Access, as a noun, has been established since the fourteenth century. It means the ability or permission to enter or go through an area or communicate with a person. One would gain access or have access to something. As a verb, however, access has only been around since the 1960s. It has almost the same meaning as the noun form, to gain access to something or someone. It does also mean specifically to load or open something digitally. We presume its origin and rise in popularity are tied to … [Read more...]

Eleventh hour

  At the eleventh hour means at the last minute or at the last opportunity. A less common version is in the eleventh hour. Sometimes it is used as an adjective to describe something as last minute. In this usage it is usually hyphenated like most compound adjectives. The wording for idiom dates from the Bible. In a parable, Jesus talks of workmen hired to tend a vineyard. The men hired at the eleventh hour worked only for one hour, but were paid as much as those working the entire … [Read more...]


As an adjective vested means to be absolutely promised as a benefit or legal right. To be vested in a company is to have been given certain benefits or privileges. It can also mean having a vest, which is a sleeveless garment worn over the torso. A related phrasal noun is vested interest. Vested interest means an additional motive for desiring a certain action or outcome. This additional motive usually is personal or not relating to the main motive. Sometimes vested is used as shorthand … [Read more...]

Pay the piper

When it is time to pay the piper it is time to accept the consequences of a thoughtless or rash action. Or the phrase can mean that it is time to fulfill a responsibility or promise, usually after the fulfillment has been delayed already. Almost always the phrase is used with a pejorative connotation. The phrase comes from the fable of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. According to the myth, a piper was hired to clear out the rats from the village of Hamelin. After he did so (by playing a song on … [Read more...]

Itchy feet

  To have or get itchy feet is to have wanderlust, the urge to travel or explore. Someone may also have itchy feet if they simply want to do something different, change the routine, or try something new. In short, it encompasses a general state of restlessness. It is used more often outside the United States. The phrase is always in the plural, like the slightly related term of cold feet, which means to have doubts or question a decision right before a big event. Examples Iyer … [Read more...]

Reindeer or caribou

A reindeer is a species of deer which live in the northern part of the earth. Caribou is a synonym for reindeer and is especially used for those which live on the North American continent. Reindeer can be found on nearly every northern continent and much further south than the North Pole. In 1823 reindeer were paired with St. Nicholas and with the song about Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, they have been a permanent fixture in the Christmas holiday celebrations in the Western … [Read more...]

Merry Christmas vs Happy Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy Christmas are both greetings used during the last part of December, around Christmastime. The first word of each is only capitalized when used as a greeting. When one is speaking of a happy or merry Christmas, the adjectives are lowercase. Merry Christmas began as a saying in the 1500s. It was recorded in a letter as a wish that God would send the recipient a "mery Christmas". It was solidified as a capitalized greeting by Charles Dickens in his great work A … [Read more...]


When it is capitalized, Advent means the month (or four weeks) before Christmas, it is a season of the Christian year for some churches. Also within the Christian faith, Advent means the arrival of Jesus Christ, either when he was born or his Second Coming. An Advent calendar is a countdown during the month of Advent until Christmas. Usually there is a candy or present for each day. When advent is not capitalized means the coming of an important or note-worthy person or object. The Advent … [Read more...]

Even keel

Even keel is technically an idiom which means everything is stable or under control. A related idiom is smooth sailing. Both idioms have their origin in boating or sailing. For a ship to be on an even keel is for it to be level in the water and sailing smoothly. Even keel may be used on its own or in the phrase on an even keel. The second phrase is found in some dictionaries, while the first is not. It is always spelled as two words with no hyphen. Alternatively, even-keeled is listed in some … [Read more...]

Adaptable or adaptive

For something to be described as adaptable it must be capable of changing to match new surroundings or conditions. It could also be able to change for new purposes. Adaptive, on the other hand, is used to describe things that are made specifically to aide persons with disabilities. The word may also be used when something has the ability to adapt or change. Adaptive has three forms, including the adverb adaptively, the noun adaptiveness, and the noun adaptivity. Adaptable has one … [Read more...]

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