Questions tagged [dictionaries]

Questions about English dictionaries

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38
votes
4answers
13k views

How and when did American spelling supersede British spelling in the US?

Considering that Webster published his first dictionary in 1806, is there a recognised tipping point (year, decade, etc.) that marked the move from traditional British spelling to Webster's American? ...
35
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4answers
10k views

Regulatory bodies and authoritative dictionaries for English

Some languages have a "regulatory body" issuing recommendations and guidelines regarding the use of that language. For example in the case of Spanish it's the Real Academia Española whose status is ...
30
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13answers
16k views

What is a verb for “illusion”?

What is a verb for illusion? I want to use it in a sentence like the following: The optical effect [illudes] my perception of its real shape. But illude does not exist. But I cannot find illude in ...
24
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5answers
4k views

Is “iff” considered a real word or just an abbreviation?

I wonder if "iff" is considered a real word (as LEO says) or is it just an abbreviation (as in Wiktionary)?
24
votes
1answer
69k views

Is “Customizable” a valid English word? [closed]

Is the word "Customizable" a valid English word? Every time I write that word, the spell checker underlines it, and it suggests using "Customization" or "Customize". I'm not a native English speaker, ...
23
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5answers
13k views

Where can I obtain an English dictionary with structured data? [closed]

I would like to download an English dictionary -- not just a word list -- in a structured format such as TXT, XML, or SQL. Specifically, I need phonetic pronunciation and parts of speech (definition ...
19
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3answers
31k views

Largest open-source dictionary w/ brief definitions (not wiktionary) [closed]

What's the largest open-source dictionary that includes brief definitions of each word? Wiktionary is a great resource but: There are over 200K words in the scowl list that aren't in wiktionary. I'...
18
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the meaning of the word “inriation”?

I looked up the definition of the word elation in Webster's Revised Unabridged 1913 dictionary and found the following definition (Page: 476): Elation E*la"tion (?), n. [L. elatio. See Elate.]...
18
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4answers
87k views

“Smooths” versus “Smoothes”

I am interested in the rapid rise (since about 1993) in frequency of the spelling smoothes as against smooths. An Ngram Viewer graph tracking the frequency of usage of the two words from 1800 to ...
16
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7answers
12k views

Another meaning of the vulgar word “slut”

I guess people who speak American and Philippine English will unanimously agree that the word "slut" is a very offensive term referring to a promiscuous woman. However, Merriam-Webster and Oxford ...
13
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3answers
5k views

What's the difference between “archaic” and “obsolete” in dictionaries?

I have come across both of these terms when searching words via google. Is there a difference between these two terms, or is it just a case of one dictionary prefering one term over another?
13
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3answers
1k views

Is 'compatriate' really an English word?

I recently saw the word 'compatriate' used in a newspaper article. Upon looking it up, suspecting a typo (or even an eggcorn: it is easy to see how compatriot would be mixed-up with expatriate etc.), ...
12
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5answers
22k views

Is “criterions” a valid plural for “criterion”?

Is criterions a valid plural for criterion? Dictionary.com says it is, but Oxford does not confirm or reject it.
12
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7answers
4k views

What does “akin to” mean in etymologies in dictionary entries?

Many etymologies in dictionaries say that some word is “akin to” a word in some other language. For example, here is part of the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary entry for salt: Main Entry: 1salt ...
12
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3answers
117k views

Is “pronunciate” a word?

Is "pronunciate" a word? At first it doesn't seem to be, but why not? "Pronunciation" and "pronunciative" seem to be words, so it would seem natural that "pronunciate" would be. After Googling, I ...
11
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3answers
2k views

What was required to accept “troll”?

At what point did the concept of internet troll become incorporated into an English dictionary?
11
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3answers
583 views

Why is this meaning of “snipped” not in dictionaries?

The word "snipped" can seemingly be used to mean "said in a snippy manner": "No," she snipped, obviously annoyed —http://rosemarinetheater.blogspot.com/2013/05/white-boy-can-rap-looking-at-...
11
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6answers
11k views

Online tools to look up words from pronunciation

Are there online tools to look up words from their pronunciation? For example, when I hear /bεə/, I want it to tell me that there are words bear and bare that are pronounced /bεə/.
11
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4answers
3k views

American refusal of the IPA: why?

Are there any historical or political reasons for the rather consistent refusal of the International Phonetic Alphabet on the part of American academics? Did Mark Twain's home-made-English-spelling-...
10
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3answers
5k views

Is “his husband” grammatically valid? [duplicate]

I was surprised to see "his husband" in the Cambridge dictionary’s entry for compliment: He complained that his husband never paid him any compliments anymore. Isn't that a grammatical ...
10
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8answers
16k views

Definition of “kissing cousins”— Are the dictionaries wrong/incomplete?

With relatives in the US south, I always thought that the definition of "kissing cousin" was a second cousin (or more distant) whom you could kiss and subsequently marry (FWIW I never did either!). ...
10
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4answers
20k views

US Equivalent to the Oxford English Dictionary

Apologies if this question is inappropriate for the site. In the US, what would be equivalent to the OED? The de facto standard. I know there's the New Oxford American Dictionary but in the US does ...
10
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4answers
5k views

Why can’t one be “trepid”?

Why can someone be intrepid but not trepid ? The Free Dictionary and Merriam-Webster both consider trepid to be a real word, but my computer’s little spell-checker program does not recognize it as ...
10
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4answers
9k views

What is the best paper-based dictionary? [closed]

I'd like to have a dictionary in paper that won't be very big, at least there should be one tome, and it should be something like thefreedictionary.com but in paper, to use it offline. Please advise.
10
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4answers
6k views

Is there a kind of “official” dictionary for the English language?

Context On languages having an Academy (I know it's not the English case thanks to this SE site) it's usual that those academies edit and maintain a kind of official dictionary for that language. ...
10
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6answers
7k views

Is there such thing as an online preposition dictionary?

Is there such a thing as an online preposition dictionary? For example, I want to use the word "interpretation" but I am not sure of its preposition. I don't know if the correct preposition should be....
9
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3answers
2k views

What part of speech is “methinks”?

Dictionaries call this word a verb, but it doesn't seem to behave like any other verb in the English language. Another question on this site calls it a “conjoined pronoun-verb combination”, which ...
9
votes
3answers
29k views

'Upgradation' not universally accepted?

While copy-editing an article for a journal, I came across the word 'upgradation' underlined red by MS Word (It's underlined red even as I type it in Chrome). The publishers of the journal recommend ...
9
votes
4answers
35k views

Syllable division of VCV pattern in words such as “salad” and “lemon”

In words such as salad /sæləd/, you have a VCV pattern (vowel-consonant-vowel), in which the first vowel is short. The syllable division of such words is generally done after the consonant, i.e, as VC-...
9
votes
1answer
11k views

Which of these meanings for the word “pet” came first?

The word "pet" has a few different definitions (my own paraphrase): n: An animal kept for companionship. v: To affectionately caress. My question is, which of these usages originated first? Do we ...
9
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2answers
96k views

Why are “scaring” and “scarring” confused by some dictionaries? [closed]

Scaring is related to the word scare, while scarring is related to the word scar. Why is it that some dictionaries get these two words confused? For example, when you use Mac OS X Lion's lookup ...
9
votes
3answers
6k views

Online rhyme dictionary/rhyming resource that lists rhymes by vowel sound (assonance)

Anyone know of an online rhyming dictionary or rhyme resource that lists rhymes by vowel sound (assonance)? RhymeZone.com doesn't have such an option.
8
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3answers
2k views

Different syllabic boundaries in various dictionaries?

Consider, for instance, the word "university": American Heritage: u·ni·ver·si·ty Collins Cobuild: uni|ver|sity Merriam Webster: uni·ver·si·ty As you see, syllabic boundaries differ. I read ...
8
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1answer
1k views

Syllable — Phonetic Online List/Dictionary with word examples

Is there a homepage or online tool that gives you a list of, let's say, the 2000 most common syllables sorted by their international phonetic alphabet spelling? (e.g. /sɜː(r)/ = the first syllable ...
7
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3answers
5k views

Why isn’t “hermeticity” easily found in the dictionaries?

The word hermeticity as (for the lack of better definition, hence the question) “the quality of being hermetic” (not to be confused with mathematical hermiticity, which is also absent from the general ...
7
votes
2answers
353 views

Percentages of meanings in an English dictionary

Often when you look for some new word in a dictionary, you will find many definitions or meanings of the one word. For example when you look for a word to in Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary you ...
7
votes
1answer
31k views

Is it all right to use “in hopes of” to mean “with the aim of”?

Recently I browsed through the definition of hope in New Oxford American Dictionary (provided by Apple in the dictionary app) to double confirm with its usage as I answered a word-choice question and ...
6
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3answers
2k views

Is the Word Homeopathy Used Inappropriately?

It seems this word is used synonymously with home cures, whereas the definition is much more specific, and also more detracting. The definition from Merriam-Webster: Homeopathy a system for ...
6
votes
5answers
386 views

What are comparative strong points of online dictionaries and other useful reference sites?

NOTE: This question was composed in an attempt to follow Guidelines for Great Subjective Questions. I hope I do not fail them too hard, but if you see how the question can be improved please edit it ...
6
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3answers
338 views

Are published books to be considered an official reference for spelling? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Regulatory bodies and authoritative dictionaries for English Many times I searched across several books for the usage of some words and many times I've found my results quite ...
6
votes
1answer
813 views

In phonetic writing, what does italics mean?

The word government is supposed to be pronounced guhv-ern-muh nt See here http://www.dictionary.com/browse/government?s=t
6
votes
1answer
513 views

Why do dictionaries transcribe the nasal in 'think' and 'language' with /ŋ/, yet 'input' and 'inbox' with /n/, not /m/?

In English, coda nasals assimilate to the following consonant, so 'n' in "in mail" and "own goal" is pronounced with [m] and [ŋ] respectively, right? If so, then why do most dictionaries transcribe ...
6
votes
3answers
22k views

What is the name for “pronunciation spelling”?

Dictionaries often have "pronunciation spelling" listed next to the word. For example: port·man·teau - noun \pȯrt-ˈman-(ˌ)tō\ What is the name for this alphabet/system? Is it a universal system, ...
5
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16answers
131k views

What is the word or term used to describe a person who intentionally ignores a rule/regulation/order

There is a girl in my lab who, despite having been corrected numerous times in the past, continues to disregard the lab procedures regarding chain of command. She constantly goes over supervisors' ...
5
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5answers
2k views

Can one ever say for certain a word does not exist? [closed]

Can it ever be concluded that an alleged word is not actually a word? Obviously, if a word is not in a particular dictionary, it does not mean the word is any less of a word than the ones that do ...
5
votes
4answers
706 views

Source for etymological study

It has always been interesting for me to know how words are made and where they are coming from. Is there any reliable source for etymological studies? any books, or dictionaries out there?
5
votes
2answers
519 views

Is the Concise Oxford Dictionary British English?

Last year I submitted a manuscript to a journal. The guidelines said that it can be written in British English or in American English, but not mixed. So I chose British English. Now I must resubmit ...
5
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the accepted definition of the following words in this sentence?

Quoting DailyWTF: The Matrix! No, not the the uburbulous deprodication errebelously conceived by “The Architect”. What is the accepted definition of the following words in the preceding quote? ...
5
votes
2answers
292 views

“Personified” in an OED definition

While writing an answer to this question, I looked up the word ennui in the full version of the Oxford English Dictionary. (I'd give you a link, but I access the OED through my local library's proxy ...
4
votes
5answers
447 views

On what juristic basis are students corrected when making mistakes in an English class? [closed]

I've learned that there is no authoritative dictionary for English. I wonder on what juristic basis students are corrected when making mistakes in an English class. How can someone say that whatever ...