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Call on the carpet

The phrase call on the carpet is primarily an American idiom that has its roots in an idiom popular in the eighteenth century, though today's meaning of call on the carpet did not come into use until the nineteenth 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. 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 … [Read more...]

It’s the thought that counts

It's the thought that counts is a truncated version of an American proverb, that may not be as old as you think. 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. We will examine the meaning of the phrase it's the thought that counts, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. It's the … [Read more...]

Garnish vs garnishee

Garnish and garnishee are two words that people often find confusing. We will examine the definitions of garnish and garnishee, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. There are two very different definitions for the word garnish. First, the word garnish may mean to decorate something or adorn something, especially food. In this case, the word garnish may may be used as a verb or a noun. For instance, parsley is often a garnish used on plates in … [Read more...]

Servitude vs certitude

Servitude and certitude are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation, and are sometimes confused. We will examine the difference between the definitions of servitude and certitude, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. Servitude is the state of being a slave or being subject to the wants, needs and whims of another person who is more powerful. Slaves are not the only people who may be in servitude. Serfs, sharecroppers and those who are in … [Read more...]

Smell a rat

The phrase to smell a rat is an idiom that dates back to the 1500s. 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 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 origin of the … [Read more...]

Outsource

Outsource is a relatively new word that was coined in the 1980s. We will examine the definition of the word outsource, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Outsource means to obtain goods or services from an outside source. However, the most commonly used meaning of the word outsource is to contract jobs or tasks that were previously provided inside a company. Increasingly, business needs are outsourced in order to reduce overhead and increase efficiency, … [Read more...]

White Christmas

The seasonal expression white Christmas may be confusing to some. It has a fairly literal meaning, but may also be considered 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. 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. An idiom can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that … [Read more...]

Stockholm syndrome

Stockholm syndrome is a psychological disorder that was first identified in the 1970s, though the term is sometimes applied more generally. We will examine the meaning of the term Stockholm syndrome, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. Stockholm syndrome is a mental condition in which a kidnapped victim or hostage develops empathy or trust for his captor. Those suffering physical abuse or sexual abuse in abusive relationships such as domestic abuse situations … [Read more...]

Capstone, keystone or cornerstone

The terms capstone, keystone and cornerstone can be confusing. We will examine the difference between the definitions of capstone, keystone and cornerstone, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences. A capstone is a finishing stone atop an exterior wall or roof or other exterior architectural feature. The capstone protects the masonry, causing water to flow in a certain way as to mitigate erosion. The term capstone is a closed compound word, which is a word that … [Read more...]

Deck the halls

Deck the halls is a phrase that one may hear during the holiday season. We will examine the definition of the term deck the halls, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. To deck the halls means to decorate for Christmas, especially if one will be entertaining guests. These decorations. may include centerpieces, swags or a garland made of branches or boughs of fir, pine, cedar, balsam or greenery from other types of evergreen limbs. Garlands or wreaths may include … [Read more...]

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