Beat or beaten

The verb beat has many definitions. The most common one is to strike or hit something. This can be one's heart, an instrument, physically hitting another object or person, whipping eggs, or a multitude of other definitions. The confusion with this verb comes from the verb inflections. The past tense of beat is beat. The past participle, which changes the verb to an adverb, is beaten. The adjective form is also beaten. Sometimes it is heard in the construction got beat. This is incorrect … [Read more...]

Braggart vs bragger

A braggart is someone that talks a lot about his or her own accomplishments in a way that will make him or her look better to others. It can also be an adjective with the same spelling. Bragger is the noun form of brag, which is to talk about one's self in a boastful way that will make one look better to others. In other words, these terms are synonyms with braggart being the more popular, used twice as much as bragger. Some would make the distinction that being a braggart is more … [Read more...]

Bum-rush vs bum’s rush

To bum-rush something is to strike, take, or push one's way in with great force. It originated in America from the phrase bum's rush. The bum's rush is to be kicked out of an event or place of business. It can also mean to dismiss or disregard someone for lack of performance or poor ideas. It is commonly used with the verbs to get or to give the bum's rush. All of these terms stem from the word bum as in someone who is homeless or without a job. The idiom is a singular bum that would get … [Read more...]

Black out vs blackout

To black out something is to delete or obscure it. The verb can also be used to put something in complete darkness, either by blocking the light or disabling electricity. A person can black out if he or she loses consciousness or vision for a period of time. The verb also means to institute a blackout on something. A blackout can be a precaution against an enemy, where the lights are kept off to keep a people's presence hidden. It can also be the period of time where electricity has failed in … [Read more...]

All but vs anything but vs everything but

All but is a compound adverb that means almost or very nearly. Be aware that it is also used without being a compound adverb to meaning everything except. Anything but is a compound phrase used to negate a trait in something or someone. It is used when one desires this negation to be emphasized. It is almost exclusively used with 'to be' verbs. Users should be aware that this can also be used without being a phrase, to mean all choices except. A third variation that should be noted … [Read more...]

Bone of contention

Bone of contention is an idiom describing an ongoing argument or discussion over a topic or issue. Some dictionaries list this phrase on its own, while others give bone the definition of a topic or issue and use of contention as a common modifier. The plural is bones of contention. The commonly accepted origin of the phrase is the image of two animals, usually dogs, fighting over the last bone of dinner. A similar phrase bone of dissension was used in the sixteenth and seventeenth … [Read more...]

Backwater or backwaters

Backwater is a section of a river that is away from the main flow and therefore moves more slowly than the rest. This term is also used for a town or village where time seems to flow more slowly, where there is minimal activity or modernization. This can be used pejoratively for places where the laws or thinking is outdated. As long as backwater has been around, backwaters has existed as a less common variation. The actual term is backwater, but backwaters is the plural form if one is … [Read more...]


Bromide can refer to a compound that includes the element bromine. Some of these compounds can be used in medicine to make a person calm or sleepy. Another definition can be a person that is tiresome, or a statement that is intended to make someone happier or calmer but in reality is trite or ineffective. The adjective form is bromidic. Examples Never has the bromide “less is more” seemed more appropriate. [The Boston Globe] In the hospitality industry, dressing to impress isn’t … [Read more...]

Belle vs beau

Belle is a noun for a gorgeous female, sometimes signified as the most gorgeous at a particular gathering. It is pronounced like bell. It comes from French and is the feminine version if beau. Beau is French and literally means handsome or beautiful in the masculine form. However, the word in English is used to describe a woman's male companion, such as a boyfriend or admirer. The plural form has two spellings. The original French is beaux  while the English version is beaus, with the French … [Read more...]

Adduce vs educe

To adduce is to give evidence or reference as proof in an argument or discussion. The noun form is adducer and the adjective form is adducible. To educe something is to infer or deduce from a data set or group of information. It can also mean to pull forward something that is latent, or bring out something's potential. The noun from is educion and the adjective form is educible. In general this word is rare and its synonym deduce is more common. Examples He was in court to adduce evidence … [Read more...]

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