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Unwitting vs unwilling

Unwitting and unwilling are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and are often confused. We will examine the differing definitions of unwitting and unwilling, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Unwitting describes an action that is done unintentionally, something done inadvertently. Unwitting also describes someone who is unaware of all the facts of a situation, someone who is not fully informed. The word unwitting is derived from the Old … [Read more...]

Obstreperous

Obstreperous is a word that has been in use since about 1600. We will examine the definition of obstreperous, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Obstreperous describes someone or something that is out of control, unruly, difficult to control, unrestrainable, noisy, resistant. Obstreperous is an adjective and is most often used to describe a person such as an uncooperative child, or an animal such as a stubborn donkey, but not exclusively. Obstreperous is an … [Read more...]

Hem and haw or hum and haw

Hem and haw is an expression that dates back to the mid-seventeenth century. We will examine the definition of the term hem and haw, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. To hem and haw means to dither, to speak hesitantly, usually because one is unprepared to speak or is attempting to avoid saying something in particular. Hem and haw is also used to mean to be indecisive. Related phrases are hems and haws, hemmed and hawed, hemming and hawing. The term hem and haw … [Read more...]

Get someone’s goat

The idiom get someone’s goat has been traced back to the turn of the twentieth century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of the expression get someone’s goat, where it may have come from and some examples of its use in sentences. To get someone’s goat means to annoy someone, to irritate someone or make them angry. Related phrases are gets someone’s goat, got … [Read more...]

No good deed goes unpunished

The origin of the expression no good deed goes unpunished has been ascribed to several writers and personalities. We will examine the meaning of the phrase no good deed goes unpunished, where it may have come from and some examples of its use in sentences. No good deed goes unpunished may mean that a kind action might not be properly appreciated by the recipient, or it may mean that doing something kind will lead to expectations and demands for more help and benefits. The idea is that in the … [Read more...]

Thrall

Thrall is a word with its roots in the Old Norse language. We will examine the meaning of the word thrall, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Thrall means being under someone else’s control, or having power over someone. The word is most often used in the phrase in the thrall of or the phrase in thrall to. Thrall is a mass noun, which is an uncountable noun that does not have a plural form. The word thrall is derived from the Old Norse word þræll, which means … [Read more...]

Poker face

Poker face is an idiom that first appeared in the 1870s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of the expression poker face, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. A poker face is a facial expression that does not show any emotion, a facial expression that hides one’s feelings by appearing blank or neutral. The term poker face comes from the card … [Read more...]

Shrinking violet

The idiom shrinking violet seems to have first appeared in the early 1800s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the meaning of the expression shrinking violet, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. A shrinking violet is a very shy person, someone who is an extreme introvert and does not enjoy attention or engaging with others. The earliest known use of the … [Read more...]

Nickname

The term nickname is based on a variant of the original term. We will examine the definition of the word nickname, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. A nickname is a substitute for someone or something’s proper name. A nickname may be a shortened form of the proper name, a form of endearment, a humorous sobriquet or a taunt. For instance, for the proper name William, a shortened form of nickname may be Will, a form of endearment may be Billy-Boy, a humorous … [Read more...]

Sartorial vs satirical

Sartorial and satirical are two words that are similar in spelling and pronunciation, but have different meanings. We will examine the definitions of sartorial and satirical, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Sartorial describes something that is related to clothes, tailoring or the way clothes are worn. Sartorial is an adjective, the adverb form is sartorially. The word sartorial is derived from the Latin word sartor which means tailor. Satirical … [Read more...]

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