372 posts tagged with words.
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Is there a suffix (or other word modifier) used like -phobia/-phobic/-phobe that means concern or alarm or apprehension without the connotation of terror or hatred or exclusion? Ideally the word would make sense to a fluent English speaker, but if it needs a little explaining, that's okay. This isn't a political question; it's for a story.
posted by michaelh on Oct 18, 2016 - 10 answers

Repetitive words and phrases irrationally irritate me. Why?

Repetitive words or phrases irritate me way beyond all rational explanation. Can you help me understand why? [more inside]
posted by _Mona_ on Sep 13, 2016 - 13 answers

Is there an English verb that means "to go mad"?

I'm looking for a single English word that means "go mad" or "be mad", or anything similar: act weird, be eccentric, become demented. There are lots of phrasal verbs and colloquial expressions for this, and lots of synonyms for "mad", but I can't find any verbs. Closest I've found is "to trip". Any ideas, especially archaic or defunct words?
posted by dontjumplarry on Sep 11, 2016 - 29 answers

What is this grammatical thing called?

20ish years ago there was a one-page essay in the (maybe? Last page?) New Yorker that featured many uses of words that had no such root or form. I can't think of any specific words in the essay, but even what the words or practice are called and a list would be nice. Things like "rambunction" for rambunctious, or "consternating" for consternation. Is this mere coinage, or is there a wider practice at work? [more inside]
posted by nevercalm on Aug 29, 2016 - 12 answers

"Sudden onset loss of grace"

Is there a name for that phenomenon whereby you briefly lose the ability to act naturally? For example: mid-sip of a glass of water you make unexpected eye contact with an attractive stranger, and then you must take manual control of your arm and hand to set the glass back down instead of by muscle memory / reflex / autopilot, during which you feel awkward and look awkward.
posted by pot suppeck on Aug 7, 2016 - 11 answers

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it mean

I want to avoid pissing people off with incorrect terminology. What are some common terminology that outsiders get wrong that really grind the gears of insiders? [more inside]
posted by Mitheral on Jun 24, 2016 - 170 answers

What's the word for placing heads on pikes as a deterrent?

Isn't there a particular word for the deterrent method of putting thieves' heads on pikes outside a village perimeter to discourage further attacks on the villagers? [more inside]
posted by scrowdid on Jun 15, 2016 - 27 answers

Should you describe a beautiful landscape as 'soporific'?

I'm reading a book right now where a British author uses the term 'soporific' a lot, particularly to describe landscapes that are beautiful and inspiring (he describes them this way as well). Is that right? [more inside]
posted by bluelight on Jun 13, 2016 - 17 answers

Bird words

I am looking for bird-related words. Feel free to get as tangential as you like. I'm particularly interested in colloquial names for birds like chickie, robin redbreast, etc.; names of birds in literature/art/film/song; words describing things birds do like chirp, warble, soar, etc. Pretty bird-related words in other languages are good too. But there may be entire categories of bird-related words that I'm not thinking of. Thank you!
posted by HotToddy on Jun 11, 2016 - 33 answers

Credit as a copywriter?

My photographer client does not want to credit me for my accompanying copy or provide me with a testimonial for my work. Suck it up or cut him loose? [more inside]
posted by Caskeum on Jun 7, 2016 - 15 answers

girls chase boys chase girls

I see on AskMe all the time, whenever someone refers to an adult of the female gender as a "girl," several people will immediately pop up to sternly correct them. I've come to accept this as part of the site culture here, and keep it in mind for my own questions and comments, but it quite honestly seems bizarre based on my own life experience. I'm curious how common this view actually is, and whether people actually stick to it in real life. [more inside]
posted by celtalitha on May 12, 2016 - 110 answers

Colloquial Weather Terms

I'm looking for examples of colloquial weather terms like the "dog days" of summer, Indian summer, or blackberry winter. These are just examples, the terms don't have to be about weather like those. I'm just interested in learning more local/regional expressions like these, especially non-English ones if people know them. Thanks!
posted by Sangermaine on Apr 7, 2016 - 51 answers

Word parts and/or rules for combining them (morphemes?)

I want to write a program to generate new, realistic-sounding and -looking words. I want to programmatically create strings like 'bik', 'clible', 'aunstic', and 'cranoak', (if these words don't already exist), and avoid strings like 'bblejkm', 'aunstrbl', and other things that don't look pronounceable. Looking for a database of word parts to feed into this program, possibly with a set of accompanying rules. English or any other language (ideally with phonetic representations). [more inside]
posted by amtho on Nov 21, 2015 - 19 answers

Vocabulary Builder: App/hack for iOS

I'm a fan of the vocabulary builder feature on Kindle that stores a list, with definitions, of words looked up while reading. Is there an equivalent for iPhone for web? The vocab builder apps all seem to teach new words; I'm not averse to copying and pasting into the app, as long as it keeps history of searches. Open to any non-app suggestions too. My temporary solution of dumping words + definitions into Notes is not working so well.
posted by kreestar on Nov 19, 2015 - 0 answers

Other languages' terms for transgender?

What are some terms for transgender in other languages, especially Spanish? What words do they use to identify themselves? [more inside]
posted by the bird at the bottom of the tree on Nov 13, 2015 - 11 answers

mouthing the words that someone else is saying - what's it mean?

When I am talking to my husband, he will mouth the words I am saying. Is this some deeper psychological issue, or just an amusing quirk? [more inside]
posted by Lucinda on Oct 12, 2015 - 18 answers

Friendly-sounding words?

In the “Steve Jobs” script by Aaron Sorkin, there is a little exchange between Jobs and Sculley in which the former says that the name “Apple” came from a “list of friendly-sounding words”. Regardless of why Apple is named Apple, do such lists exist? Is there any research on what makes a word sound friendly to people (phonetically, semantically, aurally, visually, ...)?
posted by omar.a on Oct 7, 2015 - 8 answers

SPAKE MAG B.M. 507.885

What does B.M. 507.885 with a little metal cap next to it embossed SPAKE MAG mean? I saw this very carefully (and kind of beautifully) added to some concrete edging near the Southwestern Bell Telephone Building in my neighborhood and I'm wondering what it might mean. Construction symbols? Telecom stuff? A secret code or artwork of some sort?
posted by limeonaire on Aug 25, 2015 - 8 answers

Longing in another language

I know there are words in other languages for things we don't have words for in English sometimes. I am looking for a word that means something along the lines of "longing for things that one feels one is missing out on due to circumstances beyond ones control". In addition I am looking for other words that describe specific types of sadnesses or happinesses. These can be in any language.
posted by jitterbug perfume on Jul 15, 2015 - 14 answers

Three questions about Australian English

Toward a better definition of "bogan;" gender differences in everday speech; an American tourist speaking without giving offense? [more inside]
posted by BadgerDoctor on Jun 21, 2015 - 33 answers

Is there a word for someone who owns nothing?

Is there a word in the English language that means a person who owns nothing? [more inside]
posted by honey-barbara on Jun 8, 2015 - 24 answers

Film and media production words and jargon?

When it comes to film and media production, be it the technical or the creative aspects of the industry, what are some of the jargon and words that are used by the professionals in the field? I am trying to compile a list of the common as well as the unique vocabulary for these specific domains. Absolutely anything, no matter how trivial you think it is, is welcome.
posted by omar.a on Jun 5, 2015 - 6 answers

So Latin, Greek, and Old English walk into a bar...

Sometime in the last several months I found a post on a site I'd never been to before that shared a word made up by the author. [more inside]
posted by dubadubowbow on May 23, 2015 - 4 answers

Words and their lesser-known meanings

Help me find very common words with secondary, uncommon definitions. [more inside]
posted by triggerfinger on May 21, 2015 - 68 answers

What is another way to tell an adult you are proud of them?

My husband works very hard and does amazing things. When he has an accomplishment, I have a hard time thinking of something to say other than "I'm proud of you" but I think that sounds so patronizing, fake, and parental. [more inside]
posted by ForeverDcember on May 17, 2015 - 26 answers

Sastrugi: ridges of snow formed on a snowfield by the action of the wind

With the recent news that nature words are being removed from children's dictionaries, I'm looking for many more nature words and their definitions to add to my lexicon. Books, blog posts, whatever, I'll take them all. The more obscure and localised the better. (Title taken from here).
posted by Solomon on Mar 7, 2015 - 10 answers

I do not sound like this

What's it called when people write like they talk, or don't? What's it called when people hear the voice of the writer when they read the words?
posted by michaelh on Feb 11, 2015 - 17 answers

Scrabble Peeve Filter

Is there some kind of discernible justification for the allowance of the word "em" (meaning, the letter "m") in Scrabble, and not, say for example, the "word" "ee" (meaning, the letter "e")? I mean, who the heck decided "em" was a word, and if it is, why aren't all letters "words"?! [more inside]
posted by latkes on Dec 19, 2014 - 20 answers

Help me name this collective of cinematographers

Can you help me come up with a name for a group of very talented cinematographers based in New York? Naturally the first place I went to was the dictionary (word by word), jotting down everything that had to do with the craft. The technical terms are not interesting to them because they prefer a nice name that focuses on the artistic/storytelling aspect of it. Help? [more inside]
posted by cyrusw8 on Dec 17, 2014 - 18 answers

Numbers to Words

I want a plain text file listing the English words for number 1-100 (ideally, one per line any delimiter will be fine, I can fix that). One, Two, ..., One Hundred. It's got to be somewhere on this great internet. Can AskMe find it fast?
posted by Wolfdog on Dec 15, 2014 - 7 answers

What animals are plural and singular?

What are some animals that have the same name plural as singular? Examples I can think of: Elk, Deer, Caribou. Are there any others? What is this called? Why does this phenomenon exist? Is it just for North American species?
posted by oceanjesse on Dec 3, 2014 - 19 answers

Special words to describe specific relationships?

English does not have words for certain kinds of specific relationships, but other languages do. I am interested in learning examples of some of these words. [more inside]
posted by JoannaC on Nov 14, 2014 - 30 answers

Where can I find a good list of "feeling" adjectives?

In other words, I'm looking for a list of adjectives that could complete the sentence "I am feeling __." This is actually a fairly extensive group of adjectives, and I'm wondering whether this type of adjective is identified formally as a certain type of adjective (which would make it easier to find the set) or whether anyone has assembled such a list.
posted by arsgratia on Nov 12, 2014 - 7 answers

Freely Accessible Etymology Database? Or tools to help create one?

I have an idea for a project that would require the ability to search a dictionary of words and find the year of it's known introduction (as close as possible). I am aware of etymology-online (love that site), but since, as far as I'm aware, it's just a site, and the compilers don't have a publicly accessible database, I was wondering if anybody knows of any site that actually WOULD have a freely available database (either query via an API through the web, or downloadable to self-host)? [more inside]
posted by symbioid on Oct 30, 2014 - 6 answers

What are the current non-offensive terms for these activities?

My kids have asked me how to say a few things in English, but I realize the only terms I know were the racist terms used back when I was a kid. What are the current, non-offensive terms for these activities? [more inside]
posted by Bugbread on Oct 29, 2014 - 43 answers

What's Arabic for 'Kick Me?'

I have a T-shirt with text in some kind of Arabic language, and I have no idea what it says (or even what language it says it in!) There's also a small triangular logo with an antelope and the word 'Zama'. Does anyone know A) what language it is, B) what it says and C) what the context is? [more inside]
posted by Green Winnebago on Oct 25, 2014 - 3 answers

Wizard Words

There is a game called Dungeon Scroll for Android and Apple devices. You get some times and spell a bunch of words and the score of the words kill various creatures. It's pretty low-tech. I absolutely LOVE this game and have had it for years. I'm trying to find something similar that's maybe a little more sophisticated...saves my game progress as I go, leveling up means something, idk. [more inside]
posted by sio42 on Sep 18, 2014 - 9 answers

Nomenclature needed for a tool

If you were working with a digital tool that was responsible for placing or verifying digital signatures, what would you expect that tool to be called? Not a product name, but rather name of the class of tool (like a codec for encoding/decoding or a compiler for translating code in one language to another)?
posted by plinth on Aug 21, 2014 - 6 answers

Looking for quality Japanese songs that will improve my Japanese.

I'm looking for good Japanese songs or artists that will teach me new, useful words or phrases so that I can improve. I read articles in Japanese too, but words seem to 'stick' better when I am listening to a song and going over the kanji and hiragana at the same time. Details inside. [more inside]
posted by Kamelot123 on Jul 24, 2014 - 12 answers

Verbal Language

What would you say and how would you say it? [more inside]
posted by jellyjam on Jul 12, 2014 - 28 answers

It's on the tip of someone's tongue

Please help my husband and me find words or phrases (any language!) that describe the sensation of knowing how far you are from home. Not really alienation or nostalgia or being homesick-- just the understanding/realization of the distance. [more inside]
posted by jetlagaddict on May 25, 2014 - 14 answers

What very obscure English words are actually very useful?

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.
posted by dontjumplarry on May 16, 2014 - 99 answers

Metafilter: The Great Indoors

What is the origin of the phrase, "the great outdoors?"
posted by michaelh on May 8, 2014 - 14 answers

I am looking for pictures of words, where can I find them?

I thought it would be easier to find this! I am looking for pictures of words. I want to avoid pictures of words created with "fonts" and want to find things that people found in the wild - signs, graffiti, that sort of thing. [more inside]
posted by jmkeuning on May 6, 2014 - 6 answers

Please help me find a term for this strength/endurance concept.

I am looking for a clever descriptive term for the idea of training with a "hardship" that when omitted later, makes you feel super-strong. Like when baseball players put that donut thing on their bats while taking practice swings. (Donuting?) Or when you ride a really heavy bike, then switch to a lighter one. Or practice at high altitudes, and compete at low altitudes. Is there already a term that describes this? If not, I am open to any ideas.
posted by oxisos on Apr 13, 2014 - 11 answers

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

"I love you" 1) What does it mean? 2) When do you say it? 3) To whom?

I'm curious. What's the normal meaning? What's your meaning? Do you have expectations associated with saying it/what expectations? My details inside. [more inside]
posted by chrysanthemum on Mar 14, 2014 - 24 answers

What is "turtle-billing"?

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]
posted by BlackLeotardFront on Feb 16, 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

Looking for a word that conveys a particular nuanced concept.

Here is the concept I am trying to put a single word to: a sense of ultimate "completion" achieved through the joining of many disparate parts. The word I'm searching for must capture the sense of these disparate parts integrating to fulfill a higher destiny, of being not only greater together but, through this harmonious integration, achieving ultimate purpose or the greatest possible manifestation of each parts' potential. I.e., "Coming together to form the greatest possible, or most complete, reality." [more inside]
posted by Angel de Lune on Feb 1, 2014 - 28 answers

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