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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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