Short shrift

The idiom short shrift means brief and unsympathetic treatment.1 Shrift comes from the archaic verb shrive, meaning to impose a penance upon. In its original form short shrift referred to a brief period of penance granted to a person condemned to death so he or she could be cured of immorality … [Read more...]

Tenant vs. tenet

A tenet is a principle held as being true, especially by an organization or a group of people. A tenant is (1) someone who pays rent to occupy property; (2) a dweller in a place; and, (3) in law, one who holds or possesses lands, tenements, or property by any kind of title. Examples Tenet He … [Read more...]

Mealy-mouthed

For a person, to be mealy-mouthed is to tend to say things in indirect, evasive, or deceptive ways. A mealy-mouthed statement is one that is indirect or evasive. The word is usually meant negatively; when people speak in mealy-mouthed ways, we tend to think they're afraid to speak plainly, are … [Read more...]

Rivaled/rivaling vs. rivalled/rivalling

In American English, the verb rival is usually inflected rivaled and rivaling, with one l. Outside the U.S., the more traditional double-l forms, rivalled and rivalling, are standard. Rival is one of a class of l-ending verbs whose inflected forms have lost the second l in American English. This … [Read more...]

Fly-by-night

Fly-by-night was originally a noun referring to one who goes out at night,1 usually for some wicked or mischievous purpose. It later gained a slang sense, referring to someone who gets out of a bill or a debt by fleeing in the middle of the night. From this derives the modern sense: today, … [Read more...]

Lay out vs. layout

Lay out is a phrasal verb meaning (1) to make a plan, (2) to knock to the ground, (3) to explain or describe, (4) to display, (5) to arrange, and (6) to prepare a corpse for a funeral. Like many phrasal verbs, it has a corresponding one-word form that functions as both a noun and an adjective but … [Read more...]

Mirandize

To Mirandize is to inform an arrested suspect of his or her rights. The word derives from the Miranda v. Arizona U.S. Supreme Court ruling, which held that self-incriminating statements made by a crime suspect are not admissible in court unless the suspect is first informed of his or her rights to … [Read more...]

Aid vs. aide

An aide is an assistant or helper. The word always refers to a person. Aid is a noun referring to (1) assistance, or (2) something that assists (e.g., a hearing aid or a visual aid), and it's also a verb meaning to assist. Some dictionaries list aid as a variant of aide, but the words are generally … [Read more...]

Memento mori

A memento mori is something, especially an object, that serves as a reminder of mortality. Memento mori tend to be ominous or frightening items; for example, skulls and representations of skulls have traditionally served as memento mori. But the term can also denote less ominous things, such as a … [Read more...]

Affective vs. effective

Affective is an adjective meaning influenced by emotions or arousing emotions. It is roughly synonymous with emotional. It's used mainly in psychology, where affective disorders are conditions characterized by emotional problems or mood disturbances, though it does appear occasionally outside … [Read more...]

About Grammarist
Contact | Privacy policy | Home
© Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist