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Flat out

Flat out means as hard as possible, as fast as possible, with the maximum effort possible. The term flat out is also used in North America to mean utterly, without equivocation, out-and-out, absolute. When used as an adjective before a noun, the term is hyphenated as in flat-out. The term flat out is known at least from the 1930s to describe going as fast and as hard as possible, probably derived from the act of depressing an automobile accelerator to the floor. In the 1830s in North America, … [Read more...]

Koan vs cone

A koan is a riddle, a paradoxical problem used in Zen Buddhism in order to demonstrate that logic and reason are sometimes inadequate. A koan is employed to stimulate enlightenment, koans have been used in Zen Buddhism at least since the twelfth century. Some famous koans are "When you can do nothing, what can you do?" and "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" These riddles are designed to provoke a shift in perception. The word koan is a Japanese word, a combination of the character ko … [Read more...]

Insidious vs invidious

Insidious means something negative or treacherous that proceeds in a subtle and gradual way. Insidious describes something that might not be recognized as negative or treacherous until it is firmly entrenched or has done its damage. The word insidious is derived from the Latin word insidiosus which means cunning, deceitful, treacherous. Related words are insidiously and insidiousness. Invidious describes something that is likely to arouse envy or resentment in others. Invidious also means … [Read more...]

Hay vs straw

Hay is cut and dried grass, alfalfa or clover used as feed for animals.  Hay is often baled or bound in bundles shaped like squares or rounds. The word hay may also describe a certain country dance. Hay may be used as a noun or a verb, when describing the act of cutting and baling hay. Related words are hays, hayed, haying. Hay is derived from the Old English word, heg. Straw is dried grain stems left over after the grain is harvested. Straw is a byproduct of crops such as oats, wheat or … [Read more...]

Heard vs herd

Heard is the past and the past participle form of the verb hear, meaning to perceive a sound with one's ear, to listen to, to receive information, to listen to a legal case. The root word of heard, hear, is one of the Oxford English Dictionary's one thousand most frequently used words. The word heard is derived from the Old English word herde. Related words are hears, hearing, hearer, hearable. Herd refers to a large group of animals that live together. Usually, the word herd refers to hoofed … [Read more...]

Going viral

Going viral describes a video, picture, gif or piece of information that spreads over the internet quickly through the use of social media and email. The term going viral was coined around the year 2000, probably related to the term viral marketing which was coined in the 1990s, which in turn was probably based on the way biological viruses spread through a population in a rapid manner. Why something goes viral is something of a mystery, but it is usually a video, picture, gif or piece of … [Read more...]

When push comes to shove

When push comes to shove is an American idiom that describes that critical time when a decision must be made, when a commitment must be made, when action must be taken to back up words. The phrase when push comes to shove carries the connotation of escalation, a push being milder than a shove. There is some discussion as to where the phrase when push comes to shove has come from, currently it is believed to have originated in black American English during the late 1800s. There is little doubt … [Read more...]

Track and field and athletics

Track and field is the term for sporting events which are contests in running, throwing or jumping. The noun track and field is derived from the fact that these contests normally occur inside a stadium on a track or on the adjacent field, it is primarily a North American term. Track and field events consist of foot races, relay races, shot put, pole vaulting and many other individual and team contests. Today's track and field events have their roots in Ancient Greece. Modern track and field … [Read more...]

Reputedly vs reportedly

Reputedly means according to what most people believe, according to what is generally supposed but not necessarily proven as true. The word reputedly is used when discussing information that the speaker believes to be true. The root word, repute, originated in the 1500s to mean to be held in repute, supposed to be. Reputedly is an adverb, related words are repute, reputes, reputed, reputing. Reportedly means according to written or spoken testimony, gossip or rumor, it does not necessarily … [Read more...]

Decathlon, heptathlon, pentathlon, triathlon and biathlon

The decathlon is a summer sporting event that consists of ten track and field events over two days. The events in the decathlon are held in this order: 100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meters, 110 meters hurdle, discus throw, pole vault, javelin throw, 1500 meters. The Olympic decathlon is a male event, the winner is often considered the unofficial greatest all-around athlete in the world. The modern Olympic decathlon was first run at the 1912 games. The heptathlon is a summer … [Read more...]

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