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Questions about English as spoken in the Commonwealth of Nations, an association primarily of former members of the British Empire.

8
votes
3answers
4k views

Is there an “Oxford semicolon”?

I must admit that I don't use semicolon lists very often. (In some instances, I probably should have.) I will also admit that I'm neither-here-nor-there with the use of an Oxford comma. Sometimes I ...
5
votes
1answer
5k views

Where does the word “spliff” come from?

Neither the OED and Etymonline has any answer to the etymology of the word. The latter does suggest it may have an origin in the Caribbean, but offers nothing better. The first citation is from 1936 ...
10
votes
3answers
15k views

Where does the word “wankers” come from?

The term wanker is derived from the verb wank in the sense of to masturbate. However, neither the OED nor Etymonline can trace it further back than that: both claim it is of “obscure origin”, which ...
12
votes
4answers
7k views

Where does the word “snogging” come from?

Where does the word snogging come from, in the sense of canoodling? I’m looking for it etymology, not for its connotation or phonoaesthetic properties, as the answer of the other question provides. ...
0
votes
1answer
3k views

Differences between servant, maid, page, and attendant [closed]

In an airplane, the lady attending you is known as the attendant, besides sometimes being called a stewardess or air hostess. What does she do? Just serve you. Then what is that my maid does? ...
12
votes
2answers
81k views

“travelling” vs. “traveling” [closed]

Is the correct spelling travelling or traveling? I’ve seen both in common usage, but I can't find an authoritative source that says one way or another. Is this a difference between British spelling ...
2
votes
2answers
4k views

Swearing: “bollixed”

The House Ethics Committee has now hired an outside counsel to investigate its own bollixed investigation into the conduct of Representative Maxine Waters. (“The House’s Farcical Self-Investigation”, ...
9
votes
2answers
12k views

Dropping L in compound adjectives. Is it “skillful” or “skilful”?

We have been taught at school that when a word ending in "LL" helps form a compound word, "LL" becomes "L" (e.g. skill -> skilful). I have also come across the usage of this adjective as skillful (...
4
votes
3answers
895 views

Which flavor of English (British vs. American) first had standard modern spellings?

Which flavor, British English or American English, first standardised its modern spellings? I'm mostly interested in the direction of alteration; for example, was the u dropped from colour or was the ...
28
votes
6answers
164k views

“Spelt” vs. “spelled”

In the following sentence, should I say spelled or spelt: You spelt/spelled "Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" wrong.
62
votes
7answers
29k views

Which is the correct spelling: “grey” or “gray”?

What is the difference? Or is there any? Which would be more British English?