Incite vs insight

Incite means to stir up, to rouse to action. Incite is a transitive verb which is a verb that takes an object. Related verb forms are incites, incited and inciting. Derived nouns are incitement and inciter. Incite first appears in the mid-fifteenth century, coming from the Latin incitare meaning to put into rapid motion, to rouse, urge, encourage or stimulate. When pronouncing the word, the stress is on the second syllable, inCITE. Insight is a noun which means the ability of seeing things … [Read more...]

Shake a leg

Shake a leg is an idiom which means to hurry up, to get going. Shake a leg is usually used as an imperative, which is a form of grammar that is a command or request. The first use of shake a leg to mean hurry up is found in the New York Magazine in 1904.  The origins of the phrase shake a leg are murky, though there are claims that the term comes from the American Civil War, when after a battle, stretcher-bearers would violently jostle a leg or arm to see if they could elicit a response from a … [Read more...]

Knuckle down and buckle down

Knuckle down is a phrase which means to get serious about a task, to work diligently on a task or problem. Knuckle down is a term derived from the game of marbles, it first appears in the mid-1860s in American English. One puts a knuckle to the ground to assume the shooting position in marbles, thus the term knuckle down. Buckle down is a phrase which means to get serious about a task, to work diligently on a task or problem. In fact, knuckle down and buckle down are virtually interchangeable … [Read more...]

Spade vs spayed

A spade is a sharp-edged tool, usually with a rectangular-shaped blade and a long wooden handle, it is used for cutting into the dirt for purposes of edging flowerbeds and lawns and other horticultural activities. Spade may also be used as a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object, to describe digging in the ground with a spade. Related words are spades, spaded and spading. Spades is one of the four suits of playing cards, represented by a stylized black pip. Spade comes from the … [Read more...]

Minuet vs minute

A minuet is a ballroom dance with short, dainty steps. The minuet is a dignified dance for a group of couples, first popular in seventeenth century France. Music for this dance is also called a minuet, often part of a sonata, symphony or suite. The beat is in 3/4 time. Minuet comes from the French word menuet, meaning fine, delicate, small, narrow. Minute has two meanings. 1.) When the accent is on the second syllable, miNUTE, it functions as an adjective meaning small, tiny, insignificant. … [Read more...]

John Doe, Joe Bloggs and Fred Nerk

John Doe is a name used in American English to denote a hypothetical, average man. John Doe is often used for an anonymous party in a legal action. The name for a hypothetical, average woman is Jane Doe. Other names for average hypothetical American men are Joe Blow, Joe Schmoe, John Q. Public and Joe Sixpack, the latter referring to a blue collar worker. Joe Bloggs is the name for a hypothetical British man, as is John Smith. Fred Nerk is the name for a hypothetical Australian man, as is Joe … [Read more...]

Friable vs fryable

Friable is an adjective which means easily crushed or crumbled, usually referring to soil and its ability to support plant growth. Friable or easily crumbled soil is crucial for strong root growth. Related words are friability and friableness. Friable is first used in the 1560s, derived from the Latin friabilis meaning easily crumbled or broken and from friare, meaning rub away, crumble into small pieces. Fryable is an adjective that denotes food that it is possible to fry. Frying may occur … [Read more...]

Floe vs flow

A floe is a floating sheet of ice. The terms floe and ice floe are interchangeable. A floe may occur as a piece of ice drifting on the sea, in a river, or down a stream melting off a glacier. Floe was first used by Arctic explorers in 1817, from the Norwegian flo meaning layer, slab. Flow is a verb that means to move steadily in a stream, to circulate, to hang loosely, to show smooth movement. Flow is usually an intransitive verb, which is a verb that doesn't take an object. Flow may be used … [Read more...]

Fiscal vs physical

Fiscal is an adjective that means relating to the public treasury or government revenue. In North America, fiscal also means of or relating to matters of finance, a fiscal year is an accounting year. Some companies choose to have their fiscal years begin and end on dates other than the calendar year, for tax purposes. The United States government's fiscal year is currently October through September. Fiscal comes the Middle French fiscal, from the Late Latin fiscalis meaning of or belonging to … [Read more...]

Elephant in the room

The elephant in the room is a large, obvious, and important thing that no one wants to address because the problem is uncomfortable. The elephant in the room is an American phrase with murky origins, the first reference being in 1935 to mean something obvious and incongruous. In the 1950s, the elephant in the room came to mean what it means today, something enormous that people choose to ignore because it is uncomfortable to deal with. An interesting example of ignoring the elephant in the room … [Read more...]

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