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Quick entries: O

  • Note: Many of the entries here will eventually become full-length posts. Some are rough and have not been fully researched. If you have any corrections or would like to add anything, please comment.

    Oasis: plural oases.

    Off (first off, second off, etc.): First offsecond off, etc. mean the same as first of all, second of all, etc., but they are more colloquial.

    Once and a while: mondegreen for once in a while.

    Once in a lifetime vs. once-in-a-lifetime: Hyphenate it if it comes before what it refers to—e.g., a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Leave it unhyphenated if it comes after what it describes—e.g., Such an opportunity comes once in a lifetime.

    Opaque: unclear; cloudy; impenetrable by light.

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    Operationalize (operationalise outside U.S.): to make operational. Some people don’t like this relatively new word, but it’s a logical construction and can be useful.

    Ordeal: a painful, difficult experience whose severity tests one’s limits. But the word has been weakened through long, widespread use to refer to situations that are merely annoying or just somewhat difficult.

    Orthopaedics vs. orthopedics: orthopedics in North America; orthopaedics outside North America. The distinction extends to all related words.

    Out of the blue: seemingly out of nowhere.

    Out of the woodwork: appearing suddenly from obscurity.

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