Right-side up

The noun phrase right-side up describes a direction in which the correct side of an object is facing up. Right-side is a hyphenated compound noun, while up  completes the noun phrase. There is some transition happening with hyphens in general. It is easy to see this phrase merging to one word in the … [Read more...]

Gage, gauge, and gouge

Besides being a surname, a gage is something given as a security of an obligation, such as a glove or hat in a duel. It is also a variant spelling of gauge, though the latter spelling is much more common. Gauge can be an tool that measures and displays the level of something. Or as a … [Read more...]


Fracking is a shortened version of the phrase hydraulic fracturing, a process which uses high-pressured liquid to force gas or oil out of the earth. Examples Shale oil and gas drilling employing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, produces millions of gallons of chemical-laced wastewater. [ABC … [Read more...]

Improvise vs. improvize

In an instance of agreement, the proper spelling is the same everywhere in the English-speaking world: improvise. It means to speak without preparation or invent something using the materials at hand. Examples However, the actress says that the western dance helps her to improvise and fine tune … [Read more...]


An also-ran is someone who lost a race, either athletic or political, by a large margin, or someone of little significance. It is hyphenated. Examples Texas Gov. Rick Perry got some good news last week. In a FOX News poll, Perry moved from an also-ran in the contest for the 2016 Republican … [Read more...]

Hairy vs. harry

Hairy can mean either being covered in hair, or causing fear or difficulty. The word has carried this dual meaning since the mid 19th century. To harry is to persistently attack or harass. It has been around since before the 12th century. Examples Probably the most obvious quirk about the … [Read more...]

Rancor vs. rancour

Rancor is defined as bitterness or resent. It is spelled rancor in the US, and rancour outside the US. Examples It of course also left "a legacy of political rancor and racial hatred so intense" that it guaranteed the world war that would follow 20 years later, which by Keegan's calculation was … [Read more...]

Chalk up vs. chock

Chalk up is an idiom meaning to give credit to something or to attain something. It comes from the literal act in the 16th century of writing in chalk a debt that was owed to a store. A chock is a wooden block used beneath wheels to prevent movement. Chock-full means completely full. It is … [Read more...]


A dais is a raised platform, used when giving speeches or accepting medals in an awards ceremony. It is pronounced /dā-əs/ (day-is). Commonly misspelled as dias.   Examples Even Mahadevappa's son Sunil Bose sharing the dais with the chief minister and other ministers and his sitting by … [Read more...]

Monied vs. Moneyed

Moneyed and monied mean having or coming from money. Either spelling is correct and each has had a period of popularity. Currently moneyed is in favor. Examples It emerged as a city of stark inequality, with large malls seemingly teleported from Miami and gated communities climbing the hills for … [Read more...]

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