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Questions tagged [word-usage]

This tag is for questions about correctly using a word. The word has to be provided within the question. The question should be limited to the usage of one word. For the usage of complete phrases there is the tag phrase-usage.

7
votes
2answers
58k views

When would I use “might as well” instead of “may as well”?

If I understood the NY Times correctly, the words might and may are interchangeable except might is used to convey a greater level of uncertainty. Examples: I'll probably need gas for tomorrow's ...
2
votes
4answers
2k views

Word for “makes progress towards?”

If one has a goal, then one can say that certain activities make progress towards that goal, lead to completion of the goal. Is there a concise word for "is relevant to, makes progress towards [a ...
3
votes
0answers
240 views

Why do we say “odd” when describing numbers? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Where did the “odd” in “N odd years” come from? When we speak about numbers, we usually associate "odd" with it. For example, "We have 70-odd people ...
49
votes
4answers
139k views

Why use the word “copy” in “do you copy that”?

I notice "do you copy that?" is used in movies to ask for confirmation in telephone/interphone conversation. I only know copy means make things duplicated, so why use it in "do you copy that"? Is ...
10
votes
7answers
40k views

What's an easy way to remember when to use “affect” or “effect”? [duplicate]

Is there an easy way to remember when to use the word affect or effect in a sentence? It is very confusing, and I still get them mixed up.
7
votes
6answers
25k views

When to use “Elven”, “Elvish” and “Elfic”?

Well, these are three adjectives for "something from the elves". But I'm Spanish and in my language there's only one adjective for these (élfico), and I can't understand what the difference is.
7
votes
5answers
10k views

Can sound be “blurry?”

Can sound be considered "blurry?" I have heard of visual things being "blurry." Examples of this include blurry photographs or blurred vision. Is the word "blurry" restricted only to vision? I ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What is the difference between Philanthropy and Philanthropism?

In a the context of a paper, there's a paragraph-title: "Philanthropism in American culture", I'm in general only familiar with the word philanthropy, hence I'm not sure what an appropriate title ...
2
votes
4answers
63k views

Difference in meaning between create/make/have impact

Came across "create a great impact" today, and I have never seen "impact" used with "create" (as far as I can remember). Is there a difference in meaning and usage between: create an impact have an ...
13
votes
6answers
24k views

What preposition should one use with “redundant”?

I realize it's usually better to just say "A and B are redundant". But, I've also seen A is redundant with B ... to B ... of B all with basically the same intended meaning. Are any of these more (...
5
votes
3answers
4k views

Should I acronymize “Health, Safety, and Environment” as “HSE” or “SHE”?

Which abbreviation is most used for "Health, Safety and Environment"? I keep seeing different abbreviations, and a quick search on Google shows that they are all used widely. But does anyone actually ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

Am I using “namesake” correctly?

I am writing an essay about (among other things) Gutenberg's printing press and Project Gutenberg. I want to say something along the lines of "Gutenberg's press was so popular that current things are ...
9
votes
3answers
20k views

Difference between “inflammable” and “flammable” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Why are not infamous and inflammable the opposite of famous and flammable like incomplete, inactivity, inappropriate and so on? I'm very confused by the existence of these ...
3
votes
3answers
2k views

Thieves' words for their victims

What words might a thief (of any variety) use to describe the victims of his theft? Con artists in film often use "mark", for example. Is there other jargon specific to the con branch* of crime? How ...
11
votes
2answers
58k views

What's the difference between “apparel” and “clothing”?

Those two words seems referring to one thing.
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Obama's use of “bemused”

I generally see the definition of "bemused" to be synonymous with "confused" or "puzzled", and that it is wrong to use it as a synonym of "amused". However I tend to see it used — as Obama did ...
4
votes
2answers
291 views

Can 'egalitarian' be used for gender bias also?

Egalitarian is typically used when discussing equality in political, social, economic and civil issues. Can it also be used to portray equality in gender issues? E.g. an egalitarian does not ...
2
votes
3answers
10k views

The usage of “a little bit”

I was wondering how this phrase sounds in English: She is a little bit shy. In my country the people say "a little bit" a lot, and sometimes they use it wrong. I have the impression that in US (or ...
14
votes
3answers
34k views

Is it correct to use the word “birthday” for the deceased, or is there a better alternative?

How does one refer to the birthdate of someone who is no more, we usually say Today is my uncle's 80th birth anniversary (Common in Indian English, not sure if it's correct) or Today would have ...
3
votes
4answers
4k views

Usage and example of the word “litotes”

I've come across the word litotes, which means a rhetorical understatement. However, I’m having trouble understanding how to use it in colloquial English. Could someone please give an example?
13
votes
2answers
4k views

Is 'couple' ever used in the sense of 'some'?

Is the usage of the word couple (as in, "I want to ask a couple of questions...") to mean 'some' or 'few' correct (as in, interpreting given example to mean "I want to ask a few questions")? As a ...
14
votes
4answers
8k views

What is a “Hobbesian trap”?

A recent Economist article (see The drug war hits Central America) uses something called a Hobbesian trap like this: Central America has fallen into a Hobbesian trap: the better-off make ...
7
votes
2answers
5k views

What does it mean to call something Leviathan in comparison to others?

Wordweb describes Leviathan as: The largest or most massive thing of its kind Monstrous sea creature symbolizing evil in the Old Testament A recent Economist article (see The drug war hits ...
3
votes
2answers
555 views

“Dabble” in a positive sense

Can the word "dabble" be used in a positive sense? As in, A true "master of all trades", he has dabbled in several fields & contributed to numerous scientific advances.
21
votes
4answers
62k views

Using “seldomly”

I'm not a native English speaker. If at all possible I try to use spell checkers while writing anything on the web hence using one in Firefox as well. Whenever I try to write "seldomly" it highlights ...
6
votes
3answers
19k views

“Untick” vs. “uncheck”: which is more common in Canadian English?

I'd be grateful if any Canadian speakers can tell me: in the context of an option in a computer dialog box/menu, which of the words "untick" vs "uncheck" is most commonly used (or are they used ...
1
vote
3answers
502 views

Can I say, “Your example was quite graphical”?

Can I say, "Your example was quite graphical"? A person wrote an answer to me on StackOverflow and provided a very good example with pictures. Saying "your example was good" or "nice" or "clear" ...
17
votes
5answers
46k views

How do I choose between “while” and “whilst”? [duplicate]

When should whilst be used instead of while? For example, should I use the first or the second sentence? They don't do this whilst they do that. They don't do this while they do that. Which ...
18
votes
2answers
12k views

Is it incorrect to use “hard” when I mean “difficult”?

My late grandfather had several word-choice peeves for which he would gently interrupt a speaker, especially a grandchild, in order to correct. The one I remember most was his dislike for the use of "...
35
votes
9answers
5k views

Why is anyone in a porn movie considered a porn star?

Recently, the media made a big deal about Charlie Sheen dating a porn star. It seems that anyone who is in a porn movie is referred to as a porn star. The same is not true of anyone in a normal movie. ...
15
votes
1answer
822 views

Is this usage of “reign” correct?

Lately I've noticed increasing usage of the phrase "free reign". Is this a legitimate usage of the word "reign", or is this a corruption of the phrase "free rein"? I've been dismissing usages of "...
7
votes
5answers
20k views

Difference between “empathetic” and “empathic”

Apparently both words empathetic and empathic mean the same thing, yet I see one person refer to the specific type of writing as empathetic writing, while another empathic writing. Who's correct and ...
9
votes
4answers
100k views

Usage of 'much more'

Is saying much more grammatically correct? For instance, some purists argue that this is wrong: I'm much more comfortable with A than B and that it should be: I'm more comfortable with A than ...
6
votes
4answers
3k views

Proper use of “replete”

Is replete used appropriately in the following sentence? His office was like a Hollywood museum, replete with an autographed photo of Marilyn Monroe. Or should replete only be used with ...
5
votes
4answers
719 views

“Spelling checker” or “spell checker”?

I've always thought a spelling checker is a tool that checks spelling. I know a growing number of people say spell checker, but I've always considered that slang. Recently I did a search for the ...
16
votes
7answers
8k views

How long does it take to mull something over?

I used the phrase "we'll mull it over" in an e-mail. My intent was to let the readers know that we (the team) needed to give it due consideration and come up with a considered response to their ...
12
votes
6answers
3k views

Do Americans say “don't” as often as the British?

This is really a question for Americans. When watching US TV or films, it's often my impression that—while using all the other contractions—Americans don't seem so keen on 'don't' and use ...
19
votes
5answers
65k views

When would you say “woods”, and when would you say “forest”?

Is there any difference here at all?
30
votes
8answers
8k views

How common is “thrice”?

Our proofreader, a native speaker of American English, just won't let me use this word. Every single time I try to sneak it onto one of our sites, she replaces it with three times. Now, I do realize ...
13
votes
2answers
3k views

Whose usage determines correctness?

I will illustrate this question with an example, since I think it's much easier to see what I'm asking there, rather than from an abstract question. I am a native English speaker. I was, for a while, ...
17
votes
6answers
26k views

Is “kinda” a word?

I've used "kinda" as a word basically meaning "kind of" just run together. I wouldn't use it formally, but I noticed that Microsoft Word's spellchecker says that it isn't a word. I searched some and ...
19
votes
1answer
15k views

Are the words “mandatory,” “obligatory,” and “compulsory” interchangeable?

As a non-native speaker, I wonder what the rules are for preferring one of "mandatory", "obligatory" or "compulsory" over the others. The Corpus of Contemporary American English yields examples such ...
131
votes
7answers
18k views

Can “doubt” sometimes mean “question”?

I often see questions on Stack Exchange sites which I presume are written by non-native English speakers who use the word "doubt" in place of the word "question". Is this a case of misunderstanding ...
1
vote
5answers
4k views

In which context does “anticipated” mean “came or took place before”?

In the New Oxford American Dictionary I read that one of the meaning of anticipate is come or take place before (an event or process expected or scheduled for a later). In which context is anticipate (...
36
votes
12answers
71k views

What does “a couple” mean to you, and what does “a few” mean to you?

What does “a couple” mean to you, and what does “a few” mean to you? Is there a proper way to use these words? It was striking to hear that “a couple” meant two (2) to someone. My reaction was, “...
28
votes
3answers
58k views

Is “prepone” being used outside India?

Prepone is a great word - it's the opposite of postpone. When you prepone a meeting, you change its scheduled time so that it occurs sooner than originally planned. Has his usage spread beyond India? ...
16
votes
5answers
26k views

Is it correct to use 'Forgot password' or 'Forgotten password'

Many websites use the phrase 'Forgot password?' when prompting users to renew their login passwords. Is this correct usage or should it be 'Forgotten password?'.
11
votes
4answers
38k views

“Before” vs. “in front of”

Especially in speeches I often hear a sentence like I stand here before you... However during my English classes in school (I'm German) we were told that before should only be used if you're ...
32
votes
5answers
20k views

“Specially” vs “especially”

When should each of them be used?
64
votes
4answers
437k views

“Effect” vs. “Affect”

I've noticed that some people use effect and affect interchangeably. What are the differences between these two and when are the proper situations to use each of them?