This tag is for questions about correctly using a word.

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12
votes
2answers
880 views

Guidelines for the use of the slang term “cise”

I heard an unfamiliar regional slang word used thusly: I'm gonna go cise (rhymes with ice) me a sandwich and then I'll be back. When I questioned the user, the speaker insisted it has been ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Why isn't the ball used in football called “a football ball”?

We know that you need a ball to play cricket, golf, or tennis, and we refer to the balls used in those sports as "cricket ball", "golf ball" and "tennis ball" respectively: you take the name of the ...
2
votes
3answers
224 views

Short name for rearranging verb and adjective places in a sentence

The usual "Working Hard?" greeting can be rearranged to "Hardly Working!" reply. Is there a name for this process? In the above statement instead of using "rearranging" can one use "permuting" ...
2
votes
2answers
282 views

“Passed” versus “past” instance in a published novel

A certain book by a famous author has been released in a new second edition. Unfortunately, it appears some changes have been made for the worse. For instance, in the first edition you read the ...
7
votes
1answer
19k views

Starting a sentence with “rather”

I've sometimes heard people use rather for connecting two sentences where the second one sets counterexample to something negated in the first. This is not a meaningful sentence. Rather, it's an ...
1
vote
1answer
137 views

“Loviest-doviest” or “lovey-doviest”?

I know that this term in its comparative form would 'lovier-dovier', but somehow I can't decide whether it is "loviest-doviest" or "lovey-doviest" Which is the correct form?
9
votes
4answers
1k views

Does using the word “crony” necessitate a negative connotation?

I have always heard the word "crony" in the context of acquaintanceships between people exploiting their closeness for less than noble means. Despite its definitions in the usual places as simply ...
2
votes
2answers
197 views

Does using the word “prefer” contain an implication of “necessity”?

I would prefer you come in and not your friend to get the signature. Above is the sentence in the email I received from my supervisor. I was in another city so I had no choice but to ask my ...
4
votes
2answers
460 views

What is the relationship between fame and infamy?

In layman's terms, what is the relationship between fame and infamy? Is fame required to be infamous? Are they (definitively) mutual exclusive?
19
votes
10answers
7k views

How should “deceptively” actually be used?

I'm not sure if this is a duplicate question, but I couldn't find anything on here on the topic. I can't seem to figure out what is actually meant when using the word "deceptive," or rather, what is ...
6
votes
10answers
5k views

A Word that means “to adapt or improve, to conform to a higher standard”?

I need to find or invent a word that suggests a system might be "adapted or improved to conform to a higher standard". A verb, noun, adjective or even adverb would be acceptable, but so far I haven't ...
27
votes
7answers
3k views

What makes “like” and “so” popular?

So, I was like, why does everyone say like and so in every sentence? Where did this trend come from, like, what started it, and is it actually grammatically correct to like, insert like into our ...
3
votes
2answers
45k views

What does N.B. stand for? [closed]

I have received letters for years, and some of the most common things in letters are post-scripts, however, there are also these funny little "N.B." which obviously do not stand for Post Script. What ...
5
votes
5answers
6k views

On the use of “both”

I keep running into this debate with my thesis advisor. Are both of these forms correct? It can be seen that both the users are able to... or It can be seen that the both users are able ...
9
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the difference between 'speculative', 'hypothetical' and 'conjectural'?

What is the difference between 'speculative', 'hypothetical' and 'conjectural'?
2
votes
3answers
5k views

What does 'hip' exactly mean?

A friend of mine said he would like to bring the word 'hip' back in to fashion. I thought of 'hip' as a body part, so I didn't understand him until he said," Riding horses is seriously great; I mean ...
1
vote
2answers
464 views

What is the common root between “contumacious” and “contumelious”?

I'm interested in understanding the meanings of the 2 words : contumacious - Wilfully obstinate; stubbornly disobedient and contumelious - Arrogantly insolent in the context of their word ...
16
votes
2answers
18k views

People's names as names for genitalia?

How did Peter, the surname, Johnson, and the nicknames for William(Willy) and Richard(Dick), come to mean penis? Was the first instance of these usages, related to a specific person? Are there more ...
4
votes
1answer
20k views

When would I use “might as well” instead of “may as well”?

If I understood the NY Times correctly, the words might and may are interchangeable except might is used to convey a greater level of uncertainty. Examples: I'll probably need gas for tomorrow's ...
2
votes
4answers
406 views

Word for “makes progress towards?”

If one has a goal, then one can say that certain activities make progress towards that goal, lead to completion of the goal. Is there a concise word for "is relevant to, makes progress towards [a ...
3
votes
0answers
227 views

Why do we say “odd” when describing numbers? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Where did the “odd” in “N odd years” come from? When we speak about numbers, we usually associate "odd" with it. For example, "We have 70-odd ...
33
votes
3answers
28k views

Why use the word “copy” in “do you copy that”?

I notice "do you copy that?" is used in movies to ask for confirmation in telephone/interphone conversation. I only know copy means make things duplicated, so why use it in "do you copy that"? Is ...
8
votes
7answers
13k views

What's an easy way to remember when to use “affect” or “effect”?

Is there an easy way to remember when to use the word affect or effect in a sentence? It is very confusing, and I still get them mixed up.
6
votes
5answers
2k views

Can sound be “blurry?”

Can sound be considered "blurry?" I have heard of visual things being "blurry." Examples of this include blurry photographs or blurred vision. Is the word "blurry" restricted only to vision? I ...
4
votes
2answers
686 views

What is the difference between Philanthropy and Philanthropism?

In a the context of a paper, there's a paragraph-title: "Philanthropism in American culture", I'm in general only familiar with the word philanthropy, hence I'm not sure what an appropriate title ...
1
vote
3answers
11k views

Difference in meaning between create/make/have impact

Came across "create a great impact" today, and I have never seen "impact" used with "create" (as far as I can remember). Is there a difference in meaning and usage between: create an impact have ...
10
votes
5answers
8k views

What preposition should one use with “redundant”?

I realize it's usually better to just say "A and B are redundant". But, I've also seen A is redundant with B ... to B ... of B all with basically the same intended meaning. Are any of these more ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Should I acronymize “Health, Safety, and Environment” as “HSE” or “SHE”?

Which abbreviation is most used for "Health, Safety and Environment"? I keep seeing different abbreviations, and a quick search on Google shows that they are all used widely. But does anyone actually ...
4
votes
2answers
424 views

Am I using “namesake” correctly?

I am writing an essay about (among other things) Gutenberg's printing press and Project Gutenberg. I want to say something along the lines of "Gutenberg's press was so popular that current things are ...
6
votes
3answers
5k views

Difference between “inflammable” and “flammable” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why are not infamous and inflammable the opposite of famous and flammable like incomplete, inactivity, inappropriate and so on? I'm very confused by the existence of ...
3
votes
3answers
707 views

Thieves' words for their victims

What words might a thief (of any variety) use to describe the victims of his theft? Con artists in film often use "mark", for example. Is there other jargon specific to the con branch* of crime? How ...
9
votes
2answers
15k views

What's the difference between “apparel” and “clothing”?

Those two words seems referring to one thing.
8
votes
2answers
841 views

Obama's use of “bemused”

I generally see the definition of "bemused" to be synonymous with "confused" or "puzzled", and that it is wrong to use it as a synonym of "amused". However I tend to see it used — as Obama did ...
4
votes
2answers
228 views

Can 'egalitarian' be used for gender bias also?

Egalitarian is typically used when discussing equality in political, social, economic and civil issues. Can it also be used to portray equality in gender issues? E.g. an egalitarian does not ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

The usage of “a little bit”

I was wondering how this phrase sounds in English: She is a little bit shy. In my country the people say "a little bit" a lot, and sometimes they use it wrong. I have the impression that in US ...
12
votes
3answers
3k views

Is it correct to use the word “birthday” for the deceased, or is there a better alternative?

How does one refer to the birthdate of someone who is no more, we usually say Today is my uncle's 80th birth anniversary (Common in Indian English, not sure if it's correct) or Today would have ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Usage and example of the word “litotes”

I've come across the word litotes, which means a rhetorical understatement. However, I’m having trouble understanding how to use it in colloquial English. Could someone please give an example?
14
votes
3answers
4k views

What is a “Hobbesian trap”?

A recent Economist article (see The drug war hits Central America) uses something called a Hobbesian trap like this: Central America has fallen into a Hobbesian trap: the better-off make ...
6
votes
2answers
2k views

What does it mean to call something Leviathan in comparison to others?

Wordweb describes Leviathan as: The largest or most massive thing of its kind Monstrous sea creature symbolizing evil in the Old Testament A recent Economist article (see The drug war ...
3
votes
2answers
295 views

“Dabble” in a positive sense

Can the word "dabble" be used in a positive sense? As in, A true "master of all trades", he has dabbled in several fields & contributed to numerous scientific advances.
17
votes
4answers
25k views

Using “seldomly”

I'm not a native English speaker. If at all possible I try to use spell checkers while writing anything on the web hence using one in Firefox as well. Whenever I try to write "seldomly" it highlights ...
15
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 ...
5
votes
5answers
16k views

Usage of 'much more'

Is saying much more grammatically correct? For instance, some purists argue that this is wrong: I'm much more comfortable with A than B and that it should be: I'm more comfortable with A ...
5
votes
4answers
504 views

Proper use of “replete”

Is replete used appropriately in the following sentence? His office was like a Hollywood museum, replete with an autographed photo of Marilyn Monroe. Or should replete only be used with ...
13
votes
7answers
3k views

How long does it take to mull something over?

I used the phrase "we'll mull it over" in an e-mail. My intent was to let the readers know that we (the team) needed to give it due consideration and come up with a considered response to their ...
12
votes
1answer
829 views

Whose usage determines correctness?

I will illustrate this question with an example, since I think it's much easier to see what I'm asking there, rather than from an abstract question. I am a native English speaker. I was, for a while, ...
83
votes
7answers
9k views

Can “doubt” sometimes mean “question”?

I often see questions on Stack Exchange sites which I presume are written by non-native English speakers who use the word "doubt" in place of the word "question". Is this a case of misunderstanding ...
1
vote
5answers
1k views

In which context does “anticipated” mean “came or took place before”?

In the New Oxford American Dictionary I read that one of the meaning of anticipate is come or take place before (an event or process expected or scheduled for a later). In which context is anticipate ...
11
votes
3answers
5k views

“Before” vs. “in front of”

Especially in speeches I often hear a sentence like I stand here before you... However during my English classes in school (I'm German) we were told that before should only be used if you're ...