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  • Back in the day= at some unspecified time in the past.
  • Back seat vs. backseatBackseat is an adjective. When seat functions as a noun, make back seat two words.
  • Back up vs. backupBackup is a noun and an adjective. The verb is two words---back up.
  • Backyard, back yard, back-yardThe adjective is backyard or back-yard, and the noun is usually back yard, but there is little consistency in real-world use.
  • Bad rap vs. bad wrapA bad wrap is dishonor arising from false accusations or trumped-up charges. A bad wrap is an unappetizing lunch.
  • Bail vs. baleBale refers to clumps of hay and the making of them. Bail has a number of definitions, including (1) money given in exchange for prison release, and (2) to remove water from a boat.
  • Bailout, bail out, and bail-outThe adjective and noun are bailout or bail-out. The verb is two words---bail out.
  • Bait vs. bateIn modern English, bate appears almost exclusively in the phrase bated breath.
  • Bald-faced vs. boldfaceBald-faced = (1) shaved; (2) bold or brazen. Boldface = bolded text.
  • Balmy vs. barmyBalmy = mild and pleasant. Barmy = weak-minded or idiotic.
  • Baloney vs. bolognaBologna = a type of sausage. Baloney = nonsense.
  • Ban vs. barThings are banned. People are barred. Actions are either.
  • Band (together) vs. bandy (about)Band together = cooperate. Bandy about = toss around, literally or figuratively.
  • Bankster= a new word referring to a banker who engages in shady practices.
  • Bar mitzvah and bat mitzvahBar mitzvah = ceremony for 13-year-old Jewish boys. Bat mitzvah = ceremony for 13-year-old Jewish girls.
  • Barbecue vs. barbequeBarbecue is the standard modern spelling. Barbeque is a latter-day variant especially common in the names of restaurants and products.
  • Barbed wireBarbed wire is the standard form.
  • Bard= a professional poet.
  • Bare vs. bearBare = (1) naked or unadorned, (2) to uncover. Bear has lots of definitions, none of which have to do with nakedness or uncovering.
  • Basis (on a daily basis, on a regular basis, etc.)Basis is often a part of wordy constructions that can be shortened to one-word adverbial equivalents.
  • Batten the hatchesto prepare for an imminent emergency.
  • Battle royal
  • Bawl out= to scold loudly or reprimand harshly.
  • Bazaar vs. bizarreBazaar = a market or sale. Bizarre = very odd.
  • Bear market, bull market, bearish, bullishA bull market trends upward. A bear market trends downward.
  • Beckon call= eggcorn for beck and call.
  • Beelinea straight, swift course.
  • Beg the question (usage)= raise the question.
  • Beggar belief= to strain the limits of credulity.
  • Begging the question (fallacy)= the fallacy committed when someone uses a premise to support itself.
  • Behavior vs. behaviourBehavior in American English; behaviour everywhere else.
  • BelatedSomething that is late is belated.
  • Belie= (1) to give false representation to, (2) to show [something] to be false, or (3) to contradict.
  • Bellwether= a leading indicator of future trends.
  • Bereaved vs. bereftBereaved = describes someone who lost a loved one by death. Bereft = describes people who have lost inanimate things.
  • Berserk= frenetically upset or violent.
  • Betwixt= between.
  • Beyond the pale= outside the realm of acceptability.
  • Biannual vs. biennialBiannual: twice a year. Biennial: once every two years.
  • Biceps and tricepsBiceps and triceps are technically singular nouns, but they're informally treated as plural, with bicep and tricep being the informal singular forms.
  • Bid, bade, biddenBid is now usually uninflected in the past tense and as a past participle, and bade and bidden are fading out of the language.
  • Big-upsa noun used (1) to acknowledge someone, or (2) to express approval or respect for someone.
  • Bight vs. biteBite is what you do with your mouth. A bight is a loop in a rope or a bend in a shoreline.
  • Bit vs. bittenBit is the past tense. Bitten is the past participle.
  • Blaspheme= the verb corresponding to blasphemy.
  • Blatant vs. flagrantThey are mostly interchangeable.
  • Blather vs. blitherThey mean roughly the same. Blather is more common.
  • Blessed vs. blestBlessed is the modern form. Blest is archaic.
  • Bloc vs. blockA bloc is a group with common interests working together.
  • Blond vs. blondeIf you wish to observe the gender distinction, use blond in reference to males and blonde in reference to females. The gender distinction is not necessary, though.
  • Blowout vs. blow outBlow out is a verb. Blowout is a noun and an adjective.
  • Blowup vs. blow upBlowup (sometimes blow-up) is a noun or an adjective. The verb is two words---blow up.
  • Blue collar, white collarBlue-collar describes people and things associated with the working class. White-collar describes people and things associated with office workers and management.
  • Boldface text
  • Bona fide, bona fidesIn modern use, bona fide means real or genuine, and bona fides are one's credentials. People who know Latin or are familiar with the legal use of these terms might consider the popular usage questionable.
  • Bore, boor, boarBore = something boarding. Boor = a clumsy or ill-mannered person. Boar = a wild pig.
  • Borne vs. born Borne is synonymous with carried. Born is mainly a passive verb used in relation to birth.
  • Borough, burro, burrowBurro = donkey. Burrow = 1. a hole; 2. to dig a hole. Borough = an administrative division.
  • Botanic vs. botanicalBotanical is the preferred form in 21st century English. Botanic survives mainly in institutional names.
  • Boughten= an archaic form now considered incorrect.
  • Bound vs. boundedBound is the past tense of binded. The verb bound (to form a boundary or to spring) is inflected bounded.
  • Bourgeois, bourgeoisie Bourgeois is (1) an adjective describing things of or characteristic of the middle class, and (2) a noun referring to a middle-class person. Bourgeoisie is a noun denoting the middle class in general.
  • Bowdlerize= to remove (from a work of art) parts considered to be offensive.
  • BrainchildFiguratively, something born of a brain. In its conventional sense, it doesn't denote people.
  • Breach, breech, broachBreach = (1) an opening or gap; (2) to make an opening or gap. Breech = (1) the hind portion of a person or (2) the back of a gun. Broach = (1) to make a hole to draw off liquid; (2) to bring up for discussion.
  • Break up vs. breakupBreakup: noun, adjective. Break up: verb.
  • Breastfeeding, breastfed, breastfeed, etc.The one-word forms have gained ground and are now considered acceptable except in the New York Times and a few other notable publications.
  • Breath vs. breadth (vs. width)Breath is what you breathe in and out of your lungs. Breadth is mostly synonymous with width, though they have differentiated in usage.
  • Breath vs. breatheBreath is the noun. Breathe is the verb.
  • Bridle vs. bridalBridle: horses. Bridal: weddings.
  • Bright vs. briteBright is the standard spelling. Brite has no standard definitions of its own. It appears mainly in product names.
  • Briton= the most polite term for a British person.
  • Broach vs. broochBroach = (1) to bring up a subject; (2) to pierce in order to draw off liquid. Brooch = a large decorative pin or clasp.
  • Brouhaha= a fuss or commotion, especially over something of exaggerated importance.
  • Brung, brang= colloquial variants of brought.
  • Brussels sproutDon't forget the s at the end of Brussels.
  • Buck naked, butt nakedBuck naked is probably older and might be considered less vulgar, but butt naked is common as well. Neither is wrong.
  • Buffer vs. buffetBuffet = to hit or beat repeatedly or to beat back. Buffer = to lessen impact or to act as a moderating force between opposing things.
  • Build up vs. buildupBuildup is a noun and an adjective. Build up is a verb.
  • Bulk, balk, baulkBulk refers to size. To balk (sometimes baulk in British English) is to stop short and refuse to go on.
  • Bully pulpita position from which someone, especially a president, can exert great influence.
  • Bunk, bunkum, buncombe= empty or nonsensical talk.
  • Bupkis= absolutely nothing.
  • Burgle vs. burglarizeBurgle is British. Burglarize is American.
  • Burned vs. burntBurned is favored in North America. Burnt is favored everywhere else.
  • Burnout vs. burn outBurnout is a noun and an adjective. Burn out is a verb.
  • BurstedBursted is considered incorrect and always bears replacement with the uninflected form.
  • Burthen= archaism for burden.
  • Bus stop vs. busstopIt is two words.
  • Buses vs. bussesBuses is the standard plural in 21st-century English.
  • But vs. yetThey are interchangeable as conjunctions but not as adverbs.
  • By and by vs. by the byBy and by = soon or after a while. By the by = by the way.
  • By dint of= because of, or due to the efforts of.
  • Bête noire= something someone fears or that is very troubling. French for black beast.

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