Gist vs. jist

A gist is the main part of something, usually used with a direct object. It can also be the ground for legal action. Gist comes from the French word gist. Often misspelled as jist.  Jist is the common phonetic spelling of a United States Southerner's way of saying 'just'.  Interestingly, the … [Read more...]

Battle royal

A battle involving many fighters can be called a battle royal. It is not spelled battle royale unless you are specifically referencing a book, game, or movie by that name. The plural form can be either battle royals or battles royal. History Battles royal were common in England in the 17th and … [Read more...]


Consultative is an adjective that describes something that gives advice, or only gives advice but cannot take action. A common misspelling is consultive. Consultative status is a noun phrase created by the United Nations to refer to non-governmental organizations that were consulting the Economic … [Read more...]

Udder vs. utter

An udder is a mammary organ that secretes milk, characteristic of cows and other mammals. Utter is an adjective describing something as complete or absolute.  Utter is also a verb meaning to speak or to put forged money into circulation.   Examples A team of volunteers from Gosford … [Read more...]


A sarcophagus is a stone coffin. The plural form in Latin is sarcophagi, and in English it is sarcophaguses. Both are correct, though sarcophagi is by far the more accepted spelling. History The original Greek word sarkophagos meant "eating flesh", and was usually paired with the word lithos or … [Read more...]

Purple prose

Purple prose is a noun phrase used to describe prose that is showy, elaborate, or overemotional. The term is used particularly when the writing gets in the way of the reader's experience. It does not need quotation marks or a hyphen. History The term is attributed to the Roman poet Horace, who … [Read more...]

Interview with Craig Silverman

Craig Silverman

Grammarist is pleased to introduce, Craig Silverman, an award-winning journalist and the founder of Regret the Error, a blog that reports on media errors and corrections, and trends regarding accuracy and verification. The blog moved to The Poynter Institute in December 2011, and he joined as … [Read more...]

Smokey vs. smoky

Smokey is a proper noun and first name, whereas smoky is an adjective referring to an object being filled with or smelling of smoke. Until recently smokey was an accepted spelling of smoky in the Oxford English Dictionary. However, it is now thought of as … [Read more...]


A McJob is a low-paying job that requires little to no education and has no opportunity of advancement. It may also refer to a position filled by someone who is extremely overqualified. History In 1983 McDonald's coined the term McJob to promote a program they had designed to help affirmative … [Read more...]


Headwind is a wind that blows directly opposite of forward motion, or from the front. Headwind can also be used to describe anything that opposes growth or movement. It should always be spelled as one word, but can be singular or plural depending on context. The antonym for headwind is tailwind, … [Read more...]

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