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.

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202 votes
15 answers
160k 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). ...
  • 2,131
155 votes
7 answers
23k 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 ...
138 votes
6 answers
197k 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 ...
  • 2,280
91 votes
5 answers
736k 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 ...
  • 1,340
72 votes
4 answers
780k 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?
  • 7,198
66 votes
5 answers
20k 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 ...
  • 64.6k
62 votes
8 answers
34k 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 ...
  • 49.4k
62 votes
2 answers
685k 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 ...
  • 885
61 votes
11 answers
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 ...
58 votes
11 answers
76k 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 ...
  • 1,201
57 votes
4 answers
198k 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 ...
56 votes
5 answers
13k 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 ...
  • 1,284
53 votes
7 answers
93k 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?
  • 2,345
51 votes
7 answers
25k 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 ...
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51 votes
5 answers
13k 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 ...
user avatar
51 votes
6 answers
129k 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 ...
  • 20.8k
49 votes
2 answers
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 ...
  • 441
45 votes
8 answers
47k 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 ...
45 votes
6 answers
26k 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 ...
  • 1,821
44 votes
10 answers
8k 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 ...
user avatar
44 votes
7 answers
3k views

Can I do anything else with aspersions other than cast them? [closed]

My wife is always accusing me of casting aspersions and I'd like to do something else with them. Please advise.
44 votes
5 answers
279k views

Detail or Details? Read on for more detail/details

I'm writing a newsletter and have been given the following text: New stock has arrived & we're giving you the chance to grab it at 20% off for this weekend only! Read on for more details. I'm ...
43 votes
3 answers
10k 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 ...
  • 2,211
43 votes
7 answers
8k 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"...
  • 10.4k
42 votes
8 answers
21k views

Can I "wear an umbrella"?

Does it make sense to say the following? Yesterday I wore an umbrella and a coat.
42 votes
10 answers
34k 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?
41 votes
4 answers
9k 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? (...
  • 13.1k
41 votes
9 answers
256k 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 ...
39 votes
8 answers
54k views

What is the difference between "minimum" and "minimal"?

I am not a native speaker, but for me "the minimum angle" and "the optimal solution" sound correct, but only because I hear and read them more often. Why are "the minimal angle" and "the optimum ...
  • 540
38 votes
12 answers
102k views

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

What is the proper way to use the terms “a couple” or “a few”? How should one use these words to avoid confusion? How do people use these words in practice. It was striking to hear that “a couple” ...
user avatar
38 votes
2 answers
273k views

When to use "rather than" versus "instead of"?

I never really gave a deep thought about this, but recently a teacher talked about language and there was an implicit question in it. Something like, There is a difference between "rather than&...
  • 14.8k
38 votes
4 answers
97k views

Is 'useable' preferred in certain regions, or just an alternate spelling of 'usable'?

I rarely use spell checkers, but today when I did use one, it suggested changing the word 'useable' to 'usable' (i.e. to drop the first 'e'). This seemed immediately intuitive and I thought I'd just ...
38 votes
0 answers
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 ...
  • 1,301
36 votes
7 answers
30k 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 ...
  • 3,295
36 votes
6 answers
72k 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 . ....
  • 1,705
35 votes
4 answers
66k 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 this usage spread beyond India? ...
  • 1,226
35 votes
5 answers
33k views

"Specially" vs "especially"

When should I use specially and when especially?
  • 2,791
34 votes
13 answers
13k 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 ...
34 votes
14 answers
13k 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 ...
  • 441
34 votes
7 answers
16k 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 ...
  • 2,588
34 votes
9 answers
6k 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. ...
  • 1,138
34 votes
5 answers
31k views

Reason for the current trend to use «she» as the gender-neutral pronoun?

There are some questions on gender-neutral pronouns both here and on Writers. User Christine Letts writes: In academia, there is currently a movement toward using the feminine pronoun at all ...
34 votes
3 answers
140k 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 ...
  • 2,634
33 votes
3 answers
6k views

Why is it "take a leak?"

Why is the sometimes-used expression to urinate "take a leak" or "take a piss", instead of "give a leak" or "give a piss". I looked it up using a search engine, and didn't find any good answers.
32 votes
6 answers
20k views

What is the proper term for when an animal is "pregnant" with eggs instead of live young?

Specifically things like chicken or most fish.
32 votes
5 answers
167k 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 ...
  • 569
32 votes
7 answers
6k 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 ...
  • 41.4k
32 votes
3 answers
143k views

"parentheses" vs "parenthesis" [closed]

What is the difference between "parentheses" and "parenthesis"?
  • 455
32 votes
3 answers
330k views

When do you use "relate to" versus "relate with"?

I have a feeling that maybe you use one preposition with people, and the other with situations. For example, you might relate with a student who's nervous about an exam, whereas you relate to test ...
  • 2,788
32 votes
4 answers
98k views

Is it a "driver license" or a "driver's license" or a "drivers license" or...what?

I've often wondered why my Ohio license is called a "driver license". It is awkward to say it like that. Wouldn't something like driver's license be more appropriate? Or driving license (like ...

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