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Animal collective nouns

English has an interesting tradition of assigning fanciful collective nouns to groups of animals by species. We are all familiar with the terms a pride of lions, a pack of wolves, a gaggle of geese, an army of ants and a pod of whales, but there are many lesser known terms, such as a grist of bees, which is used to describe a swarm of bees, or a clattering of jackdaws, used to describe a flock of this species of bird. The use of fanciful words to describe groups of animals of certain species … [Read more...]

Spitz vs spits

Spitz and spits are two commonly confused words that are pronounced in the same way when spoken aloud but are spelled differently and have different meanings, which makes them homophones. Homophones exist because of our ever-changing English language, and are a challenge for those who wish to learn to speak English. The way the spelling and definitions differ can be confusing when attempting to learn vocabulary correctly. Proper pronunciation of spoken English may help the listener distinguish … [Read more...]

Raise one’s hackles and get one’s hackles up

Raise one's hackles and get one's hackles up are two versions of an idiom. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, … [Read more...]

Phone it in

Phone it in is a verbal phrase and an idiom. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or … [Read more...]

Sugarcoat

Sugarcoat is a compound word. Compounds or compound words are words that are derived from two separate words joined together. Sugarcoat is a closed compound word, which is a word that is made up of two words joined together without hyphens or spaces. This type of compound is also called a solid compound word. Sugarcoat is also seen in its hyphenated form, sugar-coat. This is the preferred spelling in the Oxford English Dictionary. A hyphenated compound word is a compound that is composed of two … [Read more...]

Use vs utilize

The words use and utilize are increasingly used interchangeably, but in truth, these two words do not mean exactly the same thing. Many people employ the word utilize instead of use because they think it sounds more important or more formal than the word use. However, using a word incorrectly is never a good idea. Choosing the correct words to use in the correct situation is a building block of grammar. Grammar is the way in which language is structured, the rules that are the foundation of that … [Read more...]

Grandstanding

Grandstanding is an idiom that came into use in the 1800s. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the … [Read more...]

Running on empty and running on fumes

Running on empty and running on fumes are idioms that were first seen in the mid-twentieth century. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that … [Read more...]

To cry wolf

The idiom to cry wolf has an ancient origin. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or … [Read more...]

Analogy vs allegory

Analogy and allegory are two types of figures of speech that are often confused. The term figure of speech came into use at the turn of the eighteenth century. Figures of speech are rhetorical constructions in English grammar that are to be taken figuratively or non-literally. These literary devices are used to make a point in an emotional fashion or to make a point in a more vivid fashion in figurative language. Analogy and allegory are often used in poetry, poetic rhetoric, and other narrative … [Read more...]

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