Concurrent vs consecutive

Concurrent means 1.) occurring at the same time, 2.) approaching the same point, 3.) having equal authority, 4.) harmonious. Concurrent is an adjective, related words are concurrently and concurrency. Concurrent comes into the English language in the fourteenth century from the Latin concurrentem meaning running together, meeting. Consecutive means following a chronological or logical sequence, in an uninterrupted line, successive. Consecutive is an adjective, related words are consecutively … [Read more...]

Dead ringer

A dead ringer is a person or thing that resembles an original to such an extreme amount that it is hard to tell the original and the dead ringer apart. Dead ringer is derived from the 1891 horse racing term, a ringer, which is a fast horse that has been substituted into a race to replace a slow one, often with a fraudulent name and pedigree, a ploy intended to throw off the racing odds. The dead in dead ringer means exact, precise. Dead ringer was not derived from the practice of supplying bells … [Read more...]

Elvis has left the building

Elvis has left the building is an American phrase that means the show is over, do not wait for any further encores. The term Elvis has left the building was first uttered in 1956 by announcer Horace Lee Logan at the Louisiana Hayride Radio Program. Logan was pleading with the faithful teenage Elvis Presley fans to take their seats and remain quiet, as no amount of screaming would bring Elvis back to the stage for an encore. The full quote is: “All right, all right, Elvis has left the building. … [Read more...]

Basket case

A basket case is a person who is incapable of coping, usually due to emotional problems or deficits. Basket case may also refer to an organization of some sort that has become helpless. Originally, basket case referred to someone who was physically handicapped. The earliest reference to a basket case comes from The Syracuse Herald in 1919, defining a basket case as "a soldier who has lost both arms and legs and therefore must be carried in a basket.” Over the World War I years and World War II … [Read more...]

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride

Always a bridesmaid, never a bride, is an idiom which describes someone who never quite fulfills his or her potential, a person who makes it to the finals but never wins the contest. The origin of always a bridesmaid, never a bride, may be  traced to a superstition that it is bad luck for a maiden to serve as a bridesmaid more than twice, and serving as a bridesmaid three times may bring such bad luck that the woman will never marry. This folk wisdom may have made sense in former times, when … [Read more...]


Obsequious means servile, excessively obedient, overly-eager to please in a groveling manner. Obsequious is an adjective, the adverb form is obsequiously and the noun form is obsequiousness.Obsequious enters the English language in the fifteenth century meaning prompt to serve, derived from the Latin word obsequiosus  which means compliant, obedient, and from the Latin word obsequi meaning to accommodate oneself to the will of another. Obsequious behavior goes beyond compliance or obedience, it … [Read more...]

Barn burner

A barn burner is an event that is extremely exciting, or a person who is extremely exciting. Typically, barn burner is a term that is applied to intense sporting events. An American phrase, barn burner was first coined as one word, barnburner, to describe a certain type of politician in the mid-1800s. This early use of barnburner described someone who, when faced with a barn infested with rats, was willing to burn down the barn in order to get rid of the rats. American wildcat oilmen were the … [Read more...]

Black Friday

Black Friday is the day after American Thanksgiving, it has acquired the reputation of being the biggest retail-sales day of the year. Since the middle of the twentieth century, Black Friday has been considered the first official shopping day of the Christmas season. Retailers claim that the phrase Black Friday comes from the idea that for much of the year, many businesses run "in the red", or lose money. With the crush of Christmas shopping, these businesses will run "in the black", or end up … [Read more...]

Bae vs bay

A relatively new word in the English language, bae is slang for baby or babe. Bae is a a term for one's significant other or a term of address for one's significant other. Bae is first seen in African-American rap songs in the early 2000s, though it was 2012 or so when the term bae truly leaped into the public consciousness with the Bae caught me slippin' meme. The word bae seems to have been formed simply by dropping the second consonant sound, the story that bae stands for "before anyone else" … [Read more...]

Freeze vs frieze

Freeze means the process by which a liquid turns into a solid, due to a drop in temperature. Freeze may also mean to become blocked with ice, to lose sensation due to a drop in temperature, to become hypothermic due to a drop in temperature. Freeze may also be used as a verb to mean fixed in place. Related forms are freezes, froze, frozen, freezing, freezer, freezable. The word freeze comes from the Old English word freosan, meaning turn to ice. Frieze is an architectural term which refers to … [Read more...]

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