Jolly Roger

The Jolly Roger is a black flag with a white skull and crossbones. The Jolly Roger is a pirate flag that first appeared in the 1710s, though the earliest such flags seem to have sported an entire skeleton. Most pirate flags were either entirely black or entirely red, with no decoration. When pirates flew a black flag it indicated that the attacking pirates would spare the sailors on the ship being attacked if the sailors did not resist. A red pirate flag indicated that the pirates were attacking … [Read more...]

Hay vs hey

Hay is grass that has been cut and dried in order to use as feed for animals. Hay is often baled or bound in bundles shaped like squares or rounds. The word hay may also describe a certain country dance. Hay may be used as a noun or a verb, when describing the act of cutting and baling hay. Related words are hays, hayed, haying. Hay is derived from the Old English word, heg. Hey is an exclamation that is used to attract attention, to express surprise or dismay. In American English, hey is a … [Read more...]

Casket vs coffin

A coffin is a box or container in which a body is buried. A coffin is generally rectangular but has six sides, the widest part contains the head and torso and the narrow part contains the legs. This construction is designed to save wood, therefore, coffins are less expensive. The word coffin comes from the Greek word kophinos, which means basket. A casket is a box or container in which a body is buried. A casket is a rectangular box with four sides. The word casket originally signified a … [Read more...]

Sackcloth and ashes

To wear sackcloth and ashes means to show penitence, to show remorse, to be in mourning. The term sackcloth and ashes comes from the Bible, where someone in mourning would put on sackcloth made of a coarse material such as goat's hair, and cover themselves in ashes. Such action showed that the person was enduring the most terrible disaster. In the Bible, sackcloth and ashes were also worn to show penitence and remorse in the hopes of appeasing the wrath of God. Today, the term sackcloth and … [Read more...]

Jalousie window vs louvre window

A jalousie window is a window composed of horizontal parallel slats that may be opened in unison to different angles in order to let in light or air. The slats on a jalousie window are made of glass, aluminum, plastic or wood and are usually opened using a hand crank. Jalousie windows are useful in mild climates where it rains often, as jalousie windows may be opened at different angles in order to allow air circulation without allowing the rain to enter the home. Jalousie windows are not … [Read more...]

Eat humble pie

To eat humble pie means to acknowledge one's mistake or wrongdoing and accept the humiliation that goes with that acknowledgement. Related phrase are eats humble pie, ate humble pie, eating humble pie. In the 1300s, umble or numble pie was a dish made from the offal of deer or other game, it was eaten by servants or other people of low rank.  In the early 1800s the term humble pie came into use, probably as a convenient rhyme from umble pie. Eat humble pie is a British term, though it is seen in … [Read more...]

Acute vs chronic

Acute describes something that has a sudden and intense onset. The word acute is used to describe a disease, a problem or a situation. Acute also means having keen insight, perceptive. Acute is an adjective, related words are acutely and acuteness. Acute is derived from the Latin word acutus, which means pointed or sharp. Chronic describes something that continues for a long time, is difficult to eradicate, is habitual or reoccurring. Chronic is used to describe a disease, a problem or a … [Read more...]


Manspreading is the process in which a man sits on a public conveyance such as a bus or train with his legs spread wide apart in order to take as much space as possible and discourage other passengers from sitting close to him. The idea of men sitting on public conveyances with their legs spread very wide has been bandied about on the internet since 2008, but the New York blog AM New York was the first place where the term man spread was used, in 2014. The term proved very popular, and the noun … [Read more...]

Present company excepted vs present company accepted

Present company excepted is a phrase used when one makes a rude, overly general or critical remark to indicate that the rude, overly general or critical remark is not directed at the people currently in one's presence. In essence, present company excepted describes making an exception to one's statement, to exclude the present people from one's rude, overly general or critical remark. Present company excepted first appears in the latter 1700s. Present company accepted is a mondegreen, which … [Read more...]

The whole megillah

The whole megillah means the entirety of something, especially something that is an entanglement of intricate arrangements or a long, complicated story. The whole megillah is an American idiom taken from Yiddish. In Hebrew, the Megillah is one of five books read on special Jewish feast days. The Book of Esther, read on Purim, is especially long and complicated. A tedious and complicated story came to be called the gantse Megillah in Yiddish, which translates as the whole Megillah. The term … [Read more...]

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