Agitprop is political propaganda, usually art or literature with the sole purpose of persuading people to believe a certain set of ideals, originally Communism. It was coined in 1935 as a blend of the Russian words agitatsiya (agitation) and propaganda, and more specifically the shortened name of the Agitation and Propaganda Section of the Communist Party. Agitprop can be used as a noun or adjective. Examples “I suppose the closest it comes to, as a genre, is agitprop. Without doubt our … [Read more...]


A calumny is a lie about a person told to ruin their character. It is also the name of the act of lying about someone. It is synonymous with slander. Though when someone is falsely accused of a crime, calumny is a more appropriate word. Its plural is calumnies. It also makes the adjective calumnious, the adverb caluminously, and the verb caluminate. The verb form appears as caluminated and calumniating, and makes the noun calumniation. One can also be a caluminator. Examples The Head of … [Read more...]

Bath or bathe

Bath is a noun that can mean many things, including a cleansing of the body, a contained liquid used to wash the body, a bathroom, bathtub, or a financial setback. One can take a bath, have a bath, or soak in a bath. The plural is baths. However, never does this word mean to have a bath or to wash. All forms are pronounced with the short a sound. A blood bath is a massacre where lots of blood is split, so much that people are soaked in it. This can be literal or figurative. The verb to wash … [Read more...]

Aetiology or etiology

This is a classic case of spelling difference between American English and British English. Etiology or aetiology is most commonly used as a medical term for the cause of a certain disease. It is also the name of the field of medicine focused on finding the cause of conditions or diseases. Outside the United States we find aetiology, aetiologies, aetiologic, aetiological, and aetiologically. Examples Using as a case study Robert Burton’s 1621 book, The Anatomy of Melancholy, Kendler … [Read more...]

Trick or treat vs trick-or-treat

As a noun trick or treat is the act of knocking on doors and asking for candy, while threatening pranks if the food is not provided. It has morphed into the greeting children use on Halloween, and no vandalism is suggested. As a verb it becomes trick-or-treat and makes trick-or-treating, trick-or-treated, and trick-or-treats. A child (or adult) can be a trick-or-treater. If used as an adjective it should also be hyphenated (e.g., trick-or-treat bag). Sometimes if it is the name of an … [Read more...]

Halloween or Hallowe’en

Both Halloween and Hallowe'en are dictionary-accepted forms of the day when children dress up and knock on doors asking for candy. As an official holiday, it should always be  capitalized, even when it is used as an adjective. The apostrophe spelling is more common outside the United States. History Most know that Hallowe'en is a contraction of All Hallows' Evening, but what you may not know is that the day originated with the Celtic calendar, which marked the first day of the year as November … [Read more...]

Specious vs spurious

For something to be specious it has to appear to be correct or true, but in reality is false or incorrect. There is a slight connotation of it being related to appearances, that the specious item has an allure that is untrue. Its derivatives include speciously and speciousness. Spurious, on the other hand, is something that is founded on illogical reasoning or false facts. It can be something that is similar in appearance to something else, without being the genuine item (e.g., drugs). … [Read more...]


  Inculcate is a verb which means to attain a habit or attitude by repetitive teaching, instilling or internalizing the instruction so it becomes part of the student. Similar to brainwashing without the pejorative connotation. The term is much more commonly found outside the United States. It makes inculcates, inculcated, inculcating, inculcation, and inculcator. Examples The nationwide cleanliness drive launched today is aimed at creating awareness among the people of the country so … [Read more...]


Foist is a verb which means to make someone or something accept something that he or she does not desire. It comes with the connotation that the acceptance comes by trickery or falsehoods. A slightly alternate definition is to pass something off as real or of value. A foister is someone who foists things. Examples Viewers have long wanted to pay only for the channels they watch, not the bundle that cable companies foist upon them. [Business Insider India] So if you can’t get what you … [Read more...]

Lesser or lessor

Lesser describes something has being smaller than something else, or having less of a certain quality. Not to be confused with fewer. Lesser is an adjective that is used before the noun it modifies. To be lesser-known is somewhat famous, but not of wide acclaim. Lessor is a person who leases their property. It is commonly used in reference to airplanes. It has two pronunciations in British English with the stress being allowed on either syllable. In the United States it has only one accepted … [Read more...]

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