This tag is for questions about correctly using a word.

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5
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5answers
6k views

What is the origin and earliest recorded usage of 'cock-up'

In informal British English, the expression 'cock-up' (c.f. the US English 'fuck-up') is used to indicate an error or problem in a situation. What is the origin of this expression and its etymology? ...
3
votes
5answers
2k views

Is “real-time” a term known to every English speaker?

Real-time is a common term in engineering texts. It means a system that produces output within a very tight deadline. I am writing a proposal to be read by non-engineers. I just wonder if it is clear ...
7
votes
6answers
699 views

Why was “how much” used in the following context instead of “how many”?

Elasticity is a measure of how much buyers and sellers respond to changes in market conditions. The sentence above is from page 95, Principles of Microeconomics Fifth Canadian Edition.
-4
votes
2answers
642 views

Meaning of “Chase a Crooked Shadow”?

What is the meaning of chasing a crooked shadow? I read Chase a crooked shadow in the Times of India newspaper, 10 Feb 2012, but could not understand the meaning of that title. Some context from ...
6
votes
3answers
584 views

Why does “-Cy” become “-Sy”?

What rule of grammar, or etymological history, makes "prophe-cy" (noun) become "prophe-sy" (verb)? What causes the C to become an S when the word usage changes?
6
votes
4answers
3k views

Is there a verb “refactor” meaning “doing refactoring” in English?

Code refactoring consists of changing the structure of the code without changing its functionality. The term refactoring is currently used by software development industry to refer to this process. ...
5
votes
7answers
621 views

Can we say “on the brink of off-topic”?

I recently learned on the brink in context of to teeter on the brink of disaster. Now, when I want to mention that something is marginal or borderline I remember on the brink. This question is ...
-2
votes
1answer
2k views

Can you overuse the word “that”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Are there rules about using “that” to join two clauses? If a sentence makes sense to me without the word "that", I tend not to use it. However, I have ...
2
votes
2answers
413 views

Is “bettern't” an OK word to use?

In the spirit of: You can swim, can't you? You should tell the truth, shouldn't you? You'd be crazy to miss out, wouldn't you? Can I say: You better study, bettern't you? It's listed ...
0
votes
4answers
8k views

Do we ask for check or cheque in restaurants?

I know there is a related question asked here. But its slightly different than it and seeking more information. I live in India, I have been to America couple of times. In my first trip it was ...
3
votes
2answers
972 views

Does the word 'confrère' in English also apply to women sharing the same profession?

The word confrère(s) in French is used to refer to males sharing the same profession; the word for females is consoeur(s). How about English? Is this term used for both genders?
11
votes
2answers
337 views

“Peeving about grammar disguised as a question”

In the FAQ for this site, peeving about grammar disguised as a question is discouraged. The various forms of peeve in Merriam-Webster however does not justify this usage. Peeve is a verb meaning ...
0
votes
2answers
159 views

Fell out of the car

The following is taken from a website: Sir, do you realize your wife fell out of the car several miles back? The expression fell out here, as I checked in the dictionary, doesn't make any sense. ...
4
votes
4answers
5k views

“By the Bye”: Etymology and Usage

In India we frequently use this term as a substitute for 'By the way'. Is the usage as popular in other countries? Can someone throw some light on the etymology?
-1
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1answer
8k views

Meaning of 'after which'

Please sign the document and return after which our agent will contact you. What does the sentence mean? I should sign the document I should return the document After the second party receives ...
2
votes
2answers
1k views

Proper use of 'request'

I am trying to find the best way to state the following. You may need to request this information with your optometrist. You may need to request this information at your optometrist. Something else ...
-1
votes
5answers
13k views

Is it proper to state percentages greater than 100%? [closed]

Technically, "percent" should mean "for every hundred". So, I would think that it's perfectly fine to say "150%". However, in common usage, people rarely say percentages greater than a hundred. Is ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

Pronunciation and usage of “bona fide”

As I am reading books and articles, I come across this bona fide. How do you pronounce this? How do you use it properly? I know the definition is in good faith, like if you are welcomed to someone's ...
1
vote
2answers
478 views

Must “nominate” be applied to an object other than the subject itself?

If you declare yourself as a candidate for office, can that declaration be considered a nomination? Or, is the verb nominate only applicable when it is applied to someone other than the nominator? ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Does “effusive” have a negative connotation?

He was very effusive in his praise of the features. The definition on wordnik shows a lot of words that gives me the feeling that effusive has a negative connotation: unrestrained excessive ...
2
votes
2answers
439 views

If this isn't irony, what is it?

I was reading a piece by a blogger who was reviewing some material from a particular industry. The author at a few points in the article made the point that the professionals in the topic industry ...
2
votes
2answers
405 views

Use of “antithetical”

Since the Eastern Jin, parallel prose was used even for minor reports and notices; in the Tang, it became the antithetical form. I'm confused about what this sentence is saying. Is it saying ...
5
votes
3answers
8k views

what's the difference between Transfer, Transport and Transmission as the noun

Here are some examples FTP is short for File Transfer Protocol, while TCP is short for Transmission Control Protocol, the layer in which TCP resides is called Transport Layer. What's the difference of ...
6
votes
3answers
14k views

“Measure” vs. “measurement”

Measure has a lot of meanings, but I am not sure whether it is or is not a partial synonym of measurement. Let's say that I have an algorithm, and I measure its execution time under different ...
1
vote
2answers
394 views

“Has dated well” vs. “has aged well”

Star Wars is a film that has dated well. The intent being that Star Wars has not shown its age as much as other movies. I would think "hasn't dated" or "has aged well" would be more correct but ...
1
vote
0answers
69 views

Are “revisited” and “revisiting” temporally different? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Using -ed vs. -ing in the “needs washed” construction I used "revisited" in a sentence not unlike this: In the past we decided policy X should be applied ...
9
votes
4answers
10k views

Asking about the date on which something happens using “effective”

How is the word "effective" or "effect" used to indicate from which date a new rule / change will be applied? I am not sure which of the following is correct: These changes will take effect from ...
13
votes
10answers
5k views

Word for someone who is extremely up-to-date with the latest facts (news or research)

I seek a word for one who is up-to-date, enlightened, and extremely well informed about the latest developments or research in a particular field. An example is a person who complains about a recent ...
1
vote
5answers
6k views

How to say that you are going to do something really soon? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Do it very quickly” vs “do it ASAP” Quite often I need to say that I will do something really soon - e.g. in a few hours, but not sure how much ...
4
votes
2answers
3k views

Can “grammatical” mean “grammatically correct”? [closed]

I have been seeing phrases like, "That sentence isn't grammatical" etc. recently, and at first I wrote them off thinking, "Oh, well that technically isn't right, but I get what he's saying so I'm not ...
1
vote
2answers
995 views

Is the word “encomprise” used in modern English? [closed]

If one googles the word encomprises, there are 5K+ pages, that have this word. I personally have heard people in the USA use it with a meaning of include. Official dictionaries, on the other hand, ...
-1
votes
4answers
403 views

Can we use “use unfriendly” as an adjective?

I was wondering according to American English if this is a valid grammatical sentence: This item is a little use unfriendly. It sounds ok but I was wondering if "use unfriendly" (I mean without ...
2
votes
0answers
51 views

When to use “and” as opposed to “&” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: When to use & instead of “and” Is there a rule as to when to use "and" as opposed to using "&"? eg. Andy and Steve's duties were to grade, guide ...
3
votes
2answers
369 views

'Repeat the year' in English is 'redoubler une classe' in French. Would it be possible to say 'redouble the year' or 'redouble the course' in English?

When I googled 'redouble the year' I was directed to French sites, and I noticed that it is indeed used. Now, I want to have a confirmation from English native speakers. Can 'redouble' be used for ...
7
votes
4answers
634 views

“Highest building of/in the world”

Which is correct? The Chrysler building was the highest building in the world. Today, it is the seventh highest building in the USA. or: The Chrysler building was the highest building of ...
1
vote
2answers
5k views

Origin of “good night” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: What is the origin of the word “goodbye”? These are probably the most used two words in our day-to-day conversations. We normally use superlative degrees all ...
5
votes
4answers
13k views

“You aren't in” vs. “You're not in” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “They are not”: “they're not” versus “they aren't” I noticed that you aren't in and you're not in are two ways to shorten you ...
3
votes
2answers
30k views

What does “but” mean in “Life is but a dream”? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: The construction of “Known but to God” What does "but" mean in this case and what other uses is this word used in the same context. I'm trying to explain ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Examples that actually mean the opposite of their original meanings [closed]

I have learned that in English, some words have been used to mean the opposite of their original meanings, for the purpose of often negative intensions such as sarcasm, irony, ... For example I ...
7
votes
1answer
2k views

Why do we have two words to describe post-mortem medical examination?

Autopsy is defined as inspection and dissection of a body after death, as for determination of the cause of death; postmortem examination. Necropsy is defined as the examination of a body ...
8
votes
2answers
15k views

Correct usage of “viz.”?

Are these two sentences examples of the correct use of "viz."? This book is dedicated to my family, viz. my parents and two sisters. The purpose of this book is twofold, viz. 1) to show that [...]; ...
2
votes
3answers
2k views

“Auspicious” vs “auspices” [closed]

The two words auspicious and auspices seem so similar yet have almost opposite meaning. Is auspicious a good time or a lucky connotation while auspices is said to be an omen? If I said the weather ...
4
votes
2answers
263 views

Was “oop” really more common than “oops” till 1990?

Ngrams shows a marked preference for oop over oops up until 1990: Is Ngrams to be trusted here? Is it strange that I've never seen oop in writing? Even Dictionary.com doesn't have anything more ...
2
votes
4answers
916 views

Use of “compensate” to mean “help pay cost”

Is using compensate correct in this context? We are appealing for your help. We've found a great deal for a software solution we want to teach our kids and it costs 1000 dollars and your ...
0
votes
1answer
658 views

Is this usage of “now” correct?

Consider this piece of a poem: Crouched at the elder's feet, the knight Now kissed his hand in exultation. The world before his eyes turned bright, Forgot his spirit's sore ...
6
votes
2answers
293 views

Is “grounds” ever used for things other than coffee? [closed]

I've never seen the word grounds (meaning sediment/dregs; definition 12 only) used to describe anything other than coffee; are there any other usages of grounds of that meaning, or has it become a ...
0
votes
1answer
387 views

Is it possible to use the verb “torture” in a figurative sense?

Is it possible to use the verb "torture" in a tropical sense? I mean not in a physical sense. For example: Linda: "So what? Did you see Jack?" Tom: "Yes" Linda: "So did you talk to him ...
1
vote
4answers
290 views

When do we consider English speakers' familiarity as a proof?

English, like many other languages, has its own usage of words and convention that can only be captured by practicing and speaking with natives. For instance, if non-English speaker come up with a ...
2
votes
1answer
231 views

To or for usage: Places

Which of these is correct? She is leaving for the USA. or She is leaving to the USA.
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Use of “minute or two” to mean “moment” in the early 20th century?

In what seems like at least half her novels, Agatha Christie writes that one character waits for a "minute or two." At first I thought that these characters were actually sitting there and pondering, ...