You keep using that word...

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Velexia
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You keep using that word...

Postby Velexia » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:49 pm UTC

But I do not think it means what you think it means.

(This thread is being dedicated to words you see used often which are amusing, speculative, strange, or whatever =) )

Inconceivable!

I'll start... Metric. I keep seeing it being used for conversation metrics. It's pretty bizarre to me.
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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby brenok » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:29 pm UTC

What exactly is wrong?

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:34 pm UTC

Factoid and nonplussed are two words I routinely hear people misuse, although the meaning of factoid has changed.
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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Adam H » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:24 pm UTC

Exponentially.

No! It's obviously increasing quadratically, you moron!
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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Derek » Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:45 am UTC

Adam H wrote:Exponentially.

No! It's obviously increasing quadratically, you moron!

This one bugs me.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Qaanol » Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:19 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Factoid and nonplussed are two words I routinely hear people misuse, although the meaning of factoid has changed.

Along with “nonplussed” there’s also “bemused”, although admittedly I don’t hear either of them particularly often.
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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby skullturf » Wed Dec 05, 2012 2:48 am UTC

Sloppy use of "exponential" bugs me too.

And in fairness, for *some* of these vocabulary things that people complain about, I think that the complaining is silly.

It's a case by case thing and we may disagree on some specifics, but there are some instances when informal language is just informal language, and isn't worth getting upset about.

But sloppy use of "exponential" does bother me. I think maybe because it has an air of *trying* to be precise.

Sometimes people will say "exponentially larger" when they only have two data points!

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby screen317 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:33 am UTC

Invariably.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Indy » Wed Dec 05, 2012 3:47 am UTC

Infer.
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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby goofy » Wed Dec 05, 2012 4:11 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Factoid and nonplussed are two words I routinely hear people misuse, although the meaning of factoid has changed.


nonplussed

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby tejing » Wed Feb 06, 2013 2:06 am UTC

It's a phrase rather than a word, but more and more often I'm hearing people say "all A are not B" when they mean "not all A are B." Edit: Also, "Ironic".

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby goofy » Wed Feb 06, 2013 3:20 am UTC

Indy wrote:Infer.


The truth about infer is much more complicated than most people think.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Demki » Wed Feb 06, 2013 12:39 pm UTC

The word "stupid".

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby tesseraktik » Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:20 pm UTC

"theory" and "hypothesis" spring to mind. I don't mind when people casually refer to vague ideas as theories and hypotheses; that's pretty much what these words mean in day-to-day conversation. The problem arises when one begins to conflate the everyday meanings of the words with the scientific ones, as in
"Evolution is only a theory."
or
"I independently developed the theory of continental drift when I was a kid. I looked at a globe and said it looked like a puzzle!"

Another word which is very different depending on context is "generally".
"This theorem is generally true for integer values of x."
"Oh, just generally?"
...but I put this in a small font because I don't actually think people make that mistake very often.
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++$_ wrote:What's a "degree"?

EDIT: I looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently it's some ancient Babylonian unit for angles :/

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Derek » Thu Feb 07, 2013 1:02 am UTC

First you'll have to convince me that "theory" has a solid definition in the realm of science. The "theory" of evolution is well established, but string "theory" is just an unverified supposition supported by mathematics (no offense to the string theorists out there).

It's not like there is a committee of scientists that looks at a body of evidence and decides when to stop calling something a "hypothesis" and start calling it a "theory" or "law". The fact of the matter is that the words are thrown around as loosely in the scientific community as they are everywhere else. And of course once something has a name, that name tends to stick, and not change with the current consensus.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby tesseraktik » Thu Feb 07, 2013 2:20 pm UTC

Derek wrote:First you'll have to convince me that "theory" has a solid definition in the realm of science. The "theory" of evolution is well established, but string "theory" is just an unverified supposition supported by mathematics (no offense to the string theorists out there).
Even so, string theory provides rather a rigorous mathematical framework, no?

To the best of my knowledge, "theory" in science does not necessarily connote with truth (Lorentz' aether theory remains a "proper" scientific theory, even if it is not considered to be paricularly useful anymore), but it does connote with a certain degree of rigor.
In everyday conversation, it connotes rather the opposite: The word "theory" conjures up an image of a vague and unsupported idea; a mere guess.

Derek wrote:It's not like there is a committee of scientists that looks at a body of evidence and decides when to stop calling something a "hypothesis" and start calling it a "theory" or "law". The fact of the matter is that the words are thrown around as loosely in the scientific community as they are everywhere else. And of course once something has a name, that name tends to stick, and not change with the current consensus.
That is a very fair point; in mathematics, one at least see conjectures being promoted to theorems (or demoted to false conjectures), but I don't know if the same happens much in other fields.
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Spoiler:
++$_ wrote:What's a "degree"?

EDIT: I looked it up on Wikipedia. Apparently it's some ancient Babylonian unit for angles :/

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby eSOANEM » Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:24 pm UTC

tesseraktik wrote:
Derek wrote:First you'll have to convince me that "theory" has a solid definition in the realm of science. The "theory" of evolution is well established, but string "theory" is just an unverified supposition supported by mathematics (no offense to the string theorists out there).
Even so, string theory provides rather a rigorous mathematical framework, no?

To the best of my knowledge, "theory" in science does not necessarily connote with truth (Lorentz' aether theory remains a "proper" scientific theory, even if it is not considered to be paricularly useful anymore), but it does connote with a certain degree of rigor.
In everyday conversation, it connotes rather the opposite: The word "theory" conjures up an image of a vague and unsupported idea; a mere guess.


I agree with this. The distinction between theory and hypothesis is not one of truth (because any scientist who claims to know something is true is deluded) but rather one primarily of completeness and rigour.

That said, seeing as quantum gravity research is often performed by mathematics departments, it would not surprise me if String Theory was so named using the mathematical usage where "theory" means an area of research.
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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby jcsalomon » Sun Mar 10, 2013 8:51 pm UTC

Adam H wrote:Exponentially.

A book I recently read described a character as logarithmicly escalating her violent responses to provocation.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Derek » Sun Mar 10, 2013 9:59 pm UTC

jcsalomon wrote:
Adam H wrote:Exponentially.

A book I recently read described a character as logarithmicly escalating her violent responses to provocation.

She must have the patience of a saint.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby dudiobugtron » Wed Mar 13, 2013 1:50 am UTC

Except the first provocation must have been a doozy.

PS: On topic, my partner always misuses the term "Sunk Cost". Although it is a phrase rather than a word - and I guess we shouldn't go in to those; who knows what questions might be begged as a result. ;)
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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby jedelmania » Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:34 pm UTC

Of all the petty things that annoy me, misuse of the word literally is very near the top of my list. It's about as annoying as "can I ask you a question?"

The one that's been creeping up on this list for a while is use of the verb regulate. When I'm on a train and we get announcements saying "this train is being regulated" or "This train is being held here to regulate the service"

[angry rant]

First of all you don't regulate an object like a train, you regulate a feature such as its movement. You say that a thermostadt regulates room temperature and not just the room.

When when these people say "regulate the service", they should be saying "regulate the frequency of the service" or should just replace regulate with regularise, which is after all what they actually mean.

[/angry rant]

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Derek » Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:15 pm UTC

jedelmania wrote:It's about as annoying as "can I ask you a question?"

I'm not really seeing how this is annoying. It's a polite way of saying, "Hey, I'm about to ask you a question". If they just started into the question, you would likely miss the first half of it. There are other phrases you can use to get attention, like "Hey" and "excuse me", but they're less specific. It even gives a chance to say "I'm sorry but I'm busy right now, can you ask later?".

What's annoying is when people give some "witty" retort, like "you just did".

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby jedelmania » Thu Mar 14, 2013 6:50 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
jedelmania wrote:It's about as annoying as "can I ask you a question?"

I'm not really seeing how this is annoying. It's a polite way of saying, "Hey, I'm about to ask you a question". If they just started into the question, you would likely miss the first half of it. There are other phrases you can use to get attention, like "Hey" and "excuse me", but they're less specific. It even gives a chance to say "I'm sorry but I'm busy right now, can you ask later?".

What's annoying is when people give some "witty" retort, like "you just did".


Reasons "can I ask you a question" annoys me

1) You're trying to get permission to ask a question by... asking a question. You've just established that, yes, you can ask me a question.

In war films, where Private Deadinnextscene says "permission to speak, sir" this also annoys me for a very similar reason, but not enough to enjoy his imminent demise; I'm not a maniac.

2) I'm assuming that you have some kind of freedom of speech protections where you are, so I'd find it difficult to stop you asking me a question without breaking the law unless I have a restraining order out on you, in which case I am already calling the police and not listening to you.

3) What you actually want to know is not whether you can ask your subsequent question, but whether I'm going to answer it.

4) There are so many other ways of initiating the conversation without resorting to such an inane comment
for example
"Can we discuss / talk about something for a minute"
"There's something I need to check. Are you free now?"
"I would like to get your opinion on something"

5) I'm grumpy and I need things to annoy me so that I can stay happy

I do agree that the stock responses "you just did" or "you didn't give me much choice there" stopped being witty about 10 years ago, but I reserve my rights to express displeasure at what I perceive to be a completely inane and fatuous comment.

I'm not stopping you using this comment to me, but you significantly reduce the chances of me answering the question you really wanted to ask in the first place.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby goofy » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:13 pm UTC

jedelmania wrote:First of all you don't regulate an object like a train, you regulate a feature such as its movement.


OED sense 2a is "To control, modify, or adjust with reference to some principle, standard, or norm; to alter in response to a situation, set of circumstances, etc." This seems to fit. I don't see why it can't be applied to trains.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby jedelmania » Thu Mar 14, 2013 7:42 pm UTC

goofy wrote:
jedelmania wrote:First of all you don't regulate an object like a train, you regulate a feature such as its movement.


OED sense 2a is "To control, modify, or adjust with reference to some principle, standard, or norm; to alter in response to a situation, set of circumstances, etc." This seems to fit. I don't see why it can't be applied to trains.


But by that definition, a train should be constantly regulated against its timetable and various other contingency practices even when it is moving. I hope that the announcement "this train is being regulated" would be appropriate at all times, but then would just be a statement about the existence of a timetable rather than about the fact the train has just stopped.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Adam H » Thu Mar 14, 2013 8:40 pm UTC

jedelmania wrote:It's about as annoying as "can I ask you a question?"
"I have a question for you" is what champions say.

I am very confused by the phrase "we are regulating the train". If you hadn't explained what they should have said, I would have no clue what they were refering to.
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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby goofy » Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:44 am UTC

jedelmania wrote:
goofy wrote:
jedelmania wrote:First of all you don't regulate an object like a train, you regulate a feature such as its movement.


OED sense 2a is "To control, modify, or adjust with reference to some principle, standard, or norm; to alter in response to a situation, set of circumstances, etc." This seems to fit. I don't see why it can't be applied to trains.


But by that definition, a train should be constantly regulated against its timetable and various other contingency practices even when it is moving. I hope that the announcement "this train is being regulated" would be appropriate at all times, but then would just be a statement about the existence of a timetable rather than about the fact the train has just stopped.


It seems like you are trying to deliberately misinterpret it. Even if it's not the word you would use, surely you understand the meaning. The train is being altered or adjusted in response to a situation, the situation being that it has stopped. I don't see the problem.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby jedelmania » Fri Mar 15, 2013 3:07 pm UTC

goofy wrote:
jedelmania wrote:But by that definition, a train should be constantly regulated against its timetable and various other contingency practices even when it is moving. I hope that the announcement "this train is being regulated" would be appropriate at all times, but then would just be a statement about the existence of a timetable rather than about the fact the train has just stopped.


It seems like you are trying to deliberately misinterpret it. Even if it's not the word you would use, surely you understand the meaning. The train is being altered or adjusted in response to a situation, the situation being that it has stopped. I don't see the problem.


I would say that the stopping is the response to the situation (the means by which the train is regulated), rather than the situation itself. The situation would be the causing event such as the train has caught up with the one in front.

I obviously understand what they want to mean by "This train is being regulated," and I don't dispute that the grammar is correct. However, without telling you what action this "regulation" is, it is not very helpful. I am not arguing that it makes no sense, I am arguing that it provides little information. I understand that from the statement that the train is being adjusted, but I haven't been told what feature has been changed. It could be the driver, the number of carriages, the speed or any one of a number of actions. It is not effective communication.

"This train has been stopped to regulate the service" is better as it provides information about the action taken, but no clue what the underlying reason is. It could be that the train needs to stop as it is running early or that it needs to wait for another train to cross a junction. Having looked this up, I now know they only use either phrase when they want to say that that they are stopping the train to even out the gaps between trains. In this scenario, using the verb regularise instead of regulate provides much more detail. It tells me that there are uneven gaps in the train service and they want to hold the train so that they can even out the gaps, which precisely macthes the situation.

If the train company is going to insist on drivers using a stock phrase, they should at least insist on one that provides adequate information.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby buttered_cat_paradox » Sat Sep 17, 2016 10:23 am UTC

jedelmania wrote:Of all the petty things that annoy me, misuse of the word literally is very near the top of my list. It's about as annoying as "can I ask you a question?"


+1 for that (bonus points for for the person who told me "I literally died").

My pet peeve is words with prefixes that do not work like people expect (is there a name for that?).
For example -- disinterested, inflammable.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Sep 17, 2016 11:27 am UTC

Well, as far as I'm concerned "inflammable" is just incrementally using an intensifier. That just happens to be inexplicably identical to an independent negating prefix from which some not inexcusable confusion does indeed arise. (Yeah, I know I used an incorrectly delimited* prefix or two, along the way. * - "delimit"? That actually describes a form of limitation, just noticed. Argh!)

(I assume the implied error in the other is between "disinterested" (separate from interests) and "uninterested" (without interest)..?)


For me, the classic lost battle is "decimate" (I shall offer no explanation; those who would understand doubtless already understand). I have vain hopes that "guesstimate" can be uninvented for devaluing both the pre-portmanteau components, but I know I'm not likely to win that one either. I had some more in mind as I was reading through this thankfully brief necroed thread, but they can't be so serious as, after all the other composing, they now escape me... Maybe later.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby buttered_cat_paradox » Sat Sep 17, 2016 1:06 pm UTC

:)

Yes, I meant unbiased/impartial vs. not interested.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Lazar » Sat Sep 17, 2016 2:29 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:For me, the classic lost battle is "decimate" (I shall offer no explanation; those who would understand doubtless already understand).

The problem with "decimate" is that its original sense has almost no utility outside discussions of the Roman army, whereas its innovative sense is relevant to all sorts of situations. It's hard to overcome that sort of advantage.
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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Sep 17, 2016 3:46 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:
Soupspoon wrote:For me, the classic lost battle is "decimate" (I shall offer no explanation; those who would understand doubtless already understand).

The problem with "decimate" is that its original sense has almost no utility outside discussions of the Roman army, whereas its innovative sense is relevant to all sorts of situations. It's hard to overcome that sort of advantage.

The word "devastate" already more than covers the contemporary reuse of the word (probably, as a near soundalike, also the word everyone would have used if not for the original error behind the retasking), and yet now we are left without an easily usable word for a tenth reduction or removal, which was used far beyond Roman times.

(Ok, so there's also "tithe", of similar construction from the Old English, but precious few people understand the intended precision of that, either, so we still remain without such a useful word as it should have been...)

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Lazar » Sat Sep 17, 2016 4:01 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:The word "devastate" already more than covers the contemporary reuse of the word (probably, as a near soundalike, also the word everyone would have used if not for the original error behind the retasking),

But there's the rub – "more than covering" the meaning of a word isn't really the same as covering it (otherwise we could just call every bird species on earth, well, "bird"). To my ear, at least, "devastate" feels more qualitative and "decimate" more quantitative: if a team's members have been devastated, then they're in bad shape; if they've been decimated, then they're mostly gone.

and yet now we are left without an easily usable word for a tenth reduction or removal, which was used far beyond Roman times.

I'm still skeptical that there's much need for that, given that we lack equivalent terms for any other numbers (other than "halve", I suppose). People seem to get by fine with "reduced by a [tenth/eighth/fifth/third/etc]".
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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Sep 17, 2016 4:26 pm UTC

Devastation is more than "in a bad state". Maybe a tick or two below annihilation, but well above 'merely' damaged. But that's subjective. If decimation were now "10% intact", I'd accept it as a quantitative measure (if exactly the opposite of the originally intended one), but when it goes so far as the typical "they were decimated, and none survived" then I think the descriptivists can no longer retain any authority in the matter.

Not that I'm rushing to 'rank' the various words, myself. I fear it is a problem that is irreperable. Or irrepairable*. Probably both.


* This latter may or may not be a word in your dictionary. "Unrepairable" will be, but similar confusion of pronunciation issues and semi-homonymic nature.

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Lazar » Sat Sep 17, 2016 4:43 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:Maybe a tick or two below annihilation, but well above 'merely' damaged.

Okay, but that's not what I said it meant. I could clarify my example a bit by saying "in very bad shape"; perhaps some of the intended nuance wasn't conveyed by my use of "bad". (In an informal history discussion I might well say that the western Soviet Union was in bad shape after WW2; it had been devastated.) But that said, "devastate" is often used in a figurative or even flippant way, describing a temporary emotional state or (e.g.) a particularly good play in a sports game.

But that's subjective. If decimation were now "10% intact", I'd accept it as a quantitative measure (if exactly the opposite of the originally intended one), but when it goes so far as the typical "they were decimated, and none survived" then I think the descriptivists can no longer retain any authority in the matter.

I didn't say it was a quantitative measure, I said it had a quantitative sense: if a thing or group has been decimated, people will get the impression that a great part of it, probably most, has been lost. "Devastated" doesn't convey this sense, at least not nearly as strongly.

Not that I'm rushing to 'rank' the various words, myself. I fear it is a problem that is irreperable. Or irrepairable*. Probably both.

I hate to be that guy, but it's "irreparable" – which, I think, can convey either pronunciation just fine.
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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Sep 17, 2016 5:06 pm UTC

Lazar wrote:I hate to be that guy, but it's "irreparable" – which, I think, can convey either pronunciation just fine.
You are right. 'Twas either a typo, a thinko or possibly my input keyboard method auto'corrected' me. Probably the first. I even checked the synonym list, online, with the right spelling to make doubly sure that it was double-'r' in both cases, and there discovered that the first main dictionary didn't have "irrepairable" (only "unrepairable") even though others I tried did.

(The rest isn't so easily concluded in untrammelled agreement, but we both have each other's measure, so no need to bore everyone else with it, methinks...)

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby lorb » Sat Sep 17, 2016 5:10 pm UTC

Derek wrote:First you'll have to convince me that "theory" has a solid definition in the realm of science. The "theory" of evolution is well established, but string "theory" is just an unverified supposition supported by mathematics (no offense to the string theorists out there).

It's not like there is a committee of scientists that looks at a body of evidence and decides when to stop calling something a "hypothesis" and start calling it a "theory" or "law". The fact of the matter is that the words are thrown around as loosely in the scientific community as they are everywhere else. And of course once something has a name, that name tends to stick, and not change with the current consensus.


There is some common ground I believe. I think all branches of science agree that a hypothesis is a statement that, at least in principle, can be tested/is falsifiable. A theory is just a bunch of hypothesis lumped together with some connections between them. In common usage it seems just about any statement can be either a hypothesis or a theory.
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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Derek » Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:37 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:The word "devastate" already more than covers the contemporary reuse of the word (probably, as a near soundalike, also the word everyone would have used if not for the original error behind the retasking), and yet now we are left without an easily usable word for a tenth reduction or removal, which was used far beyond Roman times.

This is the English language. When has it ever had too many synonyms? :P

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Re: You keep using that word...

Postby Copper Bezel » Sun Sep 18, 2016 4:56 am UTC

Or, for that matter, too many words you're forced to stop using because 90% of your audience doesn't know what it means and the other 10% is split in half over fiercely held opinions of what it should? = .
So much depends upon a red wheel barrow (>= XXII) but it is not going to be installed.

she / her / her


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