42
votes
5answers
42k views

What is the difference between “illicit” and “illegal”?

What is the difference between "illicit" and "illegal"? Are they just synonymous? Used in different contexts?
2
votes
3answers
16k views

Difference between “invest in” and “invest into” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: Difference between “in” and “into” When should “into” be used rather than “in to,” and vice versa? Since solar ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

“Figment” other than in “figment of the imagination”?

Are there any recurring uses of the word "figment" other than in the expression "figment of the imagination"?
10
votes
2answers
2k views

How to pronounce terminal “-al”

I'm confused about how to pronounce -al at the end of the word. These words end with -al and are pronounced without a "ə" sound. dig·it·al /ˈdijitl/ men·tal /ˈmentl/ These words also end ...
0
votes
1answer
599 views

What is the answer to the question “Who came yesterday?” — “I” or “Me”? [duplicate]

Duplicate of: Who wants ice-cream? What is the answer to the question: Who came yesterday? Is it "I" or "Me"?
15
votes
13answers
3k views

What is an expression for something you particularly like?

I'm not a native English speaker. I want to find the English equivalent of ho un debole per le ragazze svedesi that, in Italian, basically means "I particularly like Swedish girls." (It's just ...
1
vote
2answers
9k views

What is the meaning of “chewing the carpet”?

I was digging about Load-Balancers (computer networking stuff) and came across this expression: Sometimes it (Load-Balancer) sits down chewing the carpet while backends go idle ... I guess "chewing ...
6
votes
3answers
584 views

Whence came the different varieties of long /i/?

What is the origin of “long long /i/” before voiced consonants (the [ai] of wide, while, & tribe) versus “short long /i/” before unvoiced consonants (the [ʌi] of white, wife, & ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

How to describe something that is very likely happening immediately?

How should I describe something that will very likely happen right away? For example, would it be it correct to say, "It is about to rain"?
19
votes
3answers
4k views

Where did the “ue” in “tongue” come from?

How I remember being told over and over how to spell tongue! I didn't understand it then; I don't understand it now. What evolution might put a silent "ue" at the end of a word?
12
votes
4answers
24k views

Why is “sherbet” pronounced “sherbert” so much?

This has often stumped me. Not being a world-traveler, I don't know how widespread this pronunciation is, but if anyone knows: where did the r come from?
18
votes
7answers
22k views

Is there a difference between “innocent” and “not guilty”?

I have always thought the antonym of "guilty" is "innocent", but apparently it's just "not guilty". Even juries seem to agree. But why? Aren't they antonyms? Or is there a subtlety I'm missing here? ...
4
votes
4answers
964 views

How to write dashes in “a 2-4-room-apartment”?

I want to write in the announcement a description of an eventual apartment, which I am searching as a rental. I am interested in apartments with 2, 3, or 4 rooms. How should I write the compound ...
14
votes
6answers
19k views

“Baggage” versus “luggage”

I have the feeling that luggage is more closely associated with vacation travel, whereas baggage is for general transportation. Or... are they just exact synonyms?
4
votes
9answers
11k views

What's the opposite of “enlarge”?

In the context of a computer user interface manual, what word would you use to complete this sentence: Drag the handle at the bottom-right corner to enlarge or __ the window. To me, "shrink", ...
8
votes
8answers
1k views

Are there meta-plurals beyond “peoples”?

The plural of "person" is "people". The plural of "people" is "peoples". Person-people-peoples is the only sequence like this that I know of, but I'm looking for another. (The equivalent question ...
9
votes
3answers
504 views

Is spell-checking software becoming a linguistic authority?

It seems that‒whether intentionally or not‒spell-checking software in web browsers and productivity suites heavily influence our use of language. For example: in drafting a document, I found that my ...
12
votes
6answers
192k views

Why use BCE/CE instead of BC/AD?

When I was a kid, I was always taught to refer to years using BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini / year of our Lord). However, I somewhat regularly hear people referring to years as in the CE ...
1
vote
2answers
115 views

A term for adoption of a made up term

Is there a term for the acceptance of a made up term that then became the name of the object/idea/action once it was invented? Example: Cyberspace. It was first used by William Gibson in his ...
12
votes
3answers
638 views

Vuvuzela: what was it called in American English before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa?

FIFA World Cup 2010, South Africa. The excitement. The tension. The constant sound of buzzing bees. And every one kept talking about this crazy new instrument the 'vuvuzela' making all this noise, so ...
6
votes
5answers
463 views

Is spelling still drifting?

If you look at texts from a few hundred years ago, they’re almost illegible, what with all the superfluous e’s and y’s running about, the long-S’s (  ſ  ), and so on. Texts from 100 and 120 years ago ...
1
vote
3answers
711 views

What does “shot” mean in this context?

Another shot before we kiss the other side. This is from Lady Gaga's recent song, "Edge of Glory." A subtitled video can be seen here. This is probably better than just reading the lyrics.
3
votes
6answers
15k views

What does the saying “any time now” really mean?

Any time now Nana will show up with the cookies. What is the meaning of "any time now"? Should "any time" be one word or two? The words seem to conflict and are sort of nebulous because now ...
17
votes
4answers
38k views

Why is the 'w' silent in “sword”?

In RP English, the 'w' in "sword" is silent. Wiktionary suggests /sɔːd/ and /soʊrd/. Why? Are there other words like this? The 'w' is pronounced in words like "swollen", "swoop", "sworn" and "swore". ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

Difference: Meanwhile vs meantime

Meanwhile vs. meantime Are they really the same? I've been using them interchangeably...
24
votes
4answers
10k views

Where did the expression “my two cents” come from?

I've seen "$.02", "2¢", "just my two cents", etc, similar in meaning to IMHO, except usually appended to the main text. As the Ngram shows, it is only "two cents" that is popular in this usage: ...
0
votes
1answer
3k views

When is the construction “I myself” suitable? [closed]

A previous question, How to call attention to "I" without "I myself" or the pretentious "Even I"?, suggested that the "I myself" construction is often used for emphasis, with one answer correctly ...
5
votes
3answers
728 views

What is the effect called when one looks at a bright light, and the image “burns” into one's eyes?

When I glance at the sun, or a bare light bulb, I find that when I blink, or move my eyes, a superimposed image of the bright object appears wherever I look. What is this called?
5
votes
2answers
341 views

How would a native British speaker say “Betteredge”?

I am reading Wilkie Collins' The Moonstone, and a prominent character in the story has the name of Betteredge. My question is (since I like to imagine the dialogue in a British-English book as if ...
66
votes
3answers
16k views

What is the error called when two letters are mistakenly swapped?

Generally this may be called typo but when particularly two letters of a word are mistakenly swapped, what is this error called? Some examples: teh > the fromat > format comptuer > computer
13
votes
2answers
21k views

Should I use a period at the end of a headline?

I am working on copywriting for my website, and am wondering whether or not I should use periods at the end of my headlines. The headlines will probably be used both as headlines for news articles, ...
0
votes
2answers
170 views

Expression for “a regular bencher” in sports?

How would one describe a player in a team that is not playing much, and is usually just on the bench for most of the games?
3
votes
4answers
4k views

What is correct syntax with 'entail'?

My instinct is that when it means "to have as an inescapable consequence", entail must be followed by a noun. In all the grammatical examples I have come across this is how it is used — without ...
0
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the meaning behind “bloody jerry”

I've heard this term in a pirate movie or video game, not sure where. Since, I've been wondering what real meaning this sentence have.
6
votes
3answers
12k views

What does this mean: To be thus is nothing; But to be safely thus

This is taken from Shakespeare's Macbeth, and I am having difficulty comprehending what this means. Can someone please put it into normal English, with all explanations?
6
votes
1answer
14k views

What is the difference between “job” and “work”?

When is it better to use "job" and when "work"? For instance I am writing text on the logo saying "Still do your job manually? Then ask us to help you." Is it correct to use "job" here or "work" is ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

How do you pronounce the word 'vagary'?

I'm a native speaker, and I would naturally read the word VAY-guh-ri. I've never actually heard anyone say the word, I only ever see it in writing. But I also know that you can pronounce it ...
3
votes
3answers
5k views

Is 'quiescing' a valid word? What does it mean?

What does quiescing mean in the following context? Quiescing a Database http://download.oracle.com/docs/cd/B19306_01/server.102/b14231/start.htm
9
votes
7answers
3k views

New verb: “to verbal”

I seem to be noticing this one entering the popular lexicon lately, but cannot find a good definition. Examples: No, you're just verballing... Leakegate: Leake verballed Richard Dawkins ...
1
vote
1answer
189 views

What is the etymology of “hautboys”?

Strangely, Etymonline.com doesn't give an etymology. I looked up Dictionary.com, and came up with: 1565–75; < Middle French hautbois, equivalent to haut high ( see haughty) + bois wood ( ...
1
vote
3answers
5k views

What is the difference among ‘In you come’, ‘Come on in’, and ‘Do come in’?

Bagman suddenly spotted Harry, got up quickly, and bounded forward. “Ah, here he is! Champion number four! In you come, Harry, in you come … nothing to worry about, it's just the wand weighing ...
2
votes
3answers
4k views

What color does ‘pale thing’ have?

I'd like to focus in on the meaning of 'pale' which is used in color description. My dictionary, OALD, says 'pale' in such case means "light in colour; containing a lot of white". It shows me some ...
1
vote
4answers
369 views

“He is to resist the vulgar prosperity that retrogrades ever to barbarism”

In the quote, "He is to resist the vulgar prosperity that retrogrades ever to barbarism" What does resist mean? to tolerate to protest What does vulgar prosperity mean? obscene prosperity ...
5
votes
3answers
59k views

What is the difference between “information on”, “information of”, “information about”

"Information on something", "information of something", "information about something" — these three usages all sound having the same meaning for me. Are there any differences?
1
vote
2answers
3k views

What does “should something happen” mean?

What is the meaning of should loss occur in the following text? Backup and recovery procedures protect your database against data loss and reconstruct the data, should loss occur. The ...
2
votes
4answers
144 views

Is there a name for this kind of supplementary text?

Here is a link to a crossword published by The Guardian (UK newspaper). As happens from time to time, the puzzle is headed by a brief note marked Special Instructions. My friends and I invariably ...
6
votes
3answers
5k views

What is the reasoning behind the “urban” slang word “tight” coming to mean “cool/great/slick”?

How and why did the word tight come to be appropriated in this sense, for example as in, "That car is tight, cuh!" ? I mean, one easily extrapolates from the "normal" definition to understand why ...
6
votes
3answers
712 views

Which comes first: cat or dog?

Which comes first in a sentence? I know some word pairs such as bacon and eggs, where bacon always comes first. E.g: Make me bacon and eggs for dinner, honey. Cats and dogs are the two most ...
7
votes
6answers
4k views

British English equivalent of American English Internship

I've been trying to think of a good British English term for a summer job, the equivalent of American English Internship. I'm sure that when I've worked with students my company had hired over the ...
3
votes
6answers
4k views

Is it affected to pronounce the “h” in wh- words such as “what”?

Almost no one does it except professors and cosmopolitans. Though some books will say that "what" should be pronounced "hwutt" and not "wutt", is it really recommended for us, the common folk, to ...

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