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English speakers: why is there room for improvement, but margin for error?

· · Tusky · 1 · 2 · 3

@schnittchen Like most idiomatic things, I'm betting it just sounded good in people's ears. If the phrase "room for improvement" already existed, the repetition in "room for error" sounds weird/boring. But "margin for error"? *chef's kiss*

There is nuance between "room" and "margin", though. "Room" is just open space in general, whereas "margin" is more like dedicated sized space between two things to avoid runover/confusion/cupping/whatever.

@schnittchen I do want to qualify that I'm not an etymologist (studier of the history of words/phrases), so don't take this as citable evidence. But as a native English speaker and what I've learned learning other languages, that's my gut feeling on the choice of "room" vs "margin" in those specific phrases.

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