Knock up

This is one of those words that has very different meanings inside and outside the United States. Inside the United States, a man can knock up a woman by making her pregnant. A woman can be knocked up. Outside the United States, anyone can knock up someone else by doing something to wake him or her up. It can also mean to excite someone who is tired, to make or create something, or ask someone to come to a certain place. Caution should be used with this term and a synonym is suggested … [Read more...]

Drink drank drunk

To drink something is to swallow a liquid. The past tense of drink is drank. The past participle of drink is either drank or drunk, though the latter is used twice as often as the former. A past participle is the adjective or adverb form of a verb. In this case, drunk is used exclusively with the verb have. Some will say that drank is not the past participle. However, it is listed in some dictionaries and used widely as such. If you are concerned about your audience, stick with have … [Read more...]

April Fool’s or April Fools’

The occasion celebrated on the first day of April is officially called April Fools' Day in the United States. Each word of the title is capitalized and the fool is plural possessive. The singular fool's is listed as a variant spelling. However, this is not standardized and the main listing seems to vary from dictionary to dictionary (i.e., whether the plural or the singular is listed as the main spelling). Actual usage seems to support this non-preference, with both spellings being used about … [Read more...]

Fatuous vs facetious

Fatuous is an adjective that describes something or someone as absurd or brainless. It comes from the Latin word for foolish. The adverb form is fatuously and the noun form is fatuousness. Facetious is also an adjective. It describes something or someone as being deliberately casual or silly in serious matters and with inappropriate humor. Good synonyms are flippant, glib, and tongue-in-cheek.  The adverb form is facetiously and the noun form is facetiousness. It should be noted that most … [Read more...]

Quiver vs quaver

Quiver is a verb that means to shake slightly, usually it is compared to a shiver or a trembling. A quiver can be the act of quivering or a container for an archer's arrows. The adverb form for the verb is quiveringly. The adjective form is quivery, but this is rare and should be used with caution. There is a slight preference for this adjective form outside the United States. Quaver is a verb that means to shake one's voice slightly, so that the sounds produced undulate or falter. This is … [Read more...]

Idiom vs colloquialism

An idiom is a phrase that is more than the sum of its parts, or in other words, has more of a meaning than the individual words used in the phrase. Examples include pay the piper, for the birds, and pulling one's leg. Idiom is also a synonym for dialect, a way of speech particular to a geographical area that has specific vocabulary, syntax, and grammar. Finally, it can be used to describe a method of expression particular to a person, time period, or object. A colloquialism is a phrase that … [Read more...]

Indemnity and contribution

Indemnity can be defined as the commitment to pay, or the actual payment, to cover losses or damage. It also has varied other definitions. It can be exclusion or exemption of fees and charges. Indemnity insurance pays the physician separately for each service rendered. It is used in legal terms to classify a type of lawsuit that means the client/part has the right to be fully compensated by the other party. The plural of indemnity is indemnities. Contribution is the item or service … [Read more...]

Enmity vs animosity

Enmity is a mass noun that speaks of a state of hatred or ill will between two people or groups. This opposition is acted upon and usually mutual. The plural is enmities. Animosity means a feeling of hatred or ill will. It is also a mass noun. The plural is animosities. A related word hostility also means a long-held mutual hatred, but it is usually used to describe the actions taken in response to this feeling. It can also literally mean acts of warfare. The plural is hostilities. To a … [Read more...]

Futz vs putz

Putz can either be a noun or a verb. As a verb, it is the act of wasting time or being aimless. Futz is only a verb. It also means to wander without direction or spend hours on pointless endeavors. It is most often seen paired with the preposition around. So, futz and putz are synonyms as verbs. However, they do not have the same origin. Putz comes from the Yiddish word putz meaning penis. Futz does not have a clear origin, but the educated guess made by most dictionaries is a … [Read more...]

Proverbial vs figurative

Proverbial is an adjective that can either mean that it has to do with a proverb, or that something is common knowledge or known about by many people. It is mostly used to modify a word or phrase within a well-known proverb or idiom. The adverb form is proverbially. A proverb is a common saying that imparts truth or advice. It is usually short and concise. In the Bible there is a whole book of these sayings aptly named Proverbs However, sometimes people use proverbial when they really … [Read more...]

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