I'm writing an essay for college applications in which I have to create a class. My idea is a class about the origin, change, and regional dialects of the English language. As an example, one would study how in America, one would say "microwave", one would say "nuke." Watch "Regional Dialect Challenge" on YouTube for more examples what the course would offer.

I have several questions:

  1. "The Etymology of Colloquialism" — is this a proper name for the class? Or should it be more along the lines of "Etymology and Colloquialism"?
  2. The Wikipedia/dictionary definitions of words are often over-complicated understandings. For clarification, are these the correct definitions:

    Etymology: the study of the origin of words and the way in which their meanings have changed throughout history. ('gay' meant happy, then changed to describe homosexuals)

    Colloquialism: a word or phrase that is used mostly in informal speech : a colloquial expression (regonal dialects? or words used in informal speech [bunny, kitty, a "hang-up"])

If any advice, clarification, or alterations to my thoughts could be made, it would be greatly appreciated!

  • I think this is both Too Broad, and Primarily Opinion-Based. Dec 12, 2013 at 22:33
  • @FumbleFingers neither question is opinion-based as there is a gramatical answer to each.
    – Aaron
    Dec 12, 2013 at 22:51
  • Opinions may differ, but even though I don't know specifically what you mean by "each", I really don't think there's a "grammatical answer" to anything OP has asked about. The only answer posted as of now is based on the mistaken impression that "colloquialism" only refers to a specific instance (an actual word or phrase). But in fact, OED's first definition is Colloquial quality or style, esp. of language (the general category, being OP's intended sense), so that answer is somewhat misleading/opinion-based anyway. I stand by my closevote, obviously. Dec 13, 2013 at 0:21
  • I don't see much difficulty with the definitions per se. However, you are dealing with too diverse concepts at one time. Make sure what precisely the class defines. "origin, change, and regional dialects" is too fuzzy and naive -- you need to sharpen the focus and get concepts much clearer.
    – Kris
    Dec 13, 2013 at 7:02
  • Welcome, Aaron. The Stack Exchange format works best when each post is one question, so you don't receive partial answers (for example, if someone answers about just etymology or colloquialism, it will be hard for users to decide which to vote for or for you to choose one answer to accept). So it works better if you ask separate, smaller questions that break down topics a little more. If you're looking for advice and opinion rather than a definitive answer, you can discuss in our chat room too.
    – aedia λ
    Dec 13, 2013 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


I would go with The Etymology of Colloquialisms with an "s," because colloquialism, as your definition indicates, is the actual word or phrase, not the phenomenon as a whole.

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