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What's a word that describes synonyms and antonyms together?

Asking for a friend. Said friend is: A) Tired of writing "synonyms and antonyms" over and over B) Trying to shorten the paper she's writing that contains this phrase. [more inside]
posted by Mister Moofoo on Mar 31, 2014 - 4 answers

What's up with this odd usage of the word "steal"?

In the early 1990s, the boys in my middle school used to threaten to "steal" each other, meaning hit/punch/sock/pop/smack. It was most commonly heard as, "I'mma steal you in your eye!" or "I'm gonna steal him upside the head!" I found it strange even then, and I haven't heard or seen reference to it since. Have you heard "steal" used like this before? Where could it have come from? Relevant details: This was in Nash County, North Carolina. I recall hearing it exclusively from white boys. The couple times I asked someone who was self-aware enough to discuss it, they were adamant that it was "steal" and not "steel."
posted by rhiannonstone on Feb 6, 2014 - 17 answers

What bullshit is my mom talking?

I was talking to my mom last night and at one point in the conversation, she wanted to call something bullshit, but she is extremely opposed to swearing, so she used a euphemism instead. It was so funny that my partner and I both burst out laughing when she said it, but neither of us can remember it now. Help me identify it! [more inside]
posted by Neely O'Hara on Jan 21, 2014 - 26 answers

Batman: Linguistic Origins

What are some examples of really easy/obvious etymological descents that most people aren't really aware of? I'm trying to prove to somebody that there are a lot of these in the english language but I've forgotten most of the interesting ones I used to know. [more inside]
posted by tehloki on Nov 22, 2013 - 27 answers

inerment? innermet? enermunt?

What is the word (if any, apparently) for the misuse of a nonprofit's funds for personal uses? [more inside]
posted by cmoj on Nov 1, 2013 - 11 answers

"historacle" just feels silly to me

Is there a term for a seer/diviner/oracle that is only able to see into the past? I'm willing to grab one from a non-English language if there is a word that means specifically "a seer who can only see the past", but English is prefered. Antiquated terms are OK. Bonus points for interesting etymological details (or links to interesting etymological details). [more inside]
posted by NoraReed on Jul 16, 2013 - 12 answers

List of simple word roots

I am looking for a text file of a list of words (roughly the 5000-10000 most common English words) and their root word and root word language. My Google Fu only turns up single words or pages that I can type in a word to get to another page to get the etymology. Wikipedia has some stuff, but it is sorted by language root, which is not what I am looking for. I would like to have a long list of words in a text file so that I can manipulate it programatically. Comma separated or whatever, any format would be great. Here is one use case: Yoke - [list of words that have yoke in the etymological history] (Many, many many English words come from the root work for Yoke.) All answers appreciated!
posted by Monkey0nCrack on May 16, 2013 - 6 answers

How many words do we really use?

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?
posted by adamvasco on Apr 4, 2013 - 11 answers

Does any language lack a word for beak?

Which languages, if any, have the same word for "beak" and "mouth"? Or: which languages lack a specific word for referring only to a "beak" (aka the hard, pointy, front end of a bird)?
posted by Greg Nog on Dec 27, 2012 - 9 answers

Ich weiße nicht!

What is this greeting?/ Was dieser Gruß? [more inside]
posted by droplet on Dec 13, 2012 - 5 answers

Invented language vs. familiar words in fiction?

As a reader, how do you feel about invented language versus familiar words in imaginary worlds? [more inside]
posted by batmonkey on Nov 21, 2012 - 67 answers

please help my create a spreadsheet from a list of links.

I want to create a spreadsheet from the hyperlinks and words in a word list on Wiktionary. Please take me through the steps. Thanks! [more inside]
posted by iamkimiam on Nov 20, 2012 - 8 answers

Philately is to Stamps as ____ is to Rocks.

Stamp collecting is philately. Coin collecting falls under numismatics (perhaps as a subdivision). Rock collecting is not really geology in the same way as the above terms are used. Is there a similar term for rock collecting?
posted by Jahaza on Nov 3, 2012 - 7 answers

hopefully there will be some good answers!

What are some non-religious words or phrases for expressing good wishes/thoughts for the future, besides "hopefully?" [more inside]
posted by raztaj on Sep 13, 2012 - 24 answers

Is there a linguistic term for this?

Is there a term for, or linguistic function fulfilled by, the phrases "no yeah" and/or "yeah no" when used for the purpose of agreeing?
posted by CitrusFreak12 on Jul 18, 2012 - 12 answers

Useful idioms

Business idioms that are actually useful? [more inside]
posted by AceRock on Jun 29, 2012 - 31 answers

Word sans-prefix is word no more?

What are some English words that contain a prefix, but the root is either not a word or is substantially unrelated to the prefixed word? [more inside]
posted by Geppp on Mar 23, 2012 - 36 answers

Examples of other words like "Cineaste"

A cinephile is someone who loves movies, but a cineaste is someone who uses her love of movies to inform and inspire her own filmmaking. Do other disciplines have a similar term? [more inside]
posted by beautifulstuff on Mar 22, 2012 - 10 answers

Please make me happy by transcribing this piece of spoken Chinese!

Can someone identify the words spoken at the beginning of Ground Zero's “Revolutionary Pekinese Opera” (“Opening ~ Flying Across The J.P.Yen”)? You can here the phrase spoken on youtube here. I'm reasonably sure the voice is speaking Chinese.
posted by nfg on Jan 25, 2012 - 2 answers

What does the word "abstract" mean?

What does the word "abstract" mean? [more inside]
posted by internet_explorer on Jan 16, 2012 - 11 answers

Gold teeth and a curse for this town were all in my mouth

What words have you made up that you use regularly? [more inside]
posted by holdkris99 on Jan 13, 2012 - 209 answers

Improve my elocution!

How can I work on a more "natural" delivery (emphasis, pitch, etc.) when reading books aloud? [more inside]
posted by yersinia on Nov 16, 2011 - 9 answers

Can I find 'petrol' vs. 'gas' word use by country?

Is there a way to find out if 'petrol' or 'gas' is the most recognized word for vehicle fuel by country? [more inside]
posted by pb on Sep 20, 2011 - 9 answers

Sites to Help with Wordsmithing

I like ClicheFinder and use it often to help me brainstorm clever titles for events and programs. What are some other sites that aggregate common word associations and turns of phrase? Or more general creative wordplay? [more inside]
posted by Miko on Sep 1, 2011 - 8 answers

what's that word that means strength and efficiencey?

I'm trying to find a word that conveys both strength (foundation, well built framework, difficult to break, potential for growth) and efficiency (basic, best use of resources, no embellishments). [more inside]
posted by rebent on Jun 29, 2011 - 30 answers

Saying sugar and yelling your full name: southern or not?

Two questions about vocabulary in the American South and elsewhere: did your parents call you sugar and did they, when you were in trouble, use both your first and middle names to summon you for the reckoning? [more inside]
posted by mygothlaundry on Jun 2, 2011 - 81 answers

What does "down to earth" mean? Context: On-line dating.

What does "down to earth" mean? Context: On-line dating. [more inside]
posted by ThisIsNotMe on May 5, 2011 - 50 answers

"satavaziru"... what does it mean!?

A guy in Tallinn pointed at me and said something that sounded like "satavaziru!" (emphasis on the "zi" syllable). What might that mean? [more inside]
posted by mokudekiru on Apr 13, 2011 - 12 answers

Word Frequency Counts

Can I compute how frequently a word occurs in general English text? I have a list of about 2000 words, and I want to sort it with the most common words first. [more inside]
posted by Chicken Boolean on Mar 28, 2011 - 27 answers

What's the largest possible 'word block' in scrabble?

What's the largest possible solid block of words you can make in scrabble? I've gotten 3x3's in Words with Friends a bunch of times, but never a 4x4. Is it possible? Are larger ones possible?
posted by empath on Jan 17, 2011 - 31 answers

How Many Homophones?

Which language has the most homophonic words (one sound, multiple spellings. In English, e.g., BEAR and BARE)? It's hard to do precise comparisons across languages because they differ in what counts as a word, in how complicated their inflectional system is, etc. But even approximate data would be useful. I saw one paper on automatic speech recognition which showed that the system made more errors on French than Italian German etc. and that most of them were due to homophones. But, where are some real facts about degree of homophony across languages?
posted by cogneuro on Nov 9, 2010 - 22 answers

You can lose what you never had

[Word Filter] Is there a term to describe the disappointment you feel at losing something that you never actually had and didn't really want or plan for? It can be in English or another language. Examples inside. [more inside]
posted by scarnato on Sep 17, 2010 - 17 answers

Thanks or Thank You

I work the front desk at my parent's hotel and we are having a dispute regarding the language and wording of a sign that we have recently put up. Is there a better way to word the following sign: "Busy Helping Another Guest, Back in a Minute. Thanks." ? [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Aug 31, 2010 - 25 answers

No sir, YOU say potato, now you've ruined the suspension of disbelief!

Is there a word similar to anachronism for when a writer uses a dialect or jargon in the wrong person, ethnic group or similar? [more inside]
posted by xetere on Aug 24, 2010 - 24 answers

Need some name ideas of African origin

I need some African name suggestions. [more inside]
posted by fogonlittlecatfeet on May 30, 2010 - 17 answers

Obscure words combine to form common phrase

There are certain obscure English words that are rarely used alone, but show up in more commonly used word pairs - the best example I can think of is "miasmic fug". I am trying to write about this phenomenon, so if anyone can suggest other word pairs like this I would be very grateful!
posted by csg77 on May 16, 2010 - 60 answers

Seeking English words with meanings hidden in plain sight

Help me find English words that have meanings hidden in plain sight. For example, it only recently occurred to me that a "quart" is a quarter of a gallon. [more inside]
posted by alms on May 4, 2010 - 142 answers

English words that don't travel well

We've asked about "untranslatable words" that "do not exist in the English language" or at least lack a "close English equivalent." But what are the words in English that defy easy translation? [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 3, 2010 - 72 answers

What word describes something that is simultaneously tongue-in-cheek and serious?

Is there a word for a piece of media (book, song, movie, etc.) that simultaneously sends up/parodies its genre and fits comfortably within it? What are some good examples? [more inside]
posted by AgentRocket on Apr 15, 2010 - 47 answers

Express Myself In Another Language

What are your favorite non-english words or expressions that do not have a close English equivalent? I am looking for different ways to look at the world.....from around the world.
posted by jasondigitized on Apr 1, 2010 - 67 answers

Scots/Gaelic shout help needed

Scots/Gaelic shout help needed [more inside]
posted by acoutu on Jan 29, 2010 - 13 answers

What are these Dutch words I grew up hearing?

Please help me learn more about these Dutch words I heard while growing up. [more inside]
posted by bristolcat on Jan 8, 2010 - 12 answers

Nobody uses "queer" to mean "odd" anymore

What is the name of the phenomenon where words lose their original meaning once they take on an off-color meaning? For instance isn't it queer that nobody describes themselves as "gay" anymore unless they are homosexual or are deliberately being provocative? [more inside]
posted by cross_impact on Nov 28, 2009 - 16 answers

serious business!

Is there a word for a person who has been subpoenaed? If two people are subpoenaed, they are called co-...? They're not co-defendants. Is there an equivalent?
posted by streetdreams on Nov 19, 2009 - 14 answers

Help me find a site that people list their favorite words on

I bookmarked a site years ago that was all about people listing their favorite words - sort of like "delicious" but for word nerds. Does anyone have a clue what this is? thanks
posted by debu on Nov 15, 2009 - 7 answers

What's a good word for "a good thing before I'm ready for it?"

I'm looking for a somewhat poetic word or phrase (in any language) that describes "a good thing that's happening too soon" or "a good thing that happened before I was ready for it" or something like that. [more inside]
posted by ferociouskitty on Nov 3, 2009 - 12 answers

Why is "win" often implicitly considered a conditional verb?

Grammarians: Is it OK to take liberties with the word "win" when publicizing a contest or draw? [more inside]
posted by wackybrit on Oct 5, 2009 - 15 answers

Detailed etymological dictionary?

Does a comprehensive etymological dictionary exist that crosses languages? [more inside]
posted by Tchad on Sep 3, 2009 - 11 answers

I have two B's, an S, a A, a C, and an E ... what do I do now?

How do I become a better Scrabble player? [more inside]
posted by anastasiav on Aug 14, 2009 - 24 answers

What does "pea green pink Irish Catholic" mean?

"Pea green pink Irish Catholic" - what, if anything, does this phrase mean and/or refer to? [more inside]
posted by MaudB on Jun 24, 2009 - 17 answers

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