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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206 votes
15 answers

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). ...
alf's user avatar
  • 2,171
162 votes
7 answers

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 ...
Dennis Williamson's user avatar
143 votes
6 answers

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 ...
Craig Walker's user avatar
  • 2,340
134 votes
13 answers

When should "no problem" replace "you're welcome" as a response to "thank you"?

I have observed a growing trend in which people substitute "no problem" for "you're welcome" as a response to "thank you". In particular, it seems to be an increasingly common response from servers ...
JoshDM's user avatar
  • 1,729
134 votes
3 answers

What is the difference between "till" and "until"?

What is the difference between till and until? When to use till or until? Please explain with examples.
LifeH2O's user avatar
  • 1,785
91 votes
5 answers

"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 ...
Shivadas's user avatar
  • 1,340
74 votes
4 answers

"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?
Mysterion's user avatar
  • 7,328
70 votes
9 answers

Why is the word "Holy" used before swear words?

People usually use the word "Holy" before "Shit", "Crap" or any other bad words to express their feelings, like surprise, anger, etc. Is there any reason why the word "Holy" is used with these bad ...
AeJey's user avatar
  • 827
65 votes
5 answers

"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 ...
user 66974's user avatar
  • 67.4k
63 votes
2 answers

"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 ...
SoftTimur's user avatar
  • 895
62 votes
8 answers

"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 ...
Centaurus's user avatar
  • 50k
61 votes
11 answers

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 ...
Dan Temple's user avatar
60 votes
17 answers

"Can I" vs "May I" in restaurant setting when ordering

A while back, while we were getting fast food, my friend commented on my usage of "can" versus "may" when asking to take my order. I said: Can I have a ....... and my friend argued you're ...
Hunter Frazier's user avatar
59 votes
7 answers

What is the correct plural form of LEGO: LEGO or Legos?

I've seen many people make reference to LEGO as Legos. E.g. "I enjoy playing with my Legos". But from my understanding, this is incorrect and they should be referred to simply as LEGO (in capitals as ...
going's user avatar
  • 2,219
57 votes
11 answers

Singular of "dice"

After a discussion on the topic I found out that Oxford Dictionary Online [courtesy of Grammarphobia; Oct 2016] has a usage note stating that Historically, dice is the plural of die, but in modern ...
David Mulder's user avatar
  • 1,202
57 votes
5 answers

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 ...
iBug's user avatar
  • 1,336
57 votes
4 answers

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 ...
LiuYan 刘研's user avatar
56 votes
4 answers

"What would you with the king?" -From the book "Eats, Shoots and Leaves"

In the book Eats, Shoots and Leaves, in order to show how punctuation changes meaning and can be used for jokes, it says: Instead of “What would you with the king?” you can have someone say in ...
MaxS's user avatar
  • 943
55 votes
8 answers

"To science the sh*t out of something"

In The Martian movie, Matt Damon (Watney), when left stranded on Mars with very limited resources to survive, says: Mark Watney: In the face of overwhelming odds, I'm left with only one option, I'm ...
NVZ's user avatar
  • 22.6k
55 votes
3 answers

"The other way around" or "the other way round"

I see both phrases the other way around and the other way round very often. Which is correct? Please provide usage examples.
ZZcat's user avatar
  • 1,717
52 votes
7 answers

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?
Fujibei's user avatar
  • 2,365
51 votes
5 answers

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

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 ...
terdon's user avatar
  • 21.6k
50 votes
7 answers

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 ...
user avatar
49 votes
2 answers

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 ...
Knampf's user avatar
  • 441
49 votes
5 answers

Are there rules to determine whether a musician's title will end with “-er” or “-ist”?

There are drummers, buglers, fifers, whistlers, and fiddlers. Folks who play all the other instruments use the -ist suffix — pianist, violinist, cellist, tympanist, guitarist, flautist, etc., etc., ad ...
Jim Farwell's user avatar
47 votes
6 answers

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 ...
KWinker's user avatar
  • 1,869
46 votes
7 answers

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

My wife is always accusing me of casting aspersions and I'd like to do something else with them. Please advise. Dictionary-example-sentences all use it in tandem with casting: Oxford Learners: I don'...
ᴇʟᴇvᴀтᴇ's user avatar
45 votes
8 answers

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 ...
Stevoisiak's user avatar
45 votes
5 answers

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 ...
Enigmativity's user avatar
44 votes
10 answers

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
43 votes
3 answers

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 ...
luchonacho's user avatar
  • 2,201
43 votes
7 answers

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"...
DavePhD's user avatar
  • 10.6k
43 votes
2 answers

"On a page" or "in a page" for a web page

Which is the correct usage: Something on a page OR Something in a page By page, I mean a web page, not a physical book page.
Chairman Meow's user avatar
42 votes
8 answers

Can I "wear an umbrella"?

Does it make sense to say the following? Yesterday I wore an umbrella and a coat.
R. Martinho Fernandes's user avatar
42 votes
10 answers

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?
michael_timofeev's user avatar
42 votes
8 answers

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 ...
Rob's user avatar
  • 580
41 votes
4 answers

"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? (...
wyc's user avatar
  • 13.2k
41 votes
9 answers

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 ...
bracho monacho's user avatar
40 votes
2 answers

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&...
vickyace's user avatar
  • 14.9k
39 votes
6 answers

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 . ....
Vamsi Emani's user avatar
  • 1,735
38 votes
12 answers

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
3 answers

Is there a name for an adjective that cannot precede a noun?

I accept that my premise may be incorrect, but here it is. The word alone, when used as an adjective, seems only to fit in sentences of the form: The X is alone. and not in the form: ...
Dancrumb's user avatar
  • 5,080
38 votes
5 answers

At what point did "gross" come to mean "disgusting"?

The first time I heard "gross" being used to mean "disgusting" was probably around the late 1980s, and at the time I felt it was some sort of a corruption of "grotesque"... I'm wondering if there is ...
Brian eyre's user avatar
38 votes
5 answers

'the USA' vs. 'the US'

I am writing an essay where I need to make a reference to the United States of America. Often I hear this shortened to the US, but sometimes people also say the USA. Are there any difference between ...
Thomas's user avatar
  • 1,052
38 votes
4 answers

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 ...
Amos M. Carpenter's user avatar
38 votes
0 answers

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 ...
svick's user avatar
  • 1,327
36 votes
7 answers

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 ...
Fiksdal's user avatar
  • 3,295
36 votes
5 answers

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 ...
Júlio Santos's user avatar
36 votes
4 answers

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? ...
Evan's user avatar
  • 1,236

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