Specious vs spurious

For something to be specious it has to appear to be correct or true, but in reality is false or incorrect. There is a slight connotation of it being related to appearances, that the specious item has an allure that is untrue. Its derivatives include speciously and speciousness. Spurious, on the other hand, is something that is founded on illogical reasoning or false facts. It can be something that is similar in appearance to something else, without being the genuine item (e.g., drugs). … [Read more...]

Lesser or lessor

Lesser describes something has being smaller than something else, or having less of a certain quality. Not to be confused with fewer. Lesser is an adjective that is used before the noun it modifies. To be lesser-known is somewhat famous, but not of wide acclaim. Lessor is a person who leases their property. It is commonly used in reference to airplanes. It has two pronunciations in British English with the stress being allowed on either syllable. In the United States it has only one accepted … [Read more...]

Loop de loop or loop the loop


The dictionary lists a loop-the-loop as a thrill ride that sends its passengers in a complete 360 degree circle. It is more commonly used to describe anything doing the same movement. A plane can loop the loop in the sky when turns in a vertical circle. It follows the general rule of phrasal verbs that are hyphenated when used as a noun or adjective but separate words when used in verb form. The word loop comes from the Scottish Gaelic lùb which means to bend. Other phrases which … [Read more...]

Spat or spitted

A spit is a stick which holds meat or other items over a fire, usually to allow the food to turn while it is roasted. Spit is also another word for saliva or the fluid made by one's mouth. It can also be a small bit of land which leads into a body of water. To spit is to propel something (usually saliva) from your mouth or to put something on a spit (i.e., impale). If you put something on a spit this morning, you spitted it, you can also be spitting a pig for dinner. If you ejected … [Read more...]

All of a sudden or all of the sudden

The official phrase approved by dictionaries is all of a sudden. The phrase dates back to Shakespeare in The Taming of the Shrew, though oddly the variant all of the sudden was in print six years before Shakespeare. The word sudden itself means at once or without warning, and all of a sudden is a long way to say suddenly, they are interchangeable. Grammatically speaking there is little difference between using the article a or the. However, dictionaries side with Shakespeare. Another archaic … [Read more...]

Happy median or happy medium

The correct idiom is happy medium and not happy median. The confusion of a phrase based on its pronunciation is called an eggcorn. Medium is the middle term for size, in between large and small. It is also the name for people who believe they can channel thoughts from the  dead, and the term for materials used by an artist. Median is the middle of a set of numbers, as well as the divider in a road. But while happy median does make logical sense, the standardphrase, which has been in use … [Read more...]


Restive is an adjective used to describe something as restless or fidgety. Politically it is used to describe regions in unrest or without peace. Restive is also used in reference to horses when they refuse to move forward by standing still or sliding backwards. Its derivatives include the adverb restively and the noun restiveness. Restive has seen an absolute reversal in definitions. The original word came from the Old French word restif which meant to remain still. The association with … [Read more...]

Prebiotic vs probiotic

A prebiotic is a non-digestible chemical or ingredient which acts as food for good bacteria and flora in the intestinal tract. It is generally used in its plural prebiotics, since it is rare that only one is added to a food. They naturally occur in foods such as garlic, honey, onions, and bananas. A probiotic is the bacteria itself which lives in the intestinal tract. They naturally occur in foods such as yogurt. They are also normally discussed in the plural probiotics. Both words are not … [Read more...]


Stupefaction is the noun form for the state of being stupefied, which in turn means to be dumbfounded or surprised, or to cause someone to lose their wits or their ability to reason or process information. This noun does not a have a plural form. Stupefactions is incorrect. The peak in popularity for stupefaction occurred around the turn of the twentieth century and has been on a decline since then. The adjective form of stupefy is stupefying.  Most commonly this word is misspelled and … [Read more...]


Learning can be the progressive form of the verb learn, so that you are in the process of acquiring knowledge. Learning is also a synonym for knowledge, or information acquired and retained in someone's mind. It can be an adjective describing an object as something that will give the user more knowledge. Learnings is a pluralization of an erroneous form of learning as a singular noun. Said singular noun (e.g., a learning) does not exist, at least according to most dictionaries. Colloquially, … [Read more...]

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