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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21
votes
9answers
6k 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 ...
21
votes
8answers
6k 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
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
12k 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
3answers
39k 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
5answers
9k 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. ...
21
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?) ...
21
votes
3answers
84k views

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

What's the difference between 'resolve' and 'solve'?
21
votes
6answers
2k views

When someone can speak a language very well, they are “fluent”. What if you can only understand it?

When someone can speak a language very well, they are fluent. Is there a word to describe a situation where you can understand the language when spoken to you perfectly, but just can't speak it as ...
21
votes
7answers
46k views

What's the difference between “big” and “large”?

What's the proper way to say: a large family or a big family? What's the difference between them?
21
votes
7answers
38k views

What is the difference between illegal and unlawful?

I often hear an unlawful act, so what is an illegal act?
21
votes
5answers
49k views

What is the difference between “gift” and “present”?

What is the difference between gift and present?
20
votes
15answers
15k 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?
20
votes
19answers
34k views

An inoffensive word for “stupid”?

In my native language, there is a word that has a meaning similar to stupid, but it is friendly and usually used for a close friend or loved one. It even helps the target people to feel happy in some ...
20
votes
6answers
2k views

What is the best way to explain how to choose between “its” and “it's”?

Probably one of the most frequent grammar mistakes in the English language is: The dog sat on it's mat. Since spelling checkers don't catch it, and it is even logical, since you would correctly ...
20
votes
15answers
17k views

What is the word for a path that is made naturally by the action of people walking?

I remember one day, when I was supposed to be at school, hanging out at a friends house and watching an episode of Call My Bluff and there was a word that meant something like: A path that is made ...
20
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the inverse of “guardian”?

If I am your guardian, what does that make you to me?
20
votes
7answers
4k views

Name for fine hair on human skin

Apart from our palms and the soles of our feet, all human skin is covered with hair. What is the word for the fine hair on a human being’s skin? I would be especially interested in what you would ...
20
votes
9answers
126k views

Using “dear”, “darling”, or “honey” to address a friend

As far as I know dear, darling, and honey are commonly used between lovers, but I suppose there are more words like that. What else is commonly used? Which of these can be used to address a (close/...
20
votes
3answers
899 views

“e.g.” versus “i.e.”

What are the differences between these two abbreviations? What are the appropriate situations to use each?
20
votes
6answers
120k views

“Speak to” vs. “Speak with”

What are the differences between these two phrasal verbs and what are the best situations to use each?
20
votes
15answers
46k views

Antonym for “exceed” [duplicate]

I am trying to find a single word antonym for "exceed". I am using the word as a verb (so "beneath" doesn't work) and it should have a positive connotation (as in a golf score which falls below par). ...
20
votes
7answers
3k views

Can “wet” be used for liquids other than water?

Wet can be used to describe being dowsed in liquids such as beer, milk, juice, urine etc. All of these, however, are water-based. Can wet be used for a liquid that has no water? Can you be wet by ...
20
votes
11answers
112k 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 ...
20
votes
4answers
42k views

“Liberty” versus “freedom”

What is the difference, if any, between liberty and freedom? Does it convey the same meaning if "Status of liberty" is replaced with "status of freedom" ? or every occurrence of "liberty" in ...
20
votes
5answers
4k 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 ...
20
votes
2answers
22k views

Can “due to” and “because of ” be used interchangeably?

Is it fine to use due to in place of because of ? How about the other way around? Are any of these sentences ungrammatical? He was lost because of the storm. He was lost due to the storm. He lost ...
20
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the names of the pieces of a question mark?

A question mark ? seems to be composed of two distinct pieces, top and bottom. Do these pieces have their own names, and if so, what are they?
19
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 ...
19
votes
16answers
3k views

Word for individual who tips the balance

Suppose there are two vice presidents vying for influence/supremacy within an organization. One vice president is admittedly weaker than the other, so he forms an alliance with a powerful underling ...
19
votes
3answers
4k views

Why is it “ladies and gentlemen” instead of “gentlemen and ladies”? [duplicate]

Is there a specific reason for this? After all, it is "boys and girls", rather than "girls and boys". If the boy (male) comes first here, why doesn't it come first in "ladies and gentlemen"?
19
votes
5answers
3k 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 what'...
19
votes
9answers
32k 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 ...
19
votes
7answers
18k views

“All that is gold does not glitter”

"All that is gold does not glitter" is the first line of a poem from the Lord of the Rings and it's supposed to mean "not all gold glitters" but I'm struggling to see how this can be deduced. If all ...
19
votes
2answers
170k 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?
19
votes
5answers
29k 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?
19
votes
4answers
4k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
2k 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, "...
19
votes
5answers
17k views

Is there a subtle difference between “inherent” and “intrinsic”?

I've always used "inherent" and "intrinsic" interchangeably. Dictionary.com doesn't offer much help in distinguishing them.
19
votes
3answers
124k views

“Congratulate for” vs. “congratulate on”

Which is correct? I congratulated him for coming first in the race. I congratulated him on coming first in the race.
19
votes
1answer
52k views

Independent/independently of/from

Which of these are correct, and why? Suggestions for rephrasing it are also welcome. [noun] was developed independently of [noun] [noun] was developed independently from [noun] [noun] ...
19
votes
2answers
1k views

When did we stop translating proper names?

It used to be that one would just translate a proper name that was in another language into English when referring to that entity. For example, William the Conqueror, Christopher Columbus, King ...
18
votes
17answers
8k views

A word that means: “to break someone's lie”? I want to aggressively point out that she or he is lying

What word (or expression) can I use that means “to break someone's lie”? I mean to aggressively point out that she or he is lying. She stood up and ___ his lie/that he was a liar. I'm ...
18
votes
11answers
3k views

Pejorative for a room of low quality (esp. prison cell)

I am a non-native speaker looking for a pejorative describing a living space that is of extremely low quality and condition, especially (but not necessarily limited to) a prison cell. I did some ...
18
votes
15answers
6k views

Is there a word or term to describe when someone focuses on a specific example, rather than the problem at large?

For those who don't play video games, there's a growing trend in the industry called "Microtransactions" - a small fee the player can pay for certain things in game. Usually something small, such as a ...
18
votes
16answers
30k 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 ...
18
votes
8answers
4k views

Me and my ancestors - single word

I'd like to find a single noun that relates to me and which corresponds to the list of people including me and each of my ancestors. I've already rejected the following words: genealogy : means a ...
18
votes
25answers
3k views

A critical situation in which no trick works?

How could one describe a situation in which no trick, no approach, no magic, nothing at all works to change the outcome? One where you have no choice but to accept things as they are. For example, I ...