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Dictionaries Useful for finding definitions, etymologies, pronunciations, and examples of usage. General-purpose dictionaries The online dictionaries listed here are broadly suitable for native speakers, providing major definitions and examples, pronunciations (including audio), basic etymology, and some usage notes. Some are among the most commonly cited ...


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I think the key thing here is that we must require the asker to do some research. Comparing, for example, What would you call someone who makes no lasting impression? Question is a single sentence. 7 Answers, all but 2 are a single sentence. The remaining two are.. TWO sentences. and Looking for a better term than 'benign envy' or &...


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I mostly agree with Martha. I like the intent behind these questions but I am not happy with most of them. My personal favorite is: Is there a word to describe a highly desirable cursed treasure? I feel that questions like that are perfect for this site. There isn't any way to look something like that up in a thesaurus and the concept described is extremely ...


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Corpora Large collections of original source text. The online tools that are available for searching corpora, however, may be overkill for the average user, and may be confusing to use. English-Corpora.org - Formerly corpus.byu.edu, this is perhaps the most popular corpus search engine, created by Mark Davies at Brigham Young University. Key collections ...


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You seem awfully certain that people are asking for these words because they want to use them to hurt others. There are many different reasons why someone might want to learn a particular pejorative word, some negative and some quite positive. You yourself used a lot of negative words when writing this question—disgust, bile, nasty, violence, etc.—and nobody ...


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Thesauri Useful for finding synonyms of specific words. Merriam-Webster Thesaurus.com Oxford American Writer's Thesaurus (included with Mac OS X) Power Thesaurus WordNet


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Both my top question and my top answer are in single-word-requests, so I'm probably biased, but I strongly believe these are valid questions that should not be outlawed. Like all questions, however, context is king: the question needs to be as explicit as possible about the context where the word is desired, as well as why the words the questioner knows (if ...


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Style The guidelines governing the presentation of written English are collectively referred to as style, and laid out in various rulebooks and manuals. The purpose of these guidelines is to provide a uniform presentation, to improve readability and as a mark of professionalism. Some industries, such as screenwriting, use specific formats, but any ...


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General Language and English Language Reference The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, 2nd ed. 2003. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, 3rd ed. 2010. Both are written and edited by David Crystal. They should be in every Anglophone classroom in the world, and should be consulted first about questions bearing on English. All works by ...


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While I understand people may feel icky or annoyed that our language has mean things in it, I don't feel that it is our job to tell people where the line between "not that mean" and "too mean" is. We can offer our opinion while answering, certainly, but I don't see a convincing argument that it is any of our business to start making rules based on grey moral ...


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Here's what Wikipedia has to say about the status of the Scots language with respect to English: Because there are no universally accepted criteria for distinguishing languages from dialects, scholars and other interested parties often disagree about the linguistic, historical and social status of Scots and particularly its relationship to English. ...


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I totally agree with Jeff that The quality of the questions and answers is paramount. Joke questions pose a real danger, because (a) everyone likes them, and (b) they can easily end up trivialising the site. However, I can't help but think the policy in the FAQ at time of writing is overly restrictive: Native speaker or otherwise, someone who doesn't ...


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Grammar McCawley's The Syntactic Phenomena of English. It turns out that the first three chapters of this classic 1998 grammar are available free on Google Books. The rest of the book is not. This seems to be very good marketing for University of Chicago Press, or whoever made this decision, because it gives a good and useful sample of what's in the book. ...


20

I'm one of the folks leaving a lot of those comments. I don't mean for them to be off-putting. Fact is, there are millions of people on the planet who are trying to improve their English. Many of them stumble onto ELU, see it as a godsend, and end up asking a “good” question on the “wrong” Stack Exchange. Here's my guess: if those new users were aware of ...


20

I've come back to this meta question on account of the 2014 Mod election. I have this to add: since the beginning of ELU, many answer-providing users have objected to being treated like dictionary operators. There are so many questions that could be easily answered by a simple dictionary lookup. There are so many questions that arise from a dictionary lookup....


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To me, it's the unanswerability of many of these questions that's the problem. They're not just subjective — they're mindreading, resembling... Taboo — Guess away! I've got something really specific in mind, but can't tell you any of its synonyms. That would be cheating. Catch Phrase — It should start with an E and have three syllables and rhyme with "...


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Translation Dictionaries and Lexica Linguee - a search engine rather than an automatic translator, Linguee allows the user to find words and phrases in context in human-translated works, in addition to an editorial dictionary. bab.la - a language project by Andreas Schroeter and Patrick Uecker and sponsored by Langenscheidt providing 39 bilingual ...


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This site has had its fair share of "what does this word/phrase mean in this context?" questions. Not all questions on this site can be answered with a reference to grammar, etymology or a published work. A question that cites and asks for clarification of current use of English in a publication is not off topic, AFAIC. Use of English includes idioms, set ...


15

When I see some of the questions tagged single-word-requests I always ask myself: Why is the OP limiting the answers to the one reporting a single word? Is there a practical reason for making single word requests, or the OP is just asking the question for amusement? As the OP generally doesn't know if there is a single word that matches the criteria ...


14

Historical Resources These are books of possible interest to people who are investigating word and phrase origins and want to know what meanings those words or phrase were said to have at various times in the past. Several of them do not show up in a direct Google Books search for them by title; I've run into the hidden ones by chance, while searching for a ...


14

As I've said before, general reference means that there is a type of reference source that is specifically designed to answer that type of question. The list is actually pretty limited: dictionary, thesaurus, and encyclopedia. Note, for example, that there isn't a standard place to look up "is this grammatical" types of questions, so even the simplest ...


14

One of my favorite jobs as a judicial law clerk was writing jury instructions. The legal jargon of the statutes and the case law was created by legislators (often lawyers) and judges (formerly lawyers). The purpose of the statutes and cases was to implement a public policy, something that is supposed to reflect the will of the governed, the average person. ...


13

I cannot see any way in which it could possibly fall within the site's current purview to act as a transcription service for random video clips, so I voted to close and put in a custom "we are not a transcription service" reason. The question is supposedly about pronunciation, but it's not about what variations of pronunciation are available or how have the ...


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We could do it, but the question shows no research — the difference between reserved and ashamed should be elicited from a dictionary and only then asked about if it's not clear. Previous Meta questions and answers (even as far back as 2011) have indicated that we're not here to do elementary research. For example, if the question were worded "What ...


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No. While ELU can help you find the first usage of a word and how it has changed over time, finding the first utterance of a quote is likely to be closed as General Reference or Off Topic. The difference is that word etymology can be analyzed and explained (though note it's not always on-topic either!) while a quote will generate a short answer like "so-and-...


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The argument in favour of closing as GR is that ELU is not a place to little by little collect the entire OED, one answer at a time. Thus, posting dictionary definitions (the archetypal GR case) doesn't "improve the internet". What it does do is give someone who doesn't have a clue about how to look in a dictionary a free ride. The argument against closing ...


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I don't think anyone who has read any of my comments here or on ELU would call me a "happy-close snob". I do however close questions which are duplicates, but not blindly. I look at the original question and the answers provided; if they are well formulated, authoritative and clear I consider the new question to have been answered satisfactorily. I hope that ...


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Why the question was judged unsuitable for this site This question did not meet the criteria for single word requests, and the original poster never edited it or returned to it in the approximately five days since it was closed (closed Aug 18 at 13:59, deleted Aug 24 at 1:58). The question, stripped of fluff, basically consists of this: Is there a word ...


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If something is irrelevant to an answer, it should be edited out. If something is only relevant as an example, but the example is too inflammatory or distracting, it should be changed. The fact that Donald Trump is Hitler Jr doesn't make that pertinent to answers.


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Like you, I stumbled on this site by accident. My own first interactions were less than felicitous: I was chastized (rightly, as I see it now) for a sloppy answer, and never officially "on-boarded". I actually have left off using the site twice for extended periods for personal pique over other matters. In spite of difficult beginnings, I persevered, and I ...


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