by the word / word by word [acceptable?]


Hi, all

When we want to show the unit of measurement, we use "by the x." For example, "Hurry up! We are losing time by the minute." When we want to say something happy gradually, we can say "Hurry up! We are losing time minute by minute."

However, are there phrases like "by the word" or "word by word"? Can they be used in the same sense as in what I said in the first paragraph? For example, "We count writer's rate by the word." (to show unit of measurement). For "word by word," I can't think of any example.

Please help. Thanks.
  • Fabulist

    American English
    "We pay writers/translators by the word" is the standard expression, if their rate of compensation is some amount of money per word. It could also be "by the page" or "by the hour."

    "x by x" is also possible. For units of time, you might say
    "We are falling behind schedule day by day,"
    "Year by year, China is producing more and more carbon dioxide."
    "Inch by inch, the hunter slowly gained on its prey."
    < Previous | Next >