This tag is for questions about correctly using a word.

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108
votes
7answers
14k 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 ...
57
votes
8answers
11k views

“My personal opinion is…” Is it always pointless to use the words “personal” and “personally”?

Is this kind of redundancy acceptable in both speech and writing, formal and informal ? Would the following sentences have their meaning changed if we omitted "personal" or "personally" ? Would they ...
47
votes
6answers
33k views

How long can you say “the late so and so”?

When you refer to the deceased, you say "the late so and so." How long can you say that? Is JFK referred to as the late John F. Kennedy? How about Abraham Lincoln?
46
votes
11answers
33k views

Singular of “dice”

After a discussion on the topic I found out that the oxford dictionary describes that Historically, dice is the plural of die, but in modern standard English dice is both the singular and the ...
43
votes
8answers
8k views

Can I “wear an umbrella”?

Does it make sense to say the following? Yesterday I wore an umbrella and a coat.
42
votes
4answers
62k 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 ...
40
votes
11answers
5k views

Has “hacker” definitely gained a negative connotation?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a hacker as: One who is proficient at using or programming a computer; a computer buff. One who uses programming skills to gain illegal access to a ...
38
votes
4answers
7k views

“Two yellow spots on its wings” vs “a yellow spot on both wings”

The bird has two yellow spots on its wings. versus The bird has a yellow spot on both wings. Do they mean the same? Which one describes more accurately the yellow spots of the following bird? ...
36
votes
10answers
8k views

Is “dude” becoming gender neutral? [duplicate]

Is the word "dude" becoming gender neutral? I don't think so, however, has modern usage changed? Are there some recent examples of "dude" being used to refer to a woman or group of women?
35
votes
19answers
6k views

Completing something just to finish it despite lack of interest - is called …?

Recently I started reading a novel that I was excited to read. After getting approximately 45% into it, I lost the pace. It started becoming slow and lousy. I thought to leave it unfinished but it ...
34
votes
14answers
6k views

What is the word for “to do something one considers to be beneath oneself”?

I looked up this word before, and I got a definition which sounded something like "to do something one considers to be beneath oneself," but I can't remember exactly what the word was. I can think of ...
34
votes
7answers
7k views

What is the American word for 'tea-towel'?

On a tour from Australia to the states my wife asked me to stop at the gift store and buy memorable fridge-magnets and tea-towels. Everywhere I went, none of the store attendants seemed to know what ...
34
votes
6answers
27k views

Difference between “artifact” and “artefact”

Is there any usage preference between artifact and artefact? My understanding was that an artifact was properly applied to physical, historical objects, while an artefact was more correct for more ...
33
votes
13answers
8k views

Is the use of the term “bugged” to refer to software bugs in English a worldwide or regional use?

In the 1950's, the primary uses of the word "bugged" was to describe a room that contained a hidden microphone, or to refer to a telephone line that was being tapped. Over the last few years, I've ...
32
votes
11answers
8k views

What do you call money earned through unethical sources?

Money/Assets/Property that is earned through unethical sources is called ? Money that is earned through bad sources like corrupted politics, corrupted business, ransom money, stolen or theft money....
32
votes
6answers
4k views
30
votes
11answers
7k views

Is there a word/term for a question where the asker knows he'll criticise any answer?

What do you call it when a person asks somebody a question when they know they'll criticise any answer regardless? For instance, a man asks you something like "If you were recruiting staff would you ...
30
votes
9answers
41k views

If someone is electrocuted, do they have to die or can they just be injured?

Is it correct to say I electrocuted my friend if he was only injured by electricity?
30
votes
7answers
4k 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 ...
30
votes
3answers
205k views

“Consist in” vs. “consist of”

I would like to clarify this once and for all: What is the correct use of "consist in" vs. "consist of"? "Meditation consists in/of attentive watchfulness." "The body consists in/of cells." ...
29
votes
1answer
122k views

Difference between “zeros” and “zeroes” [duplicate]

Are there any differences between “zeros” and “zeroes”? Is any of them more correct, more often used, more modern? Are there differences e.g. between British English and American English in the usage ...
29
votes
6answers
45k views

Is “evidence” countable?

As a native English speaker, I am often asked by friends and colleagues to correct their manuscripts. One of the most common mistakes I find is the use of the noun evidences. Now, the dictionary ...
28
votes
4answers
20k views

Why does “corn” mean “maize” in American English?

I keep hearing "corn" as a synonym of "maize". This is widely popularized worldwide by popcorn. However, this is American English! In British English, "corn" can mean any type of "grain", especially "...
27
votes
8answers
4k views

Is there a word to describe a person who's addicted to downloading stuff from Internet?

Well, that is exactly what I am :). I just can't stop myself from downloading stuff (usually electronic articles, say, PDFs). To be more precise, whenever I come across something that I think might ...
27
votes
5answers
59k views

What does 'sucker for' mean?

I recently came across a couple usages of 'sucker for' which indicates that it means 'crazy about', 'enthusiastic for', or 'interested in'. For example, 'I am a sucker for sports.', seems to say, 'I ...
27
votes
8answers
4k views

Alternative expression/term to trivial use of 'OCD'

After being reproved for doing so myself on SO yesterday. I realized that over the last couple of years the meaning of the expression OCD, seems to have deflated. Up to the point where people(read I) ...
26
votes
6answers
3k views

Is “dear” commonly used to describe something that costs too much?

Can the word dear replace expensive, as in "That new T.V is too dear"? The dictionary says so, but I was completely unaware that it had that connotation. I want to use it in writing because it's a ...
26
votes
4answers
1k views

Can “née” be used for entities other than people?

The qualification née is typically used to signify the name a woman previously had, most likely before her marriage. However, today I've seen it in a Spiegel article applied to a company name: ...
24
votes
5answers
4k views

If city life is urban, what do you call living in a forest?

I know that rural relates to living in the countryside, and urban and suburban refer to living in cities, towns or residential areas. But some places, like in upstate New York, have dense trees and ...
23
votes
12answers
52k views

In the sexuality domain, are “heterosexual” and “straight” exact synonyms?

Of course, heterosexual and straight are interchangeable in most contexts, but there are times when I find myself wanting to make the distinction of whether the attraction to the opposite sex is ...
23
votes
4answers
112k views

Why does “puce” mean two different colors depending on where you live?

I always thought puce was green, then saw on Wikipedia that it is purplish-brown. Further research tells me that it's generally regarded as purplish-brown in the United States, whereas Europeans think ...
22
votes
4answers
2k views

Does “girlfriend” or “boyfriend” always indicate partnership?

My usual understanding is that someone's girlfriend is their (female) partner in an exclusive romantic relationship. Same for boyfriend. Is this correct, or are there instances where girlfriend ...
22
votes
4answers
50k views

Can “sir” be used to address female officers?

The use of the term sir as a form of address for men, especially those of higher rank or status, is discussed in several prior questions including this one. They all indicate that the term is reserved ...
21
votes
5answers
12k views

Is “what on earth” still commonly used in real life? Is there any alternative that is not cursing or obscene?

I'm a non-native speaker. When I was at school, we were taught that "on earth" is used for emphasis in questions such as: What on earth are you talking about? However, from my experience (...
21
votes
5answers
19k views

Is ‘hero’ applicable to females?

There was the following sentence in today’s (June 4) New York Times written by its Op-Ed columnist, Nickolas Kristof under the headline, “There’s a Kind of Hush.” “Aung San Suu Kyi should be one ...
21
votes
5answers
38k views

Recur vs. Reoccur

Is there any difference between the verbs reoccur and recur? Several sources suggest that they are synonymous, but some fine-tuners suggest that there is a nuanced difference, such as Grammarist, ...
20
votes
15answers
15k views

What is the word for an adult who is not mature?

What term can be used for an adult, especially a man, who is in his forties and still behaves like a teenager, shunning responsibilities typical of mature people, preferring to enjoy himself?
20
votes
5answers
3k views

Why do we walk on “dry land” when we should be just walking on “land”?

land |land| noun the part of the earth's surface that is not covered by water, as opposed to the sea or the air. Many writers in countless books and various writings use the terms "...
20
votes
6answers
3k views

Is the word “author” correct for the artist who created particular painting?

Recently, on another SE page, I've asked a question about a painting that was used as a decoration in a particular movie. It contained the following sentence: What is the name and author of that ...
20
votes
4answers
3k views

Is it “chalk it up to” or “chock it up to”?

Grammarist & Our beloved StackExchange both say that the phrase "Chalk it up to" dates back to, among other things, debts being tallied on a chalkboard. However, when I hear the phrase "chock it ...
20
votes
7answers
3k views

Can “wet” be used for liquids other than water?

Wet can be used to describe being dowsed in liquids such as beer, milk, juice, urine etc. All of these, however, are water-based. Can wet be used for a liquid that has no water? Can you be wet by ...
20
votes
4answers
2k views

Can I use “US-American” to disambiguate “American”? If not, what can I use?

Based on this question, I wonder: as an alternative to USAian (which is very nonstandard) is it OK to use US-American to more clearly indicate "inhabitant of the USA"? According to Google Ngram, this ...
19
votes
9answers
5k views

Do submarines float?

Is it correct to say that a submarine floats if it is below the water surface? According to the dictionary definition, it seems to me that this is a correct way to refer to a submerged submarine. ...
19
votes
9answers
32k 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 ...
19
votes
5answers
8k views

Usage of “many” vs “many a”?

Can someone please elucidate the difference between "many" and "many a"? In what context of usage should we add an extra "a" beside the word "many"? For example: Many times, I had seen that . ...
19
votes
10answers
14k 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 ...
19
votes
4answers
22k 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, ...
19
votes
2answers
38k 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 ...
18
votes
25answers
3k views

A critical situation in which no trick works?

How could one describe a situation in which no trick, no approach, no magic, nothing at all works to change the outcome? One where you have no choice but to accept things as they are. For example, I ...
18
votes
13answers
57k 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' ...