Finite verb

  A finite verb is a verb which serves as a predicate verb (i.e., it has a subject and has the ability to function as the root of an independent clause). Most of verbs can present in a finite and non-finite form (where the verb does not serve as a predicate and cannot support an independent clause). The subject of a finite verb can be stated or implied. In English the role of a finite verb is subtle, but in other languages, the finite form of a verb can state gender, person (e.g., … [Read more...]

Tabula rasa

  Tabula rasa comes from Latin where it meant blank slate. This is how it is used today as well, though there are nuanced differences in the actual English definition. It can refer to something in an unaltered state, or the mind of a person before it is influence by others. Rasa can be pronounced with an ess sound or a zee sound. The plural of tabula rasa is tabulae rasae which is spelled differently but keeps the Latin -i pronunciation \-ˌlī-ˈrä-ˌzī, -ˌsī\ (tab u lye raz … [Read more...]

Trooper or trouper

If someone is a trouper he or she does what needs to be done without complaining or whining. A trouper is also part of a troupe, or a group of people, usually an acting troupe or theatre troupe. If someone is a trooper he or she is a soldier at entry level or an officer in the police. In British English it is also a ship used to move troops. Both words come from the French troupe, which carries the same meaning as today. Some dictionaries list trooper as a synonym of trouper, however, … [Read more...]


Sangfroid means to keep your cool, or to stay calm under great strain. One can be sangfroid or show great sangfroid. Sometimes dictionaries list a spelling variation as sang-froid with a hyphen. This comes from the original French spelling. However, most of English usage drops the hyphen. In French sang-froid means cold blood. To be cold-blooded in English is a bad thing, meaning to have no emotion in a situation that should elicit great emotion. However, if one's blood is cold instead of … [Read more...]


  An ignoramus is a word for a person without any intelligence, an extremely dumb individual. It is a pejorative term meant to be an insult. The plural is ignoramuses. Some dictionaries list ignorami as a variation of the plural, but this is a backformation by those who suppose since ignoramus comes from Latin that it would have the Latin -i plural. However, in the original Latin, ignoramus was a verb, not a noun, and would still have the -es plural. Originally it was as an … [Read more...]

Factious vs facetious

Factious is an adjective describing something or someone has having to do with factions, or separate groups within a larger body, usually separated by a belief or proclivity. It has derivatives of factiously and factiousness, though these are rarely used. It is pronounced \ˈfak-shəs\ (fact shish). Facetious, on the other hand, is a word to describe something or someone as intentionally funny, though usually failing to attain humor or inappropriate. It also has two derivatives … [Read more...]

At a loose end

at loose end

  To be at a loose end is to have nothing to do. It is primarily used in British English. In the United States, there is a variant phrase to be at loose ends. This also means to have nothing to do, but it carries the connotation of nervousness, as in the situation not being able to do anything about a stressful situation. The British phrase suggests only boredom. The ngram above shows that the global popularity of the two versions has traded places over time, with the current … [Read more...]

Razzmatazz or razzamatazz

A razzmatazz is a ploy to attract attention, it is usually loud or exuberant. It is thought to come from razzle-dazzle, and carries the connotation that the action is done to deceive or distract someone. It has no plural. Razzamatazz is a variant spelling of razzmatazz, and it is extremely less common. Some list it as the British spelling, however, it is found both inside and outside the Unites States. However, in Spanish the word stays as razzmatazz. Examples He must block out all the … [Read more...]

Water under the bridge

The phrase water under the bridge means to let the past go and do not hold a grudge or harbor bad feelings. There is reference here to the one directional flow of water and when it passes under a bridge, it does not pass back ever again. It is usually used in the form of something being water under the bridge. It originated in 1913 and grew in popularity in the 1930s and is currently enjoying its widest use. Examples Malta captain Michael Mifsud has called on his team-mates to put the … [Read more...]

Parlor or parlour

This is another United States and British division. A parlor (or parlour) is a room in the house specifically used to entertain guests. The custom of having a parlor has become less common. More likely you will hear the word in reference to a shop or business that is specific to one type of service (e.g., a massage parlor or a tattoo parlor) or a restaurant that sells one type of food (e.g., ice cream parlor). It can also be used as an adjective. A parlor trick is a simple magic trick, or … [Read more...]

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