Appetizer or hors d’oeuvre

An appetizer (spelled appetiser outside the United States) is a small portion of eatables served before the larger part of the meal is served. The adjective form, appetizing (or appetising), has a slightly different meaning. It means that something is appealing or has a good aroma. It can mean for something to want to be eaten or simply admired. An hors d'oeuvre (pronounced \or derv\) is a synonym for appetizer according to the dictionary and is listed with the same definition. The plural … [Read more...]

Demagogue vs demigod

A demagogue (pronounced \ˈde-mə-ˌgäg\ or dem ah gog) is a leader, usually political, who makes false promises and gains his or her popularity through feelings rather than logic. It may also be spelled demagog. Thought the vast preference is for the longer spelling. So much so that we could not find an acceptable example of the shorter spelling. The actions of a demagogue can be termed demagoguery or demagogy, both of which have multiple accepted pronunciations. It can also be a verb for a … [Read more...]

Even keel

Even keel is technically an idiom which means everything is stable or under control. A related idiom is smooth sailing. Both idioms have their origin in boating or sailing. For a ship to be on an even keel is for it to be level in the water and sailing smoothly. Even keel may be used on its own or in the phrase on an even keel. The second phrase is found in some dictionaries, while the first is not. It is always spelled as two words with no hyphen. Alternatively, even-keeled is listed in some … [Read more...]

Bespeckled or bespectacled

To bespeckle something, one must shower it with tiny dots or flecks of color. Then the item is bespeckled. You could also simply speckle the object, which means the same thing (to cover it with speckles). For an item to be bespectacled, it must be wearing eyeglasses. This word is only found in its adjective form and does not have a verbal form. These words are often confused and one should be clear if the meaning should refer to a speck or some specs. Examples But the next steps are … [Read more...]

Evidence vs evince

Evidence is a noun used for objects, persons, or even speech that give proof something else is real or valid. Evidence is a common term in courts of law. One must have it to prove a person's guilt or innocence, or even the existence of a crime. For something to be in evidence, the item could be submitted to a court of law, or simply that the object is plainly seen or observed. Evidence may also be used as a verb when you offer to prove something with evidence, or you make something plainly … [Read more...]

Claptrap

Claptrap is a mass noun for words or concepts which are idiotic or ridiculous. It has no plural form. The term may also be used as an adjective. Claptrap is always spelled as one word and with no hyphen. The term originated in the late 1700's as a way to describe things which tried to gain applause, but which were just all fluff. Therefore they were traps for clapping. Claptrap's popularity peaked around the 1930's, though it is still somewhat used. Since claptrap is always used … [Read more...]

Adaptable or adaptive

For something to be described as adaptable it must be capable of changing to match new surroundings or conditions. It could also be able to change for new purposes. Adaptive, on the other hand, is used to describe things that are made specifically to aide persons with disabilities. The word may also be used when something has the ability to adapt or change. Adaptive has three forms, including the adverb adaptively, the noun adaptiveness, and the noun adaptivity. Adaptable has one … [Read more...]

Pop one’s clogs

To pop one's clogs means to die, or cease to live. The conjugations for this phrase happen in the first verb (e.g., popped his clogs, popping her clogs, pops their clogs, etc.). Sometimes the phrase is used out of order (e.g., if your clogs decide to pop, etc.) though the idiom keeps the meaning of death. It is an informal British idiom that has been around for fifty years or so, though maybe longer since idioms like these are not written down for awhile. The confusion comes as to where … [Read more...]

Hoi polloi

Hoi polloi is a pejorative term for the public, or the general population (i.e., common folk). The term originates from Greek, and literally means 'the many'. It is pronounced (hoy pell oy). This term should not be confused with the phrase hoity toity which is a term used for those who act better than others or haughty. It is a mass plural noun that does not change form. Originally it was a good term to mean the majority, rather than the minority. However, in the early nineteenth … [Read more...]

Cloth vs clothes

A cloth is a piece of fabric, a material of fibers woven together. It is used to make clothes, which are pieces of cloth sewn together to wear on your body. Sometimes clothes are referred to as clothing, which dispenses with the sometimes troublesome plural noun. The plural of cloth is cloths. And the plural of clothes is clothes.  To clothe someone is to put clothes on him or her. Occasionally the cloth refers to the station or power that a pastor or preacher of the Christian faith … [Read more...]

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