Compound words

Heavy-handed

Heavy-handed is an idiom that is also a compound word. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom heavy-handed, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences. Heavy-handed means overbearing, harsh, excessive, and forceful. Heavy-handed also means clumsy, inept, awkward, or tactless. Something that is heavy-handed is accomplished without finesse. The idiom heavy-handed is a hyphenated compound word. A compound word is a word derived from two or more separate words used together to create …

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Turn over vs turnover

Turn over is a verbal phrase. Turnover is a closed compound word. We will examine the meaning of the terms turn over and turnover, their etymologies, and some examples of their use in a sentence or two. Turn over means to flip something upside down, to start a combustion engine, to consider an idea or book slowly, or to give possession of something to someone else. Turn over is a verbal phrase; related phrases are turns over, turned over, turning over. …

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Lockdown

Lockdown is a closed compound word. We will examine the meaning of the word lockdown, its etymology, and some examples of its use in a sentence or two. A lockdown is a situation in which people are restricted from moving from place to place or within a certain area to protect their safety or health. For instance, if an intruder is detected in a school, the school may go into lockdown until the intruder is apprehended. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries …

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Chapstick

Chapstick is a closed compound word. We will examine the meaning of the word chapstick, its etymology, and some examples of its use in a sentence or two. Chapstick is a balm for the lips packaged in a cylindrical tube. Chapstick is used for dry or irritated lips resulting from cold weather, sun exposure, illness, or other causes. The generic word, chapstick, was derived from a trademarked lip balm brand that was first marketed in 1880, ChapStick. ChapStick was invented by Charles …

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Nail-biter

Nail-biter is an interesting idiom. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom nail-biter where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences. A nail-biter is a suspenseful situation, a contest in which either participant has a good chance of winning, an anxiety-provoking circumstance. For instance, a horror movie may be a nail-biter; a game in which the score is tied may be a nail-biter; or a political election in which the outcome is uncertain may be …

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Knee-slapper

Knee-slapper is an idiom that has been in use for less than 100 years. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom knee-slapper, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences. A knee-slapper is an uproariously funny joke; the idea is that the joke is so funny, one collapses into laughter when one hears it, slapping one’s knee. Knee-slapper  is a hyphenated compound word, which is a word derived from two or more separate words used together with a hyphen to …

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Pigeonhole

PIgeonhole is an idiom that has been in use for over 150 years. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom pigeonhole, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences. Pigeonhole, when used as a verb, means to put something in a narrow category; often, the category is unnecessarily restrictive. For instance, an actor may be pigeonholed as a romantic lead and may never receive offers for other types of character roles. The connotation of the verb …

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Backstab

Backstab is a closed compound word. We will examine the meaning of the word backstab, its etymology, and some examples of its use in a sentence or two. Backstab is a verb that means to betray someone or to attack someone verbally in a deceitful manner. Most often, one backstabs someone else by spreading rumor or innuendo, performing a deceitful act, or being pleasant to the victim’s face while ruining his reputation or opportunities behind his back. The compound word backstab is …

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Heartthrob

Heartthrob is a closed compound word. We will examine the meaning of the word heartthrob, its etymology, and some examples of its use in a sentence or two. A heartthrob is the object of romantic desire; a heartthrob is almost always a male. The term heartthrob often refers to teen age pop idols who are employed as actors or musicians, but it may be used in conversation to refer to any young, attractive person—almost always male. The idea is that one’s heart …

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Shut-in

Shut-in is a hyphenated compound word. We will examine the meaning of the word shut-in, its etymology, and some examples of its use in a sentence or two. A shut-in is an invalid, someone who is incapacitated and confined to his room or his home for an extended period of time. A shut-in cannot partake in normal activities and/or must stay sequestered from others. The word shut-in came into use at the turn of the twentieth century. When rendered as two, unhyphenated …

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