Questions tagged [commonweath-english]

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

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5 votes
2 answers
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Was it common to use the noun mem-sahib outside India?

I have recently seen the noun mem-sahib, used to refer a white foreign woman living in India, in two different books. The books are Indian Passion and Nowhere in Africa. I have not found any ...
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2 votes
1 answer
354 views

Origins of UK/US difference in pronunciation "herb"

I travel a bit, and have noticed that people from the US pronounce "herb" without the aspirated "h" at the beginning, while seemingly everyone else pronounces the "h". ...
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10 votes
3 answers
13k 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 ...
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5 votes
1 answer
8k 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 ...
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10 votes
3 answers
30k 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 ...
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12 votes
4 answers
16k 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. ...
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0 votes
1 answer
4k 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? ...
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  • 964
14 votes
2 answers
86k 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 ...
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2 votes
2 answers
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”, ...
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10 votes
2 answers
27k 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 (...
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4 votes
3 answers
931 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 ...
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33 votes
7 answers
251k views

"Spelt" vs. "spelled"

In the following sentence, should I say spelled or spelt: You spelt/spelled "Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis" wrong.
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69 votes
7 answers
32k views

Which is the correct spelling: "grey" or "gray"?

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