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Roam vs Rome

Roam and Rome are two words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will examine the difference between the words roam and Rome, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Roam means to wander aimlessly, to travel about without a plan. Roam may also describe a wandering mind. Finally, roam may refer to the process of a mobile phone using another operative system when out of network. Roam … [Read more...]

Fifth column

The term fifth column is an open compound word that can be traced to a very specific point of origin. An open compound word is a noun that is composed of two words that are often used together, yet still maintain a space between the two words. We will examine the definition of the term fifth column, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. A fifth column is a group of saboteurs or spies working within a country for the enemies of that country. A fifth column is a … [Read more...]

Font vs fount

Font and fount are two words that are often confused. We will examine the difference between the definitions of font and fount, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. The word font has two basic meanings. First, font may describe a basin or other receptacle that holds holy water for the purpose of baptismal ceremonies in a Christian church. The second meaning of font is a typeface, such as Comic Sans font, Times New Roman font or Courier font. The word font … [Read more...]

Under the auspices of

Under the auspices of is an idiom that dates back into antiquity. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the definition of the phrase under the auspices of, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Under the auspices of means with the help or protection of someone or something, falling under the patronage of someone or something. The phrase under the auspices of dates … [Read more...]

A snake in the grass

A snake in the grass is an idiom that extends back into antiquity. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the meaning of the phrase snake in the grass, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. A snake in the grass is an unethical person, someone who is harmful but who does not seem to be. A snake in the grass may be a sneaky person who appears harmless or even friendly … [Read more...]

Oversees vs overseas

Oversees and overseas are two words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will look at the difference between the definitions of oversees and overseas, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Oversees is the third person present form of the word oversee, which means to supervise or manage a person or group of people performing a task, to inspect or survey the fruits of a task in … [Read more...]

Mexican standoff

The term Mexican standoff is most probably a term coined in the United States and is considered a pejorative by many, but not all people. We will examine the meaning of the term Mexican standoff, where it probably came from and its evolution, as well as some examples of its use in sentences. A Mexican standoff is a confrontation in which the opponents are equally matched and neither one may win, in a Mexican standoff neither participant has an advantage. In its first iteration in the 1840s, … [Read more...]

Acid test vs litmus test

Acid test and litmus test are terms from chemistry that have migrated into mainstream English to become idioms. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the meaning of the phrases acid test and litmus test, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences. An acid test is a severe challenge that measures the strength or endurance of someone or something, a challenge … [Read more...]

Make a clean breast of it and come clean

Make a clean breast of it and come clean are two idioms that mean the same thing but originated at two different times. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the meaning of the phrases make a clean breast of it and come clean, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences. To make a clean breast of it means to confess to one's mistakes or transgressions, to tell … [Read more...]

New vs gnu

New and gnu are two words that are pronounced in the same manner but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will examine the difference between the words new and gnu, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences. New means fresh, not previously in existence, recently invented or discovered. New may also mean unused or not previously owned. New is primarily used as an adjective, though occasionally it is used as an adverb in combination … [Read more...]

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