Usage

Garbage in, garbage out

Garbage in garbage out is an idiom that became popular in the twentieth century. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom garbage in garbage out, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences. Garbage in, garbage out means faulty input yields faulty results. Garbage in, garbage out originally referred to computer input and output; if one wrote a faulty program one would not get the results one sought. However, the expression garbage in, garbage …

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Cast-iron stomach

Cast-iron stomach is an interesting idiom. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom cast-iron stomach, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences. Someone is said to have a cast-iron stomach if he is not easily nauseated, can eat almost anything without ill effects, or can stand the sight of disgusting things without feeling ill. Cast iron is an iron-carbon substance that can be poured into molds and is particularly durable. Cast iron is often used …

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A friend in need is a friend indeed

A friend in need is a friend indeed is a proverb. We will examine the meaning of the proverb a friend in need is a friend indeed, where the expression may have come from, and some examples of its use in sentences. A friend in need is a friend indeed is a proverb that means that someone who comes to one’s aid in a time of difficulty is a true friend; this person may be relied upon because he cares about …

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Easy pickings

Easy pickings is an idiom that may not be as old as you think. We will examine the meaning of the common saying easy pickings, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences. Easy pickings is a noun phrase that refers to something that is easily taken or stolen, something that is easy to get through other means, or someone who is easily persuaded. The expression easy pickings did not come into use until the …

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Repudiate and refudiate

Repudiate and refudiate are words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and may be considered confusables. We will examine the different meanings of the confusables repudiate and refudiate, the word origins of the terms, and some examples of their English usage in sentences. Repudiate means to reject, to refuse to acknowledge, to disown, or to deny the veracity of something. Repudiate is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are repudiates, repudiated, repudiating. …

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Take the reins

Take the reins is an idiom that has been in use for hundreds of years. We will examine the meaning of the common saying take the reins, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences. Take the reins means to take charge, to take control, to steer a government, company, organization, or situation. The expression take the reins exploded into popular use in the 1750s, though it had been a well-known idiom for a long …

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Haste makes waste

Haste makes waste is a proverb that has been in use for hundreds of years. We will examine the meaning of the proverb haste makes waste, where the expression came from, and some examples of its use in sentences. Haste makes waste means rushing into action without thinking it through; the results are often not very good and end up costing more time and money than if one had taken the time to think things through beforehand. The expression haste …

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Separate vs separate

Separate and separate are two words that are spelled identically but are pronounced differently and have different meanings, which makes them heteronyms. We will examine the definitions of the words separate and separate, where these words came from, and a few examples of their use in sentences. Separate (SEP rut) is an adjective that describes two or more things that are not joined together, that are independent of each other, that are distinctly different. The adverb form is separately; the …

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Cast the first stone

Cast the first stone is an idiom with religious roots. We will examine the meaning of the idiom cast the first stone, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences. To cast the first stone means to be quick to point the finger, blame, chastise, or punish someone who has done something wrong. The phrase cast the first stone is often used in an admonition to not be the person who casts the first stone …

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Sit vs set

Sit and set are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation but are used in very different circumstances; they are often confused. We will look at the difference in meaning between the irregular verbs sit and set and how they are used, where these words came from, and some examples of their use in sentences. Sit means to take a posture in which one’s weight is balanced on one’s buttocks and one’s back is straight. One may sit …

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