Minuet vs minute

A minuet is a ballroom dance with short, dainty steps. The minuet is a dignified dance for a group of couples, first popular in seventeenth century France. Music for this dance is also called a minuet, often part of a sonata, symphony or suite. The beat is in 3/4 time. Minuet comes from the French word menuet, meaning fine, delicate, small, narrow.Minute has two meanings. 1.) When the accent is on the second syllable, miNUTE, it functions as an adjective meaning small, tiny, insignificant. … [Read more...]

John Doe, Joe Bloggs and Fred Nerk

John Doe is a name used in American English to denote a hypothetical, average man. John Doe is often used for an anonymous party in a legal action. The name for a hypothetical, average woman is Jane Doe. Other names for average hypothetical American men are Joe Blow, Joe Schmoe, John Q. Public and Joe Sixpack, the latter referring to a blue collar worker. Joe Bloggs is the name for a hypothetical British man, as is John Smith. Fred Nerk is the name for a hypothetical Australian man, as is Joe … [Read more...]

Friable vs fryable

Friable is an adjective which means easily crushed or crumbled, usually referring to soil and its ability to support plant growth. Friable or easily crumbled soil is crucial for strong root growth. Related words are friability and friableness. Friable is first used in the 1560s, derived from the Latin friabilis meaning easily crumbled or broken and from friare, meaning rub away, crumble into small pieces.Fryable is an adjective that denotes food that it is possible to fry. Frying may occur … [Read more...]

Floe vs flow

A floe is a floating sheet of ice. The terms floe and ice floe are interchangeable. A floe may occur as a piece of ice drifting on the sea, in a river, or down a stream melting off a glacier. Floe was first used by Arctic explorers in 1817, from the Norwegian flo meaning layer, slab.Flow is a verb that means to move steadily in a stream, to circulate, to hang loosely, to show smooth movement. Flow is usually an intransitive verb, which is a verb that doesn't take an object. Flow may be used … [Read more...]

Fiscal vs physical

Fiscal is an adjective that means relating to the public treasury or government revenue. In North America, fiscal also means of or relating to matters of finance, a fiscal year is an accounting year. Some companies choose to have their fiscal years begin and end on dates other than the calendar year, for tax purposes. The United States government's fiscal year is currently October through September. Fiscal comes the Middle French fiscal, from the Late Latin fiscalis meaning of or belonging to … [Read more...]

Elephant in the room

The elephant in the room is a large, obvious, and important thing that no one wants to address because the problem is uncomfortable. The elephant in the room is an American phrase with murky origins, the first reference being in 1935 to mean something obvious and incongruous. In the 1950s, the elephant in the room came to mean what it means today, something enormous that people choose to ignore because it is uncomfortable to deal with. An interesting example of ignoring the elephant in the room … [Read more...]

Desert vs dessert

Desert may be pronounced two ways, when the first syllable is stressed, as in DEsert, it is a noun or adjective meaning a dry, desolate area, especially one covered in sand, waterless and usually hot during the day and chilly at night. Related words are desertic and desertification. Desert comes from the Late Latin desertum meaning thing abandoned. When pronounced as deSERT, the word means 1.) to abandon, to leave someone, to abandon a military post without permission, to leave a place so as it … [Read more...]

Rational or rationale

Rational is an adjective which means in accordance with logic, sensible, reasonable, having the ability to reason. Rational connotes the absence of emotion when addressing a problem or argument and relying only on facts and logic. The adverb form is rationally and the noun forms are rationalness and more commonly, rationality. The verb form is rationalize, related forms are rationalizes, rationalized, rationalizing, rationalization. Rationalize may sometimes mean an attempt to justify one's … [Read more...]

Bounteous vs bountiful

Bounteous is an adjective which means given without restraint, given generously. Bounteous also means abundant, plentiful. The Oxford English dictionary considers bounteous to be an archaic word, related words are bounteously and bounteousness.Bountiful is an adjective which means given without restraint, given generously. Bountiful also means abundant, plentiful. Related words are bountifully and bountifulness. Bounteous and bountiful are interchangeable, though some dictionaries prefer the … [Read more...]


The ampersand (&) is a symbol which is used as shorthand for and or the Latin et, as in &c. The ampersand appears in the first century in Old Roman Cursive, when the Latin word, et, (which means and) was sometimes written with the e and t linked together. Later, the symbol that consisted of the conjoined Latin letters e and t came to be used as a substitute for the English word, and. The symbol & was not called an ampersand until the 1800s. At that time, the & was considered the … [Read more...]

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