Formally vs formerly

Formally means conforming to convention, ceremony and proper etiquette. Formally also means precise, methodical, or with official authorization. Formally is the adverbial form of formal. Formally appears in the English language in the late fourteenth century meaning in good form, in an orderly manner. Formerly means in the past, previously or in earlier times. Formerly is the adverbial form of former. In the early fourteenth century the Middle English word for formerly was andersith, formerly … [Read more...]

By, bye and buy

By is a word that means (1.) the identity of of the person performing an action (2.) spatially close to (3.) via (4.) according to (5.) in the amount of or rate of (6.) just past (7.) away. By is used as a preposition and as an adverb, it is one of the top one thousand most used words in the English language. Bye may be used as an informal goodbye. Bye also refers to a tournament or contest round when a player or team wins its round because they have no opponent. In 1883 the term bye came … [Read more...]

Fly off the handle

Fly off the handle means to become enraged, especially suddenly. The phrase connotes irrationality. One who flies off the handle isn't thinking clearly and is likely to regret it later, other verb forms are flew off the handle and flying off the handle. Fly off the handle is an American phrase that comes from the way an axe-head which has come loose will fly off of its handle in an unpredictable manner and strike any innocent person or object in its way. The first known use of fly off the handle … [Read more...]


Lackadaisical is an adjective which means listless, dull, without enthusiasm, lazily careless. The adverb form is lackadaisically. Lackadaisical comes from an old expression of regret, lack-a-day! Lack-a-day! is a short form of alack-the-day! The medieval alack means failure, fault, reproach or shame, alack-the-day meant shame-to-the-day! This woeful cry lost its strength over the years until it was merely a mild oath concerning minor things. In the eighteenth century the word lackadaisy popped … [Read more...]

Magic bullet and silver bullet

A silver bullet is a magical solution to a confusing problem. Silver bullets have long had the reputation of ¬†being the only ammunition that can kill a werewolf, since the eighteenth century. In 1933, The Lone Ranger, a fictional masked Texas Ranger who roamed the Old West with his faithful friend, Tonto, debuted on American radio. His bullets were made of silver, Silver was his horse's name, also. Michael Briggs found that silver bullets are actually slower and less accurate than traditional … [Read more...]

Pole vs poll

A pole is (1.) a slender, rounded, long piece of wood or metal. Often, one end of a pole is stuck in the ground and used as a support for a tent or something similar. A pole may also be (2.) a simple fishing rod (3.) the front innermost starting position at a racetrack (4.) an archaic British unit of measure. Pole may also be used as a transitive verb to mean (5.) to move a boat by applying a long pole to the bottom of a canal or river and pushing the boat along. Pole comes from the Old English … [Read more...]

Off the grid or off-grid

Off the grid means living in a state of self-sufficiency, not attached to, using or relying on public utilities. Off-grid is a synonym of off the grid, both terms may be used as an adjective or an adverb. People may live off the grid for many different reasons: (1.) they may live in a remote area where there is no service by public utilities (2.) they may wish to leave a small carbon footprint (3.) they may wish to live inexpensively (4.) they may wish to live independently of the general … [Read more...]


Spake is the past tense of speak, it is an archaic term that is no longer used except in overwrought poetry and for comic effect. According to Google's Ngram, the popularity of the word spake soared and dipped through the seventeenth century until its use began a steady drop-off in the eighteenth century. Today, the use of spake is nearly non-existent. Spoke is the much preferred past tense of speak, related words are speaks, speaking, spoken and the adjective speakable and noun speaker. … [Read more...]

Shone vs shown

Shone is a past and past participle form of the verb shine, when shine is used as an intransitive verb meaning to emit light. Shone is a comes from the Old English word scinan, meaning shed light, be radiant, illuminate. Shown is the past participle of the word show, which is a verb meaning to make noticeable, exhibit, to present, to bestow. The word show has existed in its present form since around 1300, to mean act of exhibiting, to view. In the early sixteenth century, show also obtained … [Read more...]


Photobomb means to step into a camera's field of view unexpectedly while the photographer is taking a picture of other people or another subject. To photobomb someone, or ruin the composition of someone's photograph by inserting yourself into the picture, is usually done as a joke. Verb forms are photobombs, photobombed and photobombing, photobomb is a transitive verb which is a verb that takes an object. Photobomb may also be used as a noun, and one who photobombs is a photobomber. The first … [Read more...]

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