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Bite one’s tongue

Bite one's tongue is an idiom that is used as a verbal phrase and as an retort. An idiom 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 bite one's tongue, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. To bite one's tongue means to hold back from speaking, to refrain from saying something that will annoy, hurt or rile the listener. In this case, the idea is to hold the … [Read more...]

We’d vs weed

We'd and weed are two words that are pronounced in the same manner but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. We will examine the definitions of we'd and weed, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. We'd is a contraction of either we would, we had or we should. Contractions have been around as long as the English language, many examples exist in Old English. Interestingly, while the use of contractions has always … [Read more...]

Titular

The word titular dates back to the 1590s, and may be confusing for some people. We will examine the definitions of titular, where the word came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Titular may be used to mean someone who holds a certain title but does not wield any authority under that title. The titular head of an organization enjoys the prestige of that office, but does not carry any of the responsibility of the office. For instance, a titular monarch is one who carries on with … [Read more...]

Scatological

Scatological is a word that has been in use since the late 1800s. We will examine the definition of scatological, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Scatological describes ideas or words that reference excrement or an interest in excrement. Scatological is sometimes used in a broader sense to mean obscenity, but usually in reference to excrement. Such words are usually considered swear words, and are not appropriate in polite company or business communications. … [Read more...]

Riffraff vs riprap

Riffraff and riprap are two words that are close in pronunciation and spelling, and are sometimes confused. We will examine the differing definitions of riffraff and riprap, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Riffraff is a derogatory term for people the speaker considers socially inferior or undesirable. It’s a centuries-old term, having come to English from the French around 1500. In modern use, the word is usually humorous or ironic. When used … [Read more...]

Number vs numeral

Many people use the words number and numeral interchangeably, but these two words do not mean the same thing. We will examine the definitions of the words number and numeral, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences. A number is an arithmetical value, an idea that quantifies, counts, ranks or calculates an arithmetical value. The word number is derived from the Old French word nombrer, which means to count. A numeral is a symbol that is used to indicate a … [Read more...]

Pejorative

The word pejorative has only been in use since the late 1800s. We will examine the definition of pejorative, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Pejorative describes something that is derogatory or expresses contempt for something. A pejorative term is meant to hurt or insult someone. This means that a word may be pejorative in some contexts, and not pejorative in other contexts. For instance, the word bastard may be used to insult the lineage of someone, or it may … [Read more...]

Cease and surcease

Cease and surcease are words that are related, but may be confusing. We will examine the definitions of cease and surcease, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Cease means to bring something to an end, to stop doing something, to desist or to go out of existence. Cease is a verb, related words are ceases, ceased, ceasing. The word cease is derived from the Latin word cessare which means to stop or to desist. Surcease may be used as a verb to mean to … [Read more...]

Could have, could’ve or could of

The expressions could have, could've and could of are confusing to some people. We will examine the definition of the terms could have, could've and could of, and which of these terms are considered grammatically correct. Could have refers to a possibility, the ability to fulfill something. Could have is often expressed as the contraction could’ve, especially in speech. Could’ve sounds perilously likecould of, however could of is not correct and should never be used. Contractions have been … [Read more...]

Renascence and renaissance

Renascence and renaissance are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation. Many find these terms confusing. We will examine the definitions of renascence and renaissance, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Renascence means a rebirth, a revival. Renascence usually refers to a rebirth of something that has been dormant for a period of time, or a reemergence of something that has gone out of fashion, and subsequently returned to popularity. … [Read more...]

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