Knock on wood and touch wood

Knock on wood is a superstitious phrase spoken when one has acknowledged some good fortune and wishes the good fortune to continue. The idea is that an admission of good fortune may arouse the jealousy of a mischievous spirit who will destroy the person's good luck. In pagan times, trees were believed to be the homes of woodland spirits. Knock on wood is an American phrase that appears around the beginning of the twentieth century. Touch wood is a superstitious phrase spoken when one has … [Read more...]

Expiration date and expiry date

An expiration date is the date when a food product spoils and may no longer be eaten safely or when a contract or other condition becomes no longer valid. Expiration date is a North American term. The expiration date is usually labeled as the best by date, the sell by date or the use before date. In the United States, the only food that is federally mandated to carry an expiration date is infant formula. Different states carry different laws concerning expiration dates for milk, eggs, etc, but … [Read more...]

Aloud vs allowed

Aloud means not silently, spoken out loud. Aloud may be used as an adverb or as an adjective. Aloud comes to us in the late fourteenth century by adding the prefix a- to the word loud. Allowed is the past tense of the verb allow, meaning 1.) to permit, 2.) to let happen, 3.) to permit entrance, 4.) to acknowledge the truth or acceptability of something. Related words are allows, allowing, allowedly. Allow comes into the English language in the fourteenth century as allouen, from the the Latin … [Read more...]


Balderdash means illogical or nonsensical talk or text. Balderdash appears in the sixteenth century to refer to a light, frothy liquid of mixed liquors. Later, in the latter seventeenth century, balderdash came to mean a senseless jumble of words. The origin of the word balderdash is uncertain, perhaps coined from the Welsh baldorddus, meaning idle noisy talk or chatter, or the Dutch word balderen, which means to roar or thunder. In 1984, a board game called Balderdash was released. It is a game … [Read more...]

Award vs reward

An award is 1.) a prize, medal, grant or other item given in recognition of an achievement, 2.) the action of giving a prize, medal, grant or other item in recognition of an achievement, 3.) compensation bestowed because of a legal judgement, 4.) the action of bestowing compensation because of a legal judgement. Award may be used as a noun or as a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Awards are often sought. Award enters the English language in the fourteenth century, from the … [Read more...]

Randomize vs randomise

To randomize means to arrange items in an unpredictable, unsystematic order. Randomize was coined in 1926 by taking the adjective, random, and adding the suffix -ize to form a verb. Related words are randomizes, randomized, randomizing, randomization. Randomize is the preferred North American spelling, including Canada. The North American spelling is gaining acceptance around the world. Randomise is the preferred British spelling, related words are randomises, randomised, randomising and … [Read more...]