The conjunction whilst means the same as while. For Americans the word tends to have an archaic ring, so it is rare in American English and tends to give the impression that the writer is either British or affecting a British voice. There is less prejudice against whilst outside the U.S., however, and the word is fairly common in British publications (though all the British style books we checked recommend while over whilst). Examples With each of these examples, note … [Read more...]

Farther vs. further

Farther and further both mean at a greater distance, and they are used interchangeably in this sense. In the United States, though, farther is more often used to refer to physical distances, and further more often refers to figurative and nonphysical distances. For example, we might say that one mountain is farther away than another, while we might say the price of a stock (a nonphysical thing) fell further today than yesterday. This is not a rule, however, and further is often used for physical … [Read more...]

Flaunt vs. flout

To flaunt is to exhibit or parade (something) in an ostentatious manner. To flout is (1) to show contempt for or to scorn, or (2) to contemptuously ignore (especially rules or conventions). These verbs are often confused due to their similarity in sound, but they share no common ground. Examples The most common mixup involving these words is the use of flaunt in place of flout, as in these instances: [T]he cyclists will sometimes flaunt the law and say their name is "Donald Duck" rather than … [Read more...]


In contexts unrelated to poetry, an ideogram is a character or symbol that represents a thing or an idea without expressing its pronunciation. For example, many street signs---such as those in the U.S. representing "construction ahead," "handicap parking," or "no parking"---are ideograms. Ideograms that use pictures rather than letters or letterlike symbols are sometimes known as pictograms. Poetic ideograms In poetry, an ideogram is a group of juxtaposed words and phrases meant to represent a … [Read more...]

Who’s vs. whose

Who's is a contraction of who is or who has. Whose is the possessive form of who or which. Think of it this way: If you were to replace it with who is or who has, would its meaning change? If no, you want who's. If yes, you want whose. Here are a few examples of the words used correctly: Celebrity birthdays: Who's another year older Jan. 11? [OC Register] Who's Renting What on Netflix? [World's Strangest] Whose ass should I kick at ping-pong? [Warming Glow] I am convinced this … [Read more...]

French numbers

French uses the same numbers as English, but the spellings and pronunciations are quite different. There are no simple memory tricks for remembering French numbers, so they just have to be memorized. Zero through … [Read more...]


In modern poetry, an anapest is a foot composed of two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable. In Classical verse, an anapest is two short syllables followed by a long one. Anapests are rare in spoken English, and in English-language poetry anapests are far less common than dactyls, iambs, and trochees. There are very few anapestic English words, so an anapest in a line of poetry typically spans two or three words. Yet even when this is the case, it's hard to avoid placing some … [Read more...]

French days and months

The French months are easy to remember because they all sound similar to their English versions.  French Pronunciation … [Read more...]

Fewer vs. less

The conventional rule for less and fewer is simple: less applies to singular nouns (including mass nouns), and fewer applies to plural nouns. For example, to have fewer dollars than someone else is to have less money, and to have fewer books is to have less reading material. Money and material, in the senses relevant here, are uncountable things, so they take less, while dollars and books are obviously countable, so they take fewer. The less/fewer distinction is not always borne out in … [Read more...]


The noun zeitgeist, meaning the spirit of the time, is a loanword from German (translating literally to time ghost).1 It's a useful word because there is no one-word English equivalent. Zeitgeist has been in widespread use for a long time (at least a century and a half),2 so it no longer needs to be capitalized or italicized. Examples His desire to get under the skin of the establishment caught the zeitgeist, and to the young of the time he proved a striking standard-bearer for disaffection … [Read more...]

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