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Quick entries: T

  • 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.

    Tabula rasa: Latin for blank slate. In English, it refers to (1) a mind without preconceived notions, or (2) a fresh start at something.

    Take a shine to: to begin to like.

    Take aback: to surprise or disconcert.

    Take down vs. takedown: Take down is a verb phrase (e.g., Please take down that poster.) Takedown is a noun (That takedown was painful.) and sometimes an adjective.

    Tease out: to get little by little, often with sustained effort.

    Terra firma: Latin for solid earth. In English it means solid ground or dry land, often contrasted with the sea.

    Thank you: always two words—never thankyou.

    Them’s da breaks: colloquialism for oh well or that’s the way it goes. 

    Threshold: one h. 

    Through and through: in every aspect; completely.

    Thunk: The verb think is inflected thought in the past tense and as a past participle. As far as we know, no one actually uses thunk except in humorous phrases such as Who’d a thunk it? 

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    Tide over: to support or sustain through a challenging time—for example, Your sweet letter will have to tide me over until we can be together again. 

    Tit for tat: retaliation in kind.

    Tomatoes: not tomatos (even though tomato doesn’t end in e).

    Touche: In French, touché is the past participle of the verb toucher, meaning to hit. The word is used in fencing to acknowledge a hit. Outside fencing, the word is used to acknowledge that someone has made a valid point. In English, we often omit the accent, though there’s nothing wrong with including it.

    Towel (as a verb): makes toweled and toweling in North America; towelled and towelled outside North America.

    Trainer: Trainor is only a surname.

    Treacle: language or speech so sweet or emotional that it is distasteful. The corresponding adverb is treacly.

    Trepidation: a state of alarm or apprehension.

    Troika: a group of three. A rare loanword from Russian.

    Turnkey: Ready to use with minimal setup. It is a marketingspeak term best avoided in most types of writing.

    Tween: a child around eight to 12 years old.

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