35
votes
2answers
224k views

Is it “bear” or “bare” with me?

Is it "bear" or "bare" with me?
35
votes
9answers
28k views

What is the difference between “complicated” and “complex”?

I can't understand: what's the difference between complicated and complex? They seem to be used interchangeably. Are they actually different at all?
35
votes
6answers
6k views

What do you call the interconnecting bits of a puzzle piece in English?

This is hard to describe, but I'm curious about what the proper word is for these thingies in English. So I searched for a picture on Google and circled what I'm referring to with red:
35
votes
7answers
115k views

“The Dude abides” — what does “abide” mean in that context?

I'm unfamilar with the word "abide" which is famously used the the movie quote "The Dude abides" (The Big Lebowski). Looking it up in a German/English dictionary makes me believe it's "The Dude lives ...
35
votes
4answers
3k views

How to pronounce “720p” and “1080p”

How do you pronounce 720p and 1080p? Because I don't live in a country that uses English, I haven't heard it yet. I guess it doesn't have a rule. seven hundred twenty p seven twenty p seventy two ...
35
votes
5answers
14k views

Why does Polly want a cracker?

Where does the expression "Polly wants a cracker" come from? Why is the parrot named Polly, and why doesn't she want seeds?
35
votes
5answers
7k views

What term can be used to describe Yoda's speech?

What is Yoda's speech called? Is there a particular name for it (such as "dangling...")?
35
votes
8answers
3k views

Why is there no plural indefinite article?

The takes either a singular or a plural subject. A/an only takes the singular. When we pluralize a noun preceded by an indefinite article, we simply drop the article (sometimes replacing it with ...
34
votes
21answers
3k views

What is the word for an action that is “considered to be frowned upon”?

I'm looking for an adjective to describe a behavior or action that is considered to be a faux pas, or is frowned upon. Picking your nose is [word]. Wearing socks with sandals is [word]. ...
34
votes
15answers
3k views

What is the player called who has a turn?

What is the player called who has a turn? I am guessing something like turning player. But I would like some confirmation or maybe is there an idiom for it? Explanation: In a round based game what ...
34
votes
2answers
4k views

If the plural of ‘man’ is ‘men,’ shouldn’t the plural of ‘German’ be ‘Germen’?

What makes these two words so different that 'man' is changed to 'men', but 'German' is changed to 'Germans'?
34
votes
12answers
5k views

What is the term for when you become more aware of something?

For example, when you buy a car, you start becoming more aware of cars with a similar make and model. The number of that type of car hasn't increased, but your awareness of it has. Similarly, when ...
34
votes
7answers
35k views

What is the difference between “nevermind” and “never mind”?

I never remember the appropriate use of either of nevermind and never mind. What's the difference and how can I remember?
34
votes
6answers
3k views

How did “Jew” become pejorative?

For some reason, the word Jew often carries a pejorative or offensive connotation, which the related adjective Jewish does not carry. This is most obvious when either word is used as an attributive: ...
34
votes
4answers
2k views

What are the words for the different parts of a ticket?

Admission tickets such as those for the cinema are often composed of a part which will remain to the customer, and a part which will remain to the attendant. What are the two parts called? What is ...
34
votes
5answers
13k views

Should I use a semicolon or a dash to connect two closely related sentences?

When you want to connect two closely related sentences, you can use a semicolon or a dash. (You can also use a dash for other kinds of non-sentential relations). How would you choose whether to use a ...
34
votes
9answers
13k views

“Race” is to “racism” as “religion” is to what?

I've heard "racist" being used in a few cases to describe bigotry towards people of a certain religion. It's a bit annoying because it implies that all people of a religion are the same race, which is ...
34
votes
4answers
5k views

What is the meaning of the phrase 'Here be dragons'?

What does here be dragons mean in the example below? WARNING Here be dragons. Relative source binding can not only encourage bad application practices, such as binding to things defined in ...
34
votes
8answers
3k views

Why “job” in “nut job”

Why are crazy people called nut jobs? Why are they called a job? Wiktionary is of no help here.
34
votes
3answers
1k views

Why do I give my pets “food” but my livestock “feed”?

When I feed my cat or my dog, the package tends to say "Dog Food" or "Cat Food." In contrast, I give my chickens "chicken feed" or "poultry feed." Likewise, a cow's silage is her "feed." Why does ...
34
votes
14answers
7k views

I can run faster than _____. (1) him (2) he?

Consider the sentence "I can run faster than 15 miles per hour." Its meaning is clear and to my eyes obviously grammatically correct. Now let me present some variations that have given me trouble for ...
34
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there a term to describe an event which happens every 18 months?

Obviously every year is annual. Every two years is biennial. Does the English language have a term for every 18 months?
34
votes
7answers
39k views

Is it correct to use “their” instead of “his or her”?

Is this sentence grammatically correct? Anyone who loves the English language should have a copy of this book in their bookcase. or should it be: Anyone who loves the English language should ...
34
votes
10answers
25k views

Is there a standard ordering for the question mark and the exclamation mark used together?

We've all wanted to express certain questions, rhetorical or not, with annoyance, excitement, surprise, frustration and so on. What better way than with both a question mark (?) and an exclamation ...
34
votes
6answers
2k views

Pronunciation of the English alphabet

Why are there inconsistencies in the pronunciation of the consonants of the alphabet? For example: 'b' is pronounced like 'bee' but 'm' is pronounced as 'em' rather than 'me'. The pronunciation of 'h' ...
33
votes
14answers
17k views

One word for someone who doesn't care about anything

A pessimist is someone who always considers negative outcomes of a situation, whereas an optimist always considers the positive outcomes. Is there a word for someone who, in any given situation, ...
33
votes
19answers
6k views

What is the “thirsty” equivalent of “ravenously”?

When you eat something very hungrily, you can use the adverb "ravenously" to describe it. But when you drink something very fast in a similar way to quench your thirst, what adverb can you use to ...
33
votes
11answers
3k views

Other word for an empty promise (that is likely not to be held)

I'm not exactly sure how to word my questions properly, but here it is: Say I receive a reply from customer support such as: "We will take your concern very seriously" But I get the feeling that this ...
33
votes
12answers
13k views

What do you call a person who is always online on the Internet?

Is there any specific word for a person who is always online on the Internet? I am just curious to know because staying online is like a profession nowadays.
33
votes
6answers
6k views

What does “day's” mean?

I understand what the sentence The house is a full day’s journey from here means, but I’m wondering what day’s is short for in this expression. It doesn’t match any pattern I know. A couple of ...
33
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is “hysterical” applied to women but rarely to men?

hysterical :  affected by or deriving from wildly uncontrolled emotion, Janet became hysterical and began screaming. Why is the adjective hysterical usually applied to women and ...
33
votes
4answers
2k views

English word for taking a derogatory term and owning it with pride

E.g. "geek" or "queer" were originally meant as an insulting term, but were taken by the recipients as titles of pride. Is there a term for this phenomenon?
33
votes
7answers
4k views

How bad is the f-word, really?

I am confused: on the one hand, many of my native-speaker friends keep telling me that the f-word is very, very bad. Much worse than the s-word for example. On the other hand, I see it being used ...
33
votes
9answers
3k views

Why is anyone in a porn movie considered a porn star?

Recently, the media made a big deal about Charlie Sheen dating a porn star. It seems that anyone who is in a porn movie is referred to as a porn star. The same is not true of anyone in a normal movie. ...
33
votes
2answers
9k views

Why does “orange” rhyme with (almost) nothing in English?

Joel Spolsky asked what rhymes with orange. The official answer is, "Nothing," although a creative poet can get close by using half words, just the -nge part or resorting to place names and foreign ...
33
votes
4answers
37k views

Which is correct, “buck naked” or “butt naked”?

"Butt naked" or "buck naked" both refer to completely naked, or do they? Where the phrase comes from I have no idea but that would be of interest. This is a phrase I am too afraid to google and ...
33
votes
6answers
36k views

When do I use “I” instead of “me?”

From some comments in the answers for common English usage mistakes, there's confusion around the usage of I vs. me: While the sentence, "the other attendees are myself and Steve," is agreed to be ...
33
votes
3answers
2k views

Origin of “-ing”

What is the origin of the suffix -ing used to form gerunds and present participles? Why is the suffix the same in both cases?
33
votes
5answers
2k views

Does the quirky spelling in English actually make it easier to read?

I just finished reading the question asked by Bobnix, in which RegDwight referred to another question with an interesting answer by Kosmonaut. Kosmonaut refers to the great number of pictograms (Kanji ...
33
votes
3answers
4k views

Alternatives to “and/or”?

As a programmer, I have no problem with seeing or using "and/or" in technical documentation. For example, I can upvote an answer that satisfies me and/or mark it as accepted. That's perfectly ...
32
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
32
votes
5answers
3k views

Is “the girls are want to gossip” correct?

Is this the correct use and placement of want? The girls in the office are want to gossip. Does anyone have a reference citing this use?
32
votes
7answers
42k views

When your 10-year old boy says “It’s meta,” what does it mean? In what situation and of what sort of object they use this phrase?

I asked about the meaning and usage of meta a few days ago, quoting Maureen Dowd’s review of the movie, “J. Edgar” in New York Times. I received six answers. But I still don’t get a clear idea of ...
32
votes
12answers
5k views

A derogatory word for a splendid person

In Swedish there is a word "präktig" that can be used to describe a person that is annoyingly decent, reliable and good in every way. The common translation is "splendid" but that doesn't sound ...
32
votes
19answers
28k views

What is the opposite of procrastination in one word?

I thought of precrastination at first but that appears to be the act of planning to procrastinate.
32
votes
5answers
4k views

What does this mean: 'Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water AND make it drink'? Why is it funny?

Chuck Norris can lead a horse to water and make it drink. I read this on http://chucknorrisfacts.com. What I think this sentence means, is: Chuck Norris can take his horse to where the water is ...
32
votes
8answers
4k views

What is the infinitive of “can”?

Like the title says: I don't think "to can" is right :) I mean "can" as in to be able to. I'm aware of other meanings. I can't find the answer here. (There's What is an "infinitive"? which ...
32
votes
6answers
4k views

During the “Cold War”, did Americans/Westerners call it such?

I am old enough to remember the fall of the Soviet Union, but not old enough to have had any interest in world affairs in the times before. Did Americans/Westerners refer to the "Cold War" by that ...
32
votes
5answers
2k views

Is Valley Girl speak “like”, entering the language?

So like, I had this teacher? And he's like, "You're late?" And I'm like, "There's like other people late too?" I've always cringed at the word "like" strewn about in a spoken sentence. Well now ...
32
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is a “splash screen” so called?

Wikipedia describes a "splash screen" as such... "A splash screen is an image that appears while a game or program is loading." and its purpose... [Splash screens] are typically used by ...

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