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Country mile

A country mile is a term that dates back at least to the 1800s. We will look at the definition of the term country mile, its origin and some examples of its use in sentences. A country mile is a deceptively long distance, an extremely long way. The idea behind a country mile is the fact that most country roads are not in a straight line. Instead, roads in the country tend to meander up and down and all around. This makes it seem as if a mile in the country takes longer to cross than a … [Read more...]

Sequins vs sequence

Sequins and sequence are two words that sound very similar but have different spellings and different definitions. We will look at the meaning of sequins and sequence, where the words come from and some examples of their use in sentences. Sequins are small, shiny discs made from plastic or very thin metal that are used for decoration, especially on items of dress. Technically, a sequin has a hole in the very center, while a spangle has a hole at the top. Sequins are usually round, though they … [Read more...]

Rob Peter to pay Paul

The idiom rob Peter to pay Paul goes back at least 600 years, and possibly longer. We will look at the meaning of the phrase rob Peter to pay Paul, where it comes from and some examples of its use in sentences. To rob Peter to pay Paul means to take take money from one source to give it to another. Usually, robbing Peter to pay Paul means taking the money one would pay off one debt to pay off another debt, it is a situation where there is not enough money to go around and one must choose … [Read more...]

Nitty-gritty

Nitty-gritty is an American word, though its exact origin is up for debate. We will look at the definition of the term nitty-gritty, some theories of its origin and some examples of its use in sentences. Nitty-gritty means the essential core of a matter, the most vital details of a situation, the most practical part of something. There is a story that the term nitty-gritty originated in the time of slave ships, that the term referred to the detritus left in the bottom of a slave ship hold. … [Read more...]

Old as Methuselah

Old as Methuselah is an idiom that goes back to the fourteenth century. We will examine the meaning of the phrase old as Methuselah, where it comes from and some examples of its use in sentences. Old as Methuselah is an idiom that means extremely old. Methuselah is the name of a character from the Old Testament of the Bible, he was the grandfather of Noah. Methuselah is said to have died at the age of 969, making him the longest-lived figure in the Bible. The name Methuselah translates as man … [Read more...]

Namby-pamby

Namby-pamby is an interesting word because it was invented to describe a certain person and his work. We will look at the definition of the word namby-pamby, who invented it and why, as well as some examples of its use in a few sentences. Namby-pamby describes something or someone who is feeble, weak, ineffectual, maudlin and overly sentimental. The term namby-pamby was coined in 1725 by the writer Henry Carey to describe a rival writer and poet, Ambrose Philips. Philips was the tutor to the … [Read more...]

Ceiling vs sealing

Ceiling and sealing are two words that are pronounced in the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will look at the difference between the words ceiling and sealing, where the words come from and some examples of their use in sentences. A ceiling is the upper, inner surface of a room. The word ceiling is also used figuratively to mean an upper limit, the maximum altitude that a plane may reach or the base altitude of a cloud layer. The word … [Read more...]

E pluribus unum

E pluribus unum is a Latin phrase that is still frequently used today. We will look at the translation of the phrase e pluribus unum, where it comes from, how it is used and some examples of its use in sentences. E pluribus unum is a Latin phrase that translates as out of many, one. E pluribus unum is the motto of the United States. It is said to refer to the unification of the original thirteen colonies into one nation. E pluribus unum may also be said to refer to the fact that the United … [Read more...]

On one’s high horse

To be on one's high horse is an idiom that goes back to the 1780s. We will look at the meaning of the phrase on one's high horse, where it comes from and some examples of its use in sentences. To be on one's high horse means to act in an arrogant or haughty fashion. Get off your high horse is a related idiom which exhorts the listener to quit acting in a superior or arrogant fashion. The term high horse dates back to medieval times when it was used literally to describe a tall riding horse. … [Read more...]

Cellar vs seller

Cellar and seller are two words that are pronounced the same way but are spelled differently and have different meanings. They are homophones. We will examine the definitions of cellar and seller, where these words come from and some examples of their use in sentences. A cellar is a room or a floor built beneath the ground floor of a building, a cellar is a basement. Cellar may also be used to mean the place where wine is stored or the inventory of wine. The word cellar first appears in the … [Read more...]

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