H

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  • Appetizer or hors d'oeuvre
  • Habeas corpus= the right of a detained individual to be brought before a court or judge to determine whether the imprisonment is legal and justified.
  • Hail vs. haleHail = (1) precipitation in the form of spherical ice pellets; (2) to salute or greet; (3) to call out in order to catch attention; (4) to come or originate from. Hale = free from infirmity or illness.
  • Hair's breadth (hare's breath)Hair's breadth = a short distance. Hare's breath = the inhalations and exhalations of a rabbit-like nonburrowing mammal.
  • Hairbrained vs. harebrainedHarebrained is the conventional spelling.
  • Hairy vs. harry
  • Halcyon
  • Half-mast vs. half-staffHalf-mast = (of a flag) flown halfway up the mast as a signal of mourning or distress. Half-staff = flown halfway up the flagpole as a symbol of mourning.
  • Hallow vs. hollowHallow: to make holy or honor greatly. Hollow: empty inside.
  • Halloween or Hallowe'en
  • Halve= (1) to divide into two equal portions or parts, or (2) to lessen or reduce by half.
  • Hand-wash
  • Handful, handfulsThe plural is handfuls.
  • Handicap vs. handicappedHandicap is a noun and a verb. The adjective is handicapped.
  • Hands down= (1) winning with ease or with little or no effort, and (2) without a doubt.
  • Hands on or hands-on
  • Hangar vs. hangerA hanger is (1) one who hangs something, or (2) an item used to hang things. A hangar is a shelter used for housing and maintaining aircraft.
  • Hanged vs. hungHung is the past tense and past participle everywhere except where hang means to put to death by hanging.
  • Hanukkah or Chanukah
  • HappenstanceHappenstance = chance influenced by circumstance.
  • Happy camper
  • Happy median or happy medium
  • Hara-kiri= suicide by disembowelment with a sword.
  • Harbor vs. harbourHarbor in the U.S.; harbour everywhere else.
  • Hardy vs. heartyHardy = strong, bold, or capable of prevailing through tough conditions. Hearty = (1) expressed warmly, (2) providing abundant nourishment, and (3) unequivocal.
  • Hare vs. rabbitThey are different groups of animals in the same family.
  • Hark, harken, and hearken
  • Hash out, thrash outBoth mean to have a discussion, especially one meant to arrive at a deal or a resolution.
  • Hate-watch
  • Hawk vs. hockHawk = (1) to sell goods, especially noisily or aggressively on the street, and (2) to clear the throat of phlegm. Hock = to pawn.
  • Heads up
  • Headwind
  • Heal vs. heel (and bring to heel)Heal: to become healthy. Heel: the lower rear part of the foot.
  • Healthcare vs. health careHealthcare in the U.K. and increasingly in North America; but still usually health care in North America.
  • Healthful vs. healthyHealthful = promoting good health. Healthy = (1) in good health; (2) promoting good health.
  • Hear, hear vs. here, hereHear, hear is the original and more conventional spelling.
  • HeighthIt's considered incorrect, but it's not the abomination many people seem to think it is.
  • Hence= (1) for this reason, (2) from this source, (3) from now, (4) from that time, and (5) from this place.
  • Heroin vs. heroineHeroine = an addictive narcotic derived from morphine. Heroine = a female protagonist of a fictional story. Real-life female heros are usually just called heros.
  • Heterogeneous vs. heterogenousHeterogeneous: consisting of dissimilar elements. Heterogenous: 1. not originating within the body; 2. of foreign origin; 3. heterogeneous.
  • Heterometric: (in poetry) consisting of lines of varying lengths.
  • Hew vs. hueHew: 1. to make or shape with or as with an ax; 2. to adhere or conform strictly [to something]. Hue: 1. color; 2. the property of colors by which they can be perceived as within a range between primary colors; 3. appearance, aspect.
  • Heyday
  • Hie: to hasten, speed, or go in haste. It is an archaism.
  • Highfalutin: pompous or pretentious.
  • Hijinks or high jinks
  • Hippopotami, hippopotamuses, hipposThe Latin plural is favored in scientific texts. The English plural is favored in general usage.
  • Historic vs. historicalHistoric: 1. momentous; 2. historically significant. Historical: 1. of or relating to history; 2. of or relating to the past.
  • Histrionic, histrionicsHistrionic: overdramatic. Histrionics: overdramatic behavior.
  • Hoard vs. hordeHorde: a large crowd or mob. Hoard: (1) a store or cache; (2) to accumulate a store or cache.
  • Hoi polloi
  • Hold swayto have power and influence (usually over something).
  • Holey vs. holyHoley: full of holes. Holy: 1. sacred, or associated with a deity; 2. worthy of worship; 3. saintly; 4. deserving reverence.
  • Home in vs. hone inHome in is the more common and more logical form, but hone in is generally accepted in North America.
  • Home school vs. homeschool (vs. home-school)The unhyphenated compound will someday prevail, but for now less risky writers are stuck with the two-word form, which is usually hyphenated as a verb.
  • Homely vs. homeyHomey: feeling like home. Homely means the same in British English, but in American English it means plain, simple, or unattractive.
  • Homo sapiens It is a singular noun.
  • Homogenous vs. homogeneousHomogeneous: (1) of the same or similar nature, and (2) uniform in structure or composition. Homogenous: a scientific word now very often used in place of homogeneous in popular usage.
  • Honor vs. honourHonor in the U.S.; honour everywhere else.
  • Hoosegow: slang for prison.
  • Hoover vs. vacuumVacuum in North America; hoover everywhere else.
  • Horsey, horsy, horsieHorsey is the usual spelling for all senses of the word.
  • Hosanna: an expression of fervent or worshipful praise.
  • Hullabaloo: a commotion, a clamorous confusion, or an uproar.
  • Humongous: extraordinarily large.
  • Humor vs. humourHumor in the U.S.; humour everywhere else.
  • HumorousnessIt often bears replacement with humor, but it can be useful when talking about humor in abstracted terms.
  • Humus vs. hummusHummus: a creamy, chickpea-based dip. Humus: fully decomposed organic matter used in gardening.
  • Hunter-gatherer: a member of a group of people who survive by hunting animals and foraging.
  • Hurdle vs. hurtleHurtle: (1) to move with great speed; (2) to fling with great force. Hurdle: (1) to leap over something or to overcome an obstacle; (2) an obstacle.
  • Hurrah, hooray, hurrayHurrah is the most common form, but hooray is common as an interjection.
  • Hyphen

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