Dictionary.com Word FAQs


Dictionary.com presents 366 FAQs, incorporating some of the frequently asked questions from the past with newer queries.

Differences
Etymology/Origins
Grammar/Usage/Style
Spelling
Trivia
What is the Word For...? Where Can I Find...?
I have a question that isn't answered here

Differences

  1. What is the difference between a road and a street?
  2. What is the difference between the meteorological terms snow flurries and snow showers?
  3. What is the difference between complacent and complaisant?
  4. What is the difference between aluminum and aluminium?
  5. Is there a difference between plaid and tartan?
  6. What is the difference between roast and bake?
  7. What is the difference between sherbet and sherbert - and also sorbet?
  8. What is the difference between a case in point and in point of fact?
  9. What is the difference between stationary and stationery?
  10. What is the difference between a corporation and a partnership?
  11. What is the difference between attorney, barrister, lawyer, and solicitor? How about advocate, counsel, counselor, or counselor-at-law?
  12. What is the difference between property and attribute?
  13. What is the difference between an optician, optometrist, and ophthalmologist?
  14. What is the difference between insure and ensure, and also, assure?
  15. What is the difference between adverse and averse?
  16. What is the difference between awhile and a while?
  17. What is the difference between blatant and flagrant?
  18. What is the difference between a ship and a boat?
  19. What is the difference between definite and definitive?
  20. What is the difference between allusion, delusion, and illusion?
  21. What is the difference between discreet and discrete?
  22. What is the difference between dissemble and disassemble?
  23. What is the difference between empathy and sympathy?
  24. What is the difference between an outbreak, epidemic, and a pandemic?
  25. What is the difference between archaic and obsolete words?
  26. What is the difference between an attributive noun and an adjective?
  27. What is the difference between a bug and an insect?
  28. What is the difference between cement and concrete?
  29. What is the difference between a dictionary, a lexicon, and a glossary?
  30. What is the difference between an equinox and a solstice?
  31. What are the differences among fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose?
  32. What is the difference between an epicure, a gourmet, and a gourmand?
  33. What is the difference between a homograph, homonym, and homophone?
  34. What is the difference between informal / nonformal, nonstandard, and slang words?
  35. What is the difference between judo, jujitsu, karate, kung fu, and tae kwon do?
  36. What is the difference between literally and figuratively?
  37. What is the difference between the words intense and intensive?
  38. What is the difference between a monologue and a soliloquy?
  39. What is the difference between nuclear and atomic?
  40. What is the difference between the clam chowders - Manhattan, New England, and Rhode Island?
  41. What is the difference between partly and partially?
  42. What is the difference between regret and remorse?
  43. What is the difference between stratagem, strategy, and tactic?
  44. What is the difference between tortuous and torturous?
  45. What is the difference between rack, wrack, wreak, and wreck?
  46. What is the difference between a groundhog and a woodchuck?
  47. What is the difference between a college and a university?
  48. What is the difference between a vegetable and a fruit?
  49. What is the difference between toward and towards?
  50. What is the difference between fiancé and fiancée?
  51. What is the difference between warranty and guarantee?
  52. What is the difference between flaunt and flout?
  53. What is the difference between the Dow Jones and the NASDAQ?
  54. What is the difference between e-business and e-commerce?
  55. What is the difference between a quality and a characteristic?
  56. What is the difference between advice and advise?
  57. What is the difference between a fable and a fairy tale?
  58. What is the difference between data and information?
  59. What is the difference between chili and chile?
  60. What is the difference between axe and ax?
  61. What is the difference between a philharmonic and a symphony?
  62. What is the difference between its and it's?
  63. What is the difference between there and their? Your and you're?
  64. What is the difference between main and helping verbs?
  65. What is the difference between well and good?
  66. What is the difference between then and than?
  67. What is the difference between i.e. and e.g.?
  68. What is the difference between dinner and supper?
  69. What is the difference between passive and active sentences?
  70. What is the difference between affect and effect?
  71. What is the difference between might and may?
  72. What is the difference between average, mean, median, and mode?

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Etymology/Origins

  1. Why are alcoholic drinks called cocktails?
  2. What is the origin of pizza?
  3. What is the etymology of the word ampersand?
  4. Where did the term deviled eggs come from?
  5. What is the origin of the word Christmas?
  6. Where did manila in Manila folder come from?
  7. What is the etymology of volcano?
  8. What is the word history of mosaic?
  9. Where does the word family come from?
  10. What is the etymology of scissors?
  11. Where did the word flagstone come from?
  12. What is the etymology of square meal?
  13. What is the origin of bleachers as in baseball?
  14. What is the origin of the term March Madness?
  15. Where did the words catsup and ketchup come from? Which is preferred?
  16. What is the origin of April Fool's Day?
  17. What is the origin of dumbbell as exercise equipment?
  18. Why is it called a flea market?
  19. Where does the word glossary come from?
  20. What is Lent?
  21. What is the origin of the phrase grain of salt?
  22. What is the word history of hat trick?
  23. What is the etymology of hello?
  24. Where does the phrase cut the mustard come from?
  25. What is the etymology of pajamas?
  26. Why is it called a practical joke? What is practical about it?
  27. Where did the phrase rule of thumb come from?
  28. What is the origin of Salisbury steak? How about hamburger?
  29. What is a back-formation?
  30. What is a folk etymology?
  31. What are good sources for finding out the history of place names?
  32. What is the etymology of nickname?
  33. What is the origin of grinder, as in sandwich?
  34. What is the etymology of asparagus?
  35. What is the origin of barbecue?
  36. Where did the word car come from?
  37. What is the etymology of dandelion?
  38. What is the origin of the term egg on?
  39. Where did gin get its name?
  40. What is the etymology of hangnail?
  41. What is the origin of the word jeep?
  42. Where did the word leotard come from?
  43. What is the origin of mustard?
  44. What is the etymology of OK?
  45. What is the word history of pencil?
  46. What is the etymology of reindeer?
  47. What is the origin of turkey?
  48. What is the meaning and etymology of derby, as in horse racing?
  49. Where can I learn everything about etymology? How does one become an etymologist?
  50. Where did the word computer come from?
  51. What is the origin of the 'f' word? Warning: contains language which may be considered offensive.
  52. Where does the phrase the whole nine yards originate?
  53. Where does the word stat used in hospitals come from?

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Grammar/Usage/Style

  1. Is the letter Y a vowel or a consonant?
  2. How do I know when to use different from, different than, different to?
  3. Which is correct - alright or all right?
  4. How do I know whether to use less or fewer?
  5. When should I use continuously as opposed to continually?
  6. What pronoun should be used when the noun referred to could be either male or female, i.e., he or she and their variant forms?
  7. How do I know when to use tight as opposed to tightly?
  8. Which is correct: snuck or sneaked?
  9. Which is correct: I could care less or I couldn't care less?
  10. Is orientate interchangeable with orient?
  11. Should I use a singular or plural verb with none?
  12. What are combining forms as opposed to prefixes and suffixes (general term affix)?
  13. What is a syllable and what determines syllables?
  14. Is 12 o'clock at night 12 a.m. or 12 p.m.?
  15. What is the predicate? Is it everything after the subject?
  16. Can you explain the parts of speech - nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections? What about articles, quantifiers, and numerals?
  17. What is a euphemism?
  18. What are the differences among types of sentences, i.e., simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex?
  19. When is a colon used as opposed to a semicolon?
  20. Are there different grammar rules for spoken and written English?
  21. How can I find out which prepositions or particles can follow a verb?
  22. How can I figure out if something should be one word or two, like anytime or any time?
  23. What are irregular verbs?
  24. What are the correct uses of could, should, and would?
  25. What is a pronoun?
  26. When do I use among instead of between?
  27. Can I use the word peoples instead of persons?
  28. Should I use a singular or a plural verb with a collective noun?
  29. Is it ever OK to use a split infinitive?
  30. Can I ever end a sentence with a preposition?
  31. Can I begin a sentence with a conjunction?
  32. Should I avoid clichés?
  33. How important is it to position a modifier (adjective, adverb, clause, etc.) right by what it modifies?
  34. How can I figure out when to use some time, sometime, or sometimes?
  35. How can I tell if a word is an adjective or an adverb in a sentence?
  36. Is there a way to know if something is a generic name or a brand name?
  37. Can you offer some guidance on using comparatives and superlatives?
  38. What are the common abbreviations used in footnotes?
  39. What is litotes?
  40. What is a malapropism?
  41. What is an indirect object? What is a direct object?
  42. Is it OK to say off of?
  43. Should I say try and or try to? How about would have or would of?
  44. Is compare with or compare to correct?
  45. What are ergative verbs?
  46. How should I cite an article? A book? Online resources?
  47. When should I use whom instead of who?
  48. When do you use lie and lay?
  49. Can I use and (or but, etc.) at the start of a sentence?
  50. What is the rule for determining whether to use a or an?
  51. Should I put a comma before and in a series of items?
  52. What is an antecedent?
  53. When do you use may and when do you use can?
  54. What is the difference in usage for like versus as?
  55. What is a linking verb?
  56. Does bimonthly mean twice a month or every two months?
  57. What is the rule for determining whether or not to write out a number as a word?
  58. Does a comma go after i.e. or e.g.?
  59. When do you use that and which?
  60. Which is right: I wish it were... or I wish it was...?
  61. Please offer a general discussion of how to use punctuation marks.
  62. What two words make the contraction ain't? Is it proper?
  63. What is the plural of virus?
  64. What is redundancy in writing?
  65. What is an independent clause?
  66. What is ambiguity in writing?
  67. What is an annotated bibliography?
  68. What should be the spacing between sentences?
  69. Do adverbs always end in -ly?
  70. How can I find the best word for my purpose in a dictionary?
  71. When do you capitalize words like "mother," "father," "grandmother," and "grandfather" when writing about them?
  72. What is MLA style?
  73. What is syntax?
  74. What are the different types of nouns?
  75. Are book titles underlined, italicized, or put in quotations?
  76. What is a conjunctive adverb?
  77. What are the rules for capitalization?
  78. What are phrasal verbs?
  79. Should I use italics in foreign phrases in an English document?
  80. When should numbers be hyphenated?
  81. What is a simile and what are some examples of it?
  82. What is an intransitive verb?
  83. What is a run-on sentence?
  84. What is a thesis statement?

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Spelling

  1. What is the correct way to spell e words like email, ecommerce, etc.?
  2. Which is correct - Veterans or Veterans' Day, Presidents or Presidents' Day, Valentine's Day or Valentines' Day?
  3. How can I find the spelling of a word if I do not know it?
  4. Should I capitalize the names of seasons, such as Spring and Summer?
  5. When do I capitalize the word earth?
  6. How does a computer spelling checker work?
  7. Can you tell me a few basic spelling rules?
  8. What is phonetic spelling?
  9. Why was Noah Webster's Blue-Backed Speller so popular? What were Noah Webster's ideas about spelling?
  10. How are the words selected for the National Spelling Bee?
  11. How can crossword puzzles help me with spelling?
  12. How many English spelling anomalies occur in native Anglo-Saxon words?
  13. What are the rules of the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee?
  14. How will understanding a little about the sources of English help me become a better speller?
  15. Why don't we just spell words the way they sound?
  16. What makes spelling correct?
  17. What are some rules for forming plurals?
  18. I always confuse the endings -able and -ible. Are there any useful tips to remember?
  19. How can I enter the National Spelling Bee?
  20. How do I know whether to double a final letter when adding a suffix?
  21. I need help with there/their/they're. How can I make sure I use the right form?
  22. Does the ability to spell indicate one's intelligence, education, or desire?
  23. What was the Great Vowel Shift?
  24. Can you help me with proper apostrophe use?
  25. What is the best way to check your spelling when writing on a computer?
  26. What ways can I use dictionaries to improve my spelling?
  27. How can I become a better proofreader?
  28. How are children taught to spell?
  29. If more than one spelling is given in a dictionary or more than one form of the plural, how do I choose? Should I stick with one source when I am working on a document?
  30. How do I write the plural of an italicized word? How about words in quotation marks?
  31. How do I figure out the plural form if it is not listed in the dictionary? How do I write the plural form of a compound noun if it is not listed in the dictionary?
  32. Can you offer a hyphenation guide for compounds, combining forms, and prefixes?
  33. How should I go about finding out the exact spelling of a company name or brand name?
  34. Where can I learn about Old English spelling?
  35. When did Modern English spelling become fixed?
  36. What is spelling pronunciation? What is respelling pronunciation?
  37. Why are reading and spelling so different? Some people have no trouble reading but have great difficulty with spelling.
  38. How irregular is English spelling?
  39. Why is weiner a variant of wiener? Why is it weird but not weird? Isn't it i before e except after c?
  40. What words are most often misspelled in English?
  41. What tricks can I use to remember spellings? How are mnemonics used?
  42. Should I write "am" or "a.m." or "AM" or "A.M." (same for "pm")?
  43. What English words have no vowels?
  44. What are heteronyms?
  45. Should I write per cent or percent?
  46. How can I learn to spell correctly? What are some good spelling tips to remember?
  47. What, in general, are the differences between British and American spelling, and why do they exist?
  48. What is the rule about i before e?
  49. Is it a lot or alot?
  50. Which is it: judgement or judgment?

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Trivia

  1. Why do oak trees make acorns? Why aren't they called acorn trees?
  2. What is a word?
  3. Is there such a thing as a true synonym?
  4. What are some tricks for mastering Scrabble?
  5. What is the term "bed and breakfast" in the context of darts and bingo?
  6. Why is it an ear of corn?
  7. There are lots of books with really cool old words that are no longer in standard print dictionaries. Is it all right to use them in writing and speech?
  8. What are the different types of abbreviation?
  9. Can you give me a list of ways to improve my vocabulary?
  10. What are the common prefixes and combining forms of English and what do they mean?
  11. What are the common suffixes of English and what do they mean?
  12. What are the genus and differentiae in a dictionary definition?
  13. How can I decipher the pronunciations in a dictionary? How can I figure out which syllable to stress?
  14. What are the 100 most commonly used words in English?
  15. What are cognates? Where can I find the cognates of English words?
  16. What percentage of English words comes from Latin? What is the percentage of English words derived from other languages?
  17. What do you call a saying such as egg on your face? I get mixed up between idioms, colloquialisms, slang, jargon, euphemisms, clichés, metaphors, catch phrases, aphorisms, and similes.
  18. Where do new words come from?
  19. What are diacritics?
  20. What is a double negative?
  21. Is it ok to use the word Eskimo?
  22. Does anything rhyme with "orange?"
  23. What are retronyms and how are they important to the development of English?
  24. How does a reverse dictionary work?
  25. What are the 15 reasons people use slang according to British lexicographer Eric Partridge?
  26. Why are some phrases defined in a dictionary, while others are not?
  27. What are denotation and connotation?
  28. What should I keep in mind when buying a dictionary?
  29. Why the name John Doe? Why was that name chosen over other more common names?
  30. What is it called when you cannot recall a word?
  31. What sequence of letters has the most different pronunciations?
  32. What are some classic oxymorons?
  33. What are contranyms? Can you give me some examples?
  34. What are the most mispronounced words?
  35. What are the functional aspects of the tenses?
  36. Is there any system for the formation of derivatives of place-names, i.e., adjectives meaning 'pertaining to' and nouns meaning 'person from'?
  37. Is there such a thing as Standard English anymore?
  38. Is it worth it to use a word processor's grammar or style checker?
  39. What is a gerund and what is a verbal noun?
  40. How did Rhode Island get its name?
  41. How should I cite a word or a word and its definition?
  42. What do the endings -burg, -burgh, -borough, -boro, -brough, and -bury mean?
  43. What is colloquial vocabulary?
  44. What is a dialect?
  45. Besides angry and hungry, is there another common English word that ends in -gry?
  46. What is the longest word in the dictionary?
  47. What word has the most definitions?
  48. How many words are in the English language?
  49. Are there any English words that have no vowels?
  50. Are there any words that use w as a vowel?
  51. What one English word ends in -mt?
  52. What word has three consecutive sets of double letters?
  53. When was the first dictionary made?
  54. How does a word get into the dictionary? How can I get my word into the dictionary?
  55. Is there any word that uses all the vowels (a, e, i, o, and u) in it?
  56. Where can I find a list of all words in the English language?
  57. How can I figure out what a Roman numeral stands for?

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What is the Word For...? Where Can I Find...?

  1. What is it called when two words have the same spelling but different meanings?
  2. What is the name for the dot over an i or j?
  3. Where can I find the meaning of a word that is not in any online or printed dictionary?
  4. What are white foods?
  5. How do I make the possessive form of a noun?
  6. Where can I find a word if I know the meaning, like finding the specific name for a scientist who studies moss?
  7. How can I find the collective noun for something, like a group of penguins?
  8. What are the citrus fruits?
  9. How do I find out what a poem of a certain number of lines is called, like a poem of four lines?
  10. How can I find an adjective pertaining to a noun, like "ecclesiastical" for "church?"
  11. Where can I get a list of the different types of murder, i.e., -cide words?
  12. If I have a very specialized or technical term and need its definition, what are my options for finding that definition?
  13. Where can I get a list of the different parts of an object?
  14. Why isn't there a word for everything? (Or is there?)
  15. Can I use my dictionary to find synonyms?
  16. Where can I find out the meaning of the symbols in a dictionary, like the dagger (†) or parallels (||)?
  17. There are different labels in dictionaries, such as: status, regional, grammatical, semantic, subject, etc. How can I understand them and use them?
  18. What is an invented word?
  19. Where can I find out when National <whatever> Day is or National <whatever> Month is?
  20. Where can I find out the British equivalent for an American English word or phrase?
  21. Where can I get all the names for something - like God or the Devil?
  22. How can I find out when a word was first used?
  23. Are there good word trivia sites on the Internet?
  24. Why is there often more than one word in English for what seems to be the same or almost the same concept?
  25. What is the difference between "native" and "borrowed" words?
  26. What are morphemes and where do they come from?
  27. What languages are most closely related to English?
  28. What is the preferred second language for Americans?
  29. What is pulled chicken? pulled pig? pulled pork?
  30. How can I figure out the root of a word, like for furniture or furnishings?
  31. Where can I find a list of compound words?
  32. Is there a place where I can find example sentences for words I am looking up?
  33. Where can I find a huge spelling list to study with?
  34. What is the word for a test that indicates the types of careers you should consider?
  35. What are context clues?
  36. What words begin with the letter q not followed by the letter u?
  37. What is the best search engine for a poor speller?
  38. What words are counted as entries in a dictionary - the number of words that the publisher advertises on the book jacket?
  39. Can you give me a list of all of the types of nurses?
  40. What is the word for a quotation or citation put before each chapter of a book?
  41. What is the absolute last word in any dictionary?
  42. What does the G in G string refer to?
  43. What do you call a word or phrase that reads the same backward and forward?
  44. What do you call words that are pronounced the same but have different meanings and/or spellings?
  45. What is the word for a contradiction in terms?
  46. Where can I find names of diseases?
  47. Where can I find a list of periods of time?
  48. Where can I find a good website with a lot of antonyms?
  49. Where can I find the words for a group of animals, such as crows, ravens, bears, moles, etc.?

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