Adam’s apple

An Adam's apple is the projection at the front of a human neck comprised of the thyroid cartilage that wraps around the larynx. This projection becomes more prominent at puberty, and is usually much more prominent in men than women. The term Adam's apple comes from the story of Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis. In the story, Adam eats the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, sometimes depicted as an apple. According to the legend, the bite of apple stuck in Adam's throat and gave him an Adam's … [Read more...]

Peanut gallery

The peanut gallery describes a rowdy group of critics or hecklers who give unsolicited, uninformed and unhelpful advice. The term comes from the days of American vaudeville when the topmost, cheapest seats were dubbed the peanut gallery. Peanuts were sold as refreshments at most vaudeville shows, and if the occupants of the cheap seats were displeased with a performance, peanuts would rain down from their gallery. Later, the term peanut gallery was perpetuated by Buffalo Bob Smith who hosted a … [Read more...]

Accessorize vs accessorise

Accessorize means to enhance an outfit with a complementary item such as a purse or scarf. Accessorize is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are accessorizes, accessorized, accessorizing.  Accessory comes to mean a woman's smaller articles of dress in 1896, the word accessorize follows in 1939 as a back formation from the word accessory. Accessorize is the North American spelling. Accessorise is the preferred British spelling, related words are … [Read more...]

Bite, byte or bight

A bite is a portion that is taken away by the rasping of teeth or the wound left from the rasping of teeth. A bite may also refer to the nibbling of a fish on a lure or bait. Bite may mean a small amount to eat. Bite also functions as a verb to mean to clamp down on something with the teeth or tear something away with the teeth, or the nibbling of a fish on a lure or bait. Related words are bites, bitten, biting. Bite is also used figuratively to mean to take the bait, as well as to describe … [Read more...]

Chaise lounge and chaise longue

A chaise lounge is a long, low couch for reclining, which has a back and only one armrest. Chaise lounge is the Americanized version of chaise longue, which continues to be the accepted spelling in British English. Chaise longue is a French term that literally translates as long chair. British English retains the French spelling, American English reinterpreted the term as chaise lounge around 1800. The plural form of chaise lounge is chaise lounges. The plural forms of chaise longue is either … [Read more...]

Car hood and car bonnet

A car hood is the metal part that covers the engine of an automobile. The term car hood is a North American term, used primarily in America and Canada. Hood comes from the Old English word hod which means a hood, a soft covering for the head. Interestingly, hood is used by British English-speakers to refer to the waterproof cloth top covering the passenger compartment of a car or pram. A car bonnet is the metal part that covers the engine of an automobile. The term car bonnet is a British … [Read more...]

Might as well

Might as well is a phrase used when one makes a suggestion that one is not entirely enthusiastic about. Might as well is also used to compare the equality of a given situation to a hypothetical situation. The origin of the phrase might as well is murky. It may stem from idioms such as you might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb and you might as well be hung for a goat as a lamb, eventually dropping the last half of the idiom. Examples The cellphone lot for O'Hare International Airport … [Read more...]

Varied vs various

Varied means showing variety, different kinds. Varied comes into the English language in the early fifteenth century to mean changed, within the century varied came to mean differing from one another. Varied is an adjective and also the past tense of the verb vary. Use the word varied when describing things that are somewhat similar. Various means different from one another, of several types. Various comes into the English language in the early fifteenth century to mean characterized by … [Read more...]

Should have, should’ve or should of

Should have refers to a missed opportunity, an unfulfilled obligation. Should have is often expressed as the contraction should've, especially in speech. Should've sounds perilously like should of, however should of is not correct and should never be used. Contractions have been around as long as the English language, many examples exist in Old English. Interestingly, while the use of contractions has always been popular in spoken English, there have been periods in history when the use of … [Read more...]

On the stump and stump speech

On the stump means to take part in political campaigning. The idiom on the stump comes from the habit of early American politicians traveling the countryside to make campaign speeches. In rural areas there was often no stage or place for a speaker to rise high enough to be seen and heard by a crowd, so the politician would stand on a tree stump. In time, traveling around the countryside in order to campaign for office came to be referred to as being on the stump. A stump speech is the speech … [Read more...]

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