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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...]

Doyen or doyenne vs docent

Doyen or doyenne and docent are words that many people find confusing. We will examine the definitions of the words doyen or doyenne and docent, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences. A doyen is a person who is the most knowledgeable or most senior member of a group. A doyen is an extremely prominent person in his field, and therefore, carries great authority and commands respect. Doyen refers to a male, doyenne refers to a female. The word doyen is derived … [Read more...]

Feckless vs reckless

Feckless and reckless are two words that are sometimes confused. Though feckless and reckless rhyme, they have two very different definitions. We will examine the meanings of the word feckless and reckless, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Feckless means irresponsible, weak, lacking determination, incompetent or ineffectual. Someone who is feckless lacks the ability or the will to do anything right. The word feckless was first used in the late 1500s and is … [Read more...]

Hit the bricks

The meaning of the idiom hit the bricks has changed over time. 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 hit the bricks, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. To hit the bricks means to leave. Usually, the idiom hit the bricks is used to mean to quit a job. It may be used as an admonition by an employer as a … [Read more...]

Castigate vs castrate

Castigate and castrate are two words that are similar in spelling and pronunciation, but have very different meanings. We will examine the definitions of castigate and castrate, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Castigate means to chastise, reprimand or rebuke in a severe manner. Castigate is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are castigates, castigated, castigating, castigation, castigator, castigatory. The word … [Read more...]

You reap what you sow

You reap what you sow is a proverb that goes back thousands of years. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that gives advice or shares a universal truth. We will examine the meaning of the expression you reap what you sow, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. You reap what you sow means you get what you deserve, whatever you put your time, talent and energy into is what you get back. You reap what you sow means you must eventually face the consequences of … [Read more...]

Repugnant vs pungent

Repugnant and pungent are two words that are close in pronunciation and spelling, and are sometimes confused. We will examine the definitions of repugnant and pungent, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Repugnant describes something disgusting, something repulsive or detestable.  The word repugnant may also describe something antagonistic or incompatible with something else. Repugnant is an adjective, related words are repugnance, repugnantly. The … [Read more...]

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