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

Top new questions this week:

Alternative expression for "xyz Nazi"

I'm not a native English speaker, but I do understand and personally appreciate the use of the term "xyz Nazi" to say that someone is a bit dogmatic about their point of view, without necessarily ...

*idioms *synonyms *politeness  
asked by Lukas Eder 40 votes
answered by mskfisher 55 votes

Secular phrase for "Heaven only knows" or "God only knows"?

As the title states, I am seeking a secular phrase synonymous to "Heaven only knows" or "God only knows." Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated.

*phrases *synonyms  
asked by Emily 18 votes
answered by Nsw 52 votes

A word to make something bad sound good

Lets say we are talking about a book about teens that drink. In the book the teens have fun and nothing bad ever happens. What word would you use to describe what the book is doing to teen drinking. ...

*single-word-requests  
asked by Ashleah 17 votes
answered by bib 18 votes

"a wottle of bine", "a can of boot reer" and "holed and sealed" - What types of speech errors are these?

People often make these mistakes in speech, on purpose, just for amusement. Sometimes, however, they are unintentional and prove even funnier. In this case, is there a specific term for them? e.g. ...

*terminology *errors  
asked by Centaurus 16 votes
answered by Josh61 31 votes

What is the etymology of the term "private eye"?

The term private eye has widespread use to mean private detective or investigator. See, e.g., Oxford Dcitionary Online Several websites, such as this one, suggest that the term was based on a logo ...

*etymology *derivation  
asked by bib 16 votes
answered by Josh61 15 votes

Word for obscuring bad or immoral acts with verbiage

I have been in many scenarios where people try to obscure/reduce the intensity of a seemingly bad or immoral act using grammar. E.g. Assuming Thomas killed a dog, you could hear something like: ...

*single-word-requests  
asked by Chibueze Opata 12 votes
answered by Nate Eldredge 18 votes

Expression for losing something that you never really had

My "friend" keeps whining about "losing n reputation points" on Stack Exchange. My instinctive interpretation is that some of the votes he had earned were reversed due to vote fraud. What he really ...

*word-choice *phrase-requests  
asked by 200_success 10 votes
answered by Kris 8 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 4 votes
answered by Thursagen 7 votes

What is the difference between "house" and "home"?

What are the differences in meaning between house and home? When do I use one or the other?

*meaning *differences *nouns  
asked by soheil bijavar 4 votes
answered by badspell 6 votes

Can you answer these?

Irregular plurals in noun adjuncts

Several psycholinguists1,2 have observed that English speakers do not use regular plurals in compounds, even when the noun refers to more than one instance (dog-catcher, *dogs-catcher), but do use ...

*grammatical-number *noun-adjuncts *irregular *compound-adjectives  
asked by Trey 1 vote

What is the origin of "alrighty"?

It is a friendlier and more colloquial version of "alright". It is also heard in the exclamation/interjection "Alrighty, then!". I usually hear it at the end of conversations in Canadian English, ...

*etymology *colloquialisms *origin-unknown *diminutive  
asked by ermanen 3 votes

History of assimilation for going to be

When did the assimilation of going to be into gonna be start being used?

*contractions  
asked by Mary Aschauer 1 vote
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