Woolgathering is indulging in idle daydreaming, contemplating things without purpose, absentmindedness. The term woolgathering first appeared in the 1500s to mean the literal act of gathering sheep wool that has caught on bushes, fences, etc. This activity does not take much brainpower and looks like seemingly aimless wandering, which has translated into a figurative meaning of the word woolgathering. Woolgathering is a noun, related words are the noun woolgatherer and the verb forms woolgather, … [Read more...]


Schadenfreude means taking delight in the misfortune of others. Schadenfreude is a German word, a combination of the word schaden which means harm or injury and freude, which means joy. Schadenfreud is first mentioned in English studies of language in the mid-1800s, though it wasn't used by the general public until the 1980s. The word schadenfreude was most probably introduced to a wider English-speaking audience by the book Gravity's Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, published in 1973. The Oxford … [Read more...]

Diamond in the rough

A diamond in the rough is someone who has potential, a person who will achieve success with the right care and polish. When a diamond is found in nature or in the rough, it needs the right care, cut and polish in order to achieve its potential. A diamond in the rough is a metaphor, or a figure of speech that is symbolic of an abstract idea. There is a similar saying in Japanese, tama migakasareba hikari nashi, which translates as a jewel, unless polished, will not sparkle. The term diamond in … [Read more...]

Delusions of grandeur

Delusions of grandeur is a phrase that describes someone who has an inflated view of his importance, someone who believes that he is more powerful than he really is. The term delusions of grandeur originated some time in the mid-1800s to describe someone who is mentally imbalanced, someone who believes that he is more important, powerful or successful than he really is. Today we know that such grandiose delusions are often a symptom of schizophrenia, narcissism, bipolar disorder and other … [Read more...]

Predominantly and predominately

Predominantly means for the main part, mostly. Predominantly is the adjective form of the word predominant. It is derived from the Middle French word pr√©dominant. Predominately means for the main part, mostly. Predominately is the adjective form of the word predominate. It is derived from the Medieval Latin predominatus. Predominantly and predominately are interchangeable, they both mean for the main part, mostly. The Oxford English Dictionary accepts both spellings, as both words date back … [Read more...]

Expedient vs expeditious

Expedient describes something that is suitable, an action that is appropriate for the situation. Expedient may also have a negative connotation, it is sometimes used to describe an action that is advantageous or convenient for the situation, but not necessarily the most just or moral action to take. Expedient is an adjective, the adverb form is expediently and the noun form is expediency or expedience. Expeditious describes an action that is done quickly and efficiently, the word expeditious … [Read more...]

Especially vs specially

Especially means above all others, to a great extent. Especially is an adverb that is used to signify a person, thing or situation that is greater than all others. Especially is one of the Oxford English Dictionary's one thousand most frequently used words. Specially means for a particular purpose, more than is usual. Specially is also an adverb. Often, especially and specially are interchangeable. However, there are situations where either especially or specially is a better choice. … [Read more...]


Joshing is humorous banter, teasing someone in a playful fashion. Joshing is the noun form, the verb form is josh. Related words are joshes, joshed. The origin of the American term joshing is shrouded in mystery. One story involves a counterfeiter named Joshua Tatum, a deaf-mute who reputedly passed nickels as gold pieces. Most scholars doubt that Joshua Tatum existed. A more plausible theory is that joshing is a portmanteau, or blending of the words joking and bosh. In addition, in the … [Read more...]


Jaywalking is the act of crossing a street unlawfully, not crossing in the crosswalk or crossing against the light. Related terms are jaywalk, jaywalks, jaywalked, jaywalker. Jaywalking is an American term dating to the early 1900s, when the automobile came into use. Many pedestrians were killed in the United States at the beginning of the automobile age. The automobile industry campaigned to encourage the public to obey traffic laws, one method was to refer to pedestrians who did not look out … [Read more...]

Peremptory vs pre-emptory

Peremptory means commanding immediate attention, decisive, not open to debate, dogmatic. In legal terms, peremptory means final, not open to debate. Related words are peremptorily, peremptoriness. The word peremptory dates from the mid-1400s, it is derived from the Latin word peremptorius¬† which means final or decisive. Pre-emptory describes an action taken to forestall something happening. A pre-emptory action is taken in advance of an anticipated outcome, in order to prevent that outcome … [Read more...]

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