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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.

163
votes
12answers
119k views

What is wrong with the word “performant”?

I keep getting the red underlining in Word whenever I write the word "performant". Here I intend to refer to something that performs well or better than something else (i.e., it's more performant). ...
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 ...
78
votes
7answers
100k views

Difference between “artifact” and “artefact”

Is there any usage preference between artifact and artefact? My understanding was that an artifact was properly applied to physical, historical objects, while an artefact was more correct for more ...
65
votes
5answers
14k views

“Pregnant” as a taboo word

This recent article from The Sun states that the term pregnant, in this specific case referred to Meghan Markle, is considered vulgar by the Queen. According to a recently-resurfaced Us Weekly ...
65
votes
4answers
490k views

“Consist in” vs. “consist of”

I would like to clarify this once and for all: What is the correct use of "consist in" vs. "consist of"? "Meditation consists in/of attentive watchfulness." "The body consists in/of cells." ...
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?
60
votes
11answers
10k views

If a ship sinks, what does an airship do?

We were having a discussion at work about airships (zeppelins, blimps, etc.) and someone spoke about them sinking when they crash. Someone else said they can't sink because they're not descending ...
60
votes
8answers
22k views

“My personal opinion is…” Is it always pointless to use the words “personal” and “personally”?

Is this kind of redundancy acceptable in both speech and writing, formal and informal ? Would the following sentences have their meaning changed if we omitted "personal" or "personally" ? Would they ...
54
votes
5answers
9k views

Why can't the word “can” be used in future tense (will can)?

I'm curious about why the English word can cannot be used in future tense (e.g. will can). An example unrelated to English is French term je pourrai, but that's exactly what I mean. Compare German ...
52
votes
11answers
65k views

Singular of “dice”

After a discussion on the topic I found out that the oxford dictionary describes that Historically, dice is the plural of die, but in modern standard English dice is both the singular and the ...
49
votes
6answers
66k views

How long can you say “the late so and so”?

When you refer to the deceased, you say "the late so and so." How long can you say that? Is JFK referred to as the late John F. Kennedy? How about Abraham Lincoln?
49
votes
2answers
6k views

Why is it “Universal Time Coordinated”?

The UTC is a measure for coordinating activities in multiple regions of the earth in timing. It means "Universal Time Coordinated". What does that mean grammatically? Can you unravel this message with ...
49
votes
7answers
15k views

Use of 'pussy' as term of endearment

 The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (AHDEL), Fifth Edition (© 2011)1, lists one of the meanings of 'pussy' as: (Chiefly British) Sweetheart; dear. Used as a term of ...
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 ...
46
votes
4answers
6k views

Usage and origin of “sister” in expressions like “sister company, sister ship, sister site” etc

The term sister is often used figuratively to refer, for instance, to a “sister company” for a company within the same group, or to a “sister site” for sites that belong to the same family. This ...
45
votes
8answers
16k views

What is a less controversial name for the clothing item known as a “wife-beater” in the United States?

In the United States, a white sleeveless shirt is often referred to as a "wife-beater". Typically I try to avoid using "wife-beater" due to its negative connotation. I've tried using a few different ...
44
votes
8answers
14k views

Can I “wear an umbrella”?

Does it make sense to say the following? Yesterday I wore an umbrella and a coat.
44
votes
3answers
7k views

Why is “elsewhen” not a proper word?

Elsewhere is an amazing word, as you can refer to other places very easily. What about elsewhen? Does such an equivalent of elsewhere for time exist? For example: "Fertility might have fallen ...
44
votes
6answers
25k views

What are the origins and proper uses of “s***gibbon”?

This derogatory term recently exploded on the U.S. scene with its application to U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump. Its arrival is so recent the Urban Dictionary has only a recent definition ...
43
votes
11answers
7k views

Has “hacker” definitely gained a negative connotation?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a hacker as: One who is proficient at using or programming a computer; a computer buff. One who uses programming skills to gain illegal access to a ...
43
votes
7answers
6k views

Is “seafood” inclusive of “seaweed”?

I told Korean friends not to label a (non-commercial) package of seaweed as "seafood", but it is from the sea and it is food, so now I'm not sure. How common is it to refer to "seaweed" as "seafood"...
41
votes
4answers
8k views

“Two yellow spots on its wings” vs “a yellow spot on both wings”

The bird has two yellow spots on its wings. versus The bird has a yellow spot on both wings. Do they mean the same? Which one describes more accurately the yellow spots of the following bird? (...
39
votes
6answers
100k views

Is “evidence” countable?

As a native English speaker, I am often asked by friends and colleagues to correct their manuscripts. One of the most common mistakes I find is the use of the noun evidences. Now, the dictionary ...
39
votes
0answers
160k views

Difference between “zeros” and “zeroes” [duplicate]

Are there any differences between “zeros” and “zeroes”? Is any of them more correct, more often used, more modern? Are there differences e.g. between British English and American English in the usage ...
38
votes
10answers
19k views

Is “dude” becoming gender neutral? [duplicate]

Is the word "dude" becoming gender neutral? I don't think so, however, has modern usage changed? Are there some recent examples of "dude" being used to refer to a woman or group of women?
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, “...
36
votes
2answers
397k views

“provide” vs. “provide with”

I am wondering if the following sentence is correct: We add the information their study provides with to our article. The context is: their study provides with some information. And we add the ...
35
votes
7answers
15k views

Underwater equivalent of “aerodynamic”?

I was reading this book that features a description of a shark: It had fins at its sides, a triangular fin that rose from its back, a raked, aerodynamic tail, and eyes that were small, black, and ...
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. ...
34
votes
14answers
10k views

What is the word for “to do something one considers to be beneath oneself”?

I looked up this word before, and I got a definition which sounded something like "to do something one considers to be beneath oneself," but I can't remember exactly what the word was. I can think of ...
34
votes
7answers
11k views

What is the American word for 'tea-towel'?

On a tour from Australia to the states my wife asked me to stop at the gift store and buy memorable fridge-magnets and tea-towels. Everywhere I went, none of the store attendants seemed to know what ...
33
votes
13answers
10k views

Is the use of the term “bugged” to refer to software bugs in English a worldwide or regional use?

In the 1950's, the primary uses of the word "bugged" was to describe a room that contained a hidden microphone, or to refer to a telephone line that was being tapped. Over the last few years, I've ...
33
votes
18answers
9k views

Completing something just to finish it despite lack of interest - is called …?

Recently I started reading a novel that I was excited to read. After getting approximately 45% into it, I lost the pace. It started becoming slow and lousy. I thought to leave it unfinished but it ...
33
votes
9answers
194k views

Is “receival” a valid word for the act of receiving something?

In the course of reviewing a standard operating procedure, I came across the subheading: "Receival, Costing and Charging of Work". I immediately began to doubt whether the word "receival" was a ...
32
votes
6answers
11k views
32
votes
7answers
5k views

What makes “like” and “so” popular?

So, I was like, why does everyone say like and so in every sentence? Where did this trend come from, like, what started it, and is it actually grammatically correct to like, insert like into our ...
32
votes
5answers
20k views

“Specially” vs “especially”

When should each of them be used?
31
votes
7answers
9k views

What's a word to describe an apartment when its owners are on vacation?

Please help me choose the most suitable word in this context: When I went on vacation, thieves climbed into my abandoned apartment. Does 'abandoned' word fit well in this usage? My apartment does ...
31
votes
8answers
71k views

If someone is electrocuted, do they have to die or can they just be injured?

Is it correct to say I electrocuted my friend if he was only injured by electricity?
31
votes
5answers
134k views

What does 'sucker for' mean?

I recently came across a couple usages of 'sucker for' which indicates that it means 'crazy about', 'enthusiastic for', or 'interested in'. For example, 'I am a sucker for sports.', seems to say, 'I ...
31
votes
3answers
7k views

What was “m(o)ustache” called before the term entered the English language?

"Mustache" appears to be from the mid-late 16th century of French, possibly Italian/Spanish origin. 1580s, from French moustache (15c.), from Italian mostaccio, from Medieval Greek moustakion....
30
votes
11answers
10k views

Is there a word/term for a question where the asker knows he'll criticise any answer?

What do you call it when a person asks somebody a question when they know they'll criticise any answer regardless? For instance, a man asks you something like "If you were recruiting staff would you ...
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 ...
29
votes
6answers
7k views

Why is it “came back from the dead” and not “came back from the death”?

Many times now, I've heard native English speakers (from the USA and Canada) say "he came back from the dead" instead of "from the death" when they mean resurrection. Dead is not a noun, so I don't ...
29
votes
4answers
35k views

Why does “corn” mean “maize” in American English?

I keep hearing "corn" as a synonym of "maize". This is widely popularized worldwide by popcorn. However, this is American English! In British English, "corn" can mean any type of "grain", especially "...
29
votes
8answers
15k views

Alternative expression/term to trivial use of 'OCD'

After being reproved for doing so myself on SO yesterday. I realized that over the last couple of years the meaning of the expression OCD, seems to have deflated. Up to the point where people(read I) ...
28
votes
6answers
6k views

Why do people in various professions like software engineering and management tend to use the word “finalize” instead of “finish” [closed]

As per title of the question, I see this a lot. "We will release the product when issue 51 has been finalized." "We are waiting for it to be finalized." Is this just a case of people trying to sound ...
28
votes
8answers
6k views

Is there a word to describe a person who's addicted to downloading stuff from Internet?

Well, that is exactly what I am :). I just can't stop myself from downloading stuff (usually electronic articles, say, PDFs). To be more precise, whenever I come across something that I think might ...
28
votes
6answers
31k views

Usage of “many” vs “many a”?

Can someone please elucidate the difference between "many" and "many a"? In what context of usage should we add an extra "a" beside the word "many"? For example: Many times, I had seen that . ....
28
votes
3answers
85k views

May you please explain this?

At a family dinner, my 18-year-old niece asked my sister, "May you please pass the salt?" My sister said that she was impressed with her daughter's politeness, but that that particular wording was not ...