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Questions tagged [contemporary-english]

This tag is for questions about English as it is used in our own day and times. This differs from the more general Modern English by being more restricted.

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Is “barrel of eels” a common expression? What are alternatives

"To me, literature is something much more alive. More like a barrel of eels. When a writer creates a new eel, it wriggles its way into the barrel, muscles a path into the great teeming mass from which ...
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1answer
32 views

Phrase meaning of equal parts

IN THE CUT-THROAT realm of reality TV, “Wanted Down Under” is a survivor. A daytime fixture that has just finished its 13th season, the BBC documentary follows Britons contemplating relocating to ...
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0answers
32 views

Why do people say 'sat'? [duplicate]

A while ago, I think, I started hearing and reading people use the verb 'to sit' incorrectly, but it seems to becoming increasingly common. Such as "I am sat", "We are sat", "They were sat". Sit is a ...
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0answers
34 views

Why is the US referred to as “the Union” in “State of the Union”?

I wonder about the use of the word "Union" in the name "State of the Union", which is the US President's annual address to Congress. The phrase appears in the Constitution: He [the President] shall ...
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1answer
547 views

I am fine, or I am well, or I am good? [closed]

In grade school, eons ago, I was taught to say "I am fine." Today, most people say, "I am good." Recently, I received scorn for an old man saying, "I am fine," as it was argued that "fine" would ...
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1answer
4k views

Historically, did “Oh my Gosh” originate as an anti-God expression? [closed]

There is a tendency in traditionally Christian societies (grossly speaking, the West) to leave behind words or expression which allude to such heritage or faith. A familiar example is CE and BCE ...
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2answers
103 views

Am I using the word 'leverage' correctly ?

The sentence is, "I want to leverage my understanding of topic A with the knowledge of topic B to prepare myself well for a particular career". I want to convey that I already know topic A and ...
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2answers
26 views

In grammar, what do we call this specific usage of “this”?

In spoken American English, often times people who are telling a story use the determiner "this" not as a demonstrative, but rather as a word that serves to emphasize the impact of something. Examples:...
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1answer
552 views

Is “In the both cases” correct?

I have personally never heard (or seen): in both cases being referred to by: in the both cases before; therefore, my first instinct was that it is an obvious mistake. However, looking up "in ...
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1answer
39 views

Is it OK to use two consecutive 'that' in a sentence? [duplicate]

Is the usage of 2 consecutive 'that' in the following sentence correct, because it looks a bit odd? Should these be separated by comma perhaps? "While I agree that strength and size definitely gives ...
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1answer
139 views

What is the history of the cursive p?

A friend of mine (relevant detail, he grew up and learned cursive in India) recently remarked to me that he missed the way that cursive "p"s used to be written. An example of this can be seen in the ...
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2answers
114 views

The use of “male”/“female” (instead of e.g. “man”/“woman”) in everyday speech

In contemporary English, the terms "male" and "female" seem to be almost as commonly applied to people as "man" and "woman". For example, I see people posting questions on certain StackExchange sites ...
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1answer
74 views

What's a good way to describe the professional occupation of someone who is a street hustler, without using derogatory terms?

I am filling in a form for someone who basically does a variety of odd jobs to make a living, including reselling items, but "Sales" is not really an accurate way to describe their occupation. I am ...
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2answers
66 views

When did 'a relationship' become ‘a romantic relationship'?

There are a lot of relationships one can be in. You're in a mutually amicable relationship with your friends, in a familial or parent–child one with your parents, in a professional or business one ...
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0answers
304 views

Is “mediaeval” an outdated spelling of “medieval”?

I saw "mediaeval" on a Wikipedia page, and figuring it was a typo, edited it to "medieval", it was reverted as apparently mediaeval is the UK spelling. However, in all the dictionaries I've found from ...
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1answer
96 views

Why is the English word “teasel” also spelled teasle/teazel/teazle? [closed]

Why is the English word "teasel" also spelled teasle/teazel/teazle? Reference: https://en.m.wiktionary.org/wiki/teasel
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0answers
32 views

Verve as a verb meaning “to enter into” or “venture”

I've recently come across examples of the word "verve" used as a verb meaning "to enter into or venture into. I thought the writers meant to use "veer" or "verge" but clearly this was meant in a ...
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1answer
96 views

The Forbidden Fruit : Figure of speech

Simply put, I'd like to know what figure of speech we can classify the phrase "forbidden fruit" under. I've searched online and couldn't find anything concise.
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1answer
400 views

If “Literally” now means “Figuratively,” Which Word Can Be Used for the Previous Meaning?

I have been irked by the trend to use the word "literally" to mean "figuratively." The most recent offense to attack my brain and ears was someone introducing a series of videos filmed around the ...
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0answers
25 views

Tell someone if one looks like someone else

If i wanted to tell someone that lets say you look like someone, how order should be i.e. lets say my friend name is Anastasia and want to tell Anastasia, and do i tell Anastasia, you looks like my ...
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0answers
100 views

Why does American English spell center, theater and fiber, but not spell “appel, middel and titel”? [closed]

Why does American English spell center, theater and fiber, but not spell "appel, middel and titel" ? Did Noah Webster never think about this question in his spelling reform?
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Does it “rile” you?

I live in India and am a Doctorate (in Maths, not English). A few years back, my social circle consisted purely of Mathematicians/Physicists. Just about time, cause I happened to join a trekking club ...
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0answers
181 views

exhibition v.s. inhibition

In my experience... Inhibition is commonly used in different ways, say to render difficult, or to hide, to restrict or hinder, etc. Exhibition can be something like making and art show, presentations,...
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0answers
31 views

Implication of “Somewhere”

I have a quick question. If I'm writing: "Do you want to go somewhere with me?", does it sound like who is speaking has a specific place in mind or that they just want to go somewhere random? I'm not ...
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1answer
210 views

What is the name of the construction , “I'm liking” and when is it appropriate?

I hear phrases such as, "I'm wanting a new car," and, "He was wanting to go home," and, "I'm liking this new CD," more and more frequently. It seems ubiquitous and it is jarring to my ear. Why not ...
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1answer
51 views

Heavy use of present continuous

"I am thinking ... ." "I am guessing ... ." "I am wanting ... ." It might be a septuagenarian's illusion or it might actually be that this tense of verbs is now is (overly) heavy use. Is there ...
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0answers
396 views

Contemporary definition of Sexual Predator

I keep hearing this word, but I have a hard time pinning it down. Sometimes it seem to only be used when rape or sexual assault is involved, but not always. Wikipedia says: A sexual predator is a ...
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0answers
340 views

How does “as much as” fuction in this sentence

I don't deserve you as much as a guy with a fat wallet and a credit card that won't set off that horrible beeping. This is from the cartoon The Simpsons S01. Though I know the what the speaker ...
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2answers
161 views

Is there a term for the “ever longer, implicitly hyphenated-like groupings” in contemporary English?

There was just a question here about a phrase which had adjective and then a long complex phrase as the noun This is a real feature of "contemporary" English usage - I guess the best way to ...
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2answers
70 views

Word for someone who quits something and becomes excessively against it

Apologies for the vague nature of this. I'm looking for a word that could describe a person who quits something due to its supposedly being harmful or unethical (cigarettes, meat, alcohol, ...
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10answers
15k views

Should I say “ATM” or “cashpoint” in the UK?

ATM is an initialism of automated teller machine, coined sometime in the 1970s. I have always considered it an Americanism while its British equivalent has always been cashpoint, Oxford Living ...
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2answers
253 views

Do people actually address their male child “Son” rather than a name, in real life English, or is this mainly a written English usage?

I regularly see films, books, stories and other English usages in which a person uses the term "son" where one might normally use a name. Usually, it's a father and they're portrayed in a reasonably ...
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2answers
468 views

Is the verb 'to orn' truly obsolete? [closed]

During a game of scrabble the word orn caused controversy. It was my understanding that the word can still be used. In Websters Dictionary from 1913, it is listed as a verb meaning to adorn, ...
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1answer
106 views

What does it take for a colloquial meaning to become canon?

I've been listening to Alanis Morissette, so I started thinking about why there is such a fuss about how she used the word "ironic" incorrectly. In my experience, literary irony is generally just as ...
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1answer
113 views

Preventative or Preventive? [duplicate]

I continue to hear people use the word, "preventative." I've always considered "preventive" to be correct. I consider the extra syllable in preventative to be superfluous. For example: With regard to ...
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2answers
521 views

A lady or a woman?

In India we routinely refer to all women as ladies, not only in Indian English but also using the English loanword 'lady/ladies' in Indian languages. These seats are reserved for ladies. The ...
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12answers
33k views

Is “You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!” still considered a compliment in English?

I grew up hearing the phrase, "You’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!" used as a compliment, a genuine expression of admiration, fairly self-effacing at the same time. I have to admit that, while ...
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1answer
107 views

Lyingly: meaning & history of usage

When President Obama said-- lyingly-- that “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” his party ultimately paid for it. A reasonably competent Democratic Party, with something like the A.H.C....
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1answer
847 views

Is the word “oppositor” used today, or is it archaic?

The word oppositor does not appear in most American English dictionaries, but it does appear in the Oxford Living Dictionary. Please, is it obsolete, archaic, or only in British usage?
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1answer
411 views

Is it proper to say that in contemporary English, certain pronouns are only have oblique and possessive cases?

Is it proper and/acceptable to say that Contemporary English only has Oblique and Possessive noun-cases? *To my understanding, Oblique case is a noun that functions the cases other's cannot. In ...
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2answers
1k views

The word Government is to be used as singular or plural [duplicate]

Government of Kerala has agreed Government of Kerala have agreed which is the correct usage
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1answer
303 views

How do English speakers say they want the same item? [closed]

Let's say a Mars bar. In my language, if one showed candy bar and we'd want one, not a part broken off, we'd say 'does it have twin?'
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1answer
7k views

Laid out or Layed out [closed]

Layout is a thing. It originated from sentences including "lay out" ("let us lay this out" "I am about to lay this out" "I like the way you laid out those pieces of metal"). You now have the word "...
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1answer
210 views

Is the word 'honky' still used only pejoratively?

I know that historically honky was a pejorative term for a white person and that it may still be so but there is a 1973 song by the British band called Vinegar Joe titled 'Proud to be (a Honky Woman)' ...
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1answer
89 views

To say properly when someone comes to sell goods (i.e. food) temporarily on site and leaves

I am looking for the right expression in English for a person - male or female - who comes to a site for the purpose of selling goods (i.e. food) usually for a bigger community and then leaves. This ...
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3answers
10k views

When I see someone with a new haircut what can I say to him?

In Iran, there's a social custom regarding "getting a haircut" i.e. whenever a man/boy gets a haircut, people congratulate him on the matter: In Farsi, we say: "Mubarak"! Is there an English ...
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2answers
116 views

Is the phrase, “prescribe childbirth” current and easily understood?

I was puzzled when I came across the following passage in Wikipedia, free encyclopedia dealing with W. Somerset Maugham’s biography: “Maugham’s mother, Edith Mary had tuberculosis, a condition for ...
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0answers
550 views

List of characters with diacritics accepted in English words [closed]

Some diacritics and special characters (like ligatures) are accepted in Contemporary English: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_terms_with_diacritical_marks Examples of English spellings: ...
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1answer
728 views

Can “hence” be used instead of “after”?

Can "hence" be used instead of "after"? Dictionaries say that "hence" is the same as "in the future". Some usage suggest otherwise. Example: A man who died in 1945 proved himself relevant, 120 ...
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2answers
226 views

Is “snug” still in common usage

I heard it a while ago from a British fellow (actually it was snugly), never before and never since. Now I listen to an audiobook of Dickens' David Copperfield and snug is a common term, i.e. a snug ...