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Mumbo jumbo

Mumbo jumbo is a term that dates back to the mid-eighteenth century. We will examine the definition of mumbo jumbo, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.Mumbo jumbo is speech, writings or ideas that are nonsensical. Mumbo jumbo may be gibberish, overly complicated language or superstitious religious ritual. The word mumbo jumbo entered the English language in the 1730s as a corruption of the name of a Mandingo religious figure, Maamajomboo. This figure was a male … [Read more...]

Vicissitude

Vicissitude is a word that is often found confusing. We will examine the definition of the word vicissitude, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.Vicissitude means a change of one’s fortune, a condition of constant change, a series of alternation, the unpredictable and changeable quality of life. The word vicissitude may simply refer to changing, but usually carries a connotation of the hardship that constant change brings. The word vicissitude is often used in the … [Read more...]

Conundrum

Conundrum is a word with a strange origin. We will examine the definition of conundrum, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.A conundrum is a difficult problem, a question that is not easily answered, a mystery. Conundrum is also used to mean an entertaining riddle  with a pun for an answer. The origin of the word conundrum seems to be at Oxford University in the 1590s, as a coined nonsense word. Among the learned at this time, conundrum was a pseudo-Latin word that … [Read more...]

Get a foot in the door

The idiom to get one’s foot in the door goes back at least to the 1800s. 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 meaning of the expression get one’s foot in the door, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.To get one’s foot in the door means to make an initial contact, to obtain an opportunity, to attain the initial stage of development. Most often, to get … [Read more...]

Swatting

Swatting is a word that has taken on a new meaning in the twenty-first century. We will examine the definition of swatting, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.Swatting is the practice of making a call to emergency services in order to report a fictitious emergency situation that results in the dispatch of police officers to a particular address. Swatting is extremely dangerous as it diverts resources that may be needed in a real emergency situation, and causes … [Read more...]

Peripatetic

Peripatetic is a word that many find confusing. We will examine the definition of peripatetic, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.Peripatetic means itinerant, traveling from place to place, never staying somewhere very long. Someone who is peripatetic works in many places for short periods of time. For instance, many people who work in the military are peripatetic. Aristotle founded the Peripatetic school of philosophy in Ancient Greece. The word peripatetic is … [Read more...]

Civil rights and human rights

Civil rights and human rights are two terms with differing definitions, though there is some overlap in those definitions. We will examine the meanings of the terms civil rights and human rights, where these expressions came from and some examples of their use in sentences.Civil rights refers to the laws and customs that protect an individual’s freedom in a given country or political system. Civil rights protect an individual’s life, safety, political and legal rights and protect him from … [Read more...]

Au courant

Au courant is a borrowed or loan word from the French. Borrowed words or loan words are terms that have been taken from other languages and used as English words. We will examine the meaning of the term au courant, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.Au courant means to be up-to-date, to be abreast of current trends, fashion or ideas. Au courant may also mean stylish. The term au courant may be applied to situations as diverse as philosophy, politics, or art. It was … [Read more...]

Epidemic vs pandemic

Epidemic and pandemic are words that sound similar but have slightly different meanings. We will examine the definitions of the words epidemic and pandemic, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.As an adjective, epidemic describes diseases and conditions that spread rapidly and extensively by infection and affect many people at the same time, and it’s used figuratively to describe widely prevalent things other than infectious diseases. It also doubles as a … [Read more...]

Extradite vs expedite

Extradite and expedite are two words that are sometimes confused. We will examine the differing definitions of extradite and expedite, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.To extradite means to transfer custody of a person from one country, state or jurisdiction to another, so that person may answer for a crime he is accused of committing. Many countries agree to extradition treaties, which are agreements that the countries will surrender people who are … [Read more...]

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