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

Top new questions this week:

What was “Herbal Tea” called before ‘tea’ was introduced in Europe?

I recently got in a discussion with a colleague, about herbal tea not being a correct term, as it contains no tea. Instead, one ought to use the term herbal infusions. Tea (dried leaves from the tea ...

*etymology *synonyms  
asked by Qqwy 49 votes
answered by Chris 55 votes

Proper way to address a very small group that includes both sexes

What is the proper way to address a light email/message to a small group of 2-or-3 people, where the group includes both sexes? I normally just use the term "guys" as in "Hey guys" or "Good morning ...

*greetings *gender-neutral  
asked by WEFX 21 votes
answered by Elian 39 votes

A figure of speech to illustrate the irreversibility of an action

I'm looking for a good figure of speech to suggest that something is irreversible. It would be used in the following context: "I'm sorry, dear, but you said it loud and clear and there is nothing ...

*figures-of-speech  
asked by Centaurus 20 votes
answered by pepper 27 votes

What does it imply when someone is called “Lucifer in the flesh”?

Washington Post (April 28) carried an article under the headline “John Boehner just called Ted Cruz ‘Lucifer in the flesh.’ He does this sometimes,” and the Stanford Daily (April 28) detailed the ...

*meaning *context  
asked by Yoichi Oishi 15 votes
answered by sumelic 47 votes

A word for an inescapable and pointless situation?

I've heard this word used before but I can't remember it! I've heard it used to describe wars like Iraq and Vietnam. Something you can't escape easily and is causing large problems, like a pit? Here ...

*single-word-requests  
asked by user3808430 11 votes
answered by Kristina Lopez 23 votes

Origins of the word “mom” and "mother"

Apologies in advance for this question being only indirectly related to the English language, but I find it fascinating. I note with interest that the English words "mother" and "mama" have similar ...

*origin-unknown  
asked by kailash 11 votes
answered by Max Williams 17 votes

Someone who does not like excess

I consider myself to be this type of person. A search did not yield anything, but I did find this website. What is the word you use to describe someone who does not like excess, in the sense of ...

*single-word-requests  
asked by Anonymous McAnonymous 11 votes
answered by Rayner 21 votes

Greatest hits from previous weeks:

What is the origin of the phrase "Top of the morning to you"?

Each morning, a colleague of mine greets me with the phrase: Top of the morning to you! I've tried to figure out what the meaning of this really is and how to properly respond, however there ...

*etymology *phrases *expressions *hiberno-english  
asked by hafichuk 18 votes
answered by Waggers 25 votes

Which is correct, "you and I" or "you and me"?

When the phrase is used as an object, why so many native speakers are saying "you and I" instead of "you and me"? I'm not a native speaker but I thought "you and me" is correct. Not sure if this falls ...

*pronouns *grammaticality *object *hypercorrection  
asked by grokus 28 votes
answered by JSBձոգչ 53 votes

Can you answer these?

Usage of "representation" in the sense of being part of a group

Is the following sentence correct and clear? "Elite universities in England are under constant scrutiny because of the low representation of certain population groups, particularly state-school ...

*meaning-in-context *nouns *connotation  
asked by EOO 1 vote

certain (humorous) quote about revision of an organization’s bylaws

I’m looking for a certain (humorous) quote that goes something like: “The demise of an organization begins when it revises its bylaws.” After 15 minutes of googling for it, I have given up and am ...

*quotes  
asked by Mike Jones 1 vote

Which he doesn't or does?

Here's the context: A dying man has guilt, and one of the voices in his head is claiming he will experience hell, if he dies with it (the guilt). One voice hints that 'hell is a hoax', and the other ...

*word-usage *phrasing  
asked by nemesisfixx 3 votes
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