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my question is:
Is there any dictionary list the commonly formal words?

As I am going to study in HK next year, a kinda weird thought always impacts on me, what is the formal form of many synonyms? Such as indigent and destitute is the formal form of poor, impoverished and needy. (just knew it from lingoes, a translation software use Collins dictionary data) I just have a mighty will to know some of them. At least, some prevalent formal words.

So thx to u all.
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Hello, Hairpin-- and welcome to English Forums.

Not to my knowledge. Most 'formal' words are actually 'standard', in contrast to 'slang', 'casual' or 'informal' forms.
A ha, hello Mister.

I suppose the exact defination of words and their usages is my weakness which I want to improve recently.

Thx so much ^_^
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hey!

You can download a dictionary which is named by 'Word Web' It's awesome I'm using it[Y]
You can start by learning the word "thanks" -- it has six letters, not three!

Please try to avoid using the common internet abbreviations in your posts here -- we like to show examples of correct English. (Plus, some of us are just allergic to "thx" and "u"!) Thank you.
So thanks^_^
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Got it.

Thanks ^_^
HairpinShares I am going to study in HK next year, a kinda weird thought always impacts on me, what is the formal form of many synonyms? Such as indigent and destitute is the formal form of poor, impoverished and needy. (just knew it from lingoes, a translation software use Collins dictionary data) I just have a mighty will to know some of them. At least, some prevalent formal words.
Hi HairpinShare

I've never heard of such a dictionary but I can give you a very general rule.

Words of Germanic origin are less formal than word of Latin origin.

There are many pairs Germanic/Latin words in English:
give/donate
finger/digit
dead/deceased
lucky/fortunate
lie/recline
bad/malign or malignant

husband or wife/spouse
boil/abcess
get here or get there/arrive

and on and on and on and on.

Again, as a very general rule, words of Germanic origin are more likely to be used in spoken English, while words of Latin are more likely to be used in written English.

Of course, a native speaker isn't aware of the origin of a word unless he's studied Latin or one of the languages descended from Latin, but to a native speaker of English words of Latin origin tend to sound more "official," more technical, more scientific, and more formal. Furthermore, they tend to be longer than Germanic words, and therefore more suitable for use in writing than in speaking.

Now, if you're interested, I can tell you a little bit about how this happened.

English is a Germanic language. That means it got its grammar and its basic vocabulary from the same mother language that German, Dutch, Swedish, etc. are descended from. Then, in 1066, England was conquered by the Normans. The Normans came from northern France and spoke a language referred to as Old French. After the Norman conquest, French became England's official language. For three hundred years anybody who had anything to do with the King and his court, the government, the law, or international commerce had to speak French. Thus French became the language of educated people. Many thousands of French words entered the English language during this time. Now, 600 years later, many of these words still sound more "educated" and therefore more formal than their Germanic equivalents.

That's the one-paragraph version of the story. Books can and have been written on the story of the English language, and a very interesting story it is. Suffice it to say, the end result is a language with a vocabulary that's larger than that of any other language in the world and a spelling system that seems to be all over the place.*

The Linguist

PS What's the story behind your name?

*(All over the place is an idiom that means something like inconsistent or disorganized.)
well actually I think the formal speaking is not using slangs or informal speaking, you know without contractions. I hope it will be helpful Emotion: wink
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