Macabre is an adjective describing something or someone as having to do with or representing death in a dark or twisted way. Things that are macabre elicit fear or shock from those who view them. It can also be used to talk about things that have to do with violence or harm to others, even if it does not result in actual death. The word comes from the phrase danse macabre, or dance of death, a form of art in the fifteenth century to remind people that everyone dies and they must be more … [Read more...]

Militant or terrorist

A militant is a person who displays an attitude of aggressiveness to achieve his or her goals. He or she is not bothered by using sometimes extreme measures. The main entry in the dictionary is as an adjective, though the noun form is the same spelling. Some dictionaries define this word as having to do with social or political causes or ideals, but others do not. The adverb form is militantly and an alternate noun form is militantness. A terrorist is someone who engages in violence (i.e. … [Read more...]

Militate or mitigate

Militate is a verb that means to have a significant and influential part or effect. The verb is usually used with the word against and is therefore negative most of the time. Militate against is used to speak of halting or preventing things. It should be noted that militate does not have an object and is an intransitive verb. When militate is used in the positive sense, it is usually paired with toward or towards. The prevalence of either is about equal, and both are extremely rare and should … [Read more...]


For something to be described as moribund it must have ceased to be useful, in the act of dying, or close to be obsolete. The noun form is moribundity. It comes from the Latin moribundus with the same meaning. Unlike morbid, which comes from the Latin morbidus or diseased. According to Google's ngram, moribund has only slightly fallen from its peak of popularity in the 1970's. Examples Inflation is moribund and bond buyers love it. [Bloomberg] There was a climate change deal with … [Read more...]

Merry Christmas vs Happy Christmas

Merry Christmas and Happy Christmas are both greetings used during the last part of December, around Christmastime. The first word of each is only capitalized when used as a greeting. When one is speaking of a happy or merry Christmas, the adjectives are lowercase. Merry Christmas began as a saying in the 1500s. It was recorded in a letter as a wish that God would send the recipient a "mery Christmas". It was solidified as a capitalized greeting by Charles Dickens in his great work A … [Read more...]

Maximise or maximize

To maximise something is to use it to its fullest or to get the most out of it, whether it be a job, a computer, or a bar of soap. If you maximise something you could also be increasing it to its fullest. One can be a maximiser and you could refer to your activity as maximisation. The s spelling is for outside the United States. While inside the Unites we spell all the variations with a z. Examples Add mirrors. They are an easy way to maximise light and create a feeling of space. [Biz … [Read more...]

Mayhap or mishap or snafu

Mayhap is an archaic way to say maybe or perhaps. It is an adverb in construction. It does not have a plural and should not be written as mayhaps. It has largely been replaced by other words, including those used to define it, like maybe and perhaps. A mishap is an accident or unfortunate coincidence. The plural is mishaps.  A snafu, on the other hand, is a hard or complicated problem or the mistake that causes the confusing problem. The plural is snafus. It was coined in the 1940s as an … [Read more...]

Take the mickey out of someone

To take the mickey out of someone is an idiom used largely outside of the United States. It means to tease or make fun of someone. It is usually meant in a lighthearted or fun manner, not to ridicule or bash. The phrase has many variations, including take the mike out of someone, take the Michael out of someone, or take the mick out of someone. The origin of the phrase is someone vague, but it seems to come from the name Mickey (not Mickey Mouse). Over time the capitalization was taken away, … [Read more...]


A mouthful is the maximum amount a mouth will contain. It can also mean something that is extremely hard to pronounce, or something said that has a lot of meaning. The plural is mouthfuls. This word falls into the category of words with the suffix -ful. While this suffix means full, it is never spelled with two l's unless it is in the adverb form (e.g., cheerfully). Since an adverb form of mouthful  does not exist, it should never be spelled with two l's. However several mouths full of … [Read more...]

Mom vs mom

Capitalization is required for proper nouns, such as names, but sometimes words can be proper nouns or common nouns. Family titles, such as mom and dad, fit into this category. The general rule is to capitalize a family name when it is used as a name, and not to capitalize when it is a common noun. A good tip is to look if there is a pronoun or article (e.g., the, your, his, etc.) preceding the title. If an article or pronoun is there, don't capitalize (e.g., your mother is pretty). If there … [Read more...]

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