Worrywart and worryguts

A worrywart is a person who unduly dwells upon the possibility of  trouble or difficulties. Worrywart is the preferred spelling, though worry wart is rendered as two words about a third of the time. Worrywart is an American term which comes from a comic strip character named Worry Wart which ran from the 1920s through the 1970s. Originally, worrywart meant someone who pesters others, but in time it came to mean someone who frets over the possibility of trouble. A worryguts is a person who … [Read more...]

While vs wile

While is a period of time. While may be used as a conjunction to mean during a certain period of time or on the other hand. While may also be used as a verb to mean to pass time in a pleasant way, related words are whiles, whiled, whiling. While comes from the Old English word hwile, which means a space of time. Wile means cunning, a tricky or seductive ploy. Wile is usually rendered in the plural, wiles. Wile comes from the Old English word wil, meaning stratagem, trick, sly … [Read more...]

Hair vs hare

Hair refers to the threadlike strands that grows out of the skin of humans, mammals and other animals as well as plants. Hair may refer to one strand or hair may be used as a collective noun to refer to all of the growth covering a head or other body part. Hair may be used as a noun or an adjective, it comes from the Old English word hær. A hare is a small mammal related to the rabbit. Hares have longer ears and legs than a rabbit, are larger, and make nests on top of the ground rather than … [Read more...]

Pork barrel

Pork barrel refers to the utilization of government funds to benefit a politician's local constituents, ultimately to garner votes. Pork barrel is used to describe a certain type of politics or political spending, it is an American term. Before refrigeration, butchered pork was often preserved in a barrel filled with salt. This pork barrel became a symbol of a family's prosperity. By the 1860s the U.S. Treasury was metaphorically referred to as a pork barrel, within ten years the meaning took on … [Read more...]

Liveable or livable

Liveable means fit or enjoyable to live in. Liveable may mean meets the minimum standards of habituation, but most often liveable means is pleasant to live in. Liveable enters the English language in the seventeenth century with the meaning likely to survive, within fifty years the definition comes to mean suitable for living in. Liveable is an adjective, the noun forms are liveability and liveableness. Liveable is the preferred British spelling. Livable is the preferred American spelling, it … [Read more...]


A toss-up is a situation that could go either way, a situation in which two different outcomes seem equally likely or equally desirable. A toss-up seems to have no clear criteria upon which to make a decision, one might as well flip a coin and let fate decide what the outcome should be. Toss-up comes into the English language in the very early 1800s, from the practice of tossing a coin in order to decide something that seems undecidable. Used as a noun or as an adjective, toss-up is usually … [Read more...]

Subject to vs subjected to

Subject to means is susceptible to, on condition of, or has a tendency toward. Subject to may also mean that a person is in a legal position whereby certain actions may be perpetrated upon them. For instance, a person boarding an airplane is subject to a pat down. Not everyone who boards an airplane is patted down, but everyone who boards an airplane has the possibility of being patted down, they are subject to being searched. When pronouncing subject to, the accent is on the first … [Read more...]

Hit pay dirt

To hit pay dirt means to strike it rich, to discover something valuable. In mining, pay dirt is the soil or gravel which contains a high enough concentration of ore to make the mining of the area profitable, when someone hits pay dirt he has mined far enough into the earth to find the profitable layer of ore. The term pay dirt originated in the American Old West in the 1850s during the California Gold Rush. By the 1870s the term pay dirt was also used to refer to any method of striking it rich … [Read more...]


A cul-de-sac is a road that is closed at one end, usually with a turnaround at the closed end. A cul-de-sac is a dead end, a street with no outlet. Figuratively, a cul-de-sac is a situation that leads nowhere or has no means of escape. Cul-de-sac is French and literally means bottom of the sack. In the mid-1700s cul-de-sac was used in the English language as an anatomical term, it is first used to describe a dead end street around 1800. The use of cul-de-sacs in the design of suburban … [Read more...]

Carburetor vs carburettor

A carburetor is a part in an internal combustion engine that controls the mixture of air with the gasoline, a carburetor atomizes gasoline. In automobiles, carburetors have mostly been replaced by fuel injection systems due to the introduction of catalytic converters in order to alleviate air pollution. Carburetors are still commonly used in small engines like those used in lawn mowers. The word carburetor comes from the obsolete mid-nineteenth century word carburet, meaning compound of carbon … [Read more...]

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