2
votes
3answers
7k views

What does 'hip' exactly mean?

A friend of mine said he would like to bring the word 'hip' back in to fashion. I thought of 'hip' as a body part, so I didn't understand him until he said," Riding horses is seriously great; I mean ...
59
votes
6answers
2k views

How small does a land-mass have to be before you live “on” it, rather than “in” it?

I'm sure virtually everyone agrees that people live on the Isle of Wight, but in Ireland. Apparently the usage depends somewhat on physical size, but that can't be the whole story. How exactly do we ...
1
vote
2answers
1k views

Has “Error 404” acquired a meaning in everyday English?

So, we've all seen the web page message "Error 404: Not found." Apparently, this has now been extended to non-http contexts, and 404 now means a stupid person. Is this true?
9
votes
3answers
2k views

Rime of the Ancient Mariner?

I recently read the beautiful poem by Samuel Coleridge. Why did he call it a rime? I looked up rime on the dictionary, and it means a thin layer of ice; so was the name playing around with the rhyme ...
6
votes
2answers
612 views

Term to describe relationship between one and single, two and double, etc.?

Is there a specific term used to describe the relationship between the words: One and single, Two and double, Three and triple, Etc. I don't quite think that the term synonym fits here, and was ...
1
vote
1answer
698 views

How “Barely better-than-even-odd” success is better as compared with 50:50 success?

According to Washington Post’s Breaking News Alert (May 8), President Obama faced sharply divided counsel and, in his mind, barely better-than-even odds of success when he ordered the daring May 1 ...
0
votes
2answers
85 views

Marathon Event Question

How can I describe the marathon event more make sense? Assumed that I want to describe an marathon event: Item: full, half. or Category: full, half; Or Dis: full, half; or Group: full, half; Which ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Large as life and twice as natural

What does this idiom mean? Where did it originate from? In what circumstances could I use this phrase? (Because it is so cool.)
5
votes
5answers
25k views

“Happy median” versus “happy medium”

Which is more correct and/or common "Happy Median" or "Happy Medium"? Any history on the two would also be interesting.
7
votes
8answers
10k views

Where does “Going out on a limb” come from?

I know that the phrase, "I'm going out on a limb here" means either to take a risk or hazard a guess, but where does it come from? As in, what did it originally refer to before it became an idiom?
1
vote
3answers
350 views

Is it “house is on fire” or “fire on the house”?

What are the origins behind our use of "house is on fire" as opposed to "fire is on the house"?
8
votes
7answers
9k views

Apostrophes and caps in Happy Mother’s Day / Happy Mothers’ Day

So, I’m writing this as it is Mother’s (or maybe Mothers’) Day today, and I was wondering what would be a correct way to write that. Should the apostrophe come be between the r and the s, or after ...
4
votes
3answers
530 views

What's the word for “twelvely”?

If something is nested twice, it's "double nested". If something is nested three times, it's "triple nested". If something is nested twelve times, it's ... What? "Dodecly nested?" Edit: Apparently, ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

“How can X be” vs. “how does X can be”

I have a Spanish friend, who wrote the following sentence: "How does foo, bar, baz can be compared?" I corrected it to read: "How can foo, bar, baz be compared?" Other than the obvious, he ...
4
votes
3answers
7k views

When to use “essay” vs “assay” (as a verb)?

By the dictionary definition as a verb, I can see that essay and assay have the same meaning, i.e. "make an effort or attempt". I'm wondering if they are totally interchangeable, or is there a ...
3
votes
4answers
13k views

When should I use the verb “work” over “working”?

What is the difference between: I am working today and I work today What is the right form?
1
vote
2answers
757 views

What is the common root between “contumacious” and “contumelious”?

I'm interested in understanding the meanings of the 2 words : contumacious - Wilfully obstinate; stubbornly disobedient and contumelious - Arrogantly insolent in the context of their word ...
7
votes
2answers
334 views

If booklets are little books, what are pamphlets?

If booklets are little books, what are pamphlets? Little "pamphs"?
1
vote
0answers
8k views

How to Remember the Difference Between Effective and Affective? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: What's an easy way to remember when to use “affect” or “effect”? Effect vs. Affect I always confuse the two and I have no way of telling them ...
10
votes
3answers
1k views

What's the most common way of referring to the gender of a friend?

I thought about 'male friend' or 'female friend.' I've heard people saying 'girl friend' (usually girls say this). What's the most common way of saying this?
6
votes
1answer
775 views

Why does one come to a “sticky end”?

I was reading this question here, and thinking, the kitten will come to a sticky end. But why is a ghastly but non-specific fate referred to as a sticky end? This source here suggests that blood is ...
7
votes
5answers
649 views

What does the kitten get?

Jeff Atwood writes: Vote For This Question or The Kitten Gets It ... every time you forget to vote a great question up, or a bad question down — a kitten gets it! The kitten looks awfully sad, ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

“periphery” and “perimeter” — are they the same?

I looked up in the dictionary and found they both mean the boundary of a closed curve, or the extended meaning “not the center”. Are they synonyms?
2
votes
4answers
360 views

Word for the relation between two different generalisations

I'm looking for a word for the relation between two concepts that are both different generalisations of the same concept. As an example, take the scalar product and cross product between vectors, from ...
14
votes
6answers
17k views

The pronunciation of buoy

How did the word buoy come to be pronounced "BOO-ee" in most of the US? The British pronunciation "BOY" as in the word buoyancy or buoyant (which both countries pronounce the same) seems to be pretty ...
5
votes
1answer
3k views

How to use 'as well as' and 'even'?

When I was doing my English homework, I came across this question: In his research paper Dr Brown suggests that snacking, if done properly, makes people healthier and __ helps control weight. A. ...
19
votes
2answers
39k 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
1k views

What is a “bernie”?

Proper nouns are not playable in Scrabble, but I know (from studying words) that "bernie" and "bernies" is playable in Scrabble. But I cannot find a definition for the lowercase version anywhere ...
5
votes
2answers
438 views

Is "grit and resolve” a popular phrase?

In the article of Time (May 5th) titled “Obama aspire to do Big Things,” I noticed Press Secretary Jay Curney used the word, ‘grit and resolve’ followed by “(and) not in a John Wayne way, but in a ...
3
votes
6answers
192 views

“someone nodded abstractly”

for the first time, I read something using the 2 words "nodded abstractly". I Google it. People use it quiet often... I read it there: “Welcome aboard,” said Justin, one of the programmers. He ...
0
votes
2answers
256 views

Words that are often used in repartee

Why are the words "obviously" and "apparently" often used in repartee? What are some other words that are often used, and for what reasons?
3
votes
4answers
6k views

Your signature vs your mark

Is there a difference between your 'signature' and your 'mark'? One of the comments on this post on Bruce Schneier's blog claims there is: This might be out of date in these days of 100% literacy (...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

Difference between “laden” and “loaded”

In A. E. Housman's With rue my heart is laden: WITH rue my heart is laden For golden friends I had, For many a rose-lipt maiden And many a lightfoot lad. he refers to laden as loaded, ...
10
votes
9answers
4k views

What is a good word for a person who doesn't masturbate?

Is there a word for a person who doesn't masturbate? If so, what would he/she/it be known as?
12
votes
4answers
991 views

What tense is appropriate when a group includes alive and dead people?

In a recent article, I was comparing the atheism of Joseph Stalin, Ayn Rand, and Christopher Hitchens. Which of the following sentences would have been appropriate to describe them? All three ...
7
votes
2answers
1k views

What's the difference between “FWIW” and “IMHO”?

What exactly is the difference between FWIW and IMHO?
3
votes
4answers
1k views

Is there such a word as 'tractless' and what does it mean?

I recall hearing the phrase 'tractless wilderness' but no dictionaries has 'tractless'. Up until now, I believed the meaning to be 'expansive'. There is a possibility that I'm confusing it with '...
8
votes
2answers
8k views

Why is “chore” pronounced differently from the “chore” in “choreography”?

How come the word "chore" is pronounced like it is, when the word "choreography", which has the same initial letter combination, is pronounced differently? Is there a phonetical rule to explain this?
4
votes
2answers
400 views

Shakespearean discovery of the modern mind

In this interview on the TV show The Wire, David Simon (the show's creator) says: Much of our modern theater seems rooted in the Shakespearean discovery of the modern mind. [The show is] ...
5
votes
2answers
990 views

How to categorize “grrrr”, “errhh”, “argh”,..?

What are these called in English? Are they same thing as "Gosh" or "Gee"? Maybe sounds of emotional changes?
6
votes
5answers
42k views

Why do we say that one can “talk the hind legs off a donkey”?

Unlike this questioner, I'm not asking what my phrase means (in case anyone doesn't know and can't guess, it means to talk incessantly). But I don't know anything at all significant about donkeys' ...
8
votes
3answers
20k views

Why does “one-night stand” mean sex?

What does the word stand mean in this phrase?
0
votes
2answers
8k views

When do you use “Did + 1st form” instead of “2nd form” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “did shoot” vs “shot” I often notice such sentences as: "EEG did show tumors"(from this week House M.D.) Why not "EEG showed tumors"? Is that form ...
4
votes
1answer
2k views

What does the word “rolling” mean in “rolling grassland”?

I found the following definition of "prairie" online: An extensive area of flat or rolling grassland, especially the large plain of central North America. I understand what "flat grassland" ...
1
vote
2answers
12k views

Should I use 'I said to him' or 'I told him' in this dialogue?

I wonder if I should use 'said' or 'told' in the following dialogue: I waited for too long. He took her away. I said to him crying, "I saw her first!" He said to me smiling, ...
10
votes
6answers
15k views

Where does the phrase “get crackin'” come from?

"There's a lot of work to be done, so we'd better get crackin'" I've often used this expression, but I have no idea what we might have been cracking, originally? Any insight?
2
votes
3answers
872 views

The word “getting” in “getting a divorce”

My parents are getting a divorce Is the getting just an auxiliary verb or does it have some real meaning? Why not: "My parents is going to divorce"?
2
votes
0answers
121 views

“Could help avoid” vs. “could help to avoid” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Help to do” or “help do”? Is it correct to say: The right sitting posture could help you avoid back problems. OR The right sitting ...
1
vote
2answers
5k views

Should I use 'that' 'which' or 'who' in this sentence?

Boys don't play with dolls that they know for a long time, unless they see another boys playing with them. Well it means that boys sometimes boys are not interested in a girl ...
5
votes
7answers
10k views

A good noun for a two-faced person

I'm in need of a word that describes someone who has two personalities (they don't necessarily contrast each other, good/evil).

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