Bullseye or bull’s eye

A bullseye is the center of a target, a shot that hits the center of the target, or something that achieves its goal. Less commonly, bullseye may be used to describe a thick glass disk that is a small window on a ship. The origin of the word bullseye is uncertain, it may simply be derived from its similarity to the shape of a bull's eye. Another origin story is that English longbow yeomen practiced their archery skills on bull skulls, aiming at the eye socket, or bull's eye. Originally, bull's … [Read more...]

Plug-ugly vs pug-ugly

Plug-ugly means extremely unattractive. Plug-ugly sometimes refers to a villain, a thug. The word plug-ugly is derived from the name of a Baltimore gang in the 1850s, the Plug Uglies. This gang took part in numerous politically-motivated riots during the 1850s and 1860s. It is believed that the Plug Uglies took their name from the plug hats that they wore. In popular slang of the day, plug was a term for a homely, average person, perhaps partially accounting for the term. Today, plug-ugly is … [Read more...]

Parish vs perish

A parish is the area served by a Christian church, administrated by a priest or pastor. A parish is a subdivision of a diocese. Parish also refers to the people served by a Christian church. In England, a parish is the smallest unit of rural government. In the state of Louisiana, a parish is a unit of government similar to a county. Parish comes from the Greek word paroikia, which means sojourning. Perish means to suffer or to die, to be ruined. Perish is also used to describe the decay of … [Read more...]

Kilroy was here

Kilroy was here is a phrase written in graffiti by primarily American servicemen during World War II. Kilroy could be considered a symbol of every American serviceman. Writing the graffiti message Kilroy was here was a small claim of victory, a statement that the Americans were there to defend and protect. It became a craze that continued into the 1950s. The Kilroy in question is unknown, although there are two good possibilities. One is Sgt. Francis J. Kilroy, Jr., whose friend wrote on a … [Read more...]

Braid vs abrade

A braid may be threads composed of various materials woven into a band used to trim garments or upholstery. A length of hair that has been interwoven is also called a braid, as is any flexible material that has been interwoven. Braid may also be used as a transitive verb to describe weaving various materials into a band or interweaving a length of hair or any flexible material. Related words are braids, braided, braiding. The word braid comes from the Old English word bregdan which means to make … [Read more...]


AWOL is an acronym for absent without official leave. AWOL is a military term that is used to designate a soldier who is absent from his post or duty without permission, but is not considered a deserter. AWOL may also be used figuratively to describe anyone who is not physically in a place where he is expected to be. The term AWOL is first seen around 1920, though the idea of a soldier being absent without leave is much older. AWOL is an American term. Though sometimes seen with periods as in … [Read more...]

Spill the beans

To spill the beans means to divulge a secret, whether intentionally or accidentally. Originally, spill the beans was an American horse racing term that described an upset or a race in which the favored horse did not win. By 1910 the phrase spill the beans had expanded to mean a situation in which the status quo was upset by someone speaking out or talking out of turn. By the 1920s the meaning of the phrase altered to its current meaning, which encompasses altering the status quo by divulging a … [Read more...]

Worth one’s salt

To be worth one's salt means to be competent and efficient at one's profession. A person who is worth his salt lives up to the expectations of his job or situation. Worth one's salt is rooted in the fact that salt has long been a valuable commodity, essential in the human diet and used for a myriad of reasons including food preservation. There is a story that the term worth one's salt dates to Ancient Rome, when soldiers were paid in salt. However, many historians dispute this story, saying that … [Read more...]

Gel vs jell

Gel is a substance that has a consistency similar to jelly. A gel may be a cosmetic, a hair product, a medicinal product or other substance. Gel may be used as a noun or a verb, when used as a verb gel means to form something into a gel. Related words are gels, gelled, gelling. Thomas Graham coined the word gel around 1900, as a back-formation from the word gelatin. Jell is a verb that means to become a consistency similar to jelly. Related words are jells, jelled, jelling, the noun form is … [Read more...]

Muscle vs mussel

Muscle is the fibrous tissue in an animal or human body that contracts and expands in order to create movement, either internal or external. The word muscle is also used to describe someone or something that is powerful or influential or something that is accomplished through force. Informally, muscle also indicates a person who is physically strong or whose job it is to enforce rules. Muscle is derived from the Latin word musculus. A mussel is a bivalve mollusk of the marine genus Mytilus or … [Read more...]

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