Big kahuna

Big kahuna is an idiom that is derived from the native Hawaiian language. The word kahuna has gone through many variations in translation until it finally joined the English language in the middle of the twentieth century in the idiom the big kahuna, a term many Hawaiians find offensive. The first known translation of the Hawaiian word kahuna appeared in an 1865 Hawaiian-English dictionary as a derivation of the word kahu, which means to cook in an earthen oven. At this time, kahuna was … [Read more...]

Equivocate vs prevaricate

The words equivocate and prevaricate sound similar and have similar meanings, but there is a definite difference between the two. We will identify the similarities and differences, as well as show you some examples of the proper use of the words equivocate and prevaricate. Equivocate means to speak vaguely, to use ambiguous language in order to remain noncommittal or to hide the truth. Equivocate is an intransitive verb, which is a verb that does not require an object. Related words are … [Read more...]


GIF is a word that is only about thirty years old but has undergone quite an evolution in meaning. And even though GIFs are now pervasive, many people are still unaware of the correct pronunciation. The word GIF is in reality an acronym for Graphic Interchange Format. This method of rendering a computer file compresses the image, rendering the file smaller without degrading the quality of the image. These smaller image files proved extremely handy in the days of the dial-up modem. The GIF was … [Read more...]

Annual, perennial or biennial

Annual, perennial and biennial are related words that are particularly used in gardening terminology. In general, annual describes something that occurs once a year, such as an annual Christmas party, or something that lasts for one year, such as an annual magazine subscription. In gardening terminology, annual describes a plant with a life cycle that takes less than a year to complete, from germination to seed production. Bedding plants that must be replanted each spring are annual plants. … [Read more...]


Yelling Geronimo! when jumping from a high place is a well known tradition in the United States. From bungee-jumpers to Bugs Bunny, many have used the term Geronimo! enthusiastically for over sixty years. Geronimo! is an exclamation used by anyone jumping from a great height in order to show exhilaration and a lack of fear. Geronimo was an esteemed leader in the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache tribe who fought against the U.S. Cavalry until he was captured. Eventually, Geronimo was … [Read more...]

Hokey-pokey, hokey-cokey and hokey-tokey

The hokey-pokey is a circle dance performed to a song also called The Hokey-Pokey, it consists of various body parts being thrust in and out of the circle and shaken. There are various theories as to where the hokey-pokey originated. As far back as the late 1800s an ice cream confection was sold named Hokey Pokey. There has been some controversy claiming that the hokey-pokey was a song composed originally to mock the Catholic Mass. However, this is considered false, as the song and dance … [Read more...]

Better late than never

Better late than never is an English proverb that means though one has arrived later than expected or taken longer to accomplish something than expected, arriving or accomplishing something under late conditions is superior to not arriving or not accomplishing that thing at all. The term was first seen in English in 1386 in The Yeoman's Tale from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, “For better than never is late; never to succeed would be too long a period.” However, the phrase potiusque … [Read more...]

Pervert vs subvert

Pervert means to distort, to use something wrongly, to corrupt, to draw someone away from the right path, to corrupt someone into deviant behaviors. Pervert may be used as a noun or a verb, related words are perverts, perverted, perverting, perverter, pervertible. The word pervert is derived from the Latin word pervertere, which means to overturn or overthrow, to corrupt, to turn the wrong way around. Subvert means to undermine authority, to bring the downfall of something or someone, to … [Read more...]

Plaque vs plack

Plaque is 1.) an inscribed commemorative or ornamental tablet composed of a durable material such as metal or wood that is attached to a wall or other structure 2.) a sticky bacteria substance that attaches itself to teeth 3.) any patch on the body that is abnormal, such as a patch of psoriasis. The word plaque is derived from the Dutch word plakken, which means to stick. Plack is often seen to mean any of the definitions of the word plaque, however, this is a misspelling. The only accepted … [Read more...]

Red-letter day

A red-letter day is a day that is special, a day that is remarkable in a positive way, a day that affords a great opportunity or is particularly memorable. The term red-letter day is derived from the practice of marking church festivals and holy days in red on liturgical calendars during the Middle Ages. This practice of marking important days in red on calendars goes back to antiquity. Red-letter day is sometimes seen without a hyphen, as in red letter day, but the Oxford English Dictionary … [Read more...]

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