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"I'm trying to stave off a cold," a friend said. Another responded, "Wine will work for that." Neither probably realized that, indeed, to "stave off" has its origins in wine, or something like wine.  Continue reading...
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People awakening from a "nightmare" often have the sensation that they can't breathe. Not surprising: That's where the word "nightmare" comes from.  Continue reading...
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Verizon offers "Even faster FiOS Quantum Internet" speeds. Duracell has a new Quantum alkaline battery. James Bond had his Quantum of Solace. Any number of companies have "quantum" in their names as well. The implication is that "quantum" is something big and powerful, with a hint of science behind it.  Continue reading...
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"I ought to know better, but I know naught about the difference between aught and nought" is a sentence sure to make more than one head spin.  Continue reading...
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Sentences have destinations, the place you want your readers to go to absorb the information you're delivering. Sentences that mislead readers are called "garden path" sentences, because they take readers in unexpected directions, the way someone who has been "led down the garden path" has been misled.  Continue reading...
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Whilst we often lament that language has become too informal, there are times when we try to make it too formal, and thusly too stiff-upper-lipist. "Amongst" and "amidst" are perfectly fine words, listed in dictionaries and everything, but they fall a bit on the "I know big words" scale of writing.  Continue reading...
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We have occasionally invoked Tom Lehrer when discussing how the simple letter "e" can change the meaning of many words, citing his song "Silent 'E.'" That "e" can also magically change a word into another form, such as a noun into a verb. This being illogical English, there are few "rules" as to what it does, though.  Continue reading...
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1 2 3 4 5 Displaying 1-7 of 62 Articles