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At cross purposes

At cross purposes is a phrase that many find confusing. We will examine the meaning of the expression at cross purposes, where the term came from and some examples of its use in sentences. At cross purposes describes two or more people who are working against each other, often without knowing it. If two people word at cross purposes, their goals are different and these goals may be in conflict or they may be mutually exclusive. Working at cross purposes usually happens when there is a … [Read more...]

Tamper vs temper

Tamper and temper are two words that are similar in spelling and pronunciation but have very different definitions. We will examine the meanings of the words tamper and temper, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Tamper means to meddle with, to interfere with, to alter without prior authorization. Tamper is an intransitive verb, which is a verb that does not take an object. Tamper is usually joined with the word with, as in tamper with, tampers with, … [Read more...]

Rebuke vs refute

Rebuke and refute are two words that are close in pronunciation and are sometimes confused. We will examine the definitions of rebuke and refute, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Rebuke means to severely criticize someone for their actions, to sharply scold or reprimand someone for their actions, to disapprove. Rebuke may be used as a noun or a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are rebukes, rebuked, rebuking. The word … [Read more...]

Suborn

Suborn is used in a legal term that many find confusing. We will examine the definition of the word suborn, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Suborn means to induce someone to commit a crime or an unlawful act. Often, this involves bribery, but the method of subornation may vary. The word suborn is often used in the term suborn perjury. This is a legal term that means to induce a witness to lie under oath. It is not suborning perjury to attempt to sway a witness' … [Read more...]

Lose face and save face

Lose face and save face are two idioms that came into English use at different times. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the meanings of the terms lose face and save face, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences. To lose face means to lose someone's respect, to be humiliated in front of others. The term lose face came into English … [Read more...]

Rhyme or reason

The phrase rhyme or reason has been in use since the 1400s. We will examine the meaning of rhyme or reason, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Rhyme or reason describes whether something makes sense, poetically or logically. The phrase rhyme or reason is usually rendered in the negative, as in no rhyme or reason, without rhyme or reason, neither rhyme nor reason. The term rhyme or reason comes from a French expression, sans rime ni raison, literally translated as … [Read more...]

Mall vs maul

Mall and maul are two words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will examine the definitions of mall and maul, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Mall may refer to an outdoor promenade or public walkway. In the United States, a mall is a large shopping center consisting of many places of business with an enclosed promenade connecting the businesses. The word mall first … [Read more...]

L’état, c’est moi

The phrase l'état, c'est moi is a borrowed or loan phrase from the French. Borrowed or loan phrases are terms that have been taken from other languages and used as English words and phrases. We will examine the meaning of the term l'état, c'est moi, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. L'état, c'est moi translates as "I am the state." It is used in reference to someone who claims absolute power, without boundaries or rivalries. The term l'état, c'est moi is attributed … [Read more...]

Under someone’s thumb

The idiom under someone's thumb can be confusing. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definition of the phrase under someone's thumb, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. To be under someone's thumb means to be under his control, to be unduly influenced or dominated by someone. To be under someone's thumb is a negative thing, as … [Read more...]

Shooting the messenger and don’t shoot the messenger

The idioms shooting the messenger and don't shoot the messenger have their roots in ancient Greece. An idiom is a figure of speech that is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. We will examine the definitions of shooting the messenger and don't shoot the messenger, where these phrases came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Shooting the messenger means blaming the bearer of bad news for being … [Read more...]

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