular. These words are picked up by many people, are overused, and sometimes misused to such an extent that the whole meaning of the word changes, or is even ...
16
votes
4answers
14k views

In a tournament, do I get a “by”, a “bye”, or a “buy”? [closed]

If there are an odd number of competitors at any stage of a single-elimination tournament, one player is excused from play and continues on as if he had defeated his (nonexistent) opponent. This is ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a word or a common phrase for this motion of the hands

I want to describe this motion with words. What would be the concise way? (Actually it's this motion but with the hands closer to the lap than the face but that's not very important)
16
votes
5answers
6k views

What is the opposite of the “sub” prefix?

The term subcategories refers to lower level categories. Which term should I use to refer to higher level categories? Does supercategories sound right?
16
votes
8answers
2k views

What do we call questions which have a definite, known answer?

Is there a standard adjective or term which classifies "questions with a known, single, unambiguous, objective, and correct answer"? That is, questions like "2+2=?" or "What is the capital of Ohio?", ...
16
votes
5answers
4k views

Burn up or burn down?

What's the difference between "burn up" and "burn down"? Or is there a difference at all?
16
votes
2answers
100k views

Should I use “everyone's”, “everyones'” or “everyones”?

I have the following sentence: Joe got everyone's attention and started to speak. Should it be everyone's, everyones' or everyones?
16
votes
3answers
5k views

Bracket vs brace

I found the terms bracket and brace used interchangeably. Is there a difference, and what is it?
16
votes
5answers
9k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
15k views

“right” vs “correct”

Except when we use right to denote direction, what is the difference between these two terms? Also, which one is the preferred construction between these two Am I right? or Am I correct?
16
votes
5answers
390 views

What's the name for those times when your attempts to get a task done right eventually get you to momentarily perform increasingly worse?

If you've tried to perfect a difficult, long task by repeating it multiple times, you'll know what I'm talking about. You start tackling the first few phases of the problem, until you succeed. Then ...
16
votes
4answers
8k views

Font/Fount of Information?

I have seen it both ways: He is a veritable font of information. He is a veritable fount of information. The first is referenced by M-W's definition and seems to match the pronunciation I'm ...
16
votes
4answers
38k views

“Can hardly wait” versus “can't hardly wait”

This has been bothering me for a while and I'm finally at a forum where I feel like I might get an answer. I have heard people say "I can hardly wait for summer to get here" and I've also heard "I ...
16
votes
2answers
8k views

Does “filling out” equal to “filling in”?

I quoted the following from a pamphlet: Please read the instructions carefully before filling out the application form. The application will be returned to you and the registration may be ...
16
votes
3answers
28k views

What's the difference between 'resolve' and 'solve'?

What's the difference between 'resolve' and 'solve'?