This tag is for questions about correctly using a word.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

3
votes
3answers
426 views

Why do exciting things “rock”?

Rock (v): 6. Slang. to be very good, impressive, exciting, or effective: This show really rocks. So where did this odd usage originate?
3
votes
4answers
4k views

Meaning of “suboptimal” [closed]

I find myself using the word suboptimal quite a lot. In my understanding it is an understatement in itself, as suboptimal is not optimal at all and the subject needs drastic improvements. Is this ...
7
votes
2answers
8k views

When should I use “finish” instead of “complete,” and vice versa?

I am confused about when to use finish instead of complete and vice versa. May you help me in understanding when to use those words?
0
votes
2answers
9k views

When should I use “is”, and when “does”? [closed]

I know this is really basic, and I know the answer internally, I just find that I can't articulate it. When would you use "is", and when is "does" more appropriate? E.g. "The sun is green", vs "The ...
2
votes
4answers
15k views

Difference between “unto” and “to”

What are the differences between "unto" and "to"? It seems that in many contexts where the word "unto" is used, "to" could be substituted and would be perfectly correct. It reminds me of ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

'Potential' as an adjective

Here is one of those things that I have simply never thought about until recently. I have a friend who speaks English as a second language and so still has a few overhanging errors in his speech; One ...
3
votes
4answers
1k views

Blood - Bloods - pluralisation

Why is it that the plural of 'blood' is 'blood' in normal usage but 'bloods' (e.g. 'I'll be taking some bloods') is acceptable in a medical context? Are there any words with similar pluralisation ...
11
votes
7answers
7k views

When is it appropriate or disrespectful to refer to someone as “she”?

My boss has asked me not to refer to her as she because she says it's disrespectful. After I refer to her by her proper name or by her title, isn't it appropriate to refer to her as she?
3
votes
7answers
7k views

What are the different nuances of “passing with distinction” in a CV?

I am in the middle of translating my (German) CV to English. In the German/Austrian school system, there is the notion of passing ... ... "mit gutem Erfolg" (which is better than average, yet not ...
4
votes
3answers
28k views

“Subtotal” vs “total”

I've always thought of subtotal as a calculated value that is not the final amount on an invoice (for example, a sum of individual prices before discounts/taxes are applied, or the total for a ...
14
votes
5answers
8k views

Is it correct to say “He got a fatal injury in the accident” when there is a possibility that the person’s life will be saved?

I would like to know whether “fatal injury” means (1) an injury which causes a death, (2) an injury which almost causes a death but not necessarily does, or (3) both (1) and (2) depending on the ...
-1
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there a word/ short phrase for extension of self / positive reflection of self? [closed]

I'm looking for a word / short phrase for "extension of self" (or at least "positive reflection of self") one could give to something they've created. E.g. A company could be named _______ implying ...
4
votes
1answer
29k views

When can I use “as well” as a synonym for “too” or “also”?

I remember that I can use "as well" as a synonym for "too" (or "also"). Is there any case in which I can't do this? Am I safe using either of them? This is partly related to these questions: ...
5
votes
1answer
277 views

Preposition to use with “concordance”

Do you say concordance of A and B, concordance of A with B, concordance between A and B, or something else?
3
votes
4answers
4k views

Name for relation between a man’s two wives?

What is the relation between the two wives of a man called?
8
votes
3answers
4k views

How do the terms “fanboy” and “fangirl” differ from the generic term “fan?”

Prompted by the question: " How did kool-aid come to be the drink of fanboys? " Wikipedia's explanation on "Fanboy (disambiguation)" provides: A fanboy is a person considered to belong to one or ...
2
votes
2answers
5k views

User: She, He, She or He, or They? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Is there a correct gender neutral, singular pronoun (his vs. her vs. their)? I would like to know if when I'm writing about a "user" (in the broad sense), what do I ...
2
votes
3answers
245 views

Usage of “break off one's plans”

I have heard the expression break off one's plans in the context of breaking off one's holidays due to an emergency. He had to break off his holidays to come back for the meeting. What are other ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

How commonly does “done” replace “did”?

How common is it for native English speakers to actively replace the past tense 'did' with the past participle 'done'? I used to think it was only really done in rather vulgar dialects, but I have ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

What does “jackpot” mean in this passage?

When you say 'jackpot,' would you normally refer to it as something that you should be happy about, or something that you can very highly unlikely obtain? I find this use of 'jackpot' hard to ...
3
votes
4answers
6k views

Words that can be repeated and still make sense [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are there other repeated single word sentences like the Buffalo sentence? Are there words in English like had that can be repeated while still making sense? For example, ...
9
votes
3answers
1k views

Where can I find a list of common padding words?

Like a lot of people, I actually have the habit of actually adding a lot of actual padding words when I actually write. A common one I use is actually. These are actually rarely worth keeping, ...
6
votes
3answers
7k views

Difference between “function” and “operation”

Which one of the following is correct? Instructions given by the Vice Principal on behalf of the Principal for smooth function of the school must be followed by all staff members. or ...
2
votes
2answers
446 views

Is “of course” just a warning that something is NOT obvious?

I've come to feel that the phrase "of course" is just a warning that--perk up!--something is NOT "of course." Consider these examples: NY Times: "There is of course a difference between speculative ...
4
votes
7answers
692 views

Appropriate use of the term “transversely”

In the following paragraph, is it appropriate to use the term "transversely" to describe something that has the opposite effect? Tests have shown that the lower the range, the more likely that a ...
2
votes
2answers
396 views

“While” as a non-temporal adverb

Is it correct in formal writing to use while as a non-temporal adverb? For instance Phenomenon A is generated by XXX, while phenomenon B is generated by YYY Should I rather use : Phenomenon ...
9
votes
4answers
3k views

Is ‘Take something cum grano salis’ a popular phrase? Can I use it in casual conversation?

I came across the phrase, ‘cum grano salis’ in the article written by Chris Cillizza, a political pundit in the August 8th Washington Post’s article under the title ‘GOP smells blood in Presidential ...
10
votes
3answers
50k views

Correct use of “circa”

I understand the use of circa / c. as it applies to approximating dates. However, I have a writer who (over)uses the word in other contexts. Examples: ... from circa early 1990's up until circa 8 ...
1
vote
2answers
106 views

What is the correct spelling: “filterbank” or “filter bank”

On Wikipedia, the usage is "filter bank" exclusively. A search on Google Scholar returns essentially the same number of both spellings. This is for a scientific document about digital signal ...
1
vote
2answers
261 views

Something about the name of “Designer Baby” not quite right to me

I don't know about you, but to me, the term "Designer Baby" sounds wrong. Designer Babies are: The colloquial term "designer baby" refers to a baby whose genetic makeup has been artificially ...
11
votes
3answers
25k views

Difference between “in progress” and “in process”

When reporting on a project that is still being worked on, do you call it in progress or do you call it in process? I have heard both, and both make sense in their own way. I want to know what both ...
3
votes
1answer
73 views

'Have both' -not sure I'm using this correctly

Is this correct? Have both of today’s meetings been cancelled?
5
votes
2answers
1k views

How to express that you can understand the English that someone spoke?

"I can read English", "I can speak English", or "I can write English" are all correct uses of the word "English". But is "I can listen to English" correct English? Or should I say "I can hear ...
5
votes
4answers
2k views

What does “very approximate” mean?

An approximate answer is one which is close to the correct answer. Likewise, we can talk of an approximate model, or approximate methods in mathematics. The etymology is from the Latin ad, "to" and ...
6
votes
4answers
647 views

In a software meant to be used internationally, should I use “post code”, “postal code” or “zip code”?

In a software meant to be used internationally, should I use "post code", "postal code" or "zip code"? As most of countries have some sort of implementation of this code, I'm after the term that ...
5
votes
5answers
11k views

Difference between “to fear” and “to be afraid of”

I fear/am afraid I changed my gender. The very thing I fear/am afraid of is the thing that I can't realize that I actually changed not the thing that I consciously know that I changed. That ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

What does “This being…” mean here?

This being Silverlight, you’d expect there to be some way to get the XAML representation of the selected text—and you’d be right. What does the clause 'This being Silverlight', and especially ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

What is the meaning of “upon” here?

In the New York Times: "And it worked — boy, did it work. Visitors flooded Hulu upon its public opening in March 2008." Dictionary.com: 4. immediately or very soon after 5. on the ...
0
votes
1answer
358 views

Is the word “Einstein” a verb? [closed]

I know that a lot of people use the word "Einstein" to convey someone as a genius, but I was wondering if Einstein, as a verb, is an official term.
5
votes
3answers
455 views

What might “three several” mean?

The context is from a story I read recently in an omnibus (I found that link on the spur of the moment): ...were afterwards burnt to death in three several fires. I suppose three was meant, but ...
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Etymology of seemingly weird collective nouns [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Terms for collections of animals In the collective names unkindness of ravens, shrewdness of apes, murder of crows, I cannot find any remote relation to a group. What is ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Voice mail text: “Please leave a message after the…”

I am wondering: Is "Please leave a message after the signal" American English? You will most often hear "...after the tone" in the UK, I guess.
7
votes
4answers
1k views

Why do some people say “the reason is is that,” with “is” twice in a row?

Does anybody have any conjectures as to why this quirk is so common? For an example, see this TED talk by Kevin Slavin.
12
votes
1answer
3k views

Why do “catsup” and “ketchup” coexist?

I do not often come across the word catsup, but I do see it every once in a while, and I know it means ketchup. What I don't know is why they both came to be words for the same thing (though ketchup ...
2
votes
3answers
17k views

“At this time” vs “At that time”

Is it acceptable to use "at this time" when referring to a specific point in time in the past? While in the process of telling a story, for example, that happens completely in the past? To me it just ...
16
votes
4answers
15k views

Is “how come” slang?

Sample Conversation: A: How are you? B: I am mad. A: How come? I thought that how come was a logical word choice but upon speaking with somebody for whom English is a second language, ...
3
votes
3answers
12k views

“I'm starving” vs. “I'm starved”

I've heard on some American TV shows "I'm starving" instead of "I'm starved". What is the correct usage of both sentences?.
3
votes
3answers
449 views

Is “senility” pejorative?

Could you please give your opinion on whether or not "senility" is a pejorative term? My sentence is: Although there wasn't any real upper age limit, elders who seemed to be affected by senility ...
3
votes
5answers
4k views

Word for breaking the fast on Ramadan days

What is the English word used for describing the 'breaking the fast' in the month of Ramadan ?
2
votes
2answers
3k views

Meaning of “I think”

What is the usage and meaning of 'I think' in colloquial language? Does it mean 'suppose' or 'cogitate'? For example, 'He is a nice guy, I think.' My opinion is that, in the above sentence 'I think' ...