Diagram

A diagram is an illustration that describes or explains. It is not simply a picture, but it carries instructions or conveys information about something. It is commonly used in science and mathematics. In British English, diagram may also mean a railway schedule. There are three adjective forms: diagrammable, diagrammatic, and diagrammatical. The middle form is the most common. Also, the adverb is diagrammatically. It can also be a verb. To diagram something is to teach a concept by drawing … [Read more...]

Dreidel or dreidl

A dreidel is a spinning top that has four sides. On each side is written a Hebrew character. It is used to play the game dreidel during the Hebrew holiday of Hanukkah. Because the name is a translation from the Yiddish dreydl, the spelling is either dreidel or dreidl, which more closely matches the original. The common origin of the game is something that was played  as Jews were hiding in caves from enemy soldiers. So that if they were found, they would be playing a simple game instead of … [Read more...]

Donner or Donder

The names of Santa's eight (or nine) reindeer have been immortalized in song: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, and Blitzen. However, in the original version of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, which was titled A Visit from St. Nicholas, the last two reindeer were named Dunder and Blixem. The poem was published anonymously in a newspaper in 1823. The author, about which there is some debate, took bits and pieces from different mythologies about St. Nicholas and Santa … [Read more...]

Demagogue vs demigod

A demagogue (pronounced \ˈde-mə-ˌgäg\ or dem ah gog) is a leader, usually political, who makes false promises and gains his or her popularity through feelings rather than logic. It may also be spelled demagog. Thought the vast preference is for the longer spelling. So much so that we could not find an acceptable example of the shorter spelling. The actions of a demagogue can be termed demagoguery or demagogy, both of which have multiple accepted pronunciations. It can also be a verb for a … [Read more...]

Dietician or dietitian

Dietician is a variant spelling of dietitian. A dietitian is someone who is employed to tell others about their diet, or about the way they eat. They study dietetics. The t spelling is used about three times as much as the c spelling. Examples A dietitian from Morris Hospital will offer tips to help people with diabetes eat sensibly through the holiday season while still enjoying social gatherings during a free program from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 16 in Whitman Assembly Room 1 at Morris … [Read more...]

Debark or disembark

To debark is to disembark, which is to get off of an airplane or ship or other mode of transportation. Both can also be the act of removing someone or something from the same vessels. Both have noun forms of debarkation and disembarkation, which refer to the location the person debarked at. Additionally, one can debark a tree, or remove the bark from a tree. One would then be a debarker. Examples Four Smith County Jail trusties, equipped with chainsaws and straight-draw shave tools, which … [Read more...]

Long in the tooth

Grammarist

To be long in the tooth is to be old, either in age or simply out of date. This phrase originated with horses, whose teeth continue to grow and be worn down throughout their life, so that by looking at their teeth one can guess at the horses' age. It is commonly used in the financial and technological worlds where items can be dated very quickly. A related phrase is don't look a gift horse in the mouth, which means if someone is giving you a gift, don't complain about it. It began as a … [Read more...]

Diktat

In the dictionary, a diktat is defined as an order that is harsh and unilaterally imposed on a people without their permission. It is usually used with the connotation of being issued to a defeated country or people. A dictate is simply a command or order, without the necessity of being harsh. The most common place to hear or read the word diktat is India, where it is used for orders which come from military or faith leaders. It still carries its pejorative … [Read more...]

Whirling dervish

A dervish is a Muslim of particular religious order. They are known for their worship rituals which require the dervish to spin very fast causing his clothing to fan out in a circle. The men wear large circular skirts to capitalize on this effect. To call something a whirling dervish is to say that object or person resembles a spinning top or is wild in its movement. An object can also just be a dervish. The term twirling dervish is technically correct, as a dervish could be described as … [Read more...]

Devil is in the details vs. God is in the detail

details

The idiom the devil is in the details means that mistakes are usually made in the small details of a project. Usually it is a caution to pay attention to avoid failure. An older, and slightly more common, phrase God is in the detail means that attention paid to small things has big rewards, or that details are important. The devil version of the idiom is a variation on the God phrase, though the exact origin of both is uncertain. Below is an ngram comparing the two. Examples The … [Read more...]

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