Bastion

A bastion is a protruding section of a fortified area that allows for defensive fire in several directions. It can also be simply a stronghold or fortified place. Over time the word has come to include metaphorical bastions or places that protect certain ideas or activities. This last definition is used often with the modifier last. The adjective form is bastioned. According to Google's Ngram Viewer, bastion is enjoying the same frequency now as it did in 1880. The peak of popularity was … [Read more...]

Idiom vs colloquialism

An idiom is a phrase that is more than the sum of its parts, or in other words, has more of a meaning than the individual words used in the phrase. Examples include pay the piper, for the birds, and pulling one's leg. Idiom is also a synonym for dialect, a way of speech particular to a geographical area that has specific vocabulary, syntax, and grammar. Finally, it can be used to describe a method of expression particular to a person, time period, or object. A colloquialism is a phrase that … [Read more...]

Proverb vs adage

A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase. It particularly gives advice or shares a universal truth. Synonyms for proverb include byword, which can also be someone or something that is the best example of a group. Adage is also listed as a common synonym for proverb. Adages tend to be old, known for decades or centuries, and share universal truths. Since the words are listed in the definitions of each other, they are interchangeable and neither could be called incorrect. If one wants … [Read more...]

Deteriorate vs decline

To deteriorate is to worsen over time, to get progressively badder. It can be used with or without an object. The adjective form is deteriorative. To decline can mean to get worse over time, a synonym of deteriorate. However, decline has other definitions that include becoming progressively smaller or fewer, which may be a good thing if one is talking about one's weight. Another definition of decline is to reject, as in declining an invitation. It can mean the actual movement downward of an … [Read more...]

Share and share alike vs per stirpes

Share and share alike is a phrase meaning each person should have equal parts of the whole, whether the whole be positive or negative. It is used when every member of a group shares in a monetary prize or in an arduous task. The phrase does not require hyphens, unless it is used as an adjective (e.g., share-and-share-alike attitude). This idiom is particularly used in wills and legal documents declaring what portion of the estate goes to each person. Share and share alike means that each … [Read more...]

Militant or terrorist

A militant is a person who displays an attitude of aggressiveness to achieve his or her goals. He or she is not bothered by using sometimes extreme measures. The main entry in the dictionary is as an adjective, though the noun form is the same spelling. Some dictionaries define this word as having to do with social or political causes or ideals, but others do not. The adverb form is militantly and an alternate noun form is militantness. A terrorist is someone who engages in violence (i.e. … [Read more...]

Indemnity and contribution

Indemnity can be defined as the commitment to pay, or the actual payment, to cover losses or damage. It also has varied other definitions. It can be exclusion or exemption of fees and charges. Indemnity insurance pays the physician separately for each service rendered. It is used in legal terms to classify a type of lawsuit that means the client/part has the right to be fully compensated by the other party. The plural of indemnity is indemnities. Contribution is the item or service … [Read more...]

Enmity vs animosity

Enmity is a mass noun that speaks of a state of hatred or ill will between two people or groups. This opposition is acted upon and usually mutual. The plural is enmities. Animosity means a feeling of hatred or ill will. It is also a mass noun. The plural is animosities. A related word hostility also means a long-held mutual hatred, but it is usually used to describe the actions taken in response to this feeling. It can also literally mean acts of warfare. The plural is hostilities. To a … [Read more...]

Futz vs putz

Putz can either be a noun or a verb. As a verb, it is the act of wasting time or being aimless. Futz is only a verb. It also means to wander without direction or spend hours on pointless endeavors. It is most often seen paired with the preposition around. So, futz and putz are synonyms as verbs. However, they do not have the same origin. Putz comes from the Yiddish word putz meaning penis. Futz does not have a clear origin, but the educated guess made by most dictionaries is a … [Read more...]

Tease out

To tease can mean to make fun of someone or to taunt someone with something without the intention of giving the item. Mainly in the United States it can also meant to brush one's hair in order to give it more volume. To tease out something is an idiom, usually used with an object, that means to sift through irrelevant items or information to find something of value. It can be used literally or figuratively and is usually associated with delicacy or great care. In the literal sense, this can … [Read more...]

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