Prima donna

Prima donna is Italian for first lady. Prima donna has come to mean a temperamental or demanding person, a diva who insists on special treatment. Traditionally, prima donna refers to the leading female singer in an opera company. The prima donna receives the best roles. The term prima donna began in nineteenth-century Italy to describe the principal soprano of an opera company, these troupe members often had out-sized personalities on and off stage. Unless referring to an actual opera … [Read more...]

Disabuse, misuse and abuse

Disabuse means to convince someone of the inaccuracy of a belief or notion. Disabuse is a transitive verb, it is used with an object. The first known use of disabuse was 1611. Misuse means to use something in an incorrect fashion or for the wrong purpose. Misuse also means to treat someone poorly or unfairly. Misuse is also a transitive verb, it is used with an object. The first known use of the word misuse was in the fourteenth century. Abuse means to use incorrectly or wrongly, to … [Read more...]

Deviled vs devilled

Deviled is the accepted spelling in the United States and Canada for an adjective describing food that is seasoned with horseradish, mustard, paprika or pepper to impart a strong flavor. In other English-speaking countries, the spelling is devilled. Deviled eggs have been prepared since the Roman Empire, coming into modern popularity around 1940 and steadily rising until the present. Eggs are hard-boiled, then split and the yolks removed. After mashing the yolks with ingredients such as … [Read more...]

Due to vs because of

Due to and because of are direct synonyms. Both terms function as prepositions and mean that something was caused by something else. Other synonyms that serve the same function and meaning are owing to, caused by, as a result of, by reason of, and on account of. Because of is an older term than due to. According to Google's ngram viewer the two terms are pretty even in their popularity and frequency of usage. After those two, which are the most used by far, the third most popular is a … [Read more...]

Downright vs outright

Downright is an adjective that describes something bad as completely bad or wholly bad. Sometimes it is used as an adverb to modify other adjectives, positive or negative, and then it simply means completely or wholly. Sometimes is it also an adjective to describe something as extremely harsh or blunt, without finesse. Another adverb form is downrightly and the noun form is downrightness. Outright is an adverb that means completely, but it is usually paired with an action rather than a … [Read more...]

Downplay or play down

To downplay something is to make the object or issue seem to be less than what it really is, either in importance or value. It is a transitive verb that always occurs with an object. Play down is also a transitive verb and is a direct synonym with downplay. Play down was coined first. Other synonyms for these include minimize and de-emphasize. Playdown, spelled as one word, is a British English term, mainly in Canada and Scottland, for a sporting event that is part of a larger … [Read more...]

Double whammy vs whammy

A whammy is slang for something that is a setback, a mental or emotion hit. It can also mean, usually in the United States, something like a curse or a hex that brings bad luck on a person. This is usually found in the phrase put the whammy on someone. The plural form is whammies. A double whammy is either a setback that is horrible in two separate ways, or it can mean two setbacks that happen back-to-back. The plural form is double whammies. In this double form, the term loses the hex … [Read more...]

Dotage vs senility

Dotage is a noun for the time in one's life when one is aged and not as strong as before. This weakness is physical and sometimes mental as one loses memories and the ability to recall information. This noun is usually used with a possessive pronoun, such as her dotage, my dotage, or their dotage. The plural is dotages. Senility is the state of being when one is senile, an adjective for the specific loss of one's mind as one ages. Senility is a mass noun and therefore does not have a plural, … [Read more...]

Don’t’s or don’ts

Don't is a contraction of the words do not which means not to perform or complete an action. A don't is something that should not be accomplished or completed. The common phrase with the plural is spelled dos and don'ts. While dos has an alternate spelling (both dos and do's is accepted by different people), don'ts is always don'ts and never don't's. Interestingly, in the past it was the accepted contraction for does not as well, as in She don't live here. Nowadays this is seen as incorrect … [Read more...]

Dos or do’s

Do is a verb meaning to complete or perform an action. A to-do list is something that outlines all of the things one needs to accomplish in a certain amount of time. Another phrase is the dos of something or the things that are good or correct to perform within a certain area. Do's is a sometimes accepted spelling variation. The preferrence between the two spellings depends largely on the type of publication one is writing for. Dos or do's are accepted plural spellings of the word do when … [Read more...]

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