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1h
comment What was “Herbal Tea” called before ‘tea’ was introduced in Europe?
@Pharap: not surprising you’re seeing it online — you know, the internet is for þorn.
13h
comment What was “Herbal Tea” called before ‘tea’ was introduced in Europe?
Can you give more reference besides this one quotation? This seems very appealing and plausible, but none of the dictionaries I’ve checked (including the OED and MED) mention this usage of herb — i.e. they list various senses, including “a medicinal plant…” or similar, but they do not list anything like “…an infusion prepared from such plants”.
2d
comment General term for location or event
Attraction seems perfect for covering both, but spots surely only covers locations, not events?
Apr
12
comment Word for something that can be obsolete in the future, obsolete-able
Obviate is a lovely word, and I quite agree that it doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, but I’m not sure it fits the bill here. Obsolescing is very different from being obviated. My iPhone will obsolesce in a few years when better iPhones have come out; it would be obviated if some company developed mass-market telepathic internet/phone implants.
Mar
23
comment What do you call the space where you park a car? Parking spot, space, bay or what?
I agree with @Araucaria that the Daily Mail is a better source for up-to-date usage data than Ngrams, whatever one thinks of its journalistic quality; though Ngrams is still miles better than personal anecdata or a general google count. Searching the Mail for "parking space", "parking spot", and their plurals, I find that space(s) are more common than spot(s) by a factor of about 2 to 1. At the Guardian, space(s) outnumber spot(s) by about 10 to 1. This suggests that both are common, but spaces is more common, and there’s some correlation with style/class/register.
Mar
23
comment Word to describe person who is rich in wealth, but is poor in class?
Brit here, have also lived in Canada, only ever heard this as an Australian phrase.
Mar
21
comment Derogatory word, describing person (a pupil) who memorizes instead of learning?
@jpers: really? I would think of older knowledge-base/expert-system AI models as more like rote learning — a fixed collection of facts, with the agent contributing nothing essentially new that it wasn’t taught. Modern machine learning seems to me like the opposite end of human learning styles: students who learn techniques by practicing them for a long time, rather than being taught anything specific about the theory behind them.
Mar
12
comment Is there a word for someone who is a killjoy yet also “The voice of caution?”
@A.S.: A devil’s advocate can be a voice of caution sometimes, as in the answer’s excellent example. The phrase has lost its theological connotations, and come to hold the meaning quoted in this answer. However, I don’t think it’s a good answer for the question in general — there are just as many situations where a devil’s advocate wouldn’t be a voice of caution. (E.g. A: “We shouldn’t let the kids go swimming; it’s dangerous.” B: “Yes, agreed; someone drowned here last year. C: “Just to be devil’s advocate, maybe it’s better to let them swim now, while we’re here to watch and advise.”)
Mar
12
comment A skill that you have, but has little to no benefit for you
Just to add a little more sourcing to @CaptainCranium’s position, the full OED (subscription-only, unfortunately) agrees that party piece and party trick are related but not the same: Party trick n. a trick such as might be performed at a party for entertainment; an unusual act regarded as one's speciality; cf. party piece n. // Party piece n. a piece of music or other act performed by a person on a special occasion; an unusual trick, feat, etc., for which one is renowned; cf. party trick n.
Mar
11
comment Is there an informal term for the “best company in an industry”?
@Josh61: ah, I take your point. I had thought it did, since it’s not exclusively a formal/technical expression, but is also used informally. But looking back, since the OP explicitly says they feel industry leader is too formal, then I guess they will feel the same way about this.
Mar
11
comment Is there an informal term for the “best company in an industry”?
@Josh61: No, market leader is a very well established term, used both colloquially and and in formal writing. Examples in the New York Times.
Mar
10
comment What do you call the university or school people graduated from in one word or phrase?
@Dan: yep, as a fellow Brit, I’d generally agree. Having since lived in the States for a fair few years, I’d think of it as a bit pompous in American English too, though not quite as badly so.
Mar
10
comment What do you call the university or school people graduated from in one word or phrase?
@JackAidley: just to put some numbers on that, Google ngrams suggests that alma mater has been about 2 to 3 times more common in American English than British English through most of the 20th century. I would expect most Brits to be familiar with the phrase, though.
Mar
10
comment What do you call the university or school people graduated from in one word or phrase?
@alephzero: yes and no. You might well talk about “my college”, but that would mean the specific college you went to — Trinity, St. John’s, or whatever — within the university. If you were referring to the university in general — Cambridge or Oxford — you’d definitely say still university, not college. (I presume this distinction is one of the reasons why the US use of “college” to refer colloquially to any university hasn’t caught on much the UK.)
Mar
5
comment Idiom request for recommending someone to end their toxic relationship/ friendship with somebody
I grew up in Britain, and some form of the phrase was certainly very common. I’m afraid I can’t confidently recall what noun it would have used (plaster, Bandaid, bandage? could be any), as I’ve since lived in the US for several years, so they all sound natural to me now. But some form of the phrase is certainly very standard in BrE.
Feb
27
comment The difference between “Many a man” and “Many men”
@Drew: I certainly didn’t mean to suggest it’s never been in ordinary use! In calling it literary or poetic, I was talking about current usage. // That said, one can’t generally assume that the language of folk songs was originally colloquial. Many oral traditions have had special poetic registers — language associated specifically with songs and poems. “Ordinary, common folk” — or, at least, the singers and storytellers among them — have always been just as capable of switching registers and playing with language as literary poets.
Feb
27
awarded  Good Answer
Feb
27
comment The difference between “Many a man” and “Many men”
It’s not a standard colloquial construction, but I’d definitely describe it as literary or poetic, rather than formal. As per Drew’s comment, it turns up in plenty of pop songs; but it’s much less likely to turn up in a newspaper article or scientific paper.
Feb
27
comment Word for “food eaten only partially out of hunger”
@JoeBlow: why is it so disgusting? Of course, one can over-indulge in comfort eating, as in many other things. But it’s much like many other pleasures: we go for walks even if we’re not traveling anywhere, we play competitive sports although we’re not really battling over resources, we have sex for pleasure not reproduction, we use language for purposes beyond essential communication. These seem like basic perks of a post-subsistence society, not some kind of terrible decadence.
Feb
27
comment Blanket term for things we often buy at grocery store that are not groceries, e.g., toilet paper, laundry detergent, window cleaner, saran wrap
Usage is the measure of language — not etymology or literalistic arguments of what’s “technically correct”. That said, to me (Brit, also lived a few years each in the US and Canada), including non-food items under groceries feels perfectly normal to me. So it definitely seems from these comments that there are significant numbers of people on both sides of this usage question — some do use it that way, some don’t.