Bugbear or bugaboo

A bugbear is something that elicits fear or annoyance from someone. Common synonyms are problem or annoyance. It is spelled as one word. Bugbear is commonly pluralized by adding an s. It was originally an imaginary creature used to make little children afraid. It may be a variant of the word bogey, which does not have an exact origin itself. Between Middle English, Old Scots, German, and Welsh there are many options for where the word came from. Mainly in North America, another … [Read more...]


Aggrandize is a transitive verb, used with an object, that means to cause something or someone to be or appear to be magnified or greater. It can be in relation to size, quantity, wealth, or prominence. One of the more common ways this word is used today is paired with the prefix self-. To self-aggrandize is to make oneself appear to be more important or bigger. One can be a self-aggrandizer. The noun form is aggrandizement and a person who aggrandizes something is … [Read more...]

Co-ordinate vs coordinate

Co-ordinate is the exact same word as coordinate. As an adjective they can mean to be the same standing or rank, relating to coordination, or relating to an intersection of indices. As a verb it means for things to work or flow smoothly as a group, or to cause things to work or flow smoothly together as a group. And, finally, as a noun, it may mean a part of a set of numbers or symbols used to find a position on a map or graph. Clothing that coordinates are sometimes called coordinates. While … [Read more...]

Beside oneself and beside the point

  While beside is a synonym for besides, there are some phrases which use the word and are clearly defined one way or the other. Beside oneself means to be overwhelmed with emotion, usually sadness, anger, or frustration. The oneself is reflexive, meaning it changes to himself or herself depending on the subject. The phrase can be used by itself. However, for clarity or simply because of habit, the phrase is usually qualified by the emotion one is distraught by. For example, beside … [Read more...]

Beside or besides

Beside can mean to literally be on the side of something or it can be used to show two things are being compared to one another. And confusingly, it can be a synonym for besides; however, besides is not a synonym for beside. Besides can be used as a synonym for except (e.g., nothing besides that lamp), or the words together with (e.g., besides being beautiful, the car was reasonably priced). Several phrases use the term beside, not besides, such as beside oneself and beside the … [Read more...]


  Collocate is a verb that means to be paired with or arranged side by side. Words can collocate with each other, like peanut butter and jelly. It can be used with or without an object, in other words, can be transitive or intransitive. The word is being used more often these days in business or science. The noun form is collocation and is used mostly for orderings of words or the arrangement of certain words. It also has an adjective form of collocational. Examples “We have to go … [Read more...]


  Accost is a verb that, according to the dictionary, means to verbally attack someone, to be aggressive and combative, but without physical contact usually. Sometimes it can be used to approach someone aggressively but without anger, such as an earnest salesman. Oftentimes this word is used or understood to mean a person was physically attacked. We have included several examples below. But accost is not a synonym for assault or attack, at least as currently defined and the two … [Read more...]

Old chestnut

  Calling something an old chestnut is describing the item as overused, boring, or tedious from repetition. It is usually used when describing a story, joke, or topic of discussion. The phrase is much more popular overseas. The phrase may be used without the modifier old. Calling something a chestnut still carries the connotation of it being overused and without humor. The wording of the phrase comes from a play written in 1816, in which the characters discuss a story about a … [Read more...]

Body politic

  Body politic is a phrase referring to a collective body of people belonging to a country, state, or society. In other words, a collection of politically organized people. It is sometimes used to describe a group as a single unit, unified in purpose or action. Usually it is used with the article the, as in the body politic. This phrase is appositive, which means the modifier comes after the noun it relates to. Politic is describing body, not the other way around. The phrase has … [Read more...]


  Bane is a noun which chiefly means something which hurts or destroys. It is also a synonym for poison and death. Obsolete meanings include a murderer and a verb form which meant to murder by poisoning. The word is most commonly heard in the phrase, or some version of the phrase, bane of my existence. The phrase is used to describing something or someone has the main cause of pain or woe in a person's life. That phrase has been around since at least 1800. Another common usage is … [Read more...]

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