6
votes
1answer
2k views

Which was the original word- “pock” or “pox”?

I once laughed when a child with chicken pox pointed out to me a single spot, calling it a "pock". I had been under the impression that they had mistakenly thought the word "pox" was plural, and so ...
3
votes
10answers
1k views

A single word for labelling someone a disbeliever in a particular religion despite them adhering to it

Can anybody provide a single word for labelling someone a disbeliever in a particular religion despite them adhering to that religion?
3
votes
3answers
325 views

Is there any pragmatic implication in ‘Beaky has enjoyed London’ here?

It says on a grammar book that in some cases, the present perfect form has pragmatic meanings. Joan has broken the teapot. (I have to get a new one.) I’ve had a bath. (I’m now clean.) Is ...
0
votes
2answers
198 views

Can I say “Draw a triangle around the strawberry”?

Can I say "Draw a triangle around the strawberry" when I want someone who is reading a book, in which there is a picture of a strawberry, to draw a triangle in that book in such a way that the ...
1
vote
2answers
446 views

Meaning of “precise-looking”

In George Orwell's novel 1984, Part one, Chapter IV, there is a sentence: In the corresponding cubicle on the other side a small, precise-looking, dark-chinned man named Tillotson was working ...
12
votes
6answers
8k views

If you're using a quote with a period but do not want to end the sentence, do you keep the period?

For example. If I want to quote a passage from a writing, that says The cake is not a lie. and my sentence is: The book by author states that "The cake is not a lie." however studies show ...
6
votes
4answers
578 views

Have I got a little story for you

There is a song called "Alive", by Pearl Jam. The opening line is: Son, she said, have I got a little story for you Despite the subject-auxiliary inversion ("have I"), which would be expected in ...
1
vote
3answers
2k views

“Writer's writer” — who can say it?

When someone says: This author is a writer's writer. I understand that as meaning the author is accomplished and generally excellent. It's a bit fuzzy in my mind how it can mean this, but I can ...
13
votes
7answers
43k views

Words with most meanings

I am not a native speaker and it sometimes surprise me how many different meanings some words have. An example is the word call - when I was learning English I thought it was only "shout" or "to ring ...
1
vote
5answers
5k views

Metaphorical antonym of “crutch”

Often times something is referred to as being a "crutch" for something, meaning they rely on it. What would be a suitable opposite to this metaphor? EDIT: To rephrase: What's a good metaphor/term for ...
16
votes
5answers
5k views

What do you do when a sentence ends with a decimal?

In a sentence like "The answer is 0.8." the period looks awkward after "0.8". Is there a rule for a situation like this? Sometimes I put a space before the period like this: "The answer is 0.8 ." ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

How did “tot” come to mean a measure or ration?

How did tot, A measure of spirits, especially rum. get that meaning? It seems to have come to mean a specific ration, as in the daily tot of rum given to a sailor in the Royal Navy (well, no ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the correct way to punctuate sentences that end with proper nouns who also contain punctuation? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: How to handle a name that includes an exclamation point (or other punctuation)? Pardon the example usage, but given a proper noun that contains punctuation (e.g., the title ...
8
votes
5answers
3k views

What is the origin of the idiom “let something rip”?

I would like to know the origin of the idiom "let something rip". Does anyone here know where this usage comes from?
2
votes
3answers
381 views

Are pronouns optional? [closed]

To resolve an issue on Christianity.SE I'd like to know whether it would be legitimate to forgo ever using pronouns to refer to the Holy Spirit. So, is it required to use a pronoun when the subject ...
7
votes
7answers
14k views

How to conclude long “whether … or” clauses

I have found that the form "whether this or that" does not work so well in long sentences. Intuitively, it seems that putting an "if" after the "or" makes it flow better, but is that grammatically ...
4
votes
5answers
4k views

What word describes the dislike of non-human (extraterrestrial) species?

In this Science fiction question, I use the world "Racist" to describe the human predominance of the Empire, in Star Wars. Someone suggested xenophobic : Well, this is getting a bit into ...
12
votes
4answers
444 views

“Her mind was less difficult to develop” — Jane Austen

A line from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice confuses me: Mr. Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three and twenty years had ...
-6
votes
2answers
245 views

Is there a word for a compilation of charts? [closed]

What word can best describe multiple charts put together? (Graphs, in math context - not projections or business)
11
votes
4answers
4k views

Why are almost all vowels pronounced “i” in New Zealand English?

One thing I always notice when I'm hearing Kiwis speaking English is the fact that almost every vowel turns into /ɪ/. Here's a video which illustrates the point (listen to them when they speak vowels)....
2
votes
1answer
858 views

“Tamper evident opening”

I am not native English speaker, and I just saw this sentence written in a sealed box: "Tamper evident opening" Is that sentence correct? I mean, I think it means "If you tamper with this seal, it ...
8
votes
9answers
36k views

What is an idiom/slang for “someone who pretends to be good when they're not”?

This is not from real life, but from a movie on my local TV. A character in the movie is really bad, but when she talks with others, she pretends to be an innocent/ good woman. I want to know how to ...
10
votes
2answers
6k views

How did pirates really talk?

In this question we learned that the common portrayal of pirate English is not historically accurate. Given that they were professional sailors, they probably had a wide store of nautical jargon; but ...
23
votes
8answers
17k views

What does “up she rises” mean in the sea shanty “Drunken Sailor”?

It's early in the morning, so perhaps the sailor in question is rousing from his drunken stupor. But sailors were traditionally all men, so why "up she rises"? Is the sailor being mocked, or does it ...
3
votes
1answer
250 views

Pathfinding, path-finding or path finding?

I'm writing my thesis about finding paths in certain graphs but have run into a spelling problem... Is the correct word "pathfinding", "path finding" or "path-finding"? My spellcheck does not think "...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

How did “hearties” come to mean “shipmates”?

Typically I find hearty to be used as an adjective, for example: Thank you for this hearty meal He gave a hearty laugh The definition for which can be found in any dictionary and can mean things ...
6
votes
3answers
4k views

What kind of human character or regional trait does the habit of “the g-dropping” represent for?

Further to the question I posted today about the meaning of the expression, “treat somebody pretty ugly,” which appeared in New York Times’ article (September 17) titled “Rick Perry, Uber Texan,” I ...
8
votes
2answers
8k views

A word meaning “looking like the object that it describes”

Is there a word that means "the word looks like the object it describes"? For example: "bed" looks a bit like a bed, with the b and the d acting as head and foot boards, with the e as the mattress. "...
2
votes
3answers
541 views

What's the word for learning the wrong thing?

There's a word like mis-learning or mis-training where rather than learning something correct, you learn something incorrect. For example, if you were learning English as a second language, and ...
5
votes
5answers
615 views

What do you call oxidized fruit?

I was just wondering if there was a specific term to refer to fruits when they have undergone oxidation. That is, their flesh turns a yellowish-brown. This usually happens when the fruit has been left ...
26
votes
4answers
15k views

Is two-thirds plural?

Is 2/3 always, sometimes or never plural? E.g. 1a) 2/3 of the pizza were eaten. 1b) 2/3 of the pizza was eaten. 2a) 2/3 of the visitors were men. 2b) 2/3 of the visitors was men. I ...
11
votes
6answers
4k views

Synonym of “s--t eating grin” suitable for polite company

Can anyone think of a synonym for "shit eating grin" that would be usable in polite company? This definition from the OED captures the meaning I'm looking for perfectly: A broad grin expressing ...
18
votes
4answers
33k views

Origin of the idiom “go south”

What's the origin of the idiom go south? Why is it go south only? Why not go southwest or go east? Are the direction-related idioms go south, go north, go east, and go west correlated? Example, go ...
2
votes
2answers
279 views

Is there a more-accepted synonym to the term “Commonwealth English”?

I've mainly encountered the term "Commonwealth English" in The Jargon File. However, Wiktionary says the term is fairly rare. Are there more accepted terms? Ones that I'm aware of include: British ...
13
votes
4answers
10k views

What does “yo-ho-ho” mean?

The pirate song “Fifteen Men on a Dead Man’s Chest” from Treasure Island contains the expression yo-ho-ho. Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest— Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! Drink and the ...
21
votes
9answers
10k views

Does “yar” (or “yarr” or “yargh”) in Pirate English imply an affirmative?

In honor of International Talk Like A Pirate Day, I’d like to ask a question about the pirate dialect of English. Most pirate sentences begin with a standard pirate-sounding hedge to lend ...
17
votes
6answers
22k views

Distinction between “pillage” and “plunder”

Both pillage and plunder refer to the taking of goods by force. What is the distinction in how the two words are used? Specifically, (due to a recent argument) do pirates only plunder, or can they ...
4
votes
3answers
314 views

Is “treat somebody pretty ugly” a common and colloquial English phrase?

There was the following line in a New York Times article (September 17), titled “Rick Perry, Uber Texan”: “Then he was off to talk some more about economic growth in Texas. And lambastes the ...
2
votes
3answers
24k views

The use of “e.g.” at the end of a sentence

I was reviewing an English text as an exercise, English not being my mother tongue, and I came to this sentence: (...) with the two other articles that conclude several things about customers e.g.....
2
votes
8answers
1k views

A Vocabulary word meaning: “ to completely embody the meaning of a term ” [closed]

Example: ( a really REALLY bad situation ) This situation __ FUBAR Some synonyms I can come up with: embodies exemplifies
7
votes
5answers
8k views

Why do some adjectives follow the nouns they modify?

Right now I can only think of one instance in which this regularly occurs. The adjective proper is sometimes placed after the noun it modifies, e.g: Reptilia: A class of cold-blooded oviparous or ...
5
votes
2answers
18k views

I'd rather not [do something] vs I'd prefer not to [do something]

In this question the issue came up as to whether there's any difference in the level of politeness/correctness involved in I'd rather not say as opposed to I'd prefer not to say. My own gut feeling ...
9
votes
6answers
37k views

What can I call other students if I am also a student?

I wonder what I can call other students, if I am also a student? For example, if I am talking to a professor, and want to mention other students just like me. I know I can use "classmates" if we are ...
0
votes
3answers
446 views

Meaning and usage of “Gentlebeing”

I wonder what gentlebeing means and how it is used, especially when compared to similar phrases like Ladies and gentlemen! I saw Gentlebeings! being used at the beginning of an email. Is it a formal ...
7
votes
1answer
53k views

“This” vs “that” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Using “that” and “this” interchangeably I wanted to know the differences between this and that. When do you use one or the other? For example: ...
0
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there any idiom in English that describes someone's eyes' black pupils?

Is there any idiom in English that describes someone's eyes' black pupils? I am especially interested in some positive idiom that would ascribe a characteristic of being deep in thinking, noble, kind, ...
13
votes
11answers
41k views

Polite way to refuse to answer a question

It sometimes happens that I am asked a question which I am uncomfortable answering for a variety of reasons (it invades my privacy, the answer may hurt the person asking, it is painful for me to ...
7
votes
3answers
324 views

Why isn't “ecliptic” a proper noun?

Why isn't ecliptic a proper noun? There is only one, and it has a name. Example (context): ... the true Sun is not always exactly on the ecliptic for a hypothetical observer at Earth's center, ...
6
votes
2answers
4k views

Pronouns: a word class or a subclass of nouns?

In the recently published ‘Oxford Modern English Grammar’, Bas Aarts classifies pronouns with nouns and not as a separate word class. In this, he follows the authors of ‘The Cambridge Grammar of the ...
3
votes
3answers
637 views

Can “Can you, please, help me” be followed by “as to which”?

Can "Can you, please help me" be followed by "as to which"? For example, Thanks for telling me which button on that website I need to click. Well, I clicked on the needed button, but what I ...

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