Halcyon

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...]

Happy median or happy medium

The correct idiom is happy medium and not happy median. The confusion of a phrase based on its pronunciation is called an eggcorn. Medium is the middle term for size, in between large and small. It is also the name for people who believe they can channel thoughts from the  dead, and the term for materials used by an artist. Median is the middle of a set of numbers, as well as the divider in a road. But while happy median does make logical sense, the standardphrase, which has been in use … [Read more...]

Restive

Restive is an adjective used to describe something as restless or fidgety. Politically it is used to describe regions in unrest or without peace. Restive is also used in reference to horses when they refuse to move forward by standing still or sliding backwards. Its derivatives include the adverb restively and the noun restiveness. Restive has seen an absolute reversal in definitions. The original word came from the Old French word restif which meant to remain still. The association with … [Read more...]

Shiv

A shiv is a knife or sharp instrument used as a weapon in prison made from contraband materials. The plural form is shivs. The original spelling was chiv, a Romani word meaning blade, but this spelling has become obsolete. As a verb shiv becomes shivs, shivving, and shivved. These forms are firmly rooted as slang, and as such do not appear in print publications too often. Though they may be more popular in speech. Shiv is also a common male first name, after the Hindu god Shiva, the … [Read more...]

Prebiotic vs probiotic

A prebiotic is a non-digestible chemical or ingredient which acts as food for good bacteria and flora in the intestinal tract. It is generally used in its plural prebiotics, since it is rare that only one is added to a food. They naturally occur in foods such as garlic, honey, onions, and bananas. A probiotic is the bacteria itself which lives in the intestinal tract. They naturally occur in foods such as yogurt. They are also normally discussed in the plural probiotics. Both words are not … [Read more...]

Privy

To be privy to something is to have knowledge of it. Usually it is used with the connotation that the information is secret or not widely known. One can be privy to something or be made privy. It has one derivative of privily. It is found more commonly outside of the United States. It is also the noun for an outdoor toilet. A privity has to do with legal interest or relationships between people who have a legal interest in something. Examples The NSEL Investors' Action Group has … [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...]

Screed

A screed is a long, often boring, and sometimes angry letter or discourse. It is also a device, usually a piece of wood, that is used to level wet concrete or the thickness of a plaster wall. It is not a verb, or the past tense of scree, which is in fact a group of rocks on a mountainside. It comes from the same root as shred, namely the Middle English word screde, which was a strip of something or a small part. Examples Reeling in the wake of James' decision, Grant took Riley's offer … [Read more...]

Learnings

Learning can be the progressive form of the verb learn, so that you are in the process of acquiring knowledge. Learning is also a synonym for knowledge, or information acquired and retained in someone's mind. It can be an adjective describing an object as something that will give the user more knowledge. Learnings is a pluralization of an erroneous form of learning as a singular noun. Said singular noun (e.g., a learning) does not exist, at least according to most dictionaries. Colloquially, … [Read more...]

Diktat

In the dictionary, a diktat is defined as an order that is harsh and unilaterally imposed on a people without their permission. It is usually used with the connotation of being issued to a defeated country or people. A dictate is simply a command or order, without the necessity of being harsh. The most common place to hear or read the word diktat is India, where it is used for orders which come from military or faith leaders. It still carries its pejorative … [Read more...]

About Grammarist
Contact | Privacy policy | Home
© Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist