Is there a way I can search for a word and then be given the most commonly used words before and after it? [more inside]
This year someone very close to me was hurt very badly and then, to my great shock and relief, he recovered fully. I'm still processing this experience and probably always will be. I'm frustrated that the words that I have to best describe what he went through are often religious. I don't believe in god and neither does the person who was injured. I did not think that he would ever be the same again. The fact that he is is "miraculous," to be with him now is "a blessing" -- but it's not. The best-fit way I know to phrase it is "it's a miracle of modern science!" I'd appreciate help finding a truly secular vocabulary that captures the power of what he (and I) went through. [more inside]
This is one entry on a vocabulary list that asks for a definition of the word or phrase and the 'significance' of the word or part of the phrase. This is part of a 15-year-old's summer homework, but no explanation is given of what the 'significance' of the word significance is. My take is that 'significance' is kind of an inherent effect or consequence of the word; for bubonic, I'd say the significance is civilization-changing death due to uncontrolled pest and population density. Any other ideas?
I am trying to write a story that takes place in 1660s Massachusetts. I have a great plot and characters, but the action stops when they open their mouths. I simply don't know how they spoke. How can I find examples of 17th century English as spoken by ordinary people? [more inside]
I'm not looking for obscure words that are just baroque synonyms for common English words, or highly specialised David Foster Wallacesque curiosities, but rather words that are actually quite functional for day-to-day use but for whatever reason are not widely known.
Like many people on this site, I read a lot and have a pretty large vocabulary. But, when I speak or write, I often feel like much of that vocabulary is hiding in a part of my brain that I can't get at. Please suggest tasks that will flex my active vocabulary-retrieval muscles. [more inside]
In the course of a dramatic reading of "Fanny Hill" last night I ran across the phrase "turtle-billing," but I cannot find a precise definition of the act. Can you? [more inside]
I could swear that I have seen this on AskMe before, but I can't find it for the life of me. Is there a word for the situation in which something that used to be representable by a single word now needs two (or more) words? Like how "telephone" now sometimes has to be retroactively qualified as "landline phone" because of the advent of "mobile phones." "Analog watch" would be another example, I guess.
Art and philosophy people -- I need your help figuring out how to talk about the difference between art that is highly constricted by form vs. art that is very open-ended -- sonnets as opposed to free verse, men's clothing as opposed to women's clothing, calligraphy as opposed to sketching. [more inside]
What's a word that means you say things to make people believe your intent or mindset is different than it is in order to harm them later without them suspecting you? For example, you might mention in discussion how much stealing disgusts you so that they won't suspect you later when you steal from them. [more inside]
Is there a single, non-compound English word for this kind of university lecture hall desk (those bolted-down seats with the arm-rests masquerading as desktops)? [more inside]
I am required to bring a "word of the day" to my Toastmasters club's next meeting. This word should be an interesting and useful word that will expand everyone's command of the English language and ideally would be fun to use. Twist: I want it to be Thanksgiving or holiday season related if possible. My google-fu is failing me because I keep getting results meant for children's crossword puzzles ("pilgrim", "turkey", etc.). I'm looking for something more along the lines of "puritanical" or something like that. Can be historical, related to feelings or gratitude or even satirical of the holiday.
Tell me what topics would make you excited to learn a foreign language. [more inside]
Hi everyone. I am an international student considering the option of going to the US to do my graduate studies. I am currently studying for the GRE. As I am not a native English speaker (Portuguese), the verbal section is really difficult for me because of the vocabulary. As I got bored of studying vocab flashcards, I am know thinking of reading a book with a great diversity of words. What recent books do you recommend reading? (remember that I am completely unaware of the what the best english literature may be)
What is the origin of ending a sentence with a trailing "so..." ? Who is on record first using it? How did it spread? I am talking about the annoying unfinished sentence word: "We would have gone cycling, but I couldn't find my bike, so..." I am not talking about the legitimate adverb: "I love biking so!"
Is there a word that means "sunrise or sunset?" [more inside]
I have a list of 625 English words, translations in a bunch of languages, and what-not in a giant excel file. We'll call that excel file "the Data." The Data is in alphabetical order. I also have a separate list of those same English words in a different order. Is there a way to sort the Data so that it's in the same order as my new, non-alphabetical list? [more inside]
When someone says head or latrine for bathroom its likely that they were in the military or around the military. A less common example,when someone says "avoid the near occasion" about something its likely that they are from a Roman Catholic background, I'd even say its use indicates a likelihood that they are or were a priest, seminarian, religious, in a kind of serious catholic family or school etc. Reckon is a common word and its being used once doesn't mean anything but when its use is pretty frequent it might be indicative of someone's having lived in the south east United States. When people say pop instead of soda or coke they likely are from somewhere roughly between Chicago and Denver, Oklahoma and North Dakota. Things like this interest me and I'm sure I know only a infinitesimal fraction of a percent of them. Do you have any like observations to share? [more inside]
I feel like I've forgotten a word. Is there a verb that means "to introduce an impure portion into" or else "decrease the purity of" -- but which is not "corrupt" or "alloy"? If for example a stream of wastewater were to be joined into a freshwater river, that would be Xing the river. If an artist were to introduce crass commercial considerations into otherwise heartfelt art, that would be Xing the art. It could be that this word does not exist.
I'm looking for an iPad app (Kindle or other ebooks are fine too if they can do this as I can get my hands on one for this) which is lots of big busy pictures with little words in them where you can press the picture and hear the word said - basically a speaking version of the Usbourne's First 1,000 words. All I can find after several hours searching are flashcards or spelling-type games or dictionaries where the words are arranged A-Z. I keep thinking this must exist as the iPad would be perfect for this, but I'm just not turning up anything!
I read a lot, and my receptive vocabulary is excellent. However, no so much on the expressive side. I tend to repeat the same word over and over in my writing, and sometimes have difficulty picking appropriate word to succinctly capture a concept. So, what's a good and specific exercise(s) for increasing one's expressive vocabulary?
What is the average working vocabulary (and outliers) of various languages? Is the working vocabulary of English English different from American English or Australian English? and how does this compare with other languages?
When I was a kid, my grandfather bought me an audiotape meant to improve my vocabulary: 25 Power Words, or something. It was pitched, I think, as a way to get ahead in business -- and read in a very serious, very radio-y voice. We used to play it on long car rides, endlessly, when I was in elementary school (in the early 80s). I'd really like to find a copy of the tape, but I can't remember its title. [more inside]
What are your tips and techniques for learning advanced vocabulary and grammar in a foreign language? [more inside]
Please recommend books, websites, and other resources to learn more advanced French food and restaurant vocabulary, so that I can read menus and cookbooks, navigate restaurants, and describe food ("salty," "sweet," etc.). [more inside]
I can't identify trees, bushes, shrubs, or flowers. How can I learn to do so on sight? [more inside]
I need help in acquiring a lot of a vocabulary for a lot of languages. How can I best proceed and what should be my expectations and timetables be? [more inside]
Is/Are there term(s) to describe the threshold at which a person can see their own breath outside ? [more inside]
Tell me everything about teaching kids how to speak and read and write. [more inside]
How can I improve my vocabulary for Boggle-playing purposes? [more inside]
How to sound less overeducated? [more inside]
What is the most effective way to increase your vocabulary (e.g. book, softare, method)?
Bilinguals and polyglots of AskMefi please hope me. I understand a lot of words and grammar in Japanese but don't seem able to use them. How do you make the leap from "knowing" a word or grammar pattern to actually being able to use it in conversation? [more inside]
I'd like to find an iOS app for my mom- she wants a word-of-the-day or other vocabulary builder for English. She's fluent but it's her second language, and she'd like to have a stronger vocabulary. Any suggestions?
Kindle (or Nook) and Spanish books+Dictionary [more inside]
I have terrible pronunciation. Can you direct me to dictionary-type sites that teach how to pronounce words using high-quality audio files? Merriam-Webster has the basics and is easy to use, but I am also looking for resources that cover more specialized vocabularies such as cooking terms, medical terms, technology terms, the names of important cultural figures, place names, and product names. Obscurity/difficulty level: stuff like sambal oelek, Yulia Tymoshenko, Mies van der Rohe, SUSE, Schenectady, Elidel, Saucony. [more inside]
Seeking English-language words that mean both a kitchen implement (knife, spoon, colander, pot…) and also a geomorphic or landscape feature (lake, river, mountain, bluff…) Sinks and cauldrons all qualify, but here my early ay-em ingenuity runs out!
Where can I find a very thorough, comprehensive, expansive list of personality traits? [more inside]
What is some bizarre and amusing industry-specific jargon? [more inside]
Is there a single word for finding pleasure in well done formulaic stories not because they are doing something new or even being particularly clever, but because they hit the notes well, manage the tropes, and deliver what they promise? [more inside]
There are three adults in my household -- my husband, myself, and our very close male friend. We think of ourselves as a family and it feels weird and a little cold to introduce each other as "roommates." So what word should we use? [more inside]
is there a word for 'a word that fits its own definition'? for example, sesquipedalian is a big word that by definition means "prone to using big words." is there a formal term for this type of thing?
What are some words that mean "quick to perceive/discern," "sound judgment," or "keen-minded?" [more inside]
What is it called when you're disqualified from an award for winning it too often? [more inside]
I really like music that inspires me to jump up and...go read Wikipedia (or a dictionary, for that matter)! Bands that have produced the sort of thing I'm talking about here include Rasputina, Phideaux, and (to some extent) They Might Be Giants. Help me find more of this particular brand of awesome in the musical realm! Special bonus points if they can actually play their instruments well. [more inside]
In recent coverage of the Mark Duggan shooting and subsequent riots, I've seen a few instances of people referring to the police as "feds". Obviously in Britain there are no actual feds since there's no federal government, so what's the story here? [more inside]
What are some words whose definitions have changed significantly in the last few centuries? [more inside]
Isn't it odd to call someone your "girlfriend" who you wouldn't call a "girl"? [more inside]
What is Casualty Section as repeatedly referenced in the Wire? [more inside]
In what English movies or books would I most likely be exposed to new words? Any genre and time-period.