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Tilting at windmills

Tilting at windmills is an idiom that has its origins in Spanish literature, over four hundred years ago. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will look at the meaning of tilting at windmills, where the phrase came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Tilting at windmills means fighting imaginary enemies. The idiom tilting at windmills is first seen in the English language in the 1640s as … [Read more...]

Raise Cain

Raise Cain is an American idiom. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will examine the meaning of the term raise Cain, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. To raise Cain means to cause a commotion, to create a disturbance, to make trouble. The Cain in the phrase raise Cain refers to a character in the Old Testament of the Bible. Cain was the son of Adam and Eve, and he … [Read more...]

Tinker’s damn and tinker’s dam

Tinker's damn and the alternative spelling tinker's dam are idioms that have been in the English language since the 1800s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning.We will examine the meaning of the term tinker's damn, where it came from and a few examples of its use in sentences. Tinker's damn and the alternative spelling tinker's dam are terms that mean something small, insignificant or worthless. … [Read more...]

Spore vs spoor

Spore and spoor are two words that are very close in pronunciation and spelling, but mean two different things. We will examine the difference between the definitions of spore and spoor, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. A spore is a unit of reproduction that consists of one cell and does not need a sexual act to reproduce. Protozoa, fungi and some other plants reproduce from spores. Spore may be used as a noun or a verb, related words are spores, … [Read more...]

Flocks vs phlox

Flocks and phlox are two words that are pronounced in the same manner but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will examine the different meanings of flocks and phlox, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Flocks is the plural form of flock, which is a word that means a group of animals, usually birds, sheep or goats. A flock bands together while moving, eating or sleeping. Flock is also used figuratively to mean a … [Read more...]

Goldbrick

The term goldbrick has followed an interesting route to come to the meaning that it carries today. Goldbrick is an idiom, which is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal meaning. We will look at the meaning of the term goldbrick, examine the evolution of its definition, and some examples of its use in sentences. Goldbrick may refer to a brick of gold, but more often it is used as a verb to mean to avoid work, to invent … [Read more...]

A watched pot never boils

A watched pot never boils is a proverb. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that gives advice or shares a universal truth. Often, a proverb is so familiar that a speaker will only quote half of it, relying on the listener to supply the ending of the proverb himself.  We will examine the meaning of the proverb a watched pot never boils, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. A watched pot never boils means that time seems to move more slowly when one is … [Read more...]

Quarts vs quartz

Quarts and quartz 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 difference between the definitions for quarts and quartz, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Quarts is the plural form of the word quart, which is a unit of volume. A quart is generally a liquid measurement, though in the United States it is sometimes used as a dry measurement. A quart is … [Read more...]

The birds and the bees

The birds and the bees is a euphemism, which is a word or phrase that is used to indicate a concept that is embarrassing or otherwise too sensitive to refer to plainly and bluntly. We will examine the meaning of the phrase the birds and the bees, where this term came from and some examples of its use in sentences. The birds and the bees is a euphemism for the facts and mechanics concerning human reproduction. The term the birds and the bees is often used to mean a talk a parent gives to a … [Read more...]

Paten vs patten

Paten and patten are two words that are often confused. They are pronounced in the same fashion but have different meanings and different spellings. They are homophones. We will examine the definitions of the words paten and patten, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. A paten is a plate upon which the bread in a Eucharistic ceremony rests, usually made of a precious metal such as gold or silver. Sometimes it is used to cover a chalice. The word paten is … [Read more...]

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