Skip to main content
King County logo

ultimate. Overstated. Simplify. Try last or final.

un-. See prefixes.

under. See less than, under.

under-. Usually, don't use a hyphen: underexpenditure, underground, undersheriff, underspend. But see prefixes.

underlining. Avoid underlining text in publications and on the Web to emphasize words and phrases. Instead, use other options, including italics, boldface, color and size. Underlining cuts through the tails of several letters and punctuation marks--the comma, semicolon and letters g j p q y--making them harder to read. Also, on the Web people expect underlined text to be a hyperlink. Underlining Web addresses in publications is optional.

under the provisions of. Wordy. Simplify. Replace with under.

under way. Two words: The project is under way.

uninterested. See disinterested, uninterested entry.

union names. The formal names of unions may be shortened to conventionally accepted names: Change: United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America. To: United Auto Workers union. The short forms may be capitalized, except for the word union. Capitalize union when part of the formal name: Amalgamated Transit Union. See local of a union, Amalgamated Transit Union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Chauffeurs, Warehousemen and Helpers of America, International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers.

unique. It means one of a kind, without like or equal. Nothing can be more, less, sort of, rather quite, very, slightly or most unique. There can be no degrees of uniqueness. Use unique sparingly.

United States. When abbreviating as an adjective or noun, include periods: U.S. No space between the letters in the abbreviation.

uniform resource locator. See World Wide Web.

University District. Spell out and capitalize on first reference. On later references, U-District may be used; Univ Dist may also be used in maps, charts and tables with limited space.

university names. If a university (or college) has only one campus, use in to name the city: Green River Community College in Auburn. But if an institution has multiple campuses, use at to refer to a specific location: the University of Washington at Bothell.

University of Washington. Spell out and capitalize on first reference. UW (all caps, no periods) or the university (lowercase) may be used on second reference.

University Street Station. One of the stations in the downtown Seattle transit tunnel.

unless or until. Wordy. Simplify with either unless or until.

until. Commonly misspelled. Also, see till, 'til, until.

until such time. Wordy. Simplify. Replace with until.

up. Idiom sometimes dictates use of up: We look up a word in the dictionary. We move up in our careers. But don't use up when it's not necessary: We plan to tighten up the rules. She ate up all the dessert. Avoid those uses and others, such as buoy up, loosen up, ring up, use up, phone up and climb up. Also, if using an up term, avoid separating up from the base word.

up-. The rules in prefixes apply, but usually, no hyphen.

-up. Follow your dictionary. If not listed there, hyphenate: The cleanup lasted two days. The film is for grown-ups.

upon. See on, onto, on to, upon.

uppercase. One word.

upriver, upstream. One word.

URL. See World Wide Web.

U.S. See United States.

usage, use, utilize, utilization. Use is usually the preferred all-purpose word as a noun and verb. Usage means habitual or preferred practice in grammar, law, manners, diplomacy and certain other fields. Also see word usage.

Utilize is overstated and pretentious. Simplify. Try using the verb use instead: He used the dishwasher. Not: He utilized the dishwasher. Utilization? The noun use is seven letters and four syllables shorter, and it means the same thing.

U.S. armed forces. See armed forces.

user friendly. Avoid. For example: The system is easy to use, not the system is user friendly.

use up. Wordy. Simplify. Try use.

us, we. Sometimes confused. We and other "nominative" pronouns--including he, I, they and who--typically go before a verb as the subject of a sentence or clause (a group of words with a subject and a verb). Us and other "objective" pronouns--including him, me, them and whom--typically come after a verb or preposition. Also follow those rules when joining pronouns and other nouns with conjunctions like and and or. Examples: They contacted us. We responded to them. She worked with Fred and us. State officials will explain the new rules to local agencies, including us in the Department of Natural Resources and Parks. See we.

utilize. See usage, use, utilize.

U-turn (n. and adj.).

Back to Top

Quick links

How to use this guide

Select the letter that begins the term you’d like to look up, then scroll down to find the term (or use your browser’s Find function).

Learn more