The noun brainchild refers to an original idea, creative thought, or invention attributed to a person or group. Think of a brainchild as a figurative child birthed by a brain. That's the conventional definition of the word, anyway, and has been since it was coined in the late 19th century. Yet brainchild is occasionally used to refer to a person who has good ideas or a person or group who has an idea or creates something. This sense is not common enough to have gained acceptance, and it is … [Read more...]

Weaved, wove, woven

The verb weave is usually inflected wove in the past tense and woven in the perfect-tense and past-participial forms. But weaved is more common where weave means to move in and out or sway from side to side. This is the case in all the main varieties of English, though British writers are particularly wont to use weaved for all senses of the word---a growing phenomenon. Examples Picking up the puck just inside Houston's blue-line, he weaved around two defenders and then tucked a shot just … [Read more...]

Preposition vs. proposition

Preposition has two definitions: (1) a word or phrase used to relate a noun or pronoun grammatically to another part of the sentence, and (2) to position in advance. Proposition means (1) a plan or offer suggested for acceptance, (2) a matter to be dealt with, and (3) to propose a private bargain. Examples Preposition He also instructed all city and municipal DRRMCs to prepare all necessary emergency equipment and personnel, and preposition them if needed. [Sun Star] She has American … [Read more...]


The main definition of the adjective modern is of or relating to recent times or the present. For describing 21st-century things, though, modern can have unwanted connotations. The word is often associated with the cultural movements of the early to middle 20th century (before postmodernism). These movements were modern at the time, but to us they may seem dated. So, for example, describing a new work of art as modern may actually give the impression that it takes its cues from artists who are … [Read more...]

Clench vs. clinch

The main definitions of clench are (1) to close tightly, and (2) to grasp or grip tightly. It's also a noun referring to a tight grip or grasp. The original definition of clinch is to fix or secure (as a nail or bolt) by bending down or flattening the end that protrudes. This definition gave rise to the now more common sense of clinch---to settle definitely and conclusively. This sense is often used in sports, where a berth or title is clinched when the team or competitor secures it. Some … [Read more...]

Agent and recipient nouns

An agent noun denotes a person who performs an action. Most agent nouns end in either  -er (standard) or -or (for words derived directly from Latin). A recipient noun denotes a person who receives an action. Recipient nouns usually have the suffix -ee, which technically means one to whom. Examples Agent nouns are more common than recipient ones simply because recipients need agents while agents do not need recipients. Here are just a few of the thousands of agent nouns in … [Read more...]

Fiancé vs. fiancée

A fiancé is a man engaged to be married. A fiancée is a woman engaged to be married. Both words come directly from French and often retain the accent aigu over the first e---though the accent appears less and less frequently in English. Examples Kris is delighted his fiancée is pleased with the band, explaining he had one clear goal in mind when buying it. [] Six weeks ago, she and her fiancé moved with their five kids from a house in the southwest part of Slave Lake to a place … [Read more...]

Another think coming

Another think coming is the original form of the colloquial phrase aimed at someone who has a mistaken view. It comes from the old comical expression, If that's what you think, you've got another think coming. Because think in the second part of the expression is (intentionally) ungrammatical, some people hear another thing coming and repeat it as such. Plus, another thing coming usually makes literal sense, so it's now more common than another think coming. The exact origins of another … [Read more...]

By and by vs. by the by

By and by is usually an adverbial phrase meaning (1) after a while, or (2) soon---for example, "I can't come now, but if you wait a little while, I will be there by and by." But it also works as a noun meaning the future---for example, "I will see you in the by-and-by." In the noun sense, the phrase is often hyphenated for clarity. By the by means incidentally, by the way, or beside the point. Both might be considered out of place in formal writing. Bye and bye, bye the bye, by the bye, etc. … [Read more...]

Although vs. though

As conjunctions, although and though are interchangeable. Although is generally considered more formal than though, though both forms appear regularly in both formal and informal writing.  Though is also an adverb meaning however or nevertheless. In this sense, though is not interchangeable with although, which is only a conjunction. Examples In these examples, although and though are the same: Growth in Europe is maintaining momentum, although the risks related to peripheral economies … [Read more...]

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