Band vs banned

A band is 1.) a group of people bonded together in service of a common cause, 2.) a group of musicians who play together, 3.) an elastic circle of material used to hold something together, 4.) a belt used in machinery, 5.) a range of frequencies allotted to a radio station, 6.) a ring for a finger, 7.) a round collar warn by some clerics and academics, 8.) in North America, a thin band applied to the leg of a bird for the purpose of identification, 9.) to wrap some type of strip around … [Read more...]

Arc vs ark

An arc is a section of a circle, a curved part of something, an electrical discharge between two electrons or other electrified surfaces. In a story, the arc is the beginning, middle and resolution of a plot and theme. Arc may also be used as a verb to mean moving in an arc or the discharge of electricity between two electrons or other electrified surfaces. The word arc was first used in the fourteenth century to describe the sun's motion in the sky, from the Old French word arc meaning arch, … [Read more...]

Cornball and corny

Cornball and corny are two terms used in American English to refer to something old-fashioned, sentimental, treacly. A corn ball, two words, is an American snack made from popcorn mixed with a hard syrup and fashioned into a ball. Corny may also may be used to mean something that is full of corn, the vegetable. The terms cornball and corny arose in America in the early 1930s to mean something old-fashioned, something sentimental, something that appeals to plain country folk. At that time, … [Read more...]

Appetizer vs appetiser

An appetizer is a small dish or drink ingested before a meal in order to stimulate the appetite. Appetizer is a noun formed from the word appetize, to make hungry. Appetizer is the North American spelling. 1820 Appetiser is the preferred British spelling. The American spelling of appetizer is also considered correct and is gaining acceptance around the world Appetizer and appetiser are examples of a group of words that are spelled with a “z” in American English and with an “s” in British … [Read more...]

Same old same old

Same old, same old is a phrase that means something boring, predictable, dreary.  There are several theories as to the origin of the phrase same old, same old. One theory is that it comes from pidgin English spoken in either post-World War II Japan or Korea during the Korean War. The phrase is alleged to have been same-o, same-o, indicating that something should remain unchanged. Whether same-o, same-o was created by the English speakers or the non-English speakers is unclear. Another theory … [Read more...]

Curriculum vitae vs résumé

Curriculum vitae is a Latin phrase that literally translates as course of life. A curriculum vitae is a document most often written when applying for a job. A curriculum vitae includes information about the writer's academic background including areas of interest, degrees, grants and awards, publications, presentations, teaching experience, honors and other achievements. Other information included in a curriculum vitae is employment history, other experience, membership in scholarly or … [Read more...]

Ruff vs rough

A ruff is a band of fur or feathers that is differently colored or longer than the surrounding fur or feathers, or a starched, frilled collar worn during Elizabethan times. Ruff is derived from the word ruffle, which is derived from the Old Norse word hrufla, meaning to scratch and the Low German word ruffelen, meaning to wrinkle or curl. Related words are ruffed and rufflike. When describing the vocalization of a dog, the correct spelling is ruff. Rough means not smooth, not level, behaving … [Read more...]


Pseudo means not authentic, false, pretend. Pseudo may also mean having a close resemblance to. The word pseudo is often used with another word, hyphenated, to refer to something that is inauthentic, such as pseudo-science or pseudo-intellectual. Pseudo- is also a prefix used in words such as pseudonym. Pseudo comes to us in the late fourteenth century to mean something false or spurious, from the Greek word pseudes meaning false and the Greek word pseudein meaning to lie. Popularity of the word … [Read more...]

Sulk vs skulk

Sulk means to brood, to remain in bad-tempered silence, to be sullen. Sulk may also be used as a noun to describe the state of brooding, of remaining in bad-tempered silence, of being sullen. Related words are sulks, sulked, sulking, sulker, sulky. Sulk is a back-formation from sulky, added to the English language in 1781. Skulk means to lurk, to linger furtively for nefarious or cowardly reasons. In British English, skulk also means to malinger, to shirk working. Skulk appears in the English … [Read more...]

Barking up the wrong tree

Barking up the wrong tree means to be following the wrong line of thought, to pursue the wrong course of action. Barking up the wrong tree is an American idiom that appears in the early 1800s, from the practice of raccoon hunting. Racoon hunting is accomplished with the assistance of a pack of hound dogs. The hounds run ahead of the hunter, tracking the scent of the raccoon through the woods and chasing the raccoon up a tree. When the hunter catches up with the hounds he knows that the tree … [Read more...]

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