Onomatopoeia is an interesting category of word, often popular with children. We will examine the definition of onomatopoeia, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. An onomatopoeia is a word that is formed by imitating the sound of the thing or action being described. Such words are often used by children while playing, and onomatopoeia are commonly found in comic books. Some onomatopoeia words are pow, moo, hiss, hum, hiccup and cough. Though now words in their own … [Read more...]

Fall guy

Fall guy is an American term that first appeared at the beginning of the twentieth century. We will examine the meaning of the term fall guy, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences. A fall guy is a scapegoat, a person who takes the blame for a crime, mistake or other error. In this case, the word fall is slang for a prison sentence or a time spent in jail paying for a crime. The term fall guy has expanded to mean not only the scapegoated person taking responsibility for … [Read more...]

Abhorrent vs aberrant

Abhorrent means disgusting, horrifying, repugnant. Abhorrent is an adjective, the adverb form is abhorrently, the noun form is abhorrence, the verb forms are abhor, abhors, abhorred, abhorring. Abhorrent enters the English language in the early seventeenth century to mean in a position or condition to recoil, derived from the Latin word abhorentem. Aberrant means varying from normal, deviating from the common standard, abnormal behavior. Aberrant is an adjective, the noun forms are aberrance, … [Read more...]

Singly vs singularly

Singly means one at a time. Singly also means separately, apart from others, individually. Singly is an adverb, it dates from 1300 and is derived from the  Middle English word senglely. Singularly is an adverb which means in an outstanding or remarkable way. Singularly may mean in a wonderfully outstanding or remarkable way, or in a strangely, bizarrely or heinously remarkable way. Singularly appears in the English language in the fourteenth century from the Latin singularis meaning one at a … [Read more...]


A towhead is a person with very light, blond or yellow-colored hair. The adjective form is towheaded, and either word may be hyphenated as in tow-head and tow-headed. Towhead is first seen in 1830. Tow is another word for flax, jute or hemp that is ready for spinning. Flax and hemp that is prepared for spinning is light-colored, hence a person with hair that is exceedingly light-colored or yellow would be a towhead. The word tow meaning fiber ready to spin appears in the fourteenth century, … [Read more...]


Groupthink is decision-making made as a group. Groupthink ideas are formed in an atmosphere that encourages conformity and harmony, and discourages creativity and personal responsibility. Groupthink is a psychological and sociological phenomenon, groupthink rarely yields the best solution to a problem as the desire to keep the group cohesive is more important than the impetus to create an elegant solution. Irving Janis conducted the first studies on groupthink, highlighting the groupthink … [Read more...]


Gestalt is a composition of elements that can only be appreciated as a whole rather than as a sum of its parts. The plural forms are gestalts and less frequently, gestalten. The noun forms are gestaltism and gestaltist. Gestaltqualität was introduced as a philosophy by Christian von Ehrenfels in 1890, in 1922 the German word gestalt, which means shape, form, figure, appearance, was absorbed into English. Gestalt psychotherapy, which stresses personal responsibility and experiencing the present … [Read more...]

Intermural, intramural and extramural

Intramural means operating within the walls of a single institution or community. In North America, intramural sports are competitions arranged within one school or institution. Intramural may also refer to a normal course of study at a university. In biology, intramural means within the walls of a body cavity or organ. Intramural is an adjective, the adverb form is intramurally. Extramural means operating outside the walls, extramural sports would involve competitions with teams outside of … [Read more...]

Minuet vs minute

A minuet is a ballroom dance with short, dainty steps. The minuet is a dignified dance for a group of couples, first popular in seventeenth century France. Music for this dance is also called a minuet, often part of a sonata, symphony or suite. The beat is in 3/4 time. Minuet comes from the French word menuet, meaning fine, delicate, small, narrow. Minute has two meanings. 1.) When the accent is on the second syllable, miNUTE, it functions as an adjective meaning small, tiny, insignificant. … [Read more...]

Fiscal vs physical

Fiscal is an adjective that means relating to the public treasury or government revenue. In North America, fiscal also means of or relating to matters of finance, a fiscal year is an accounting year. Some companies choose to have their fiscal years begin and end on dates other than the calendar year, for tax purposes. The United States government's fiscal year is currently October through September. Fiscal comes the Middle French fiscal, from the Late Latin fiscalis meaning of or belonging to … [Read more...]

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