Quixotic describes something or someone as hopeful to the point of foolishness, often in achieving ideals or impossible tasks. Contrary to its origin, Quixote, quixotic is pronounced  /kwɪkˈsɒtɪk/ (kwix-ah-tic). Examples This quixotic juggling of the personal and the socio-historical has … [Read more...]


Bailiwick is a person's niche, their area of expertise or interest. Within the law system, it is the powers held by the office of the bailiff. Bailiwick also is used in references to two areas under the British Crown in the Channel Islands. Examples But recently, its leading companies have … [Read more...]


Akimbo describes a body position where hands are on hips and the elbows are out wide. It is an adjective that always follows the noun it modifies, such as arms akimbo. Recently there has been a rise in using akimbo in reference to almost anything that is splayed out or haphazardly arranged. The … [Read more...]

Obliged vs. obligated

As a transitive verb oblige can mean to restrict by force or circumstances. To be obliged is to be in someone's debt because of a favor or service. Obligate carries a slightly different meaning, which is to force someone (or an organization) to do something because the law or morality requires … [Read more...]

Baptise vs. baptize

Baptise is the preferred spelling outside North America; as well as: baptised and baptising. For North America the standard is baptize, baptizing, baptized. However, baptism is used everywhere. Examples in North America: On Sunday, the Romano family was on the brink of a new life - they had … [Read more...]

Writ large

Writ large is a phrase meaning obvious or clear. Writ is an archaic form of 'written'. So one can understand the idiom writ large as something written largely or magnified. However, it should always be in reference to a specific noun, used after said noun, and not as a verbal phrase (e.g., is writ … [Read more...]


Hand-wash is a verb meaning to wash something by hand. Hand soap can sometimes be referred to as handwash or hand wash. When talking about the act of washing one's hands, there is not a official listing in most dictionaries. Medical reference books use the spelling of handwashing, but most other … [Read more...]

Minks vs. minx

A mink is a weasel-like carnivore native to North America, known for its lustrous fur. The plural form is minks. A minx is a promiscuous, impudent, or flirtatious young woman who causes trouble. The term carries a sexist connotation.  Examples The American mink was first introduced to … [Read more...]

Gist vs. jist

A gist is the main part of something, usually used with a direct object. It can also be the ground for legal action. Gist comes from the French word gist. Often misspelled as jist.  Jist is the common phonetic spelling of a United States Southerner's way of saying 'just'.  Interestingly, the … [Read more...]

Battle royal

A battle involving many fighters can be called a battle royal. It is not spelled battle royale unless you are specifically referencing a book, game, or movie by that name. The plural form can be either battle royals or battles royal. History Battles royal were common in England in the 17th and … [Read more...]

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