Dire straits

To be in dire straits means to be in desperate trouble or impending danger. Dire means extremely serious. Straits are narrow passages of water which connect two larger bodies of water, navigating them may often become perilous. In the mid-sixteenth century, straits came to mean any difficult situation, one that carries a high degree of trouble. A newspaper column in the Rome News-Tribune in September of 2000 cites United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the first known user of the … [Read more...]

Deer vs deers

Deer is the preferred plural form of deer, a hoofed mammal. Deer are ruminants. In most types of deer, only the males produce antlers. Deer antlers are shed annually. Some species of deer are white-tailed deer, red deer, caribou, moose, fallow deer, mule deer, roe deer and elk. Deers is an accepted plural, but it is rarely used. The word deer comes from the Old English word, deor, which means four-legged animal, beast. Also the Dutch word, dier and the German word, tier. Deer is one of … [Read more...]

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...]

About Grammarist
Contact | Privacy policy | Home
© Copyright 2009-2014 Grammarist