Prank call or crank call

A prank call is when someone calls a telephone line for the sole purpose of playing a prank or joke on the receiving end. The call is supposed to be anonymous and seen as funny for the prankster and slightly annoying for the user. Oftentimes it is associated with children or immature behavior. The person making the telephone call is a prank caller. A crank call is another name for prank call, though some make a differentiation between the two by saying a crank call  is the name for a prank … [Read more...]

April Fool’s or April Fools’

The occasion celebrated on the first day of April is officially called April Fools' Day in the United States. Each word of the title is capitalized and the fool is plural possessive. The singular fool's is listed as a variant spelling. However, this is not standardized and the main listing seems to vary from dictionary to dictionary (i.e., whether the plural or the singular is listed as the main spelling). Actual usage seems to support this non-preference, with both spellings being used about … [Read more...]


A chinwag is a conversation, usually small-talk or gossip. It is mainly used outside the United States. It may sometimes be seen as two words and this is an official variant spelling. It can also be a verb. To chinwag is to chat or gossip. The past tense is chinwagged, the present tense is chinwags, and the progressive tense is chinwagging. The two word spelling variation does carry over to the verb form, as in chin wagging and chin wagged. It should be noted that this word is informal and … [Read more...]

Fatuous vs facetious

Fatuous is an adjective that describes something or someone as absurd or brainless. It comes from the Latin word for foolish. The adverb form is fatuously and the noun form is fatuousness. Facetious is also an adjective. It describes something or someone as being deliberately casual or silly in serious matters and with inappropriate humor. Good synonyms are flippant, glib, and tongue-in-cheek.  The adverb form is facetiously and the noun form is facetiousness. It should be noted that most … [Read more...]

Be patient or have patience

Patient is an adjective that means to be amenable to waiting or accepting of delays. It is accompanied with peacefulness and a calm nature. Patience is the noun form of the adjective patient. One can be an adjective and have a noun. In all uses, either form is correct as long as the corresponding verb agrees. The verbs be and have can be conjugated through all tenses. However, it should be noted that be patient is used ten times more often than have patience. This was not always the … [Read more...]

Chills down the spine

To have chills go down one's spine is to feel extremely worrisome or excitable. It can be when one hears something particularly beautiful or particularly fearsome. One may literally feel a shiver or goosebumps down one's back, but not necessarily. The idiom has many different forms. It can be chill, chills, shiver, or shivers that either go up or down one's back or spine. Something can send this feeling or the feeling can run or crawl. Examples The thought of the government executing … [Read more...]

Beat around the bush

To beat around the bush is an idiom that means to delay the completion of an activity or stall while coming to the crux of an argument or discussion. The verb may be conjugated through all its forms. Outside the United States the phrase is sometimes said as beat about the bush. This is falling out of favor as beat around the bush is becoming the global standard, at least in written communication. The origin of the phrase is quite literal. While hunting, one person would go beat the bush to … [Read more...]


A bastion is a protruding section of a fortified area that allows for defensive fire in several directions. It can also be simply a stronghold or fortified place. Over time the word has come to include metaphorical bastions or places that protect certain ideas or activities. This last definition is used often with the modifier last. The adjective form is bastioned. According to Google's Ngram Viewer, bastion is enjoying the same frequency now as it did in 1880. The peak of popularity was … [Read more...]

Idiom vs colloquialism

An idiom is a phrase that is more than the sum of its parts, or in other words, has more of a meaning than the individual words used in the phrase. Examples include pay the piper, for the birds, and pulling one's leg. Idiom is also a synonym for dialect, a way of speech particular to a geographical area that has specific vocabulary, syntax, and grammar. Finally, it can be used to describe a method of expression particular to a person, time period, or object. A colloquialism is a phrase that … [Read more...]

Proverb vs adage

A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase. It particularly gives advice or shares a universal truth. Synonyms for proverb include byword, which can also be someone or something that is the best example of a group. Adage is also listed as a common synonym for proverb. Adages tend to be old, known for decades or centuries, and share universal truths. Since the words are listed in the definitions of each other, they are interchangeable and neither could be called incorrect. If one wants … [Read more...]

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