Brand spanking new

  The phrase brand spanking new means to be entirely new or recently created, and was first recorded in 1860. It evolved from the compound word brand-new and the phrase spick-and-span. Also, spanking, while the main definition is to hit someone on the butt, can also mean to move quickly. So one might say that a brand spanking new object was created quickly or appeared very fast. In truth, no one knows quite how it was coined or what it originally referred to. This idiom is not … [Read more...]

Debark or disembark

To debark is to disembark, which is to get off of an airplane or ship or other mode of transportation. Both can also be the act of removing someone or something from the same vessels. Both have noun forms of debarkation and disembarkation, which refer to the location the person debarked at. Additionally, one can debark a tree, or remove the bark from a tree. One would then be a debarker. Examples Four Smith County Jail trusties, equipped with chainsaws and straight-draw shave tools, which … [Read more...]

Aetiology or etiology

This is a classic case of spelling difference between American English and British English. Etiology or aetiology is most commonly used as a medical term for the cause of a certain disease. It is also the name of the field of medicine focused on finding the cause of conditions or diseases. Outside the United States we find aetiology, aetiologies, aetiologic, aetiological, and aetiologically. Examples Using as a case study Robert Burton’s 1621 book, The Anatomy of Melancholy, Kendler … [Read more...]

All of a sudden or all of the sudden

The official phrase approved by dictionaries is all of a sudden. The phrase dates back to Shakespeare in The Taming of the Shrew, though oddly the variant all of the sudden was in print six years before Shakespeare. The word sudden itself means at once or without warning, and all of a sudden is a long way to say suddenly, they are interchangeable. Grammatically speaking there is little difference between using the article a or the. However, dictionaries side with Shakespeare. Another archaic … [Read more...]

Long in the tooth

Grammarist

To be long in the tooth is to be old, either in age or simply out of date. This phrase originated with horses, whose teeth continue to grow and be worn down throughout their life, so that by looking at their teeth one can guess at the horses' age. It is commonly used in the financial and technological worlds where items can be dated very quickly. A related phrase is don't look a gift horse in the mouth, which means if someone is giving you a gift, don't complain about it. It began as a … [Read more...]

Impractical vs impracticable

Impractical is an adjective to describe something or someone as unwise or impossible, without common sense, idealistic. Impracticable is a synonym of impractical in the definition of being unfeasible or impossible to use. Impractical has two derivatives, they are the noun impracticality and the adverb impractically. Impracticable has two derivatives, they are noun impracticability and adverb impracticably. Examples A moratorium on genetically modified crops is impractical, incumbent … [Read more...]

Folderol

Folderol is a noun for idiotic actions, words, or ideas. It can also be spelled falderal. And with the two spellings it can be pronounced two ways, either /ˈfäldəˌräl/ (fall der all) or /ˈfôldəˌrôl/ (fole der ole). It is a mass noun which has no singular form. The o spelling is more commonly found. The term originated as a refrain in songs, literally "fol-de-rol". Folderol previously could be used in terms of a useless or idiotic item, and therefore you could have … [Read more...]

Heads up

Heads up is an interjection used when you need to warn someone to look out. A heads-up is the actual warning you gave the individual. This is commonly used in the phrase giving someone a heads-up. While the correct spelling includes the hyphen, actual usage suggests that it will become obsolete some day. Heads-up can also be used as an adjective to describe a person as being cautious or aware of surroundings. Keeping one's head up means to be watchful. Be aware that the verb head can also … [Read more...]

Content or contented

Content has two meanings which are separated by pronunciation. When the stress is placed on the first syllable (con tent), content means materials inside a container or the ideas presented in a speech or written work. These are both nouns. Content with the stress placed on the second syllable (cun tent), means to be happy or satisfied. It can be used as an adverb, adjective, verb, or noun. However, each of these forms has two variations (e.g., contently, contentedly, content, contented, … [Read more...]

Collectible vs collectable

A collectible is something of value either in a collection or to a collector. It can also describe something that is being collected on (i.e., due for payment). The spelling collectable is recognized as correct by the dictionary, though the i spelling occurs twice as often. This spelling variation extends to the derivative collectibility and collectability. In that form the preference switches to the a spelling, though not to such a degree as the adjective form. Examples The FTC said … [Read more...]

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