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154 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 ...
Avery's user avatar
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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 ...
fixer1234's user avatar
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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 ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
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83 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 ...
herisson's user avatar
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61 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 ...
Lambie's user avatar
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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 ...
J. Chris Compton's user avatar
41 votes

How can I best indicate in an obituary that a middle name was the preferred name?

You would write "Ebenezer John Doe, known as John,...". 'Ebenezer "John" Doe' would indicate that "John" was not his actual name (middle or otherwise) but one given to ...
DJClayworth's user avatar
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33 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 "...
herisson's user avatar
  • 83.1k
31 votes

How can I best indicate in an obituary that a middle name was the preferred name?

As a person who uses his middle name, I would prefer "Middlename Lastname" in the beginning and then later in the biography give the full birthname. This is simple. Nobody (except the ...
Wastrel's user avatar
  • 765
28 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 ...
1006a's user avatar
  • 22.9k
27 votes

Why is Reuben spelled with an "eu"?

The Hebrew name ראובן is apparently three syllables. The Wikipedia article Reuben (son of Jacob) offers the following romanizations: "Standard Rəʾūven, Tiberian Rŭʾūḇēn". With vowel markings,...
herisson's user avatar
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27 votes

Why is Siobhan pronounced with a /v/ sound in English?

I don’t know the specific history of this particular name, but all the points you raise have influenced pronunciation of Irish loanwords to some extent. If we start diachronically, lenition in Old ...
Janus Bahs Jacquet's user avatar
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: ...
coteyr's user avatar
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25 votes
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What's the name of the room where you watch a movie inside the movie theater?

I searched, even in movie tickets, but only found "theater", like "theater 1" or "theater 3". Is this correct? "Theater" is certainly the most common term in ...
ruakh's user avatar
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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 ...
TaliesinMerlin's user avatar
22 votes

Why is Reuben spelled with an "eu"?

The Geneva Bible most likely added the Reuben spelling to English. Middle English In Middle English, the name was indeed rendered as Ruben. I can find mentions in Middle English of that name but not ...
TaliesinMerlin's user avatar
21 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 ...
Tucker's user avatar
  • 2,893
21 votes

How can I best indicate in an obituary that a middle name was the preferred name?

Submit the obituary under the name Middlename Surname so that the headline will show up in the publication or on the website as one of the following, depending on the style of the publisher: ...
shoover's user avatar
  • 1,905
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 ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
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20 votes

Why is Siobhan pronounced with a /v/ sound in English?

Irish has regional accents. You’ve been misled by one of them. The pronunciation you cite, /ʃəwaːn̪ˠ/ is not definitive. Rendering á as /aː/ or even /a/ is one of the tell-tale characteristics of ...
KrisW's user avatar
  • 2,219
19 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 [...
Andrew Leach's user avatar
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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 ...
Max Williams's user avatar
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18 votes

Are there other proposed translations of "aelfheres" in Beowulf than a name?

Names in Old English manuscripts are typically spelled without leading capital. Nothing unusual in that. It's a man's name in genitive case. mæg higelaces "kinsman of Hygelac" occurs a half-...
TimR's user avatar
  • 22.1k
17 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 ...
Sven Yargs's user avatar
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17 votes
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Why did some stigmatized theophoric names survive in English?

I don't think your etymology is correct. The name of the Canaanite god was Baal, with a glottal stop represented with the Hebrew letter ayin בַּעַל (Ba-al) which I don't think corresponds with the ...
Fraser Orr's user avatar
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16 votes
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What are the pronunciation and etymology of the dog's name "Tige"?

I believe "Tige" is indeed a shortening of Tiger, and would be pronounced like tide with a hard g in place of the d. From a story in the Atlantic Monthly published in 1860, apparently by Oliver ...
1006a's user avatar
  • 22.9k
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, ...
Chris H's user avatar
  • 21.8k
15 votes

Are names of chemicals not proper nouns?

Generally, the names of chemicals are not considered proper nouns. They are classified as common nouns: Proper nouns name specific people, places, organizations, or things (ex: John, Paris, Apple, ...
Glenn Hefley's user avatar
14 votes

Terms for name prefixes "Ms., Mr." vs "Prof., Dr."

The relevant Wikipedia article about English honorifics calls the former group "common titles" and the latter "academic and professional titles".
nohat's user avatar
  • 68.6k

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