Moral vs morale

Moral can be used as either an adjective or a noun. As an adjective, moral describes something or someone who conforms to the rules of ethical behavior. When moral is used as a noun, it can mean (1) the lesson imparted by a story or fable or (2) a principle to follow for right conduct. The verb form is moralize, which carries a negative connotation. Moralize means to express an opinion about morals, usually in a self-righteous or annoying way. Morale is the enthusiasm and devotion a person or … [Read more...]

Mob or demob

A mob is a big gathering of people, this group may or may not be violent or angry. The mob is an illegal organization of people that commit crimes. To mob is to have a gathering of people push toward something, surrounding it. This group may just be excited but also may have the intent to attack something. Demob is a verb, mainly used in British English as an abbreviation for demobilize. Demobilize is a verb that means to discharge or release from service in the military, or to stop a … [Read more...]

Matter of fact or matter-of-fact

The adjective matter-of-fact is hyphenated and describes something or someone as having little to no dramatic emotion when speaking about potentially upsetting things. Note that this does not mean a lack of all emotion, but it means that the individual is not letting his or her emotions get the better of him or her. The adverb form is matter-of-factly and the noun form is matter-of-factness. An alternate noun form is matter of fact. This is used for things that are not opinion or up for … [Read more...]

Matter of fact vs fact of the matter

The phrase as a matter of fact is similar to in fact and is used to emphasis a piece of information, usually in order to clarify a point that was just made, either to confirm it or negate it. The point can be made in a conversation or just expanding on something the speaker said. To be matter-of-fact about something is to be without emotion and clear. Something can be a matter-of-fact if it's true and not up for a debate. The idiom the fact of the matter is almost always used as an … [Read more...]

In point of fact or in fact or as a matter of fact

In fact is by far the more common idiom. It is phrase that is used to emphasize a particular truth, especially if it is contrary to what would commonly be understood. A good synonym is actually. In point of fact means exactly the same thing, only takes more words to do it. Most of the time it is listed in dictionaries, if it is listed at all, as in (point of) fact. One benefit to the longer phrase is that it calls even more attention to the shared truth. However, most of the time it is … [Read more...]

In a manner of speaking

In a manner of speaking is an idiom that means the same as 'in other words' or 'so to speak'. It is used usually after a statement to clarify a subtext or alternative meaning to the previous statement. Many people confuse this phrase by saying in a matter of speaking. This phrase builds off of one of manner's definitions as a type or kind of something (e.g., manner of men, manner of style). So one can think of manner of speaking as a way of saying something. The related idiom is as a matter … [Read more...]

Gaiety or mirth

Gaiety is a noun for a attitude or atmosphere that is happy or lively, something with lots of energy. The plural is spelled gaieties. An alternative spelling is listed in US dictionaries as gayety, but this has been out of favor for decades and is only used now for proper nouns or in old quotes. Outside the US a common phrase is the gaiety of nations. It means a sense of happiness or cheerfulness, and may sometimes be used ironically to mean the exact opposite. Mirth can be a synonym … [Read more...]



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...]

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