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Dry goods

Though the term dry goods is used in both British and American English, the meaning differs slightly between the two types of English. We will examine both of the definitions of the term dry goods, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. In British English, the term dry goods is used to mean food that is not wet, or has been dried in order to preserve it. Before refrigeration, dry goods were a safe way to deliver food staples to the public. Dry goods, in this sense, may … [Read more...]

No ifs, ands, or buts

The expression no ifs, ands or buts is one that is older than you may think. The roots of this phrase go back to the 1500s. We will examine the meaning of the term no ifs, ands or buts, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. No ifs, ands, or buts is a phrase that is often used when expressing that one is certain of something. For instance, if one is confident that he will accomplish a task, he may end that reassurance with the phrase no ifs, ands or buts. The expression … [Read more...]

Keep an ear to the ground

Keep an ear to the ground is an idiom that came into use in the 1800s, though there was a rise in usage during the mid-twentieth century for a very interesting reason. An idiom is a word, group of words or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Common idioms are used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. We will examine the meaning of the phrase keep an … [Read more...]

Habit vs habitat

Habit and habitat are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and are sometimes confused. Though they have similar roots, these words have very different meanings. We will examine the definitions of the words habit and habitat, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. A habit is a customary behavior that one engages in, an acquired practice that amounts to a tendency to do something in a certain fashion, or to engage in a certain and usual … [Read more...]

Semper fidelis

The expression semper fidelis is a Latin phrase that has a special meaning in the United States. We will examine the definition of the phrase semper fidelis, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Semper fidelis translates as always faithful. It is the motto of the United States Marine Corps, and illustrates that Marines are loyal to their country to each other. The phrase semper fidelis is often abbreviated by Marines as semper fi,¬†those this is not a true phrase in … [Read more...]

Punctilious vs punctual

Punctilious and punctual are two words that are close in spelling. They share etymology, but have very different meanings. We will examine the definitions of the words punctilious and punctual, where they came from and look at their correct usage in some example sentences. Punctilious is an adjective that describes someone who is scrupulously attentive to detail or someone who engages in the careful observance of the formalities of etiquette. A person who is punctilious thrives on formality … [Read more...]

Panhandle

The word panhandle has two distinct meanings, as a noun or as a verb. We will examine the very different definitions of the word panhandle, where they came from and some examples of their use in sentences. When panhandle is used as a noun, it refers to a geographic feature, a narrow strip of land that is part of the boundaries of a state in the United States. Nine states of the United States are considered to have panhandles: Connecticut, Alaska, Nebraska, Maryland, Idaho, Oklahoma, Florida, … [Read more...]

When the cat’s away the mice will play

When the cat's away the mice will play is a rhyming proverb that has been in use for hundreds of years, though it may be more often spoken rather than written. It is also multilingual. A proverb is a short, common saying or phrase that gives advice or shares a universal truth. Often, a proverb is so familiar that a speaker will only quote half of it, relying on the listener to supply the ending of the proverb himself. This is also true for the phrase when the cat's away the mice will play, as … [Read more...]

Goose that lays the golden eggs

The phrase the goose that lays the golden eggs has its roots in a story that was told over 2500 years ago. We will examine the meaning of the idiom goose that lays the golden eggs, where it came from, how it is used and some examples of that use in sentences. The goose that lays the golden eggs, sometimes rendered as the goose that laid the golden egg, refers to someone or something that is a valuable source of money, power or other advantages. Often, the term is rendered as don't kill the … [Read more...]

Compunction vs compulsion

Compunction and compulsion are two words that sometimes confused. We will examine the definitions of compunction and compulsion, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Compunction is a feeling of regret, remorse or repentance that one feels after committing transgressions. When someone feels compunction he may have a guilty conscience. For this reason, he may acknowledge that he is to blame for a problem and accept condemnation of his actions, perhaps … [Read more...]

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