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Jul
21
comment word or term for letting someone else have a chance to win
I don't disagree that playing easy in deference to a superior is an example of kowtowing, just that is a very specific example. The term "kowtow" has a much broader definition which includes all manner of deferential behavior. It also has somewhat of a negative implication that perhaps such deference might be undeserved. E.g. Smithers kowtows to Mr. Burns, who is generally disliked by everyone else. I also agree that it's not likely to offend THAT many people, but there are definitely some who would consider it inappropriate.
Jul
21
comment word or term for letting someone else have a chance to win
Agree on handicapping, particularly common in golf. "Kowtowing" has very different implications, not really related to letting someone else win, but more just deferring to them in general. (It's also considered mildly offensive by some people, in that it has racial undertones against Asians, though that's not necessarily common knowledge.)
Jul
18
comment Is 'I f*cked the dog' an actual idiom and are there alternatives
That's why I said they were more specific - without knowing the context this needs to be used in, it's hard to say what would be most appropriate. Anyhow, just pointing out that there's any number of non-vulgar alternatives to this phrase depending on the situation.
Jul
17
answered Is 'I f*cked the dog' an actual idiom and are there alternatives
Jul
16
comment Is “certainly possible” an oxymoron?
@SteveJessop - "fast" has a similar dual meaning. Consider "run fast" vs. "stand fast". It can be considered a contranym or auto-antonym in that respect, like "off" (e.g. "The alarm went off again, somebody turn it off.")
Jun
24
awarded  Yearling
Jun
24
awarded  Yearling
Feb
18
comment Is there a word/term for a question where the asker knows he'll criticise any answer?
I'd say a trick question is one which may indeed have a correct answer, but it is not one of the choices given. (In the ex-con case, "yes" or "no" would be the obvious choices, but the correct answer would be neither of the above, but would rather more depend on job and the crime in question.) It does not necessarily imply that there is no correct answer, just that it's not obvious.
Feb
5
comment A non-offensive term to call a lunatic?
Has this term ever been used outside of the context of the show though? I know it was the first thing I thought of (without even seeing this post - I saw it quoted in another post first).
Jan
27
comment Single word for a very small amount of time
@dotsamuelswan Says who? Nobody has used that definition of "moment" for centuries. Most dictionaries list it as a "historical" or "medieval" usage, not current. By current usage, it just means a very short period of time, possibly synonymous with "instant".
Jan
12
comment Why do English men's names almost always stress the first syllable?
@Mitch Looking at that same list, of the 93 multi-syllable girls' names, 17 (possibly 18 - I've seen "Andrea" go both ways) are stressed on the 2nd syllable. So it's not exactly 50/50 like my initial claim, but still far more common. Don't have hard stats for other languages, but from my knowledge of French at least, I know that most names of either gender seem to be second-syllable stressed.
Jan
12
comment Why do English men's names almost always stress the first syllable?
@PeterShor I know there are differences between UK English and US English in this respect - e.g. UK "GARage" vs. US "garAGE". But I agree that I think those examples are wrong either way. It looks like a case of someone trying to enforce hard-and-fast rules on the language where in reality every such rule seems to have many exceptions in English.
Jan
11
comment Why do English men's names almost always stress the first syllable?
There may be something to unstressed first syllables sounding more "poetic". For example, most of Shakespeare (and contemporaries) is written in iambic meter, which stresses the 2nd syllable.
Jan
11
comment Why do English men's names almost always stress the first syllable?
Jose I wouldn't count because it's really a Spanish name that's borrowed in English. I'd suspect that most people with that name are Hispanic. Actually, the same applies to "Barack" - it's not really an English name, though I've met one other person with that name, but with a very different ethnic background from Obama's. (Ethnically Jewish, though several generations American).
Jan
11
asked Why do English men's names almost always stress the first syllable?
Jan
11
comment Why does “orange” rhyme with (almost) nothing in English?
To find a rhyme for silver/When silver needs a rhyme/requires certain skill, ver-/-bosity and time. (Not mine, but I always liked this one.)
Jan
2
comment Idiom or word for a very crowded place
@ElliottFrisch Indeed, the phrase is often in the form "swing a dead cat", which makes it unambiguous. (Also rules out a cat-o-nine tails since you wouldn't need to specify that it's dead as it was never alive.)
Dec
30
comment Idiom or word for a very crowded place
One thing these have that most of the other entries lack is the implication of motion. A place that's packed to the gills or crowded like sardines implies everyone is so crowded there's no room to move. But a throng or a place teeming or swarming with people implies they're busily moving around despite being crowded together.
Dec
16
comment Is “guy” gender-neutral?
Another usage you've missed is formations like "A couple of guys" or "A bunch of guys". In cases like this, it's plural, but generally assumed to refer to groups of males only, regardless of who's saying it, so it works much like the singular case.
Dec
16
comment Why is it “masterpiece” and not “a piece of art”?
I think it's a question of degree. Even really bad art can be called a "piece of art", but you wouldn't call it a "work of art" unless it was of fine quality, and "masterpiece" would be reserved for the cream of the crop.