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48

To expand a little on Claudiu’s excellent answer, there seems to be an interesting progression/evolution here: metaphor: “it’s like he was spat out of his father’s mouth” (1689). metonymy: “he’s the very spit of his father” (1825) — when the metaphor is commonplace enough, it no longer gets spelled out in full. idiom/cliché: “the spit and image of his ...


35

The distinction comes from the two fields of electrical engineering and electronics (which some consider a subset of the former). Electronics refers to technology that works by controlling the motion of electrons in ways that go beyond electrodynamic properties like voltage and current. That is, electrical technology would work the same if you replaced ...


34

Indeed, both eldest and oldest refer to the greatest in age. The crucial difference, however, lies in the fact that eldest can only be used for related persons, while oldest can be used for any person, place or thing in a group of related or unrelated elements. Examples: He is the eldest/oldest of the three children. Mine is the eldest/oldest car on ...


34

There is no ambiguity between when to use then and when to use than. It is purely a phonologically driven error that people make when they are writing, because often the vowel in than is reduced, causing then and than to sound similar or identical (depending on your accent). Note that it is possible for the improper use of then in place of than to lead to ...


28

The verb lay is transitive. You lay something on the table. The verb lie is intransitive. You lie on the table when you are operated upon. The confusion comes because the past tense of lie is lay: He lay on the table for two hours before he was operated upon. Few native speakers get this right. Most people would say, "He laid on the table ...


28

"Every day" is a phrase that functions as an adverb, as in: He does this every day. "Everyday" is an adjective that means "encountered or used routinely or typically": These are my everyday clothes. People sometimes erroneously write "everyday" when they mean "every day", probably because they know they have seen "everyday" before, and don't ...


26

Here is one from my secondary school geography teacher that I will never forget: stalactite --- ceiling stalagmite --- ground Stalactites hang from the ceiling; stalagmites rise from the ground. As long as you remember what c and g mean in those words, you will never confuse them!


23

Assure: promise, as in I assure you the car is safe to drive. Ensure: confirm, as in Ensure that you have plenty of gas in the tank before going on a long trip. Insure: protect with an insurance policy, as in Insure the car before your trip.


20

The main difference is that deprecate is largely archaic, apart from its very modern computing sense. The original meaning (derived from Latin de=away, and prevari=pray) meant to ward something off (by prayer, for example). It can also be used to mean to express disapproval of; deplore; belittle, but IMHO this is also dated/poetic usage outside computing. I ...


16

Alternately means switching between two alternatives, alternatively means doing something different. I love pizza and Mexican food, I eat them alternately. Means Monday I ate pizza, Tuesday tacos, Wednesday pizza again, Thursday burrito, Friday went to the Hospital to get my arteries roto-rooted. I love pizza but alternatively I eat Mexican. ...


16

While it's possible to "affect" change, it's not the intended meaning here: To effect change means to invoke or cause the change to happen. To affect change means to change the way the change is happening. Now, if she actually means to affect positive change, that would simply mean she wants to turn the positive change around (for the worse).


15

The common idiom is, "Without further ado." The words at play here are ado: fuss, esp. about something that is unimportant And adieu: another term for goodbye


14

This article addresses your question. To summarize: the first phrase seemed to be "spit and image" or "Poor child! he's as like his own dadda as if he were spit out of his mouth." There are also parallels with spit in other languages.


14

The NOAD reports the following note about those words. Traditionally, farther and farthest were used in referring to physical distance: the falls were still two or three miles farther up the path. Further and furthest were restricted to figurative or abstract senses: we decided to consider the matter further. Although farther and farthest are still ...


13

This is a very standard relationship question: a cat is feline, a monkey is simian, and a cow is bovine, but a horse is not (necessarily) a stallion. The parallel term for a horse would be equine.


11

Etymonline has this: busy O.E. bisig "careful, anxious, busy, occupied," [...]. In M.E., sometimes with a sense of "prying, meddlesome," preserved in busybody. So, the word busybody didn't "end up meaning" what it does; much rather, it had that meaning all along. It's busy that used to have an additional meaning it no longer has in contemporary ...


11

It's cut and dry: people who use "then" in a comparison are spelling it wrong. I can't think of a situation where there's any ambiguity about the choice between then and than; they're completely different parts of speech.


11

Dowsing means divination of underground resources (water, oil, buried treasure, etc.), usually by means of a forked stick. I rarely if ever hear about it here in Los Angeles, but when I lived up in the hills, our neighbor had the reputation of being an excellent "water witcher". Dowse is given as an alternate spelling of douse (to put out or extinguish, as ...


11

A homoglyph is a character identical or nearly identical in appearance to another, but which differs in the meaning it represents. Wikipedia has a detailed article on homoglyphs as well as one on IDN homograph attacks where phishers take advantage of this property to mislead their victims. As for your spell-corrector, you should be able to class such ...


10

Historically, "lay" is a causitive verb formed from "lie", by a process which is now obsolete in English, but has left some other examples: "rise/raise" and "fall/fell". In the case of "lie", probably because both words are common and the past of "lie" happens to be the same as the present of "lay", they have become generally confused, and for many people ...


10

Stalac tites have to hold on tight! (So they don't fall off...)


10

When you have two nouns together, usually the second is the basic meaning, and the first one acts like an adjective to modify it. An apple tree is a kind of tree. A tree house is a kind of house. So sugar cane is a kind of cane. (It’s a cane from which sugar is produced.) Cane sugar is a kind of sugar. (It’s sugar that’s produced from cane.)


10

Fraser Orr's answer corresponds to how I learned English in the UK in the 50's and 60's. However, the Oxford English Dictionary, under 'alternate', gives its first six meanings consistent with this, but then it says II. Senses equating to alternative adj. Chiefly N. Amer. with examples from 1776. And for "alternative" the first meaning given ...


9

No it is not acceptable to split the word in your context: say whatever they want Here, whatever is a relative pronoun and it is always written as one word. The only instance where one will find what ever is in the interrogative. For example: What ever does he want? What ever does she do besides complain? In these cases, ever (an adverb) ...


9

Horse:stallion is the odd one out. Feline is an adjective, meaning “cat-like or related to cats”. Simian is an adjective, meaning “monkey-like or related to monkeys”. Stallion is a noun, meaning “male horse”. Bovine is an adjective, meaning “cow-like or related to cows”. [Edit: feline, simian, bovine can all also function as nouns, meaning “cat-like ...


8

"Everyday" is an adjective meaning commonplace, used all the time (i.e., every day). "The medicine cabinet was filled with everyday remedies like aspirin and Tylenol." "Every day" means something that happens every single day. "The sun rises in the east every day." That means you can count on that to be true, without exception, every day. The two should ...


8

Spitting image is correct, it is idiomatic to distance from another, or proximity. spitting: in/within spitting distance also in/within striking distance very close to something or someone (often + of ) The great thing about the house is that it's within spitting distance of the sea. The move to Ascot put us within striking distance of London. ...


8

Strictly speaking, a palace is the official residence of a sovereign (or, by extension, a dignitary). Informally, it may also mean “a building that looks like a palace”, i.e. a vast, beautiful and richly-decorated house. The NOAD has for palazzo: “a palatial building, esp. in Italy”. So, I expect that the main difference is this “in Italy”. Other than that, ...


8

Cane sugar comes from sugarcane. Sugarcane is the crop, cane sugar is the refined grains of sugar. Edit: you also get other things from sugarcane, such as falernum, molasses, rum, cachaça, bagasse and ethanol. There are photos of the crop are on Wikipedia.


7

"Beside" means next to, as in He placed the umbrella beside the umbrella stand instead of in it. "Besides" means "moreover" or "furthermore" and it is used in the same way. "We don't want to go to the fair. Besides, we don't have enough money." It can also mean "in addition to" as in: Besides the entree, the entire table ordered dessert. ...



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