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Jot or tittle

Jot or tittle is a phrase that means a very small amount. Jot is derived from the Greek letter iota which is the smallest letter in the Greek alphabet, it also carries the meaning, the least part of anything. A tittle was a small dot or pen stroke used in Medieval Latin to signify a word that was abbreviated and missing letters. The phrase jot or tittle comes from the New Testament of the Bible. The passage is in Matthew 5:18, quoting the King James Version: "For verily I say unto you, Till … [Read more...]

Smoking gun

A smoking gun is a piece of evidence that is irrefutably true, a fact or thing that proves conclusively that a crime has occurred or that someone is guilty.  A smoking gun is a figurative term that is derived from the fact that if someone is found holding a smoking gun, it is reasonable to assume that person has recently fired that gun whether the shooting was witnessed or not. The term smoking gun was popularized during the Watergate investigation during the 1970s, when a particular White House … [Read more...]

Would have, would’ve or would of

Would is an expression of the past tense of will. Would also is used to express consequences of an imagined event. Would may also convey consent. Would have is often expressed as the contraction would’ve, especially in speech. Would’ve sounds perilously like would of, however would of is not correct and should never be used. Would is one of the one thousand most frequently used words in the English language according to the Oxford English Dictionary. Contractions have been around as long as the … [Read more...]

Tiddlywinks and tiddleywinks

Tiddlywinks is a children's game in which opponents attempt to flip their plastic discs, or winks, into a pot. Each player uses a slightly larger plastic disc known as a squidger to flip their winks, pressing sharply against the edge of each wink until it pops up and into the pot. Tiddlywinks was invented in the Victorian era as an adult parlor game. In the 1700s-1800s, tiddlywink was an English term for a small, unlicensed beer house. How the game of disc flipping came to be called tiddlywinks … [Read more...]

Chimera

A chimera is a living plant or animal that is composed of genetically different types of tissues joined by virtue of grafting, fused embryos or mutation. A chimera may also occur through the manipulation of genetically different types of DNA in a lab. The word chimera is derived from a beast in Ancient Greek mythology that had a lion head, a goat body, a serpent tail and breathed fire. When referring to this specific animal, Chimera is capitalized, as it is a proper name. Today, chimera may … [Read more...]

Hybrid vs highbred

Hybrid describes the resulting offspring of two different plant or animal breeds or species. Hybrid may also refer to something composed of two different elements. A hybrid is a mixture. Hybrid may be used as a noun or an adjective, related words are hybridism, hybridity. The word hybrid comes from the Latin word hybrida meaning  offspring of a tame sow and a wild boar, or mongrel. Highbred describes the resulting offspring of superior quality breeding stock. Highbred also refers to someone … [Read more...]

Categorize vs categorise

Categorize means to sort something into a particular group, to place something in a particular class. Categorize is the preferred North American spelling of this transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are categorizes, categorized, categorizing, categorization. Categorise is the preferred British spelling, related words are categorises, categorised, categorising, categorisation. The North American spelling of categorize is also considered correct and is gaining … [Read more...]

Fool’s paradise

A fool's paradise is an illusory state of happiness, it is happiness based on delusions or illusions. The term is often rendered as the phrase living in a fool's paradise, implying that the person referred to is perhaps deliberately ignoring reality. The phrase a fool's paradise is first seen in the mid-1400s but is most famously noted in Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet where the nurse says, "... but first let me tell ye, if ye should lead her into a fool's paradise, as they say, it were a … [Read more...]

Three sheets to the wind

Three sheets to the wind is a phrase that means extremely inebriated, very drunk. Three sheets to the wind is a nautical term. Interestingly, in sailing parlance sheet is a rope, line or sometimes a chain that attaches to the corner of a sail, not the sail itself. If a sailor does not keep the sheets tight then the sails flap and wobble, allowing the ship to stagger off course, like a drunk. Sailors devised a scale of drunkenness. One sheet to the wind described a slightly tipsy sailor, four … [Read more...]

Epithet vs sobriquet

An epithet is a word or phrase that describes an attribute that characterizes a particular person. Usually, an epithet is disparaging, but not always. An epithet may also be a title that describes an attribute of a person or thing, such as Edward the Confessor and Richard the Lionheart. Epithet is derived from the Greek word epitheton, which means attributed. A sobriquet is a nickname or familiar name that is bestowed upon someone. A sobriquet is usually bestowed in a friendly manner, it is … [Read more...]

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