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

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16
votes
6answers
34k 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
14answers
5k 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
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
12k 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
5k 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
9answers
17k 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 ...
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
86k 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
4k views

Bracket vs brace

I found the terms bracket and brace used interchangeably. Is there a difference, and what is it?
16
votes
5answers
11k 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 ...
16
votes
5answers
13k 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
389 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
7k 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
34k 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
3answers
8k 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
7k 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
2answers
17k 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 ...
16
votes
4answers
9k 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
5answers
20k views

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

What is the difference between gift and present?
15
votes
13answers
14k 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
11answers
22k 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?
15
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 ...
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
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
6answers
49k 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
3answers
9k 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
1k 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
5k 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 ...
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
9k 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
5k 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
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
13k 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
3answers
20k views

“Need of” vs. “need for”

Is "need of religion" grammatically incorrect as opposed to "need for religion"? Or "need of salt" vs. "need for salt"?
15
votes
3answers
684 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 ...
15
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 ...
15
votes
6answers
972 views

What would be the word equivalent of paperwork in the digital age?

The classic definition for paperwork says Routine work involving written documents such as forms, records, or letters. Now, given that we are in the digital age and computers have taken many ...
15
votes
3answers
3k views

Why can humour be dry but not wet?

Humour that is presented in a matter of fact way, as it weren't even an attempt to be funny, can be described as dry. And any sort of writing or information can be dry if it's overly factual in ...
15
votes
5answers
16k views

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

When should I use "in the Internet" and when "on the Internet"?
15
votes
3answers
5k 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 ...
15
votes
3answers
22k 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 ...
15
votes
6answers
9k views

When must one use “should” and when should one use “must”?

I tend to use should when it's a suggestion I don't have a strong opinion on, i.e. it could be done in many other ways than the one I'm suggesting and it can still happen. You should stop by that ...
15
votes
2answers
11k 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 ...
15
votes
2answers
20k views

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

What's the difference between 'resolve' and 'solve'?
15
votes
8answers
799 views

Does English have frequently used ordinary words that distinguish between equality and equivalence?

Does English have frequently used ordinary words that distinguish between equality and equivalence? For example: It was the same man on the photo. Equality. The two persons are identical. ...
14
votes
12answers
6k views

A word that means suffering great loss if failed but highly profitable if successful?

This is a task that'll bring you back a great profit if successful but may also end you up with heavy loss even your life. I have been thinking whether there is one word or a phrase or some self ...