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Fight tooth and nail

To fight tooth and nail is an idiom that is hundreds of years old. We will look at the definition of the phrase fight tooth and nail, where it comes from and some examples of its use in sentences. To fight tooth and nail means to fight with all the tools at one's disposal, to fight with all of one's might. The idiom fight tooth and nail seems to have been in use long before it first appeared in print in 1562. In the work Certain Tractates, Ninian Winget writes "Contending with tuith and nail … [Read more...]

A lick and a promise

A lick and a promise is an idiom that has been around at least since the middle of the 1800s. We will examine the definition of the phrase a lick and a promise, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. A lick and a promise means to do something with a minimum amount of effort, to do something quickly and haphazardly. The term a lick and a promise plays on a secondary meaning of the word lick popular several hundred years ago, meaning to clean something quickly. The … [Read more...]

At sixes and seven

At sixes and sevens is an idiom that has been in the English language for approximately nine hundred years, though the meaning has changed. We will look at the definition of the phrase at sixes and sevens, where the term possibly comes from, how it has changed, and some current examples of its use in sentences. The idiom at sixes and sevens means in a state of complete disarray and confusion, in a complete mess. At sixes and sevens may also mean a state of disagreement between two or more … [Read more...]

Carrel vs carol

Carrel and carol are two words that are pronounced the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will look at the difference in meaning between carrel and carol, where the words come from and some examples of their use in sentences. A carrel is a small study area, usually a desk, nook or small room. Study carrels are often found in libraries or university buildings. The word carrel is derived from the Medieval Latin word carula, which means a … [Read more...]

Rhyme vs rime

Rhyme and rime are two words that are pronounced the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will examine the definitions of the words rhyme and rime, where the terms come from and some examples of their use in sentences. Rhyme describes words that have the same ending sound. For example, sing, wing and ting. Rhyme is also used to describe a short poem where the last words in each line have the same ending sound. Rhyme is also used as a verb … [Read more...]

Learn the ropes and know the ropes

Learn the ropes and know the ropes are related idioms that have been around at least since the early 1800s, if not longer. We will look at the meanings of the phrases learn the ropes and know the ropes, where they most probably come from and some examples of their use in sentences. To learn the ropes means to find out how to do something, to acquire an expertise. The idiom most probably comes from the world of sailing ships. Sailing ships are rigged with a myriad of ropes, when learning to … [Read more...]

Sink vs sync

Sink and sync are two words that are pronounced in the same manner but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will look at the definitions of the words sink and sync, where the terms come from and some examples of their use in sentences. The noun form of the word sink designates a fixed basin with a tap that supplies water and a drain to drain away the water. Used as a verb sink means to descend, especially below water or another liquid, to slope … [Read more...]

Sachet vs sashay

Sachet and sashay are two words that are pronounced in the same manner but are spelled differently and have different meanings. We will look at the difference in meanings between sachet and sashay, where the terms come from and some examples of their use in sentences. A sachet is a small, soft pouch that contains dried materials with a pleasant scent. Sachets are often placed in drawers in order to keep clothes smelling pleasant and to deter moths. Some common contents of sachets are dried … [Read more...]

Sac vs sack

Sac and sack are two words that are pronounced the same way but have different spellings and different meanings. Sac and sack are homophones. We will look at the definitions of the words sac and sack, where the words come from and some examples of their use in sentences. A sac is membrane shaped like a pouch that is part of a living thing. A sac is a hollow and flexible part of a plant or animal. Such a sac is usually filled with a liquid or air. The word sac is derived from the French word … [Read more...]

Private eye and gumshoe

The terms private eye and gumshoe have the same definition. We will look at the meaning of the words private eye and gumshoe, where the terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences. A private eye is a slang term for a private detective or a private investigator. A popular but probably untrue story about the origin of the term private eye concerns the Pinkerton Detective agency, established in Chicago in the 1850s. The agency's logo was an open, unblinking eye. However, the term … [Read more...]

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