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

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17
votes
2answers
20k 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
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 ...
16
votes
16answers
12k 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
22k 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
36k 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
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 ...
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
95k 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
14k 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
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?
16
votes
7answers
17k views

Equivalent of “both” when referring to three or more items?

What would be the correct word to use when referring to three or more items, in the same manner as the word both? For example, using two words, with the word both: "There are several ...
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
36k 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
4answers
10k 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
3answers
24k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
22k views

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

What is the difference between gift and present?
15
votes
13answers
16k views

What do you call someone who betrays his/her spouse?

What do you call someone who betrays his/her spouse? Is the word different for men and women? Is it different for people who are in a relationship and not still married?
15
votes
16answers
4k views

What do you call an individual who tolerates criticism?

Is there an English word to refer to someone who tolerates (or welcomes, accepts) criticism given about them? Is there an adjective to use for such a person?
15
votes
13answers
4k views

Is there a word or phrase for someone who works hard at night and does not sleep?

All the words or phrases I know for people who stay up at night merely describe the habit of not sleeping (e.g.: a night owl or insomniac) I am looking for a word or phrase with an emphasis on ...
15
votes
6answers
2k views

How does one describe people who do not pick up irony, or vibes?

I realise that at a severe level this can present as a symptom of Asperger's Syndrome, or High Functioning Autism. But I am not talking about that. I am referring to people who just don't seem to ...
15
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 ...
15
votes
6answers
55k 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?
15
votes
6answers
3k 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?
15
votes
3answers
10k views

Is there a difference between “leading edge” and “bleeding edge”?

It seems to me that "leading edge" is the more established phrase, while "bleeding edge" is basically the same thing but the user has adapted the phrase for extra (rather meaningless) emphasis. Or is ...
15
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
15
votes
4answers
4k views

What is the difference between an apocalypse and a cataclysm?

What is the difference between an apocalypse and a cataclysm? I've been told that an apocalypse is an act of God, but we seem to use it as a generic term for any grand disaster. What is the ...
15
votes
4answers
10k views

Is “kinda” a word?

I've used "kinda" as a word basically meaning "kind of" just run together. I wouldn't use it formally, but I noticed that Microsoft Word's spellchecker says that it isn't a word. I searched some and ...
15
votes
3answers
6k views

Short Sleeves or Shirt Sleeves

I've always referred to a shirt that has short sleeves as a "short sleeve" shirt. However, I've also heard it be referred to as a "shirt sleeve" shirt or "wearing shirt sleeves." This seems like a ...
15
votes
6answers
74k 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? ...
15
votes
3answers
64k 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?
15
votes
10answers
34k 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" ...
15
votes
5answers
2k views

What are English counterparts to Japanese Honne (real intent) and Tatemae (public position)?

I think many foreigners who have lived or worked in Japan heard this set of words, “Honne 本音– real intent” and “Tatemae 建前– outward reason.” Actually many expatriate colleagues I had worked with in ...
15
votes
3answers
15k views

“Sick” or “ill”?

If I'm not healthy, am I sick or am I ill? Are these interchangeable, or do they merely overlap?
15
votes
6answers
19k views

Difference between “commentor” and “commentator”

What is the difference between commentor and commentator? Is commentor or commenter a legitimate English word?
15
votes
1answer
19k views

Which is correct: “you and I” or “you and me”?

I was told the correct usage is for example: "My wife and me" but I hear often "I and my wife" or "my wife and I". Google gives 34M results for "My wife and I" and 909K results for "My wife and me" ...