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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199 votes
15 answers
157k 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). ...
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  • 2,101
150 votes
7 answers
22k 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 ...
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135 votes
6 answers
193k 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 ...
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  • 2,250
89 votes
5 answers
724k 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 ...
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  • 1,320
71 votes
4 answers
779k 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?
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  • 7,108
66 votes
5 answers
19k 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 ...
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62 votes
8 answers
33k 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 ...
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  • 49.2k
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 ...
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61 votes
2 answers
653k 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 ...
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  • 797
58 votes
11 answers
75k 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 ...
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  • 1,181
57 votes
4 answers
196k 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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 1,264
51 votes
7 answers
91k 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?
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  • 2,307
51 votes
5 answers
12k 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 ...
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50 votes
7 answers
24k 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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50 votes
6 answers
127k 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 ...
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  • 20.7k
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 ...
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  • 441
45 votes
8 answers
41k 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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 1,813
44 votes
10 answers
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 ...
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44 votes
3 answers
9k 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 ...
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  • 2,221
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.
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43 votes
8 answers
20k views

Can I "wear an umbrella"?

Does it make sense to say the following? Yesterday I wore an umbrella and a coat.
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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"...
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  • 10.4k
42 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? (...
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  • 13.1k
42 votes
10 answers
33k 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?
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41 votes
9 answers
251k 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 ...
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39 votes
5 answers
272k 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 ...
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38 votes
12 answers
101k 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” ...
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38 votes
4 answers
96k 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 ...
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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 ...
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  • 1,291
37 votes
8 answers
51k 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 ...
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  • 510
37 votes
2 answers
265k views

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

I never really gave a deep thought at this but recently a teacher of talked about language and there was an implicit question in it. something like there is a difference between "rather than" and "...
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  • 14.8k
36 votes
7 answers
27k 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 ...
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  • 3,243
36 votes
6 answers
70k 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 . ....
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  • 1,665
35 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 ...
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35 votes
5 answers
32k views

"Specially" vs "especially"

When should I use specially and when especially?
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  • 2,791
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 ...
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  • 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 ...
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  • 2,598
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. ...
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  • 1,138
34 votes
5 answers
30k 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 ...
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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.
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33 votes
3 answers
136k 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 ...
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  • 2,624
33 votes
4 answers
96k 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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32 votes
18 answers
11k 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 ...
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  • 1,947
32 votes
8 answers
82k 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?
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  • 329
32 votes
6 answers
19k 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.
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32 votes
7 answers
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 ...
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  • 41.1k
32 votes
3 answers
142k views

"parentheses" vs "parenthesis" [closed]

What is the difference between "parentheses" and "parenthesis"?
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  • 455
31 votes
8 answers
10k 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 ...
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