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In over one’s head or over one’s head

The idioms in over one's head and over one's head differ by only one, small, preposition. However, this preposition makes the definitions of these two phrases totally different.  An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative definition that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. Common idioms are used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered conversational. We will examine the meanings of the phrases in over … [Read more...]

Covet vs covert

The words covet and covert are very close in pronunciation and are sometimes confused. We will examine the definitions of the words covet and covert, where these two terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences. To covet something means to have an inordinate desire to possess something, usually something that is owned or controlled by someone else. Someone who covets something has such a strong desire that it may be considered sinful. Most people are familiar with the word … [Read more...]

Foley

The term foley has an interesting origin, dating back to the early days of broadcasting. We will examine the definition of the word foley, where the term came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Foley is used when talking about sound effects, whether they are radio sound effects, television sound effects or movie sound effects. Studios insert foley sound effects in the post production phase of film-making, enhancing the ambient sound that a sound editor may pick up when recording … [Read more...]

Wash one’s hands of

The roots of the idiom to wash one’s hands of something dates back thousands of years. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of the phrase wash one’s hands of, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. To wash one’s hands of something means to refuse to take responsibility for something, to refuse to take the blame for the outcome of a certain … [Read more...]

Fiefdom

Fiefdom is an interesting word that dates to the 1600s. We will examine the meaning of the word fiefdom including its connotation, where it came from and some examples of its use today. A fiefdom is a geographical area or a sphere of influence that is controlled by one individual. In a fiefdom, this individual has complete authority. The term comes from the feudal system, when an overlord would grant an income to a vassal in exchange for that vassal's loyalty and willingness to fight. This … [Read more...]

Honor among thieves and no honor among thieves

The proverbs honor among thieves and no honor among thieves are frequently cited, though one phrase is much older than the other. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that gives advice or shares a universal truth. We will examine the meanings of honor among thieves and no honor among thieves, where these phrases came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Honor among thieves is the sentiment that even criminals have a code of conduct among themselves. Some aspects of this … [Read more...]

Oblique

Oblique is a word that has been in use since the early 1400s. We will examine the varying uses of the word oblique, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Oblique means slanting. Something that is oblique is not parallel nor is it perpendicular. Oblique may be used to describe something in a physical sense, but it is also used in a figurative sense to mean an idea or statement that is indirect. An oblique statement is difficult to immediately understand, as the speaker … [Read more...]

Dilapidated

Dilapidated is an interesting word with roots that date back at least to the sixteenth century. We will examine the definition of the word dilapidated, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Dilapidated describes something that is run-down, something that is in disrepair or has gone to ruin. Most often, dilapidated refers to derelict buildings. Dilapidated is almost always used as an adjective. Dilapidate is the verb form, but it is considered archaic and is rarely … [Read more...]

Cursory vs curse

Cursory and curse are two words that seem as if they should be related, but they are not. We will examine the differing definitions of cursory and curse, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Cursory describes something that is done in haste, something that is done superficially and does not involve details or deep thought. Cursory is an adjective, related words are cursorily, cursoriness. The word cursory is derived from the Latin word cursorius which means … [Read more...]

Catcall

Catcall is an interesting closed compound word that has been in use since the mid-1600s. A closed compound word is composed of two words joined together without a space. We will examine the definition of catcall, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Originally, the word catcall referred to whistles or jeers at a public forum or a public performance, indicating disapproval or anger. While still used to mean jeers in a public forum, the word catcall has evolved to also … [Read more...]

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