The dictionary lists America is the landmass consisting of North and South America. However, we were not able to find one example if it being used in this way, so it is our belief that this definition will become obsolete sooner rather than later. America is commonly used as a name for the United States of America. The continent  of America is more commonly called the Americas, and parts of the continent are determined by adjectives such as North America, South America, Central … [Read more...]


A troika is a group of three things, usually three individuals who work together in a leadership capacity. Originally it was a term for Russian sleighs or carriages pulled by a team of three horses. It is also the name of a committee which organized loans to several European countries during the recent economic crisis. Examples This comes at a time when, European officials say, the EU is weighing up whether to scrap supervision of Athens by its troika of international lenders, allowing it … [Read more...]

Right-side up

The noun phrase right-side up describes a direction in which the correct side of an object is facing up. Right-side is a hyphenated compound noun, while up  completes the noun phrase. There is some transition happening with hyphens in general. It is easy to see this phrase merging to one word in the future similar to upside, but as for now use the hyphen. Examples It was like a real tsunami because the whole room was upside-down [shot to look right-side up] so all that stood between us and a … [Read more...]

Wonder vs. wonderment

To wonder is a verb meaning to feel curiosity, doubt, or admiration. Wonder can also be a noun describing a feeling of admiration, usually caused by something new or beautiful. Lastly, wonderment is a noun meaning a state of awe or respect. Wonderment is a fairly new entry to the dictionary. In most situations, wonder is preferred. Examples Roadtrip on an Australian highway to a land of wonder. [Daily Telegraph] They look around in wonder as I point to various details – plaited camel-hair … [Read more...]


Akimbo describes a body position where hands are on hips and the elbows are out wide. It is an adjective that always follows the noun it modifies, such as arms akimbo. Recently there has been a rise in using akimbo in reference to almost anything that is splayed out or haphazardly arranged. The phrase legs akimbo means the legs are haphazardly splayed. Examples Mr Simusamba said the UPND would not stand with its arms akimbo and continue watching the ruling party violate the electoral … [Read more...]

Obliged vs. obligated

As a transitive verb oblige can mean to restrict by force or circumstances. To be obliged is to be in someone's debt because of a favor or service. Obligate carries a slightly different meaning, which is to force someone (or an organization) to do something because the law or morality requires it. Over the last hundred years, obliged has fallen in use while obligated has risen very slightly, though obliged is still more common. Examples One of the parties with a reporting duty is the … [Read more...]


Hand-wash is a verb meaning to wash something by hand. Hand soap can sometimes be referred to as handwash or hand wash. When talking about the act of washing one's hands, there is not a official listing in most dictionaries. Medical reference books use the spelling of handwashing, but most other sources, including spell check, use hand washing. When describing objects that may only be hand-washed, it is most common to say hand wash only. A water source used for hand washing, usage seems to be … [Read more...]


A McJob is a low-paying job that requires little to no education and has no opportunity of advancement. It may also refer to a position filled by someone who is extremely overqualified. History In 1983 McDonald's coined the term McJob to promote a program they had designed to help affirmative action for disabled employees. However, the term was quickly redefined into its current definition. It was a buzzword of the 90's in the United States and used by many to detail the economic shift toward … [Read more...]

Machine gun vs. machine-gun

Machine gun is a noun phrase that is defined as a weapon that fires bullets rapidly as long as the trigger is held down. When hyphenated, as machine-gun, the word becomes an adjective used to describe things that happen very quickly. Machine-gun can also be a verb, to shoot something with a machine gun. However, in practice, the common spelling is machine gun for both verb and adjective forms.   Examples A policewoman was under investigation today after her machine gun went off … [Read more...]



Where the verb agree means to come to an agreement (on something), Americans and Canadians make it intransitive, meaning it takes a preposition, usually on or to, when it has an object. For instance, opposing parties might agree on a compromise. Outside North America, especially in the U.K., the verb is often transitive, meaning the preposition is unnecessary. Opposing parties might agree a compromise. The transitive agree has existed in British English for centuries, but it has only recently … [Read more...]

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