Halloween or Hallowe’en

Both Halloween and Hallowe'en are dictionary-accepted forms of the day when children dress up and knock on doors asking for candy. As an official holiday, it should always be  capitalized, even when it is used as an adjective. The apostrophe spelling is more common outside the United States. History Most know that Hallowe'en is a contraction of All Hallows' Evening, but what you may not know is that the day originated with the Celtic calendar, which marked the first day of the year as November … [Read more...]


  Inculcate is a verb which means to attain a habit or attitude by repetitive teaching, instilling or internalizing the instruction so it becomes part of the student. Similar to brainwashing without the pejorative connotation. The term is much more commonly found outside the United States. It makes inculcates, inculcated, inculcating, inculcation, and inculcator. Examples The nationwide cleanliness drive launched today is aimed at creating awareness among the people of the country so … [Read more...]

Lesser or lessor

Lesser describes something has being smaller than something else, or having less of a certain quality. Not to be confused with fewer. Lesser is an adjective that is used before the noun it modifies. To be lesser-known is somewhat famous, but not of wide acclaim. Lessor is a person who leases their property. It is commonly used in reference to airplanes. It has two pronunciations in British English with the stress being allowed on either syllable. In the United States it has only one accepted … [Read more...]

Spat or spitted

A spit is a stick which holds meat or other items over a fire, usually to allow the food to turn while it is roasted. Spit is also another word for saliva or the fluid made by one's mouth. It can also be a small bit of land which leads into a body of water. To spit is to propel something (usually saliva) from your mouth or to put something on a spit (i.e., impale). If you put something on a spit this morning, you spitted it, you can also be spitting a pig for dinner. If you ejected … [Read more...]


News is a mass noun which means information that is just received or significant somehow. It is also an adjective used to describe things and people which find information to share with others. It has no plural form. One could count items of news or news sources, but not news itself. News has a quite few derivatives, such as, newspaper, newscast, newsperson, newsworthy, newshound, newshawk, newsmagazine, newsletter, newsmonger, and the adjective newsless. A newshound or newshawk is a … [Read more...]


A powwow is an American Indian social gathering, which usually includes dancing and singing. In previous centuries it was also a time when they gathered to discuss things that pertained to the whole tribe. Today, it is mainly for social reasons. The powwow can last for days. It's plural is powwows.  It is sometimes spelled with a hyphen or as two words, but this is incorrect. The term has come to be used for any gathering of people who need to talk about a particular topic that will … [Read more...]

Hands on or hands-on

As an adjective hands-on should be hyphenated. It describes something as using one's hands or being learned by physical action rather than theory. The compound is sometimes confused in the phrase be hands-on, however, since one can be an adjective, the hyphen is still used. A similar, though unrelated, verb is to hand on or to pass along something. In the second person this verb makes hands on, however, the distinction between the adjective and the verb should be clear from context. One … [Read more...]


A rigmarole is a long and complicated process or story. One can be put through a rigmarole if a process is made difficult intentionally. Because of the sometimes added spoken syllable (e.g., /ˈriɡ(ə)məˌrōl/), the term is commonly misspelled as rigamarole. It should be noted that some dictionaries do list rigamarole as an alternate spelling, but it is not universally accepted. The plural is rigmaroles, though the term is usually used in the singular form. Rigmarole comes as an alteration … [Read more...]


As a noun, a halcyon is a kingfisher, or at least a bird which we have associated with the kingfisher. It is part of a Greek legend in which it calmed the sea. As an adjective, halcyon describes something or someone to be joyful, peaceful, or prosperous. The most common use is to describe a period of time as the halcyon days, which is a reference to the myth. According to the Greeks, the Halcyon days come every January. The seas would be calm so that the kingfisher's eggs were protected … [Read more...]

Leaned or leant

To lean is to slope or be diagonal from the ground. Someone or someone can lean on something else for support. An alternative is to put pressure on an object by leaning on it. The progressive form is leaning. The past tense and past participle make the form leaned. Lean belongs to a list of irregular verbs which have a past tense option which adds -t instead of -ed. Learnt, leapt, dreamt, crept, dealt, dwelt, lent, rent, smelt, spelt, spilt, spoilt, and bereft are also included in this group. … [Read more...]

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