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153 votes
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Why are names starting with a "J" common, while words starting with a "J" are uncommon?

A lot of the "J" names in English are from the Bible and would have originally been written with an initial I in Latin, as the letter J did not get started until the Renaissance. In modern ...
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126 votes
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What do you call this mechanical device?

This is called a Rube Goldberg machine. From Wikipedia: A Rube Goldberg machine is a contraption, invention, device or apparatus that is deliberately over-engineered or overdone to perform a very ...
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116 votes
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Why is Nebraska listed after other states?

My guess is this: the table was produced from a database. The data there was sorted by state, but using a stored value that was the state abbreviation (they would have used the US Postal Service's ...
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93 votes
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Why do we call it "combination lock"?

Because most people are not mathematicians. I know that sounds like a flippant answer, but it's genuinely the answer. There are many words which have a more precise (or even different) meaning for ...
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81 votes
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How should I spell Zelensky?

is there a 'correct' spelling of his name? In practice, no one spelling of the Ukrainian president's name in English is treated by all as the single 'correct' spelling. You'll need to make a choice ...
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80 votes
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What is "a room a company provides for eating food" called?

They would be a "breakroom", or "break room" a place where staff go when they have their breaks. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/breakroom
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65 votes
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Why is Sean pronounced Shawn?

Sean (written "Seán" or "Séan" in Irish) is a Hibernization of the English name "John"; that is, it's a transliteration of "John" into a form which can be pronounced in Irish and written ...
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61 votes

What is "a room a company provides for eating food" called?

In the UK I have heard this referred to almost exclusively as the "canteen". The dictionary definition for canteen states: "a restaurant provided by an organization such as a college, factory, or ...
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58 votes

Why and when did 'Down's Syndrome' change to 'Down Syndrome'?

This is a general phenomenon and is not limited to Down Syndrome. Here is a reasonable explanation from a doctor: The medical profession has urged since the 1970s the dropping of the possessive S at ...
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50 votes

Why do we call it "combination lock"?

combination is an unordered set of numbers That is incorrect in general English. It is called a combination lock because (in general English) a combination is "an ordered sequence" (Merriam-Webster ...
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48 votes

What is "a room a company provides for eating food" called?

Lunch room lunch room n. a room, as in a school or workplace, where light meals or snacks can be bought or where food brought from home may be eaten. Source
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47 votes

Why is Sean pronounced Shawn?

Matt's answer here is close but off in a few regards. The semi-Anglicised Sean is formed by removing the fada (accute accent) from the Irish name Seán. It is a Gaelicisation (more specific than ...
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45 votes
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Why is Lord Alfred Tennyson often written as Alfred Lord Tennyson?

The simple answer is... Alfred Tennyson was created a hereditary baron, 1st Baron Tennyson. Barons are known by their title, Lord Tennyson, preceded if necessary by their Christian name. The same ...
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31 votes
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Why and when did 'Down's Syndrome' change to 'Down Syndrome'?

Some relevant articles: "Whose name is it anyway? Varying patterns of possessive usage in eponymous neurodegenerative diseases", by Michael R. MacAskill and Tim J. Anderson (2013), and "...
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30 votes

What is "a room a company provides for eating food" called?

Consider cafeteria. a lunchroom or dining hall, as in a factory, office, or school, where food is served from counters or dispensed from vending machines OR where food brought from home may be eaten. ...
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26 votes

Moving the lower case ‘c’ up flush with the ‘M’ in the last name MᶜNeil?

I believe this is because the name element (now) usually expressed "Mc" is an abbreviation for "Mac"; at one time, superscript (often with an underline or under dots) was a common ...
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25 votes

What does "Mrs" mean when used with a man's name?

Josh61 is 100% right, however, I would like to point out that even today, in formal circumstances especially, it's still custom and valid to address a wife as Mrs. [Husband Name]. My wife goes by: ...
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24 votes

Does the word “uzi” need to be capitalized?

Why is Uzi capitalized? It comes from a name, and people haven't frequently used it in lowercase in publication. First, the name is derived from a person's name. These usually retain their ...
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21 votes

Is it okay to ignore putting periods between initials?

It's your name. You can express it however you like. On the periods (or full stops) between initials, though: it seems that they're still common in the US, but have largely been dropped in most of ...
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20 votes
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What is a small tent kind of shop on the side of the road called?

pushcart A type of cart with wheels that you manually push. Dictionary.com says the term is primarily used in the US and in Canada mainly US and Canadian a handcart, typically having two wheels and a ...
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19 votes

What term would you use to indicate a maiden name you weren't born with?

Consider, formerly. in time past; in an earlier period or age; previously. Random House Jane Miller formerly Smith WikiTree
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19 votes

Moving the lower case ‘c’ up flush with the ‘M’ in the last name MᶜNeil?

Pronunciation. The 'upper-C' is a type of diacritical mark. In the 'good old days' this used to have a line under the superscript C called macron. All these tend to alter the actual pronunciation of ...
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18 votes
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Opposite of an eponym

"Nominative determinism is the hypothesis that people tend to gravitate towards areas of work that fit their name. It predicts, for example, that because of their names, the scientists Splatt and ...
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  • 22.8k
17 votes

What does "long" mean before a name?

Somehow the suggestion that we don't really know the reason behind "Long" as John Silver's nickname, is not terribly convincing. Nowadays, yes, anything goes. If a relatively short man is nicknamed "...
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17 votes

How should I spell Zelensky?

The Ukrainian spelling is Зеленський, and the final й does have a different sound from the и immediately before it. It's not actually a different syllable, more a final relaxation; Wikipedia has IPA [...
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15 votes

Why are names starting with a "J" common, while words starting with a "J" are uncommon?

A further point is that many of these names are essentially the same name. Your list of 18 names: Jack, Jackie, Jackson, Jill, Janet, Jeremy, Jeremiah, Jake, Jesus, Jacob, Jock, John, Johnny, Jon, ...
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  • 21k
14 votes

Which singular names ending in “s” form possessives with only a bare apostrophe?

Bryan Garner, Garner's Modern American Usage, second edition (2003) offers the following discussion of how to handle possessive proper names ending in -s: POSSESSIVES. A. Singular Possessives. To ...
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  • 152k
13 votes

what are these gloves called?

Gloves with one section for four fingers are called Mittens.
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