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

Top new questions this week:

What’s a “handegg”?

What’s a handegg? NOTE: This question is primarily related to the etymology of a compound noun which is not in The Dictionary. There is a hat this year called “Handegg”, given out for a posting that ...

*etymology *slang *history *connotation *winterfest  
asked by tchrist 88 votes
answered by oerkelens 121 votes

Completing something just to finish it despite lack of interest - is called …?

Recently I started reading a novel that I was excited to read. After getting approximately 45% into it, I lost the pace. It started becoming slow and lousy. I thought to leave it unfinished but it ...

*word-choice *single-word-requests *expressions *word-usage *vocabulary  
asked by vaibhav 33 votes
answered by Nicole 27 votes

Word for metallic “dust”?

What’s the English word for the metallic “dust”, or more precisely the tiny remains (waste) of drilling, welding, cutting through metal, and similar metal processing?

*word-choice *single-word-requests *synonyms  
asked by Groo 31 votes
answered by QOI 69 votes

What "Extravagant culture" could be used as an antonym to "Spartan"?

"Spartan" is an adjective derived from Sparta, an ancient Greek city-state famous for its austerity. The adjective is used today to mean basic and minimal. I'm looking for an antonym, i.e. a culture ...

*adjectives *antonyms  
asked by Robbie 27 votes
answered by MT_Head 75 votes

Why did English change so much between Chaucer and Shakespeare?

My inexpert perception of things is that the distance between The Canterbury Tales (end 14th century) and Romeo and Juliet (end 16th), from a language perspective, is vast, and vastly greater than the ...

*historical-change *shakespeare *middle-english *literary-english  
asked by chiastic-security 24 votes
answered by Mark Thompson 28 votes

What do you call a response which does not address the question?

When some one is asked a question, sometimes if they are trying to avoid answering the question, they respond with something unrelated. What is the word for that response? Eg. A: Why were you late? ...

*word-choice *terminology  
asked by Jacques 21 votes
answered by Patrick Wood 45 votes

What is it called when something you previously took to be a mistake turned out to be the correct decision?

Sometimes your “mistake” results in a big success, or you find out that it actually was the correct way of doing it. I sarcastically call this a “correct mistake”. What do you call it? I don’t know if ...

*word-choice *expressions *idioms  
asked by Saeid 20 votes
answered by Oldbag 33 votes

Greatest hits from previous weeks:

"Could you please" vs "Could you kindly"

I am a non-native speaker of English. When communicating with a professor, would it be better to use could you kindly send me the document or could you please send me the document? I know both are ...

*word-choice *politeness  
asked by nemoy 13 votes
answered by Barrie England 13 votes

Wholistic vs holistic

This reference states: The two words "wholistic" and "holistic" have very different meanings, but there is some confusion and they are often used in an incorrect manner. The two words have very ...

*meaning *orthography  
asked by user52080 6 votes
answered by Michael Owen Sartin 3 votes

Can you answer these?

plural possessive form of a mutated plural?

Here are two examples of mutated plurals: more than one goose= geese; more than one man= men 1)Say you had 2 or more groups of geese. I.e. group #1= African geese & group #2=buff geese. If you ...

*grammatical-number *possessive-s-vs-of  
asked by Christina 5 votes

How did "owly" come to mean irritable or grouchy?

I am curious about the history of "owly" to mean irritable, grumpy, or uncooperative. The Word Detective explains (but doesn't substantiate) that the association derives from the fact that many owls ...

asked by Rusty Tuba 2 votes

Telling if a word is a verb in the imperative mood

I'm working on a static analysis tool for the documentation in the Python programming language (PEP257). For this, I need to check if the first word in a documentation string is a verb in the ...

*part-of-speech *syntactic-analysis *imperative *nlp  
asked by Amir Rachum 2 votes
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