Words

Fiscal vs physical

Fiscal is an adjective that means relating to the public treasury or government revenue. In North America, fiscal also means of or relating to matters of finance, a fiscal year is an accounting year. Some companies choose to have their fiscal years begin and end on dates other than the calendar year, for tax purposes. The United States government’s fiscal year is currently October through September. Fiscal comes the Middle French fiscal, from the Late Latin fiscalis meaning of or …

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Competence and competency

Competence describes a person’s capability to do something adequately, or a person’s mental capacity to understand the proceedings of a trial. Competence is the noun form of competent, which is an adjective. Competency describes a person’s capability to do something adequately, or a person’s mental capacity to understand the proceedings of a trial. Competency is an alternate noun form of competent, which is an adjective. In effect, competence and competency are interchangeable, though competence is more often used to describe …

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Resign vs re-sign

Resign, used as a transitive verb, means to give up or relinquish something. Resign, used as an intransitive verb means to leave a position or job. In chess, when one resigns, one ends the game by conceding defeat. To be resigned means to accept the inevitable. Related words are resigns, resigned, resigning, resigner and resignation. Resign appears in the English language in the late fourteenth century with the meaning give up, surrender, abandon, submit, relinquish, coming from the Latin resignare, …

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Jinx

A jinx is an object or a person that is believed to bring bad luck. A jinx may also refer to an unfortunate spell of bad luck. As a transitive verb, jinx means to bring bad luck or cast a nasty spell. The word jinx first appeared in the United States in the early twentieth century as sports slang, it was originally spelled jinks. At that time, jinx referred to anything which brought bad luck to a baseball player. The …

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Arc vs arch

An arc is a curved shape or the curving path of a moving object. In mathematics, an arc is part of a circle’s circumference. An arc is also a sparking discharge conducted from one electrode to another. The verb forms of arc are arcs, arced and arcing. Arcked and arcking are technically correct forms, but rarely used. Arc comes from the Old French arc meaning bowed or curved. An arch is a curved structure that spans an opening and usually …

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Cotton candy or cotton floss or fairy floss

Cotton candy is spun sugar that consists of very fluffy, threadlike fibers of melted sugar, usually pink, and almost always wrapped around a paper cone. Cotton candy melts in your mouth, it is sold at circuses, fairs, carnivals, festivals and some sporting events. Cotton candy is made in a machine which melts the sugar into a liquified state and then blows it through tiny holes where it cools and solidifies quickly. The cotton candy machine operator then runs a paper …

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Fie

Fie is an archaic interjection or exclamation expressing disapproval or disgust. It came into use during the thirteenth century, probably from the Old French fi, which is an exclamation of disapproval. Another influence is the Old Norse word, fy.  A correlating word exists in many languages, fie seems to have evolved as an onomatopoetic word, imitating a natural snort of disgust.  In the nineteenth century, fie-fie was a British slang term for a woman of tarnished reputation. Most English speakers …

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Fiat

A fiat is an official decree issued by an authority. Fiat sometimes connotes arbitrariness, an imperial decree that may not be mitigated. The word fiat comes from the Latin word fiat, meaning let it be done. Fiat was the opening word in Medieval proclamations that were written in Latin. When Fiat is spelled with an uppercase F, it refers to an Italian car brand that is produced by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Fiat is the largest auto maker in Italy, the …

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Pipsqueak

A pipsqueak is an insignificant person, usually small or young. Pipsqueak is a term of contempt. Slang synonyms are short round, and squirt. Pipsqueak is an echoic word, which imitates a sound. Pipsqueak seems to have first appeared in the 1890s. It comes from the words pip, which refers to a small thing, and squeak, a word which signifies the sound that a small bird or animal makes under duress. Pipsqueak is often used by children to refer to their …

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Prima donna

Prima donna is Italian for first lady. Prima donna has come to mean a temperamental or demanding person, a diva who insists on special treatment. Traditionally, prima donna refers to the leading female singer in an opera company. The prima donna receives the best roles. The term prima donna began in nineteenth-century Italy to describe the principal soprano of an opera company, these troupe members often had out-sized personalities on and off stage. Unless referring to an actual opera star, using …

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