54 votes
Accepted

The meaning of leaving someone back [ in American English ]

Leave back or hold back means to make a child repeat a grade in school because of lack of academic progress, or very rarely, because of slow social and emotional development (usually in kindergarten ...
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53 votes

'Cheddar goes "good" with burgers?' Can "go" be seen as a verb of the senses?

sense verbs or sensory verbs are generally intransitive: They are: look, seem, taste, feel, smell, and sound. They all can be followed by adjectives. You look good. He sounds terrible. That tastes ...
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  • 12.3k
44 votes

How did "biscuit" come to have a distinct meaning in North American English?

A look at early (pre-1800) English dictionaries points to a possible source of confusion early in the career of biscuit. Two dictionaries—Edward Phillips & John Kersey, The New World of Words: Or, ...
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  • 152k
44 votes

If I cannot win, then I will make it impossible for you to win

"Crab mentality" or "crabs in a bucket" describes the frog analogy well, but the driver scenario seems different. Crab mentality, also known as crab theory, is a way of thinking ...
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  • 2,065
43 votes

In North America, is it normal to address children you don't know as "honey"?

Not only is this normal in the US in my experience (as a visitor), but I think you can generalise this to it being normal to treat children familiarly in most countries. In the UK it certainly is ...
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  • 1,543
40 votes
Accepted

The "old switcheroo": Where did the "-eroo" suffix come from?

Michael Quinion, Ologies and Isms: Word Beginnings and endings (2002) has this entry for the suffix -eroo: -eroo Also -aroo, -aroonie, and -eroonie. An informal and often humorous intensifier of ...
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  • 152k
40 votes
Accepted

In North America, is it normal to address children you don't know as "honey"?

It was hard to find a dictionary that had it, but here it is: (sometimes initial capital letter) an affectionate or familiar term of address, as to a child or romantic partner (sometimes offensive ...
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  • 58.7k
34 votes

If I cannot win, then I will make it impossible for you to win

You could call it a scorched earth policy This is when you know you can't win in a situation, so you're going to just burn it all down to prevent your opponent from making any use of it. See also: ...
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28 votes

If I cannot win, then I will make it impossible for you to win

Edwin linked to a question about the expression "If I can't have it, no-one can", but I think this phrase is exactly what you're looking for: it literally means "If I can't win, I will ...
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  • 397
27 votes
Accepted

Do native speakers of major English varieties actually say "a software" or "softwares"?

'Software' is non-countable (like 'milk'). As a native American English-speaker who grew up with software (and a vested interest in it) and is nearing age 40, it seems like people who are quite ...
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26 votes

The "old switcheroo": Where did the "-eroo" suffix come from?

The suffix -eroo appears to be an analoguous post-formation derived, in the view of many, from the Spanish vaquero - a cowboy. Julian Mason (in American Speech, Feb. 1960, pp. 51-55 - available ...
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  • 5,466
26 votes

'Cheddar goes "good" with burgers?' Can "go" be seen as a verb of the senses?

My initial response to this question was . . . "Ewwww. That's just incorrect. It should be well, not good." Then, upon further reflection, I took your premise into account. Is the word go being ...
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  • 22.2k
24 votes

How did "biscuit" come to have a distinct meaning in North American English?

An interesting anecdote appears in Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography. Then I walked up the street, gazing about till near the market-house I met a boy with bread. I had made many a meal on bread, and,...
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20 votes
Accepted

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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  • 86.1k
19 votes

In North America, is it normal to address children you don't know as "honey"?

I lived in the US for roughly 30 years, and I’d say that this usage is quite common, and nothing out of the ordinary. As someone else said, it’s avuncular, and seems quite appropriate when someone of ...
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  • 837
14 votes

What does "consound" mean?

Consound it, concern it and consarn it are all minced oaths for confound it, which is itself a minced oath for damn it, in turn arguably a minced oath for God damn it.
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13 votes

What is a small tent kind of shop on the side of the road called?

The phrase market cart brings up some similar images in eBay. I think I’ve also seen this kind of stand called a "barrow", too. Collins list the following for "barrow": chiefly Brit a handcart, ...
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  • 7,136
12 votes
Accepted

From the Spanish "xaquima" to the AmE "hackamore"

The earliest occurrence in print of hackamore I have found, in this cowboy story from 1850 (very likely the source alluded to by Wikipedia and Etymonline), explicitly associates it with the Spanish ...
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12 votes

The "old switcheroo": Where did the "-eroo" suffix come from?

This answer acknowledges the circa 1931-1949++ era 'Show Biz' uses of -eroo/-aroo (see the answer by Sven Yargs); but it demonstrates that many -eroo/-aroo endings are based on the English word ...
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11 votes

Why do North Americans pronounce "caramel" as "carmel"?

Americans don't all use "carmel". Many of them think it's more correct to say "carr-a-mel", so you can find a number of examples of this pronunciation being used, especially in ...
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  • 74.7k
11 votes

"There is a woman with a snapper."

Mitford Mathews, A Dictionary of Americanisms on Historical Principles (1951), offers this entry for the word snapper: snapper, n. 1. = snapping turtle. [Citations from 1796 forward omitted.] ... 2. ...
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  • 152k
11 votes

The meaning and usage of ‘stiffs’ in “Of Mice and Men”

As Steinback noted in an interview, he was a bindle-stiff himself in real life. An old term used to refer migrant workers: I was a bindle-stiff myself for quite a spell,” the author told The New ...
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  • 60.6k
11 votes

What are the names of the two phonetic changes in this sentence?

Changing vowels to schwas is called vowel reduction, and it's incredibly common for most English speakers (not just people from Michigan).
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11 votes
Accepted

Is this correct in American English: It has helped me developed

The sentence as written is simply incorrect. The object of "help me" should be an infinitive. As you stated, "has helped me [to] develop" would be one way of correcting the sentence. This is the same ...
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  • 1,857
10 votes

Is the expression "jam-packed" of American origin?

The earliest use of jam-packed I have been able to find occurs in a review of a children’s program — the finale was an “emblematic representation of the majesty of Britannia” — in late 19th c. Cardiff:...
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  • 27.5k
9 votes

Can you hear the difference between 'Writer' and 'Rider'? Why?

It turns out that writer and rider are not “indistinguishable” in much of the United States. The difference is that although both rider and writer have an alveolar flap in their middles, writer is [...
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  • 128k
9 votes
Accepted

Why is "medicine" pronounced differently?

Disyllabic pronunciations of the word "medicine" are quite old, and have in fact at times been considered more proper than trisyllabic pronunciations (I mean "proper" in terms of the concept of "RP" ...
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  • 74.7k
9 votes

If I cannot win, then I will make it impossible for you to win

You are kingmaking or spoiling, and can be called a kingmaker or spoiler. This usage comes from game theory via historical analogy (cf. "Is kingmaking in multiplayer games a problem that can be ...
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