My meta-question is about this question

Please pardon me for any mistake and kindly correct me.

I believe Unclear is synonymous with Vague.

I do not understand how is my question vague.

Am I not clearly asking whether it is correct or not to interchange vague and arbitrary?

  • You didn't specify what exactly you want to compare. Edit your question to give the text.
    – Mitch
    Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 18:48
  • 6
    What’s unclear is where your confusion stems from. You cite several dictionaries but ask about others; why not check those others? If the dictionaries don’t say they’re equivalent, why would you ask? If they do, again, why would you ask? We need to see the source of your confusion.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 19:13
  • @DanBron The question-closure reads as unclear what you're asking. Why I am asking and where the confusion arose from are irrelevant. If the community can understand what I am asking the close reason does not apply strictly. People dislike the question and close it. They use the least absurd reason. Simply because it needs to be closed. That is absurd. Commented Sep 8, 2019 at 19:17
  • 3
    In terms of the question, what do you mean by correct? And in what context? Are you agreeing with the dictionary or disagreeing? Why so in either case? As the question stands, it's essentially no different than asking Should I eat an apple or an orange today? Exactly as the question is stated, I would reply, "What do you mean?" Which is the very definition of "unclear what you're asking." Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 9:14
  • @JasonBassford Correct would be in accordance to Cambridge or Oxford dictionaries. I am neither agreeing nor disagreeing I am asking if it is in accordance to Cambridge or Oxford dictionaries. Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 22:21
  • @JasonBassford No one asked what did I mean by correct. Is there any context where to interchange those two is allowed while with a different context it is not? Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 22:27
  • @GeorgeNtoulos Lexico, which you quoted, gets its definitions from Oxford. And Cambridge should be available online too. But aside from listing synonyms, and some dictionaries giving general grammar advice, no dictionary will indicate if one word can always be substituted for another. Some might indicate something vaguely like that with specific sentences, but you didn't narrow the focus of the question to anything specific. (But it's quite possible that, even if you did, neither Oxford or Cambridge would address that.) Commented Sep 10, 2019 at 22:31

1 Answer 1


The question is unclear because you have done some research and come up with an answer, and have not advanced any cogent reason why what you found is unacceptable. Thus you have answered your own question, and it's not clear what more is needed.

If what you found is unacceptable because you have identified your own research as not meeting your high standards (say, because Lexico is not the OED) then either do research which does meet your standards, or find and present other reliable evidence which might contradict what you found.

I mention "reliable evidence" to exclude teenage or potentially badly-translated blogs or other sources of dubious quality. Your reliable evidence might show that there is a regional/dialectal difference from Standard English; but at the moment your own research has shown that in Standard English the two words are not synonymous.

Unclear questions tend to collect a lot of comments as people discuss how they should be answered. Yours currently has forty, which is one of the largest number I've seen on the main site.

  • Regardless. It might indeed need to be closed but that does not make it necessarily vague. Meaningless, fruitless, vain are not synonyms for vague. For it to be vague you need not be able to undestand the question not the motives behind asking such a question(e.g were my confusion stems from). Maybe there would be some rule that enables one to interchange arbitrary and vague. Otherwise simply getting people to agree that it is wrong usage to interchange. Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 22:34

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