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Meretricious vs meritorious

Meretricious and meritorious are two words that are often confused. We will look at the difference in meaning between meretricious and meritorious, where these words come from and some examples of their use in sentences. Meretricious describes something that is superficially attractive, garish, something attractive that has no actual value. Meretricious also means insincere. The word first appears in the 1620s, derived from the Latin word meretricius which means pertaining to prostitutes. … [Read more...]

Many happy returns

Many happy returns is a shortening of a longer phrase that has been in use since the 1700s. We will examine the meaning of the term many happy returns, the original phrase it is derived from, and some examples of its use in sentences. Many happy returns means that the speaker wishes that the listener will have many happy years to live. The phrase is shortened from the sentiment many happy returns of the day, which has been a greeting used since the 1700s. One may consider this phrase to have … [Read more...]

Mum’s the word

Mum's the word is an idiom that dates back to the turn of the eighteenth century. We will look at the meaning of the idiom mum's the word, where it comes from and some examples of its use in sentences. Mum's the word is an admonition to keep something quiet, to keep something secret, to remain silent. Though the oldest known use of the idiom mum's the word occurred in 1704, the word mum was in use long before that time. The word mum to mean silent is related to the word mummer, which is a … [Read more...]

Crèche and manger

Crèche and manger are Christmas words that also have non-Christmas-related meanings. We will look at the definitions of crèche and manger, where the words come from and some examples of their use in sentences. A crèche is a representation of the Nativity of Jesus, often seen in churches and homes at Christmas time. The word crèche is borrowed from the French. The Old French form of the word is cresche, which meant stall, crib or manger. During the 1800s crèche took on the meaning of a day … [Read more...]

Mind over matter

Mind over matter is a term that goes back approximately 150 years, though the meaning has changed over time. We will look at the meaning of mind over matter, how that meaning has changed and some examples of the phrase's use in sentences. Mind over matter means the ability to overcome physical challenges through the use determination and willpower. The phrase mind over matter was first used in the 1860s, when Sir Charles Lyell wrote The Geological Evidence of the Antiquity of Man. Lyell used … [Read more...]

Misery loves company

Misery loves company is a proverb that dates back hundreds of years, perhaps farther than you think. We will look at the meaning of the phrase misery loves company, where it comes from and some examples of its use in sentences. Misery loves company means people who are suffering are comforted by the knowledge that other are also unhappy. It is a proverb, which is a short phrase or sentence that addresses a universal truth or common sentiment. The term misery loves company is often ascribed to … [Read more...]

Mr., Mrs., Ms. and Miss

Mr., Mrs., Ms. and Miss are titles that are used before surnames or full names as a sign of respect. We will look at the definition of these terms, where they come from, when to use them and some examples of their use in sentences. Mr. is a title used before a surname or full name of a male, whether he is married or not. Mr. is an abbreviation for Mister, it is pronounced like the word Mister. The abbreviation Mr. has been in use since the fifteenth century, it is a variant of the word … [Read more...]

Aggravate vs mitigate

Aggravate and mitigate are antonyms, which are words that have opposite meanings to each other. We will look at the definitions of the words aggravate and mitigate, where these words come from and some examples of their use in sentences. Aggravate means to make a situation, problem or injury worse, to render something more severe or serious. The word aggravate may be used in an informal manner to mean to exasperate someone, to annoy someone. The word aggravate is derived from the Latin word … [Read more...]

Muckamuck, mucky-muck and muckety-muck

The terms muckamuck, mucky-muck and muckety-muck are different variations of the same term. We will look at the words muckamuck, mucky-muck and muckety-muck, their definition and where they come from. We will also look at a few examples of their use in sentences. Muckamuck, mucky-muck and muckety-muck describe someone important, especially someone who is self-important. The term is most often modified with the word high, as in high muckamuck, high mucky-muck and high muckety-muck. Mostly a … [Read more...]

Magical realism

Magical realism is a literary term that has its roots in German art. We will look at the meaning of the term magical realism, its characteristics, where the term comes from and some examples of its use in sentences. Magical realism is a literary term that describes stories in which magical or fantastic elements are woven into everyday life and accepted as a normal occurrence. In general, the characteristics of a literary work in the magical realism genre include a real world setting, … [Read more...]

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