English Language & Usage Weekly Newsletter
English Language & Usage Weekly Newsletter

Top new questions this week:

"Here's looking at you, kid" meaning?

I'm sure many will know Rick's famous line from the film Casablanca: Here's looking at you, kid. While I can guess at it, I was never fully confident about the meaning of this phrase. I am not ...

*meaning *phrase-meaning  
asked by Ilsa 72 votes
answered by Sven Yargs 74 votes

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 ...

*terminology *usage  
asked by Jim Farwell 47 votes
answered by oerkelens 66 votes

Person who pretends to not understand unless one speaks in exactly the words they expect

I just realized there are some people around my workplace who always try to correct me when using a certain word, saying that that's not how I should speak, and I should use other words (the ones ...

*single-word-requests *expressions *phrase-requests *vocabulary  
asked by vlad-ardelean 30 votes
answered by Nicole 36 votes

Is "layman" an offensive term?

Is it offensive to use the term layman nowadays? Does it insinuate that the people to whom you are referring are uneducated? I am wanting to say This is just one of the ways that CERN's research ...

*usage *offensive-language *technical  
asked by Tim 14 votes
answered by Mayo 22 votes

What do you call something that causes fear?

Example: The wind and the owls weren't the/my only [...] that night. I didn't using fear as a noun is a bit weird in this situation? What's a better alternative?

*single-word-requests  
asked by janoChen 13 votes
answered by Chris 37 votes

Safer alternative to “opaque”?

As a child I was taught that opaque means doesn't let any light through at all, as opposed to translucent (lets some light through, but diffused/frosted) or transparent (completely clear, lets you see ...

*meaning *synonyms *ambiguity  
asked by Spiff 12 votes
answered by Centaurus 14 votes

One word for a man who feels vulnerable about his wife

What would we call a man who is always suspecting, distrustful and worried about his wife being wooed by other men? He considers his wife naive and the world (other men) as predators in waiting. It ...

*word-choice *single-word-requests  
asked by eve_niggle 12 votes
answered by Abbas Javan Jafari 21 votes

Greatest hits from previous weeks:

Meaning of "let bygones be bygones"

What is the exact meaning of the phrase let bygones be bygones? If I had a fight with my best friend and then say it, which of the following does it mean? I want to forget the past and reconcile ...

*meaning *idioms  
asked by Madhur Ahuja 6 votes
answered by Thursagen 9 votes

Is "fastly" a correct word?

Slow has the adverb slowly. I tend to use fastly as the adverb for fast. However, it is underlined in most spell checkers I use, which makes me wonder about the existence of this word. Is fastly a ...

*adverbs *is-it-a-word  
asked by Gnoupi 29 votes
answered by Kosmonaut 43 votes

Can you answer these?

Distinguishing Australian, English, South African accents

I have attended courses in English over many years, and as most of my English teachers have an Algerian accent, I have always wondered about the question of accents. I can distinguish an American ...

*british-english *speech *accent *australian-english *south-african-english  
asked by Mounir 3 votes

Terminology for words that are the same backwards and forwards, upside-down or right way up

I'm thinking of getting a SONOS sound system and have realised that it's an example of a special class of word. It's a palindrome, it's a rotational ambigram and it is also a word that is the same ...

*terminology  
asked by Dan 2 votes

On the origin of 'blizzard '.

Blizzard is probably the most used word to indicate a violent snowstorm. Despite its popularity the etymology of the term is quite unclear. Some well-known sources hint at its onomatopoeic sound as ...

*etymology  
asked by Josh61 6 votes
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