Browsing All posts tagged under »vocabulary«

Same words but opposites

August 1, 2017

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Some expressions are the same but in different ways.

Due to vs. owing to

July 18, 2017

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A quick guide to these two phrases because of many people using them back to front.

Is ‘news’ an acronym?

June 20, 2017

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This shouldn't be news to anyone that the word 'news' could ever be an acronym.

The longest known English word

June 13, 2017

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The longest known English word will surprise you because it's uncharacteristically shorter than many thought.

Lacka-lacka-lack: Lack of vs. lack in

November 22, 2016

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We lay down the score on the difference between 'lack of' and 'lack in.'

A fireside musing on ‘adequate’

August 20, 2013


We don't like to ride on the coattails of our betters, but every now and then something seriously good comes along that we just had to spread it around.

Street of Shame: First candidates

July 12, 2013

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STREET OF SHAME CANDIDATES REGULAR readers will have noticed that we have a static page called Street of Shame. We think we now have debut candidates for entry. Once upon a time (yesterday) it all started with one innocent Facebook status update:— “How fast can you uncork a bottle with a handscrew?” No sooner had […]

Nothing but a quimming linguanophile

July 3, 2013

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The newest entry in our Glossary is 'linguist,' we'll have you believe...

Cured ham curated here

June 23, 2013

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We aren't alone in noticing the job-title inflation about the word 'curator' today.

Mr Moneybags, here are the men you’re looking for

April 10, 2013

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SEVERAL days ago my neighbour was looking for a heads-up on a couple of English phrases that have stumped him. Desperation was written all over his face. Here’s money in his pocket. My teenage neighbour is on the last nine yards of his decade-long school life now. I can relate to his feelings of desperation […]

Ramping up the scholarly flak

December 2, 2012


’ERE WE GO AGAIN! Yet another post about that long-running saga (sago?) on the word scholarism that’s also the name of a Hong Kong student protest group. Learn English or Starve has gotten lots of off-site flak (German: fliegerabwehrkanone, lit. ‘aeroplane defence cannon’: anti-aircraft fire — as if you didn’t know already) for our two […]

‘Scholarism’? Is it edible?

September 1, 2012


“I know you’re smart. But I hope you didn’t make the classic smart person’s mistake of thinking you’re smarter than everybody.” — Carl Van Loon to Eddie Morra in the movie Limitless (2011) IF there’s one thing worse than seeing our best and brightest go off at a tangent and waste their precious youth on […]

‘Rising damp’

May 8, 2012

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(Updated 09 May 2012 to fix typos) HERE’S A BLAST FROM THE PAST for those of you old enough to remember it:— rising damp Rising what? This had been a well-known phrase in the United Kingdom in the mid-1970s. It wasn’t exactly a popular phrase, but its meaning was understood well enough in those days […]

How different? Just do it! (4/4)

April 30, 2012

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FROM PART 3 PREVIOUSLY in the first three parts, we’ve seen that dictionaries and usage experts support different from as standard usage. Statistics also showed that different from is used by the majority of American and British English speakers. Today, let’s get down to brass tacks with protips. * * * WHAT YOU SHOULD DO […]

How different? Stats (3/4)

April 29, 2012

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← PART 2 | PART 4 → FROM PART 2 WE’VE HAD A LOOK at what the dictionaries and the grammar gurus tell us about different from vs. than vs. to. Let’s now look at something different. * * * SOMETIMES, STATS DON’T LIE Remember that little chart from Mark Israel (in Part 2) that I said hides a multiplicity […]

How different? The gurus speaketh (2/4)

April 28, 2012


← PART 1 | PART 3 → FROM PART 1 PREVIOUSLY, we looked at the positions of various standard dictionaries on use of different from vs. different than vs. different to. We now turn to the prognostications of usage experts. * * * WHAT THE USAGE EXPERTS SAY Paul Brians Common Errors in English Usage (2nd edition, 2008/9) (Published by William, James & […]

How different? Or how deaf are you? (1/4)

April 26, 2012


QUESTION: Do we say different from or to or than? Until my upstairs neighbour Johnny put this question to me yesterday, I didn’t realise many native English speakers in fact have trouble with this themselves. (Notwithstanding his name, Johnny is Chinese and is still in school, so we could now appreciate the problem of from/to/thanmust […]

According to your crap or my gold?

April 24, 2012

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Updated 15 Oct 2012 Stylebook of Invoiceable English according to WHENEVER you use the expression according to (especially in paid work), it needs to be followed by some kind of counter. Otherwise according to on its own will make you sound sarcastic and possibly also defamatory. Leaving according to dangling without a counter is plain (and plaintively) bad English […]

Bloody ’ell, wotcha bleedin’ attitude

March 19, 2012


AS SOME OF YOU have gathered already, my other blog (The Naked Listener’s Weblog) is on furlough until further notice. (If perchance you are unfamiliar with the word furlough, you should head straight to this article instead. Then go furlough yourself afterwards.) My upstairs neighbour Johnny remarked that the arseholes people who have upset me […]

When you’re furloughed, are you on holiday?

March 18, 2012


FURLOUGH IS ONE OF THOSE old-fashioned-sounding English words that we usually meet in a situation or establishment where there is some kind of compulsory discipline. It is pronounced [fur-loh] [IPA: /ˈfɜrloʊ/] with the stress on the first syllable. The word is originally a military word meaning to be given a leave of absence. However, furlough has made tremendous […]