Oligarchy vs monarchy

An oligarchy is a small group of elite people who control a country, business, government or other institution. An oligarchy may also be a country or government that is controlled by a small group of elite people. An oligarchy may be an assembled clique of people or a particular select class of people, an oligarchy is usually considered tyrannical. Related words are oligarch, oligarchic, oligarchical, oligarchically. The word oligarchy is derived from the Greek word oligarkhia, which means … [Read more...]

SOS and Mayday

SOS is a distress call, it is recognized internationally as a message calling for help in a time of extreme distress.  The letters SOS are not an acronym, SOS was developed to be used as a radio signal. In Morse code, "s" is transmitted as a series of three dots and "o" is transmitted as a series of three dashes, which makes SOS in Morse code easy to transmit repeatedly and easy for the listener to decode. Germany was the first country to used SOS as a distress call in 1905, the SOS distress … [Read more...]

Monday morning quarterback and armchair quarterback

A Monday morning quarterback is someone who second-guesses a decision someone else has made after the event is finished. A Monday morning quarterback criticizes from the comfort of 20/20 hindsight. The term comes from the fact that most American football games are played on Sunday, and it is easy to criticize a quarterback's decisions in the heat of the moment from the vantage point twelve or more hours after the football game has ended. Monday morning quarterback is a pejorative term, first … [Read more...]

Spoonerism vs malapropism

A spoonerism is a verbal mistake in which the initial consonant sounds of two words are transposed, often to comedic effect. The word spoonerism was coined after a Warden of New College, Oxford, Reverend William Archibald Spooner. The term spoonerism was used at Oxford as early as 1885, entering into the lexicon of the general English-speaking public around 1900. Many spoonerisms attributed to Spooner are apocryphal, though Spooner himself admitted to uttering,  "The Kinquering Congs Their … [Read more...]


A meeple is the playing piece or token in a board game, usually having an extremely stylized human form. The word meeple comes from blending the words my and people. A word consisting of blended words is called a portmanteau. Meeple was coined in the year 2000 by Alison Hansel to describe the wooden figures in the game Carcassonne. Since the year 2000, the term meeple has spread to describe the token in any board game, it was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015. The plural form of … [Read more...]


Mansplain means to explain something in a condescending fashion, usually a man explaining something in a condescending fashion to a woman. Mansplain is a blending of the words man and explain, also known as a portmanteau. Mansplain appeared simultaneously on various platforms on the internet in 2008, mostly inspired by a blog written by Rebecca Solnit entitled Men Explain Things to Me in which Solnit discusses the mansplaining phenomenon without naming it. It is unknown who actually coined the … [Read more...]

Maize vs maze

Maize is corn, a tall grass that grows edible seeds on a cob. The word maize may also refer to a light yellow color. Maize was first cultivated ten thousand years ago in Mexico, in the Balsas River Valley.  The word maize comes from the Spanish word maíz, which in turn was derived from the Taíno word, mahiz. A maze is a puzzle consisting of a complex network of lines, hedges or other obstructions through which one must find the true path in order to get to the end. The term maze may be also … [Read more...]

Mic drop

A mic drop is the act of deliberating dropping a microphone at the end of a performance that the performer deems to be extremely impressive or unable to be surpassed. A mic drop acts as a punctuation when an impressive performance is given or an impressive point is made. The mic drop seems to have originated with comedy routines and rap battles in the 1980s in the United States. The term mic drop was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2015. Mic drop is an abbreviation of microphone drop, … [Read more...]

Mail vs male

Mail is a letter or a parcel sent by postal service. Mail may also describe the postal service, especially in the United States, the individual delivery of a batch of mail or the individual collection of a batch of mail. Mail is also used as a verb to describe sending a letter or parcel through the postal service. Related terms are mails, mailed, mailing. A second definition of the word mail is a type of flexible armor consisting of metal rings or metal plates. In addition, mail may be used in … [Read more...]


A McGuffin is a mysterious object or event in a story that serves as the impetus for the story.  A McGuffin is a plot device, a catalyst to get the story going, but is an object or event that is actually of little or no importance to the story. Alfred Hitchcock used the term in a college lecture in 1939 and is credited with inventing the term McGuffin. However, the true source of the term is a screenwriter named Angus MacPhail, whom he worked with. Alfred Hitchcock spelled the term as MacGuffin, … [Read more...]

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

Sign up for our mailing list