Copse vs cops

A copse is a small grove or thicket of trees or shrubs. Copse comes into use in the 1570s, it is a contraction of coppice, which also dates from the fourteenth century. While copse refers to any group of trees, a coppice is a thicket grown specifically for cutting. It comes from the Old French copeiz, meaning a cut-over forest.Cops may be 1.) the plural of cop, American slang for policeman 2.) to arrest someone 3.) to steal 4.) American slang for buying drugs. Related verb forms of cops are … [Read more...]

Arbor or arbour

An arbor is a garden area made from trees, vines and climbing plants trained into sides and a roof, usually through the use of latticework. The American spelling is arbor, the Canadian and British spelling is arbour. Arbor comes from the fourteenth century word, herber, meaning herb garden. Arbor Day is a day designated to raise awareness about the importance of planting trees, it was first celebrated in 1872 in the state of Nebraska, in the United States.Some words end in -or in American … [Read more...]

Spelling bee

A spelling bee is a competition in which contestants are challenged to spell words, a misspelled word means the contestant is eliminated. Bee is used in America to mean a gathering of people to tackle communal work, such as a quilting bee or corn husking bee. The term spelling bee is found in 1825, but a competition referred to as a spelling match is found in 1808. The first national spelling bee was held in 1925, in 1941 Scripps Howard News Service acquired sponsorship of the National Spelling … [Read more...]


A towhead is a person with very light, blond or yellow-colored hair. The adjective form is towheaded, and either word may be hyphenated as in tow-head and tow-headed. Towhead is first seen in 1830. Tow is another word for flax, jute or hemp that is ready for spinning. Flax and hemp that is prepared for spinning is light-colored, hence a person with hair that is exceedingly light-colored or yellow would be a towhead. The word tow meaning fiber ready to spin appears in the fourteenth century, … [Read more...]

Soar vs sore

Soar is a verb which means to fly high, to rise into the air, to glide on air currents. Soar is an intransitive verb, which is a verb that does not take an object. Soar may also be used as a noun to refer to the act of soaring, related words are soars, soared, soaring, soarer, soaringly. The word soar appears in the fourteenth century, from the Old French essorer meaning fly up, soar.Sore is an adjective which painful, tender, physical pain or emotional pain. Sore also may describe a point … [Read more...]

Parameter vs perimeter

Parameter is a noun which means one of a measurable set of variables in a functioning relationship. The parameters of a process or problem are the limits and boundaries that a process or problem must function within. Parameter was first used in the 1650s as a term in geometry, from the Modern Latin word, parameter. In the 1920s, the term began to be used as meaning a measurable factor that defines a particular system. Parameter has come under the modern influence of the word perimeter, and now … [Read more...]

In the doldrums

In the doldrums is a phrase that means dispirited, feeling listless or mildly depressed. In the doldrums has a maritime origin, the Doldrums is an area in the ocean that is situated north of the equator and between two belts of trade winds. The trade winds meet in the Doldrums and neutralize each other, leaving the area windless. A sailing ship may be stranded in the Doldrums for a long period of time, running out of supplies and patience, waiting for a wind to blow it further on its journey. … [Read more...]


Blackball means to reject a candidate for membership in a private organization, by secret ballot. Blackball is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Blackball may also mean to severely ostracize someone from social activities. The word blackball appears in 1770, referring to a negative vote. Voting through the process of a voter placing either a white ball, or positive vote, into a ballot box or a black ball, or negative vote, into a ballot box, means that voters will remain … [Read more...]

Bronx cheer and blow a raspberry

A Bronx cheer is an American term for a derisive noise formed by sticking one's tongue between one's lips and blowing, producing a noise that sounds similar to flatulence. The same noise is called blowing a raspberry or razzberry, in other English-speaking countries. The term Bronx cheer is named for a borough of New York, the Bronx, and presumably the inhabitants' propensity to employ their tongues to express derisive feelings when a sports team does not perform up to par. The term was first … [Read more...]

Whipping boy

A whipping boy is a person who is blamed and/or punished for the failings of others. A whipping boy is a fall guy, a scapegoat. Whipping boy was an official position in the English royal court during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. A high-born boy was chosen to be the companion to a royal prince, he was educated with the prince and received many of the privileges of royalty. However, if the prince committed a transgression, the whipping boy was punished in his stead. The philosophy was … [Read more...]

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