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 … [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 … [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 … [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 … [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 … [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 … [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 … [Read more...]

Inexplicable vs. unexplainable

Inexplicable and unexplainable are mostly interchangeable---both describe things that can't be explained---and using one in place of the other is never a serious error. They have differentiated slightly in modern use, though. Inexplicable tends to describe things that are seemingly without logic, … [Read more...]


An oxymoron is a literary or rhetorical device in which two contradictory terms are used together for emphasis or poetic effect or to arrive at a unique meaning. A few of the most commonly cited ones are deafening silence, living dead, open secret, and controlled chaos. The word came to English via … [Read more...]

Ground zero

Ground zero originally referred to the point on the ground immediately under an exploding atomic bomb. Because it is at the center of the explosion, ground zero is the point of greatest devastation. This is a bad thing, obviously. Yet in recent years, writers often use the phrase to refer to the … [Read more...]

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