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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7 votes
2 answers
6k 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 ...
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3 votes
2 answers
707 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.
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24 votes
4 answers
71k 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 ...
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7 votes
3 answers
28k 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 ...
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  • 19.2k
1 vote
3 answers
567 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" ...
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  • 8,863
19 votes
5 answers
59k 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 ...
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  • 331
18 votes
2 answers
14k 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 "...
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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
15 votes
1 answer
913 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 "...
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  • 253
10 votes
5 answers
28k 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 ...
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  • 4,757
9 votes
4 answers
141k 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 ...
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  • 620
6 votes
4 answers
4k 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 ...
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7 votes
3 answers
15k views

When to use "just"

The word just is one of those overused words that carries little meaning and appears to just clutter up a sentence (oops, did it again). When is the use of just justified? What are better, clearer ...
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5 votes
5 answers
1k 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 ...
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16 votes
7 answers
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 ...
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  • 2,242
15 votes
3 answers
44k views

What is the correct spelling of "dependent"? Which preposition should follow it?

Dependant or dependent really confuses me when to use, especially with the combination of, on, from or to. Mike was dependant to/from/on his mother. The states are dependent to/from/on the federal ...
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12 votes
7 answers
5k 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 ...
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21 votes
5 answers
78k views

When would you say "woods", and when would you say "forest"?

Is there any difference here at all?
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  • 8,863
29 votes
8 answers
11k 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 ...
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  • 95.6k
13 votes
2 answers
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, ...
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  • 2,689
18 votes
6 answers
36k 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 ...
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  • 1,207
24 votes
1 answer
22k 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 ...
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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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1 vote
5 answers
5k 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 (...
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  • 57.8k
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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31 votes
3 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 his usage spread beyond India? ...
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  • 1,176
17 votes
5 answers
34k 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?'.
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11 votes
4 answers
54k 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 ...
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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
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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