Palindrome (poetry)

In poetry, a palindrome (from the Greek palindromos, meaning running back again) is a poem, line, or sentence that reads the same both forward and backward, either letter by letter or word by word. One early example, attributed to Gregory of Nazianuzus (329--389 A.D.), is in Latin: nipson … [Read more...]

Overnight vs. over night

Overnight is one word when it functions as an adjective or adverb, as in these examples: Cover and refrigerate overnight. [Mommy's Kitchen] His Olympic super-combined originally was set for Tuesday but an overnight snowstorm forced organizers to push the race back to Sunday. [Associated … [Read more...]

Conjunctions to start sentences

If anyone tells you starting sentence with a coordinating conjunction (and, but, for, nor, or, so, yet) is incorrect, hand them any piece of professional writing and have them take a look. In literature, journalism, speeches, and formal writing of all kinds, using these conjunctions to start … [Read more...]

Whence vs. from whence

Whence, according to its conventional definition, means from where, so the phrase from whence is logically redundant. But this doesn't stop people from using from whence, a phrase that has been common for centuries. When hearing the sentence Whence came you?, one may feel something is … [Read more...]


The verb cast is conventionally uninflected in the past tense and as a past participle. Casted  is an old form---examples are easily found in texts from every century from the 14th to the present---but it has given way to cast in modern English. In current usage, however, casted is gaining ground, … [Read more...]


The noun aegis, usually embedded in the phrase under the aegis of, means protection, auspices, or sponsorship. It comes from the Ancient Greek aigis, which denoted a shield or armor made from the skin of a goat. So when a Greek poet wrote that a hero was under the aegis of the gods, this meant the … [Read more...]

Directional words

-ward vs. -wards In American English, the preferred suffix is -ward---for example, westward, forward, backward, downward. Outside American English, -wards is preferred---so, westwards, forwards, backwards, and downwards. But it's not a clean distinction, and both suffixes are used … [Read more...]

Sight vs. site

A site is (1) a place where something is located, or (2) a website. While site has few definitions, sight has many, including (1) the ability to see; (2) one's field of vision; (3) something seen; (4) a place or thing worth seeing; and (5) the part of a firearm used to aim. It appears in the common … [Read more...]

Bait vs. bate

The archaic verb bate, meaning to lessen the intensity of, rarely appears in modern English outside the phrase bated breath. So unless you're using bated breath, the word you're looking for is probably bait, which has several meanings, including (1) something used as a lure, (2) to lure or entice, … [Read more...]

Axel vs. axle

An axel is a figure-skating jump named after the Norwegian skater Axel Paulsen (1855-1938). It does not need to be capitalized. An axle is a rounded shaft or rod that connects two wheels. Coincidentally, this word's origins are also Norwegian; it comes from the Old Norse öxull. Examples My 10 … [Read more...]

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