354 posts tagged with words.
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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

Synonyms for "silo"?

I'm having trouble with pithy ways to describe (in popular style) the concept of "silo-ing". In other words: a certain kind of data is siloed into disparate program and department offices, and because of the lack of collaboration the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. Suggestions?
posted by powerbumpkin on Jan 29, 2014 - 18 answers

Who first "made it sing"?

What is the origin of "making it sing," as in to cause something to be at its best, be it an instrument, weapon, machine, or anything else? [more inside]
posted by BlackLeotardFront on Jan 27, 2014 - 14 answers

Making Convoluted Text Simple Visually

Sometimes, some documents I read are so convoluted that I don't understand what they are telling me. I've found this to be true in for legal documents including terms of agreements and constitutions among others. Is there any kind of program that looks at the syntax of sections of text and converts them into block diagrams showing the relationships between subjects and objects with the verb, adverbs, adjectives, etc. showing how they are connected? For instance, if it was highlighting the sentence, "See Spot run", there would be two boxes, one labeled Spot and one labeled You with an arrow connecting the latter to the former. I'm thinking of something similar to sentence diagramming but graphically represented and not nearly as complicated. It seems to me that if something could lay out all of the relationships within a document, that would make it much easier for someone to understand what it means. Or is that magical thinking on my part?
posted by CollectiveMind on Jan 26, 2014 - 8 answers

MIxed up word pairs.

Does anyone else experience or have an explanation or name for this issue? There are certain words that I always seem to really need concentrate to recall. Example: "symmetrical" -- I will almost always need to scan through my vocabulary very carefully to come up with this word when I want it. Also, I will often produce "ambidextrous" as a potential response. Clearly there is a relationship between symmetry and ambidextrous, I see that it's not an outlandish mistake, but I still often have to work my way through the process, even though I KNOW this is a word pair I often have confused in the past. Similarly, "manipulative" and "exploitive". I almost have a sense of anxiety as I search the brain for one of these words because I know I will often come up with the wrong one. Again here, manipulation and exploitation have a similar quality in that they are both ways of treating others as objects, but they are clearly not synonymous. Maybe there are 3 or 4 other pairs that frustrate me as well. Anyone?
posted by mmf on Jan 26, 2014 - 12 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

Is there a word for someone who is more than a layman but not an expert?

What words or short phrases describe someone who is a fair bit more knowledgeable about some field than the general public, but is well short of being an expert or full professional? Ideally I'm looking for words that fit the idea that such people are often better communicators, teachers and helpers to laypeople in common situations than many true experts would be.
posted by philipy on Jan 13, 2014 - 41 answers

Short. Sweet. Macabre.

An artist friend makes charming decorative lettered signs with uplifting, inspiring words on them. 'Growth.' 'Love.' 'Inspire.' 'Dream.' I asked her if she had 'Vengeance' - regrettably, it was not in stock. [more inside]
posted by Lou Stuells on Nov 30, 2013 - 58 answers

It Wasn't a Tuffet

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]
posted by paperback version on Nov 25, 2013 - 8 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

What do I do with all of these words?

As I read, I take note of words that I like/don't know/otherwise want to remember on my iPhone. I would like to do something more interesting with these words than keep them in a text file. Any recommendations? [more inside]
posted by danb on Sep 3, 2013 - 6 answers

I tried to look this up myself, but I couldn't find the answer, so...

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!"
posted by michaelh on Aug 29, 2013 - 15 answers

It's a big, good, really big, good vocabulary.

I can't remember a word. It denotes the emotion of recognizing that another person shares the same form of subjective experience as you. When I read it, it implied, to me, a poetic opposite of solipsism. I believe it was single, simple word, English-sounding, and not merely a string of Latin or Greek roots. Seems like I read the definition on Mefi. Can you help me recall this word?
posted by rlk on Aug 17, 2013 - 13 answers

A Gentle Man, Not a Girly Man

I'm a bisexual man looking to date bisexual and gay men. In the "what I'm looking for" section of my dating profile, I'm trying to describe the sort of man I'm attracted to, and I need some help. [more inside]
posted by user c on Aug 15, 2013 - 23 answers

Do you know the perfect quote for my sister's graduation?

My younger sister is graduating from University (UK), with a degree in Press Photography. I'm looking for a quote to frame and give to my sister as a graduation gift. I have found many examples of typical 'graduation' quotes, but I'm looking for something a bit more specific, which will ideally fit a number of the criteria below. [more inside]
posted by schmoo on Aug 9, 2013 - 9 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

Freelance editing—how to break in?

Freelance editing—does it exist? How can I break in? What are my prospects? [more inside]
posted by toomuchkatherine on Jun 2, 2013 - 9 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

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